How to Get Into UMass Amherst: Admissions Stats + Tips
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- How Hard Is It to Get Into UMass Amherst?
- Average Academic Profile of Accepted UMass Amherst Students
- What is UMass Amherst Looking for?
- How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into UMass Amherst
UMass Amherst is the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts system. Founded as an agricultural college in 1863, UMass’s first class was made up of just 34 students. Today, UMass Amherst offers 110 undergraduate majors ranging from Afro-American Studies to Turfgrass Management and is home to 23,500 undergraduates. Of those undergrads, over 14,000 of them live in one of UMass Amherst’s 52 residence halls—giving the university one of the largest on-campus housing systems in the nation.
How Hard Is It to Get Into UMass Amherst?
Gaining admission to UMass Amherst is not guaranteed. The university received 40,315 applications for its Class of 2025 and admitted just 26,335 students, giving the school a 65% overall acceptance rate. UMass Amherst has an Early Action admissions process through which 21,168 students applied and 15,740 were accepted, resulting in an Early Action acceptance rate of 74%.
While UMass Amherst’s acceptance rate is low, your chances of admissions are contingent upon the strength of your profile. CollegeVine can add clarity to your chances at UMass Amherst. Our free admissions calculator uses factors like your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars to estimate your odds of acceptance, as well as to provide tips to improve your profile!
Average Academic Profile of Accepted UMass Amherst Students
The average high school GPA of UMass’s Class of 2025 was 3.93 and slightly over 50% of them graduated high school with a 4.0.
The middle 50% SAT score of UMass Amherst’s Class of 2025 is 1210-1370 and the middle 50% ACT score is 27-32.
Students accepted to UMass Amherst generally graduated at, or near, the top of their class— 34% of the university’s Class of 2025 graduated in the top tenth of their high school.
What is UMass Amherst Looking for?
UMass is a state-run institution and state residency factors into admissions decisions. In-state students made up 77% of undergraduate enrollment in Fall 2021. That said, both in-state and out-of-state applicants to UMass Amherst’s Class of 2025 had an identical acceptance rate of 65%. The disparity between the number of in-state and out-of-state students is a result of yield. About one in four accepted in-state students chose to matriculate while only about one in ten out-of-state students decided to do so.
State residency is just one of many factors considered when considering an applicant for admission to UMass Amherst. UMass Amherst reviews every application and while it places considerable weight on academic performance, it’s also searching for students who are driven, talented, and unique.
How UMass Amherst Evaluates Applications
According to their 2020-2021 Common Data Set, UMass Amherst considers the following factors “very important”:
- Course rigor
These factors are “important”:
- Class rank
- Extracurricular activities
- First generation
- Work experience
- Applicant interest
These are “considered”:
- Test scores
- State residency
- Racial/ethnic status
- Volunteer work
And these are “not considered”:
- Geographic location
- Religious affiliation
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into UMass Amherst
1. Achieve at least a 3.93 GPA while taking the most challenging classes available
GPA and course rigor are the only two factors that UMass Amherst considers “very important” to admissions. A little more than half of UMass’s Class of 2025 graduated with a 4.0 and their average high school GPA is a robust 3.93.
The first step toward becoming a competitive applicant is to earn all, or mostly all, As. Competitive colleges like UMass Amherst use a tool known as the Academic Index—your entire academic performance summarized by a single numerical score—to expedite admissions decisions. If your Academic Index doesn’t meet UMass Amherst’s standards, it’s likely they will not give your application serious consideration.
If your GPA is sub-standard but you’re early in your high school career, there’s time to improve it—check out our tips to increase your GPA. If you’re a junior or senior, raising your GPA is more of a challenge. A better way to increase your Academic Index is to earn high test scores.
Great grades are not enough to stand out at a selective school such as UMass Amherst, you’ll need to earn them in challenging classes. After all, UMass views course rigor as “very important.” It’s common for students applying to competitive colleges to have completed anywhere from five to upward of 12 AP classes in high school.
2. Write engaging essays
Almost every applicant to UMass Amherst will have an outstanding academic profile which makes it vital for you to find other ways to stand out—like essays. Essays provide a chance to show a college the facets of you that don’t come across in other parts of the application and make the case for why you belong on campus.
UMass Amherst applicants are required to respond to one of the Common Application’s essay prompts and two short-answer questions specific to UMass Amherst. An attention-grabbing college essay is written in your unique voice and illustrates how you fit at a school and how they’ll benefit from you being on campus. For UMass Amherst-specific essay advice, check out our article, “How to Write the UMass Amherst Essays 2021-2022.”
3. Cultivate strong extracurriculars
Extracurricular activities are “important” to UMass Amherst admissions and so are the talent, character, and work experience you demonstrate through them.
How can you tell how much weight a college will give an extracurricular activity? The four tiers of extracurriculars provide useful insight into how colleges value your activities outside of the classroom, with Tier 1 representing the rarest achievements and Tier 4 representing the most common.
A good rule of thumb is that the greater the achievement, the more leadership demonstrated, and the rarer the activity, the higher a college will value it. For example, a college like UMass will find the candidacy of an applicant who won a prestigious national award, like winning the Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest, stronger than one who wrote for their high school newspaper. While you probably don’t need a Tier 1 (national-level) activity for UMass, having Tier 2 or 3 (regional- and school-level) activities will demonstrate your drive.
4. Get a really great recommendation
UMass Amherst requires you to submit at least one academic letter of recommendation (typically written by your school counselor) with your application, which is considered “important” to admissions decisions.
UMass Amherst allows students to submit two optional recommendations and most students will provide at least one additional recommendation. Optional recommendations can come from anyone, whether they’re a teacher, your boss, or a mentor. If you’re planning on asking a teacher, understand that they’re not compensated for writing recommendations and there are some steps you can take to ensure the most persuasive recommendation possible. Our article, 9 Rules For Requesting Letters of Recommendation from teachers, provides a good guide to the process.
5. Apply Early Action
UMass Amherst views applicant interest as “important” to admissions and one of the best ways to demonstrate your interest is to apply early. UMass Amherst has an Early Action admissions process and applicants who apply Early Action are accepted at a higher rate (74%) than those who apply Regular Decision (65%). Early Action is non-binding and Early Action applicants are under no obligation to attend UMass Amherst if accepted.
6. Aim for a 1370 SAT and 32 ACT
Test scores are only “considered” in admissions decisions at UMass Amherst, however, they can prove instructive in your odds of acceptance. The middle 50% SAT/ACT scores of UMass Amherst’s Class of 2025 are 1210-1370/27-32—the closer you score to the top of the range, the better your odds are of getting into UMass Amherst.
UMass Amherst is test-optional through Fall 2023, and the university will review applications with and without standardized test scores. CollegeVine recommends taking either the SAT or ACT if you can do so safely and submitting your scores if they are at or above the 25th percentile of accepted students—1210 SAT and 27 ACT. Students who submit test scores are accepted at higher rates than those who do not. You can get recommendations on whether or not to apply test-optional using our free chancing engine.
UMass Amherst superscores both the SAT and ACT, which makes sitting for one of the exams between two and three times a sound strategy to maximize your score. To improve your SAT/ACT score, check out these free CollegeVine resources:
- How to Get a Perfect 1600 Score on the SAT
- How to Get a Perfect 36 Score on the ACT
- More SAT Info and Tips
- More ACT Info and Tips
How to Apply to UMass Amherst
UMass Amherst accepts the Common Application. Other application requirements include:
- Letter of recommendation
- Writing supplement
- Portfolio or audition (some majors like Architecture, Art, Music, and Dance require an audition or portfolio)
- Select a major (applicants are required to select an intended major)
- Test scores (optional)
- Additional letters of recommendation (optional)
Learn more about UMass Amherst
Interested in learning more about UMass Amherst? Check out this other informative article: What is the Five College Consortium?
Want to know your chances at UMass Amherst? Calculate your chances for free right now.