Berea College

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Berea CollegeOriginally founded in 1855 by abolitionist John Gregg Fee, Berea College was the first co-educational and racially integrated higher learning institute in the South. Today, Berea College stands as a premier private Christian liberal arts school offering high-quality baccalaureate education. Each year, Berea serves a close-knit academic community of around 1,600 students, predominately from Southern Appalachia. Berea College is located on a scenic 140-acre rural campus in Kentucky’s Madison County within just 35 miles south of downtown Lexington. Historically affiliated with the Protestant faith, Berea follows the motto of “God has made of one blood all peoples of the Earth.”

According to the U.S. News, Berea College is ranked the 67th best national liberal arts school and 5th most innovative college with America’s 24th best undergraduate teaching. Forbes magazine named Berea the 37th best school nationwide for “Grateful Grads” with a financial grade of A+. Consistently, Berea is included in the Princeton Review’s lists for “Colleges That Pay You Back” and “Best 380 Colleges.” In 2015, Washington Monthly magazine crowned Berea as the third best liberal arts college in the United States. Berea’s Lincoln Hall was the first building in Kentucky to attain LEED Silver status for environmental sustainability too.

Berea College Accreditation Details

As a whole, Berea College is formally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award bachelor’s degrees. Berea is an institutional member of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) and Council of Independent Colleges (CIC). Nursing programs are approved by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and Kentucky Board of Nursing. Teaching degrees also meet the standards of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and Education Professional Standards Board of Kentucky.

Berea College Application Requirements

Getting into Berea College is tough since only 33 percent of incoming applicants are accepted at this very selective private school. First-year freshmen must be graduating with a state-approved high school diploma or the GED equivalency. Curriculum prerequisites mandate having at least four years of English, three years of math, two years of laboratory science, two years of history, and two years of foreign language. Applicants must be academically competitive with a cumulative high school GPA of 3.0 or higher. Most accepted students score between 20 and 30 on the ACT or 1410 and 1980 on the SAT. Extra-curricular activities, community service, leadership potential, and motivation are also considered.

Undergraduate transfers are required to hold at least 24 semester hours at a regionally accredited college or university. Four semester hours are equivalent to one Berea credit. It’s mandatory that transfer students have maintained a minimum collegiate GPA of 2.5. On average, successful transfers have an overall GPA of 3.25. Transfer applicants must present a “Statement of Good Standing” from their previously attended school. Any students who have received a bachelor’s degree aren’t eligible for admissions. Transfer agreements have been created with several KCTCS schools, including Bowling Green Technical College, Henderson Community College, Somerset Community College, and Madisonville Community College.

Prior to the March 31st deadline, interested students should schedule an interview and apply to Berea College’s Admissions Office by submitting:

  • Completed online Application for Admission
  • Official high school and/or college transcripts
  • College entrance exam scores
  • Home School Supplement Form (if applicable)
  • Two Evaluation and Endorsement Forms
  • Guidance Counselor Evaluation Form
  • Berea’s Financial Resource Questionnaire
  • Personal statement of 250-500 words
  • Professional resume or CV (optional)

Tuition and Financial Aid

Berea is one of the few tuition-free schools in the United States. Students don’t pay a single cent of the $24,300 tuition fee each academic year. All learners receive a full-tuition scholarship that covers nearly $100,000 over four years. That being said, attending Berea College isn’t exactly free though. Residential students pay $3,322 for housing and $3,088 for meal plans every year. Students are charged a $104 health fee, $50 campus activities fee, $340 technology fee, and $10 student government fee. It’s estimated that students will spend $700 on textbooks and $1,600 on personal supplies annually too.

Every enrolled student receives a no-tuition promise for 100 percent of financial aid. Berea College has one of America’s largest financial reserves at over $1.1 billion. Around $6,000 of tuition annually is covered by the Labor Grant. Students are required to work 10 to 15 hours weekly on-campus to earn this. Jobs can include food service, janitorial work, resident assistance, teaching assistance, gardening, weaving, etc. If students need extra help beyond the Berea Tuition Scholarship, they can borrow money with the Federal Direct Loan Program. Generally, students qualify for the Pell Grant and FSEOG Grant too. In-state residents also apply for the Kentucky Tuition Grant or Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES).

Student Experience

Berea College is an inclusive, liberal arts school offering a low student-faculty of 10:1 for personalized learning. Over 75 percent of classes will have less than 20 peers. Students can currently select from 32 bachelor’s degrees, including 15 accredited teacher education programs. There are also unique independent majors in areas like Appalachian Studies, Classical Civilization, Ecological Design, Film & Video Studies, Interior Design, International Political Economics, and Outdoor Education. Under the EDGE Program, all students are given a laptop during their freshman year. Berea’s top-notch academics have produced extraordinary alumni, such as Nobel Prize winner John B. Fenn and Tony Award winner Tharon Musser.

Service learning is a major aspect of Berea’s campus life. For instance, students can join the “Entrepreneurship for the Public Good” program, which implements leadership programs in rural communities across Central Appalachia. The “Gear Up” program serves over 35,300 young people annually to improve educational outcomes in local K-12 schools. Berea College has a Term Abroad Program that pays 75 percent of costs for students to study in nations like Ireland, Argentina, Ghana, Honduras, and China. Art lovers can peruse the displays in the Dimitrie Berea Gallery or see a show in the Jelkyl Drama Center.

Students at Berea can become actively involved in over 80 clubs. The People Who Care, Habitat for Humanity, Black Student Union, Cosmopolitan Club, and Berea College Country Dancers are just a few organization available. The Convocation series brings in notable speakers and scholars regularly. Each fall, the campus joins together for “Mountain Day” for hiking, fishing, biking, and camping in the Cumberland Mountains. Athletic students at Berea College can also join the Mountaineers to compete in NCAA III for 14 varsity teams.