Berea College offers a high-quality education to bright and talented students who have limited economic resources. Founded in 1855 by ardent abolitionists and radical reformers, Berea was the first interracial and coeducational college in the South. Today, we are consistently ranked as one of the leading private liberal arts colleges in the United States. We earn this recognition by focusing on rigorous academic programs and graduating students with little or no student loan debt.
The unique combination of factors that distinguish Berea includes:
- Each student receives a tuition scholarship worth nearly $100,000 for four years.
- The College is one of only seven federally recognized Work Colleges in the United States.
- Berea primarily serves the Appalachian region and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
- The College has an extensive collection of personal papers, organizational records, photographs, oral histories and non-commercial musical recordings gathered over nearly a century, documenting the history and culture of the Southern Appalachian region.
- The College has had multiple Compton, Fulbright, Truman, Udall and Watson fellowship winners.
Berea is a nationally recognized liberal arts college offering students experiential learning opportunities in and out of the classroom.
- Bachelor degrees in 32 majors, including arts and sciences and select professional programs as well as independent, student-designed majors and a dual-degree engineering program in cooperation with the University of Kentucky
- 15 teacher education programs
- 16 national and international honor societies
- Accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- Approximately 230 Berea students study, intern, or teach abroad each year, most with the generous support of education abroad scholarships and grants
- The Berea Term Abroad program pays up to 75 percent of student cost
The College retains excellent faculty from prestigious graduate programs across the nation and the world.
- Full-time faculty – 132; part-time instructors – 55
- 92 percent of full-time faculty hold the highest degree in their fields
- Student-to-faculty ratio – 10:1
For a liberal arts college with an annual enrollment of about 1,600 students, Berea produces a significant variety of leaders in fields such as education, science, entertainment, law, business, and government.
- 17,844 living alumni in all 50 states as well as in the District of Columbia and U.S. territories
- Alumni in 75 nations outside the United States
- Distinguished alumni include: John Fenn, 2002 Nobel Prize winner; G. Samuel Hurst, physicist and inventor of touch screen technology; Juanita M. Kreps, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce; George Lester, developer of the catalytic convertor; and Jack Roush, automotive engineer, designer and owner of Roush Racing
Berea bases all curricular and co-curricular activities on the College’s Great Commitments, a series of mission statements focusing on equality, inclusivity, service, labor, the liberal arts and Appalachia. Campus centers are critical to ensuring that each of the Great Commitments is carried out, completing the Berea experience for all students.
The Loyal Jones Appalachian Center (LJAC) fosters the College’s Great Commitment to Appalachia. To accomplish this mission, LJAC strives to: 1) develop service-oriented leaders for Appalachia by sponsoring and integrating educational programs on and off campus; 2) explore and illuminate the richness of the Appalachian region, people and cultures; and 3) assist communities, organizations and citizens to work toward the future they envision.
The Center for Excellence in Learning through Service (CELTS) is the home of student service and community engagement. Students serve through volunteer programs, help facilitate academic service-learning courses and work in local non-profit organizations and schools. CELTS also houses the Bonner Scholars Program and provides faculty development in service-learning.
The Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education integrates the College’s Black Cultural Center and the African and African American Studies program by supporting collaborations related to interracial education, equality and justice and shared commitments to cultural understanding.
The Francis and Louise Hutchins Center for International Education seeks to foster understanding of and appreciation for “all peoples of the earth” by offering education abroad opportunities, international student and scholar services, faculty and curriculum development and campus programming each year emphasizing a particular world region.
The Willis D. Weatherford, Jr. Campus Christian Center offers opportunities for worship, weekly prayer, interfaith dialogue and intellectual and spiritual engagement with the Christian faith through convocations, lectures, workshops and occasional spiritual retreats.
The Center for Transformative Learning (CTL) fosters the personal, intellectual and professional growth of students and instructors through peer consultation, faculty development, internships and career development programs.
Education at Berea, where students pay no tuition, involves both academics and student labor.
- Every student works 10-15 hours per week while carrying a full academic load.
- Students earn money for books, food and other expenses, and their appreciation for the dignity and utility of labor is enhanced.
- Students gain valuable job experience for their future careers by working in more than 100 college offices, departments and off-campus programs.
Berea’s social and cultural activities complement academics and teach students valuable leadership skills.
- The Convocation series brings notable national and regional speakers, scholars and performers to campus.
- The wellness program encourages healthy lifestyles by offering free personal training for students.
- A member of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), students participate in 14 intercollegiate sports (7men’s and 7 women’s) and cheerleading.
- More than 60 student clubs and organizations enhance student life.
Incoming Berea students have financial need and must meet high academic standards. Since its founding, Berea has welcomed students from “all nations and climes.”
- Of incoming first-year students, 58 percent ranked in the top 20 percent of their high school graduating classes.
- Entering first-year students averaged 24.4 composite ACT scores.
- There are nearly 1,600 undergraduates, representing 43 states, 2 U.S. territories and 62 countries
- 72 percent of students are from the Appalachian region and Kentucky
- 25 percent of students are minorities – 384 students (not including international students)
- 120 students (8 percent of the student body) are from countries other than the U.S.
- The median family income for a first-year Berea student is $29,043
- 96 percent of first-year students are eligible for Pell grants
Berea charges no tuition, so students graduate with little or no debt.
- Cost of education – $24,300 per student in 2015-16 (provided by the College from the endowment, gifts, scholarships and grants brought by students)
- Room and board – $6,410
- Fees – $570(includes a $340 technology fee to support student laptop computer program)
- Books and incidentals – $3,100
Generous support from alumni and friends makes Berea’s unique labor and learning experience possible for promising young people from Appalachia and beyond.
- A privately supported, nondenominational college, Berea relies on gifts from alumni and friends and on income from the College’s endowment.
- Berea’s endowment funds 74.3 percent of the education and general operating budget.
- Approximately $4 million must be raised annually for current operating expenses in addition to capital and tuition replacement funding needs.
Berea offers varied opportunities for all interested students to create and perform including:
- Music – 4 choral groups and 7 instrumental ensembles. Presser Music Building offers state-of-the-art studios, classrooms, a recital hall, rehearsal rooms and practice rooms. Kentucky’s largest 56-bell carillon, housed in Draper Tower, provides concerts.
- Theatre – Berea College Theatre Laboratory mounts full-length and one-act plays directed by faculty, students and visiting artists. All performances take place in the Jelkyl Drama Center – either in the 250-seat McGaw Theatre or in the black box Musser Theatre.
- Dance – Offers 25 classes in dance and a dance minor. Ten student dance groups perform a variety of styles.
- Visual Art – Offers gallery space for year-round student and faculty art exhibits. Permanent art collection display includes the Dimitrie Berea Gallery, dedicated to the internationally recognized post-impressionist painter.
Sustainable Campus Features
The College environment demonstrates sustainable living and enhances student learning:
- Completed in August 2013, the Deep Green Residence Hall is one of the most energy-efficient residence halls in the nation. It earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification and Petal Recognition under the Living Building Challenge.
- Recently renovated historical buildings and residence halls include sustainable features and have been retro-fitted, often using recycled materials. The renovations reduce the College’s ecological footprint by offering better insulation, daylighting, occupancy sensors for lights and low-flow toilets.
- Approximately 8,300 acres of forest are managed using sustainable practices. Over 1,200 acres of farmland, including the College garden and greenhouse, are used to grow local foods and provide instruction in the agriculture and natural resources curriculum.
- Lincoln Hall was the first building in Kentucky to be LEED-certified. It attained LEED Silver status.
- Berea College is home to Kentucky’s first ecological village (Ecovillage), an ecologically sustainable housing and learning complex with a state-of-the-art child care facility. Ecovillage residences consume 75 percent less energy and water per capita than conventional housing.
- The historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant on College Square, which is partially staffed by student workers, is Kentucky’s first green hotel, having attained LEED Gold status.
- The Central Plant, built to LEED standards, has reduced the ecological footprint of the College by lowering energy.
Service to the Region
Berea provides outreach to the Appalachian region through federally funded programs and student-led service projects.
- Partners For Education houses 10 federally funded programs (e.g., GEAR UP Appalachia, the Promise Neighborhood Initiative, and Upward Bound) designed to support Berea’s commitment to serving students of Appalachia.
- Students in the Sustainability and Environmental Studies program participate in the development of sustainable communities throughout Appalachia.
Berea, with an estimated population of 14,658 in 2014, is located 35 miles south of Lexington, where Kentucky’s Bluegrass region meets the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains. The Kentucky legislature designated Berea the “Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky.” The College is located near the center of town and is easily accessible by car from Interstate 75. Driving time from Louisville, Kentucky; Knoxville, Tennessee; or Cincinnati, Ohio is about two hours. Commercial airline service is available through Blue Grass Airport in Lexington.
The Visitor Center and Shoppe is the starting point for a 50-minute walking tour that provides a historic overview of the College. Covering three-quarters of a mile, this student-led tour visits notable structures including the Frost Building (originally a Carnegie library), Phelps Stokes Chapel (built by students from 1904-06) and the Draper Classroom Building (renovated to be eco-friendly).
In addition, tours of the Student Crafts program (including broomcraft, ceramics, jewelry, weaving and woodcraft production areas) where students produce hand-made items sold in the Visitors Center and Shoppe, Log House Craft Gallery, Boone Tavern Hotel Gift Shop and around the world.
Monday-Friday: There will be two (2) scheduled tours daily at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. At each of those times, both a historical tour and a craft tour will be offered. Outside of those hours, tours will be scheduled by reservation.
Saturday: Historical tours on the hour from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. (No craft tours on Saturday)
Prospective students may view the campus Monday-Friday (8am-5pm) by appointment with the Admissions Office. You may schedule a tour by filling out an online visit request form or by calling the Campus Visit Registration Center at 1-800-326-5948.
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Unless otherwise noted, the statistics contained on this page are based on the 2014-15 Berea College Fact Book.