About Berea College

Quick Facts

Academic Programs | Admissions | Alumni | Annual Expenses | Athletics
Computer Access | Current Enrollment | Campus Facilities | Distinctions | Faculty | Financial Assistance | Fine Arts | International Education | Interracial Education |
Labor Program | Library | Location
Phone numbers | Retention | Service to Region
Student LifeSustainable Campus Features | Support |Tours

Berea College offers a high-quality liberal arts education to students who have great promise but limited economic resources. Founded upon inclusive Christian principles in 1855, Berea College was the first interracial and coeducational college in the South. The College promotes understanding and kinship among all people, service to communities in Appalachia and beyond, and sustainable living practices that set an example of new ways to conserve our limited natural resources.


The unique combination of factors which distinguish Berea includes:

  • Each student receives the equivalent of a Tuition Promise Scholarship worth $24,300, or $97,200 for four years. That’s right: no student pays tuition.
  • Berea offers a nationally recognized labor program in which all students participate; Berea is one of seven federally recognized Work Colleges.
  • The College serves primarily the Appalachian region and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, but students come from over 40 states and more than 60 countries.
  • Berea has a significant collection of resources gathered over nearly a century that document the Southern Appalachian region. See the Special Collections and Archives website.
  • Berea students have earned multiple Compton, Fulbright, Truman, Udall, and Watson fellowships.
  • In 2011, Washington Monthly magazine ranked Berea the #1 liberal arts college in the nation for the quality of its education and has included the College in the top three ever since.
  • Listed as a “Best Buy” college in 2009 by Forbes magazine and ever since.
  • National recognition for innovative and outstanding service-learning.
  • For more information about Berea’s distinctions, see Berea by the Numbers.

Academic Programs

Berea is a nationally recognized comprehensive college offering:

  • 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.
  • First and longest-lasting college-affiliated nursing program west of the Allegheny Mountains.
  • 15 teacher education programs.
  • 19 national, international, and collegiate academic honor societies.
  • Student/faculty undergraduate research opportunities in multiple fields; more than 50 students conduct research with faculty on campus each summer.
  • Berea offers 250 internships each summer, and most of these are paid by the College.
  • A variety of career development opportunities are offered in the Center for Transformative Learning.
  • Accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges since 1926.


Incoming Berea students must have financial need and also meet high academic standards.

  •  Of first-year students, 54 percent ranked in the top fifth of their high school graduating classes.
  • Entering students averaged 24.3 composite ACT scores.
  • Sixty-two percent of new first-year students come from families where neither parent has a college degree.
  • Sixty percent of entering first-year students have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $0. The mean EFC is $919 and the median is $0. Of course, 100 percent of our F-1 international students have an EFC of $0.


For a liberal arts college with an annual enrollment of 1,600 students, Berea produces a significant variety of leaders in fields such as education, science, entertainment, law, business, and government.

  • Almost 19,000 living alumni in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.
  • Alumni reside in 80 nations outside the United States.
  • Berea ranks in the top 3 percent of institutions that produce the most Ph.D.s.
  • 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.

Annual Expenses

Berea charges no tuition, so students can graduate with very little or no debt.

  • Cost of Education—$24,300 per student (provided by the College through fundraising, the endowment, gifts, scholarships, and grants brought by students)
  • Room and Board—$6,410
  • Fees—$570
  • Books and Incidentals—$3,100


Berea College student-athletes seek to embody the true definition of student-athlete and, therefore, embrace the dedication and desire required to successfully fulfill both commitments. While acknowledging that participation is a privilege, Berea student-athletes pledge to earn the opportunity to compete, gaining valuable lessons in sportsmanship, teamwork, and athletic achievement.

  • Provisional member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III; independent conference affiliation.
  • Dual-affiliate member of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA).
  • 16 intercollegiate sports; eight men’s teams (Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Golf, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track and Field, Soccer, Tennis) and eight women’s teams (Basketball, Cross Country, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track and Field, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball).
  • Includes a cheerleading squad to enhance school spirit and pride in our athletic programs.
  • Many of our 300 student-athletes annually attend national competitions and receive distinction as All-Americans and Academic All-Americans.

Computer Access

Berea’s goal is to create an integrated and continuous learning environment that teaches students the appropriate uses of modern technology.

  • All students receive a new portable laptop computer, which they own upon graduation.
  • Over 7,000 data ports provide access to campus network and Internet.
  • Network ports are located in all buildings and wireless access is available indoors and outdoors in the Quad.
  • Technical support plus hardware and software training opportunities are offered through the College’s Labor Program.

Current Enrollment

Since its founding, Berea has welcomed students from “all nations and climes.”

  • There are 1,593 degree-seeking undergraduates, representing 43 states, the District of Columbia, two U.S. Territories, and 70 countries.
    • 74 percent of students come from the Appalachian Region and Kentucky
    • 25 percent minority enrollment—394 students (not including international students)
      • If we add the students who chose “Hispanic or Latino or Spanish Origin” as their ethnicity and chose “White” or didn’t respond to the racial breakdown, that number increases to 493 or 31 percent
    • 7.8 percent international student enrollment – 124 students

Campus Facilities

The College environment is designed to enhance student learning, and features:

  • 140 beautifully landscaped acres on a central campus.
  • Historical buildings showcasing many eras of American architecture, including Draper Hall classroom building (modeled after Philadelphia’s Independence Hall); Phelps Stokes Auditorium (a 1,500 seat facility built by students in 1904); Danforth Chapel; Fairchild Hall (the first brick building on campus); Jelkyl Drama Center; Seabury Center (for physical education and health); and the Woods-Penniman Crossroads Complex. The Deep Green Residence Hall, opened in 2012, is the world’s greenest residence hall.
  • A residential campus with 15 residence halls, plus 50 family housing apartments, accommodating about 88 percent of students on campus.
  • Berea College Ecovillage student family housing complex, including a state-of-the-art Child Development Laboratory (among approx. 100 nationally certified child care centers in the state ) for 120 children; the Ecovillage models sustainable living with ecological design elements to vastly reduce energy and water usage.
  • Almost 9,000 acres of forest and 1,200 acres for instruction in agriculture and natural resources. The College Farm is the oldest continually operating farm of its kind in the country. The Berea College Farm Store sells many of its products.
  • The Historic Boone Tavern Hotel on College Square is Kentucky’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified hotel.


The College retains excellent faculty from prestigious graduate programs across the nation and the world.

  • Full-time faculty—134; Full-time equivalent faculty number is 159.
  • 91 percent of faculty hold the highest degree in their fields.
  • Student-to-faculty ratio—10:1.

Financial Assistance

Alumni and donors help Berea College offer aid to every student.

  • Average family income for an incoming Berea student is $28,652.
  • 99 percent of first-year domestic students are eligible for Pell grants.
  • All prospective students must complete a Family Resource Questionnaire and FAFSA application to meet financial eligibility guidelines.
  • Since they pay no tuition, Berea students receive the equivalent of a four-year scholarship worth up to $97,200.
  • Financial aid and scholarships are available for meeting the additional costs of housing, meals, and fees, depending upon financial need.

Fine Arts

Berea offers varied opportunities for all interested students to create and perform, including:

  • Music—Four choral groups and seven instrumental ensembles (classical and chamber music, African-American sacred music, jazz, bluegrass, fusion, and percussion); Presser Music Building offers state-of-the-art studios, classrooms, recital hall, rehearsal rooms, and practice rooms. Kentucky’s largest 56-bell carillon housed in Draper Tower offers 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—Two dance groups include performances in traditional European and Appalachian folk dance and modern dance; nine student dance clubs include swing dance, Latin dance, Danish gymnastics dance team, hip-hop, step team, capoeira, Middle Eastern dance, and African dance.
  • Visual Art—Gallery space for year-round student and faculty art exhibits and permanent art collection display includes the Dimitrie Berea Gallery, dedicated to the internationally recognized post-impressionist painter.

International Education

Berea’s motto—“God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth”—provides a focus for international education.

  • The Francis and Louise Hutchins Center for International Education offers education abroad opportunities, international student and scholar services, faculty and curriculum development, and campus programming focused each year on a particular world region.
  • 40 percent of the graduating class of 2015 studied abroad in over 40 countries; approximately 200 Berea students study, intern, or teach abroad each year.
  • Each student who is approved to study abroad receives generous support of education abroad scholarships and grants, ranging from 25 percent of a summer program to 75 percent of a semester-long program.
  • With approximately 120 international students from approximately 60 countries, a robust menu of international events on campus, and many classes with international perspectives, students can easily learn about our increasingly inter-dependent and wonderful world.

Interracial Education

As the first interracial, coeducational college in the South, Berea continues to emphasize diversity.

  • 21 percent of enrolled students are African-American; almost one in four students is a student of color (counting international students).
  • The African and African-American Studies Program offers an academic major.
  • Black Enterprise magazine highly ranked Berea as one of the best colleges in the nation for African-American students.
  • Alumnus Carter G. Woodson (1903) was the “Father of Black History,” and today the Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education honors his legacy and continues his work.
  • The Black Cultural Center encourages understanding and appreciation of Africans in the Diaspora by providing programs and collaborative efforts that promote intellectual and personal development of all students, interracial understanding, and reconciliation.

Labor Program

Education at Berea, where students pay no tuition, involves both academics and student labor.

  • Berea College is one of seven work colleges in the national Work Colleges Consortium.
  • Every student works 10-15 hours per week while carrying a full academic load.
  • Students earn money for books, food, and other expenses and develop their appreciation for the dignity and utility of labor.
  • Students gain valuable job experience for their future careers by working in more than 100 college offices, departments, and programs off-campus.


Hutchins Library meets the reference needs of students, faculty, staff, and the Berea community with:

  • 338,369 print volumes
  • 258 print subscriptions
  • 70,207 full-text journals available electronically
  • 11,903 media items
  • 17,722 streaming videos
  • 231,470 e-books

Special Collections and Archives, including the Weatherford-Hammond Appalachian Collection, contains the oldest collection of Appalachian archival materials in the United States.


Berea, with a population of 14,000 people, is a growing community 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, Knoxville, or Cincinnati is about two hours. Commercial airline service is available through Blue Grass Airport in Lexington.


Student retention rates at Berea are among the highest in the Appalachian region.

  • 86 percent of first-year students return as sophomores.
  • 82 percent of first-year African-American students return as sophomores.

Service to the Region

Students participate in traditional community service, stewardship of natural resources, and preservation of regional culture and traditions.

  • The Loyal Jones Appalachian Center coordinates community outreach and academic opportunities for students to address the historic and current challenges facing the region; the Center sponsors experiential learning in community economic development and entrepreneurial leadership, and hosts regional events, such as readings, films, and demonstrations in a public gallery space for Appalachian exhibits.
  • The Center for Excellence in Learning through Service (CELTS) offers opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom for students to learn and acquire leadership through service and social action in partnership with the community. Among the programs are Habitat for Humanity, Students for Appalachia, Bonner Scholars, First Book, Hispanic Outreach, and community teen and child mentoring.
  • Promise Neighborhood, GEAR UP Appalachia, and TRIO Programs encourage and assist low-income middle and high school students to enter college and graduate through Berea’s Partners for Education.
  • Students in the Sustainability and Environmental Studies (SENS) Program participate in the development of sustainable communities throughout Appalachia.

Student Life

Berea’s social and cultural activities teach students leadership skills and coordinate with the academic program.

Sustainable Campus Features

The College environment demonstrates sustainable living and enhances student learning.

  • Recently renovated historical buildings and residence halls include sustainable features and have been retrofitted, 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.
  • Almost 9,000 acres of forest; 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.
  • A residential campus with 50 family housing apartments and 15 historic residence halls (most sustainably renovated) accommodates approximately 88 percent of all students on campus.
  • The first ecological village (Ecovillage) in Kentucky, a student family housing complex, includes a state-of-the-art child development laboratory for 120 children, and models sustainable living; Ecovillage residences are designed to consume less energy and water (75 percent) than conventional housing.
  • Lincoln Hall was the first LEED-certified building in Kentucky; it attained LEED Silver status.
  • Recently renovated  Historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant on College Square, partially staffed by student workers, is Kentucky’s first green hotel, attaining LEED Gold status.
  • The Deep Green Residence Hall is the world’s greenest college residence hall, with LEED Platinum-Plus status and Living Building Petal recognition.


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, friends and endowment income.
  • Berea’s endowment funds 73 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.


Visitors may tour the campus Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm through the Berea College Visitors Center. Historical tours run 9 am, 10 am, 1 pm and 3 pm. Craft tours run 10am and 2pm. For reservations call 859-985-3145 or send an email to visitcenter@berea.edu.

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.

Telephone Numbers

  • Admissions—859-985-3500
  • Alumni Relations—859-985-3104
  • Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant—859-985-3700
  • College Relations/Development—859-985-3005
  • Financial Aid—859-985-3310
  • Log House Craft Gallery—859-985-3225
  • Human Resources—859-985-3070
  • Integrated Marketing & Communications—859-985-3018

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