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 Life | Support | Sustainable Campus Features | 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 full-tuition scholarship worth $20,900, or $83,600 for four years.
    • Nationally recognized labor program in which all students participate.
    • Serves primarily the Appalachian region and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
    • Best collection of resources gathered over nearly a century, documenting the Southern Appalachian region.
    • Multiple Compton, Fulbright, Truman, Udall, and Watson fellowship winners.
    • In 2011, Washington Monthly magazine ranked Berea the #1 liberal arts college in the nation.
    • Listed as a “Best Buy” college in 2009 by Forbes magazine.
    • National recognition for innovative and outstanding service learning.

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 Washington University in St. Louis and 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
    • Academic credit internships in which 10% of students participated in 2011-12
    • Accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges


Incoming Berea students have financial need, but must meet high academic standards.

    • Of incoming freshman, 57% ranked in the top fifth of their high school graduating classes.
    • Entering students averaged 24.1 composite ACT scores.
    • Nearly 53% of new freshmen come from families where neither parent has a college degree.


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.

    • 17,832 living alumni in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.
    • Alumni in 72 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

Annual Expenses

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

    • Cost of Education—$20,900 per student (provided by the College from the endowment, gifts, scholarships, and grants brought by students)
    • Room and Board—$5,792
    • Fees—$910 (includes $300 technology fee to support student laptop computer program)
    • Books and Incidentals—$2,502.


Even without athletic scholarships, Berea has achieved significant success.

    • Intercollegiate program of 8 men’s and 8 women’s sports
    • Member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA); Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC)
    • Men’s cross country team has made national championship appearances in 3 of the last 4 years, including consecutive appearances in 2010 and 2011
    • Cross country and track and field teams have sent over 100 athletes to nationals in the past 20 years and boast 22 NAIA All-Americans
    • About 50% of students participate in a variety of intramural and club sports

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 current model 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 in most classroom buildings and outdoors in the Quad
    • Technical support plus hardware and software training opportunities are offered

Current Enrollment

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

    • 1,613 undergraduates, representing 46 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and 58 countries other than the U.S.
    • 69% of students from the Appalachian region and Kentucky
    • 25% minority student enrollment—418 students (not including international students)
    • 7.1% international student enrollment—114 students

Campus Facilities

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

    • 140 beautifully landscaped acres on 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
    • A residential campus with 14 residence halls and 9 specialty houses, plus 50 family housing apartments, accommodating about 88% of students on campus
    • Berea College Ecovillage student family housing complex, including a state-of-the-art child care center for 120 children; the Ecovillage models sustainable living with ecological design elements to vastly reduce energy and water usage
    • 7,700 acres of forest and 1,200 acres for instruction in agriculture and natural resources
    • Historic Boone Tavern Hotel on College Square, staffed with a number of student workers


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

    • Full-time faculty—124; part-time faculty—35
    • 87% of faculty hold the highest degree in their fields
    • Student-to-faculty ratio—11:1

Financial Assistance

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

    • Average family income for an incoming Berea student is $26,426
    • 99% of first-year 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 $85,200
    • Financial aid and scholarships are available for meeting the additional costs of room, board, 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
    • Approximately 141 Berea students study, intern, or teach abroad each year, most with the generous support of education abroad scholarships and grants
    • 13% of upperclassmen studied abroad in 2010-11 in 31 countries; the Berea Term Abroad program pays up to 75% of student cost

Interracial Education

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

    • 18% of enrolled students are African American
    • The African and African American Studies department 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”
    • 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 7 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 is enhanced
    • 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:

    • 358,556 volumes
    • 42,377 e-books
    • 750 print periodical subscriptions
    • 13,756 full-text journals available electronically
    • 11,593 media volumes
    • Special Collections and Archives, including the Weatherford-Hammond Appalachian Collection, the largest collection of Appalachian archival materials in the United States


Berea, with a 2010 population of 13,561, 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, KY; Knoxville, TN; or Cincinnati, OH 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 region.

    • 82% of first-year students return as sophomores
    • 85% 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 their 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
    • 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.

      • Convocation series brings notable national and regional speakers, scholars, and performers to campus
      • The Willis D. Weatherford Campus Christian Center holds weekly chapel services and other community events
      • Wellness program encourages healthy lifestyle, including free personal training for students
      • A member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC), students participate in 16 intercollegiate sports (8 men’s and 8 women’s) and cheerleading
      • More than 70 student clubs and organizations enhance student life



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% 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

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
    • 8,400 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 90% of all students on campus
    • The first ecological village (Ecovillage) in Kentucky, a student family housing complex, includes a state-of-the-art child care facility for 120 children, and models sustainable living; Ecovillage residences are designed to consume less energy and water (75%) than conventional housing
    • Lincoln Hall was the first Kentucky building certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED); it attained LEED Silver status
    • Recently renovated and historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant on College Square, partially staffed by student workers, is Kentucky’s first green hotel, having attained LEED Gold status
    • Central Plant, built to LEED standards, has reduced the ecological footprint of the College by lowering energy consumption and is a major factor in meeting the overall College goal of 45% less energy usage by 2015


Visitors may tour the campus Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm through the Berea College Visitors Center. Historical tours run 9am, 10am, 1pm and 3pm. 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.

Phone Numbers

  • Admissions—859-985-3500
  • Alumni Relations— -3105
  • Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant— -3700
  • College Relations/Development— -3005
  • Financial Aid— -3310
  • Log House Craft Gallery— -3226
  • People Services (human resources)— -3070
  • Integrated Marketing & Communications— -3018

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