Work to Learn

Work to Learn

Berea College is one of ten federally recognized Work Colleges in the United States and the only one that provides its students with a paycheck.

Every student works a minimum of 10 hours per week at a campus job in one of more than 130 departments. In working on campus, students support the operations and mission of the College and also gain important workplace experience even before graduation.

Academics and Work Experience

Percentage of recent graduates who participated in at least one internship, service-learning course, education abroad or undergraduate research opportunity

Number of campus jobs available for students

You'll earn a paycheck to cover expenses while you work toward your degree.

percentage of students who credited skills they learned in their labor position as supporting academic development

Berea by the Numberschevron_right

In addition, more than 60 percent of students participate in the Berea Patrons program, in which they contribute a portion of their earnings—on average, about $3 every paycheck—to the College to support its mission to provide every student a no-tuition promise. At Berea, we believe philanthropy is about generosity, not wealth. And Berea Patrons prove it.

Work Well Done

We believe all work, mental and manual, has dignity as well as utility, and that good work should be celebrated. It doesn’t matter if you work in the dining hall or the president’s office, your work is essential.

Student photographer taking pictures of a group in the studio
tech campaign

Hands-on Experience

Photography. Web design. Art curating. You name it, you can probably do it here through the Labor Program and enter the workforce with the advantage of hands-on experience and a transcript that details your workplace experience.

Vidya in bike shop
Vidya '23 Works In Bicycle Maintenance

“I’m really glad I found a place where I can really nurture a lot of myself. The academics, the labor and then socially with the community. Those three things are what make Berea special.”

Rachel Saunders
A Life of Great Promise

“I 100 percent credit Berea with my success in medical school and setting me up for my career trajectory.” – Rachel Saunders ’08 M.D. 

Practical Application

Apply what you learn in the classroom in real-world settings. Agriculture and natural resources majors can put their newly gained knowledge to work at the College Farm. Computer science majors develop software applications for use on campus and business majors help run our retail outlets. Whatever you’re studying, there’s likely a job on campus that goes with it.

Professional Mentorship

In addition to College faculty, our professional staff is also here to teach, mentor, and support. Our labor supervisors teach everything from professional landscaping to bookkeeping and accounting. They also instill the soft skills that employers everywhere are looking for in graduates.

Berea College Audio Visual student and staff member working in booth at a convocation. Berea is a work college.

Labor Positions

Our labor positions are meant to give real work experience. Every student receives a labor transcript that details their attainment of work/soft skills that employers value. When you enter the workforce, the experience you have gained in the labor program gives you an advantage over graduates from other schools.

Berea’s distinctive educational model is rooted in an unparalleled supportive community where students learn the true value and meaning of work. Our students are from modest backgrounds, yet they learn that is not a factor in their ability to be successful in higher education and beyond. Berea College is:

  • powerful example for what higher education can do to improve the fabric of our society.
  • A nationally-ranked liberal arts college were no student pays tuition—ever.
  • One of a few work colleges where its work-to-learn-to-earn model is intrinsic throughout the learning community.
  • A model of equity: race, place, class, gender, identity.

Interested in learning more? Read “Berea College: A Model for Working and Learning in Liberal Arts Colleges of the Future”.