Most Competitive Majors At UMass Amherst

Last Updated on September 9, 2022 by Alvina Ibe

Here are the majors responsible for producing the most competitive students at UMass Amherst. Most Competitive Students Majors Aerospace Engineering Aerospace Engineering Animal Science Animal Science Electrical & Computer Engineering Electrical & Computer Engineering Computer Science Biochemistry Chemical Engineering Chemical Engineering Chemistry Economics Economics Environmental Studies Physics Environmental Studies Physics Mathematics Music Mathematics Mathematics Physics Biochemistry

When searching the internet for required information, not always will it yield the correct answer. This is mostly because the internet is filled with lots and lots of information that are often not from reliable sources. If you have been searching for information on most competitive majors at UMass Amherst, this article below contains all you need to know and more.

Collegelearners provides the finest and latest information on most competitive majors at UMass Amherst, UMass Amherst acceptance rate by major, easiest major to get into UMass Amherst, UMass Amherst acceptance rate 2020, how competitive is UMass Amherst, UMass Amherst business acceptance rate, open majors at UMass Amherst. You can also find up-to-date and related articles on Collegelearners.

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What Majors Is UMass Amherst Known For

According to, the five most competitive majors at UMass Amherst include Civil-Construction Engineering, Bioengineering and Molecular Biology, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Nursing.

UMass Amherst academics are divided into 10 different schools or colleges and four of those schools and colleges are considered competitive. So, in order of their selectivity, the first is Nursing. So, Nursing has around a 10% acceptance rate here at UMass Amherst. It’s an extremely small college. We only have room for 64 students per year and that’s out of a freshman class of over 5,000 so you can see, with those numbers and it is a strong program, why it’s very selective. I often say that Nursing is kind of its own little world so if you’re thinking about applying to Nursing at UMass Amherst, it’s really important to communicate with us about that. Talk to the Nursing department and talk to Admissions to make sure that you have all the information about what that process looks like because, again, it is just a little bit different.

Then we have the College of Information and Computer Sciences. That typically has around a 25% acceptance rate and these rates can vary year to year depending on how much room we have, how many students are graduating, and how many students are coming in, but that’s just to give you a general sense.

Then we have the Isenberg School of Management and the College of Engineering. Those typically have around a 30% acceptance rate. And many of these schools and colleges have more than one major within them. Engineering has seven different types of engineering you can study and the Isenberg School of Management, which is our business school, has many different majors in it, as well. All of the majors that fall within a selective school or college are going to be considered selective or competitive and, again, maybe a little bit more difficult to be admitted into than something in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences or the College of Natural Sciences, which have open majors.

On the UMass Amherst Common Application, as it stands right now, you’re going to be asked to choose a first-choice major and a second-choice major. So, for students who are applying to an open major- like, let’s say History or even something smaller like Japanese- you’re really not going to have to worry too much, generally speaking, about the second-choice major. You need to put something in but, essentially, if it’s an open major that you’re applying to and you’re admissible, odds are that you’re just going to be put in your first-choice major. If your first-choice major is something within a competitive program, then you really wanna give yourself a strong backup option by putting an open major as your second-choice major.

So, for example, I would not recommend that a student put Computer Science as their first-choice major and Computer Systems Engineering as their second-choice major. They’re in two different schools and colleges, but both schools and colleges are competitive and difficult to be admitted into. So, if you’re not admitted into Computer Science, the odds are not that great that you’re going to be admissible into Computer Systems Engineering since they’re both competitive. So, the same thing goes for applying to two different majors within the same competitive school or college. So, I wouldn’t recommend putting first choice Finance and second choice Accounting because they’re both within the Isenberg School of Management, which is a competitive program. So, a better option in those situations might be putting your first choice as Computer Science and your second choice as Math. Math is in the College of Natural Sciences and is considered an open major.

Umass Amherst Acceptance Rate By Major

Umass Amherst is a pioneer in offering individualized learning platforms. No matter what your major you can take classes with small classes, set up to challenge you. Best of all is the acceptance rate. Nearly 90% of students are admitted based on preliminary grades. This means that nearly 90% of students are admitted with no admin review, no essay responses, and no interviews.

UMass is a highly rated public university located in Amherst Center, Massachusetts in the Springfield, MA Area. It is a large institution with an enrollment of 22,491 undergraduate students. Admissions is somewhat competitive as the UMass acceptance rate is 64%. Popular majors include Psychology, Liberal Arts and Humanities, and Economics. Graduating 82% of students, UMass alumni go on to earn a starting salary of $41,200.

UMass Amherst has 10 schools and colleges, and four are considered competitive.

  1. Nursing: Nursing has around a 10% acceptance rate. There is only room for 64 students, so it is very selective.
  2. College of Information and Computer Science: CICS has an acceptance rate of about 25% (rates can vary year to year).
  3. Isenberg School of Management
  4. College of Engineering.

All of the majors in a competitive school or college are considered competitive.

Easiest Major To Get Into UMass Amherst

It’s Easier to Get into UMass Amherst for Non-Massachusetts Residents a new report from the Pioneer Institute found students from out-of-state were accepted to the flagship campus with lower GPAs and SAT scores, on average, than those who call the Bay State home.

With every major comes major requirements — classes you must take in order to receive credit towards the degree. These classes can be held at different times and taught by various professors in the department, but every student will ultimately complete them as requirements to graduate. To be a journalism major, one must pass a series of multimedia journalism classes to further enhance his or her ability to use digital media, as the industry grows to be heavily reliant on it for the spread of breaking news. This requirement is what led me to Journalism 333: Visual Storytelling. My expectations entering this class were that I wouldn’t end up with that great of a grade, as my picture taking ability is not up to par in comparison to my much more aesthetically-focus peers. However, this class ended up being by far the most rewarding one I’ve taken in my time at University of Massachusetts Amherst

UMass Amherst College of Natural Sciences Acceptance Rate

UMass Amherst offers a wide range of resources for pre-med/pre-dental/pre-health students.

Students pursuing a graduate degree in a health field are encouraged to take advantage of advising throughout college. For freshmen, this means attending group advising during orientation and in the fall and spring semesters. Group advising details what courses to take and how to be competitive for graduate admissions. Freshmen also have access to their major advisors and to the pre-health peer advising team. Students in their sophomore year and through matriculation to medical school are encouraged to meet one-on-one with a pre-health advising professional each semester to track progress.

Beyond advising, pre-health students have access to all of the resources offered by Massachusetts’s flagship university:

  • Academic support and tutoring at the Learning Resource Center (open until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday!)
  • Help finding research and other scholarly opportunities through the Office of Undergraduate Research Studies and Biology Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship program
  • Opportunities to work with top-tier students across a range of disciplines in identifying cutting-edge solutions to current problems through the Integrated Concentration in Science program (iCons)
  • Support in finding internships and co-ops through Career Services
  • Connection to the campus and the community through the office of Student Activities and Involvement
  • And more!

A school’s reported percentage of admits to medical/dental school can be difficult to interpret. Statistics can be misleading. Most graduate programs in the health fields strongly encourage students to get a committee letter—a letter of recommendation—from their undergraduate institution. Schools that want to say that 100 percent of their students who applied to medical school were admitted can simply decline to write a committee letter for anyone who is unlikely to be admitted. Nationally, about 40 percent of applicants get accepted to medical school.

UMass Amherst, being a public institution of higher learning and committed to transparency and flexibility, writes a committee letter for any student or alum who requests one by our deadline. Advisors coach students who are not on track for admission to fill the gaps in their application before applying but do not stop anyone from applying.

That said, 76 percent of UMass Amherst students and alumni with cumulative and science GPAs of 3.6 or higher and who scored at or above the 74th percentile on the MCAT (510) were admitted to MD programs for fall 2020. The rate of admission increased substantially beyond 76 percent when students had meaningful, sustained service and clinical experience before applying and when they were genuinely open to attending DO programs. For this reason, students are coached as early as orientation about what admissions committees will expect.

UMass Amherst Acceptance Rate 2020

UMass is one of the more competitive public colleges or universities in the US, with a 59.70% acceptance rate, an average of 1230 on the SAT, an average of 28 on the ACT and an rough average unweighted GPA of 3.7 (unofficial). In order to feel secure when applying to this school, it is incredibly useful to to score higher than 75% or more of US test-takers, above a 1230 on the SAT or a 28 on the ACT. Though of course all schools strive to look at a holistic image of each student, a high standardized test score can give you a competitive edge over other qualified applicants, making sure that admissions is able to focus on the most exciting aspects of your application.

UMass Admissions Scorecard

  • Amherst, MA
  • Public
  • Undergraduate students: 21,460
  • Estimated average unweighted GPA of admitted students (unofficial):  3.7
  • Average SAT Score of admitted students: 1230
  • Average ACT Score of admitted students: 28
  • Subject tests required: No
  • SAT Scoring policy: Superscore
  • ACT Scoring policy: Superscore
  • Scholarships based on test scores: UMass offers several merit-based scholarships in addition to need-based financial aid. They don’t specify the test scores needed to qualify.

UMass Average SAT Score: 1230

The average SAT score of admitted students to University of Massachusetts-Amherst is 1230. If you or your child is applying to UMass, scoring above 1230 means the SAT is working in your favor. Scoring below 1230 means the SAT is working against you. Moreover, if your child scores above 1330, the 75th percentile score at UMass, the ACT will significantly help their chances of getting in.

UMass Amherst Reputation

How Competitive Is UMass Amherst

The University of Massachusetts Amherst, which accepts over half of applicants, has a somewhat selective admissions process. If your SAT/ACT scores and GPA fall within the school’s average ranges, you have a strong chance of being accepted. However, UMass Amherst has a holistic admissions process involving other factors beyond your grades and test scores. A strong application essay and glowing letters of recommendation can strengthen your application, as can participation in meaningful extracurricular activities and a rigorous course schedule. Applicants to UMass Amherst should note that some programs also have portfolio or audition requirements. Students with particularly compelling stories or achievements can still receive serious consideration even if their test scores are outside UMass Amherst’s average range.

In this scattergram above, the blue and green dots represent students accepted to UMass Amherst. You can see that the majority of students who were accepted had high school averages of B+ or better, combined SAT scores of about 1100 or higher (ERW+M), and ACT composite scores of 23 or higher.

UMass Amherst landed the #118 spot in College Factual’s 2021 ranking of best overall colleges in the United States. The higher ed experts analyzed 1,715 colleges and universities across the nation to determine this ranking. This puts it in the top 10% of all schools in the nation.

Common Questions about Choosing a Major

There are many steps to choosing your major—and getting accepted.  See your academic advisor regularly to learn the necessary steps and make sure you’re on track—it’s not the same for every major.  (More about how to pick your major below.)

When do I declare a major?

No later than the registration period during your third full-time semester at UMass, though for some majors it’s important to declare sooner.  You won’t know all of your requirements until you’ve decided on a major and been accepted, so it’s important to declare a major on time to make sure you can graduate on time.  You are given 10 semesters to graduate (this includes work done elsewhere).  The more you want to do, the more you need to plan. 

I’m not sure what I want to major in, so I’d just rather work on my General Education requirements (GenEds).

As long as you are uncertain of you major, deliberate major exploration is the priority, not finishing your GenEds.  There is a time-line to declaring your major; your GenEds just need to be done by the time you graduate. 

This graphic is a representation of all of the requirements you will need to graduate; see an advisor for more details about each level of requirements.  There are many optional things, too, such as honors, a minor, or a certificate.  But figuring out your major is the first step. 

How do I declare a major?

Ultimately, by meeting with someone in the department who can change your major (usually an advisor).  

However, there are 2 basic categories of majors, restricted and unrestricted

Restricted majors have some sort of application process you have to go through to apply, and admission isn’t guaranteed.  Restrictions vary a lot!  Some are competitive, others aren’t.  Even if they aren’t competitive, you still have to meet certain standards as part of the application process (fill out an application, get C‘s or higher in all of the predictors, have a 2.0 GPA).  Anyone pursuing a restricted major must have a back-up plan (Plan B) for a major that isn’t restricted; an advisor can help you determine if your back-up plan is appropriate given your GPA.  Some majors may have deadlines, beyond which you can’t declare the major. 

Unrestricted majors usually just require a meeting to process a change of major for a student.  Two basic formats are followed, either an individual meeting with an advisor in the department or attendance at an information session and completion of a statement of interest.

For more information, go to our how to Declare a Major page.

When do I declare a back-up plan (Plan B) major?

If you are in your third full-time semester at UMass and you have applied to a major and have to wait for grades to come out for your top choice major, you should plan to declare your back-up major at that time.  You want to put your Plan B major in place first, to give you the best access to courses.  You can always change your major and adjust your schedule if you get into your top choice major, but you’ll need to declare your Plan B major in the meantime. 

Does my Plan B major need to closely relate to my top choice major?

No.  Sometimes there’s a major with closely related content that makes sense, but in terms of careers, there are usually many options (more on that later). 

How do these issues apply to transfer students?

The same policy to declare a major applies to transfer students approved to enroll in an Exploratory Track, no later than the registration period during your third full-time semester at UMass.

How can an advisor help me with the major exploration process? 

Advisors can:

  • help you select courses to explore different majors, and make sure you’re on track with other requirements
  • inform you of procedures, deadlines, etc.
  • let you know if you need a back-up plan (Plan B), and help you explore those options
  • help you weigh your options if you’re having a hard time deciding
  • help you consider other options to round out your degrees such as a minor or certificate. 
  • help you explore extra-curricular options such a student organizations, internships, 5 College Interchange, international or domestic exchange, etc. 

So now, the really big question:  How do I pick my major?

Pick a major based on what you do well in and find interesting to learn—don’t pick a major because you think it’s the “right” major.  You will need to learn about majors (more below) and also do some self-reflection on your interests, values, personal qualities, strengths, and skills. 

Most people don’t go on to have careers directly related to the content of their majorTHAT’S OK!  A major does not equal a career.  The purpose of an undergraduate degree is to give you a well-rounded education that will prepare you to do many things and to give you the skills for life-long learning (vocational or technical training is to prepare you for a specific career). 

But I’m worried about career options

Getting stuck on the idea of a career often leaves students feeling stuck about what to major in, mostly because they think there’s only one right major for the career they want.  Except for highly technical fields and for careers which require certification, licensure, or accreditation (e.g. engineering, nursing), there is generally no one path to any given careerincluding business. 

What is important is that you pick a major that is well-suited to you in terms of abilities and interests. You want to do well at whatever you do; your grades will be important to your first employers and to graduate schools.  What will set you apart from other students when looking for your first job is an internship or other work-related experience.  Skills are transferable to many work environments and are often the focus of job descriptions.  You need to show a potential employer that you are hard-working, smart, flexible, and willing to learn. 

Talk to a career counselor to start the conversation about careers—don’t wait until your senior year!  Exploring Your Options is a great place to start your online research to learn about the connections between majors and careers.  You can even connect with alumni via the Alumni Advisor Network and learn how they connected their majors to their careers.

Can I really major in something other than business to go into business?  Everyone says I should major in business.

You absolutely can major in something else.  Businesses hire you for you unique skills and experiences, they don’t want all of their employees to have the same degree.  Many people think the idea of “business” is secure, but it often just leaves students feeling stuck.  If you think of yourself as a business person, you can still be one, you just need to figure out what major is the best fit for you.  Business is a very broad field and there are many other majors that will give you the same career options as well.  Go to the SBS Career Explorer tool and explore the business categories. 

Remember, there are ways to get business experience without being a “business” majors such as clubs, organizations, internships, etc.

How do I learn about majors?

  • Take classes!  This is the most important thing to do. 
  • Talk to your instructors to learn more about the major and the department.
  • Talk to other students about their experiences in the department. 
  • Talk to your advisor or a departmental advisor.
  • Look at their websites.

Final Thoughts

Figuring out your major, for most students, is a process, but you don’t have to do it alone.  Talk to advisors, instructors, and do your research—the right major is out there for you!

University of Massachusetts Amherst (Umass): Rankings, Fees, Courses,  Admission 2021, Eligibility & Scholarships

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