When I recently discussed the merits of Vassar with a family, the first response from parents was “Isn’t that a women’s college?” Over 50 years ago, indeed Vassar was a women’s college but since then has been coed.

Vassar students and academics

Vassar is highly regarded for its innovative curriculum across multiple disciplines and was the first college to offer an undergraduate degree in cognitive science.


The typical Vassar student is creative, proud of individuality, and has an independent spirit. Likewise, those natural inclinations match well with Vassar’s open curriculum. This “open curriculum” means that there are no core or required courses that all students must take. Instead, Vassar students must fulfill a language requirement, take a writing course during freshman year, and complete 1 quantitative course before graduation.


This type of program of study then frees students to design the plan of study that best matches their unique interests. The flexibility of an open curriculum allows over half of Vassar students to graduate with two majors. Upon graduation, a strong 70% of Vassar undergrads go to graduate school, with most of them going on to medical school.


Given its 2,500 student body, introductory courses, often taken in freshman year have an average class size of 21 students. All classes are small seminars. When it’s time to do research or simply get help with a project, each student is matched with his/her own librarian. Art majors get their own studio in senior year which can be a huge time-saving perk.


In terms of freshman year, a unique offering at Vassar is that freshmen are assigned to a group of 10 fellow classmates, which is led by an upperclassman leader to help with transition.


Additional quick facts about Vassar:

Acceptance: 27%

Freshmen retention: 97%

Freshmen from out of state: 71%

4-year Graduation rate: 86%

Most popular majors: biology English, political science


Social: There are 23 Division 3 teams at Vassar with about a quarter of the student body participating. There are over 50 theatre productions during the year and 100+ student clubs. With over 1,000 events held on campus each year, there is plenty for students to do and enjoy outside of class. There is no Greek life at Vassar.


Housing: On-campus student housing is guaranteed for 4 years. Interestingly, 70% of faculty also live on campus. Each residence hall has 1 or 2 faculty as house fellows.


Similar colleges to consider: Brown,  Hamilton, Smith, Tufts, Wellesley, Wesleyan


Financial aid: Vassar meets 100% of need for domestic and international students for all 4 years. In addition, theres a low or no-loan policy for lower income families.  The cost of attendance is $68,000, with 60% of students receiving a range of scholarships from $1,200 to $60,000.


What do you think about Vassar? What about this college is a good fit? Please post your comments below.

Author: Pamela E

Dr. Pamela has helped thousands of teens attend the college of their choice. She brings her 25 years experience in education to assist families, schools, and employers with college selection, admissions, financial aid, and more. Dr. Pamela holds a PhD from Stanford School of Education, and an MBA from Dartmouth.

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