How to Get Into Hamilton College

Man using laptop researching how to get into hamilton college
September 8, 2022
Why Go To Hamilton College? How Hard Is It to Get Into Hamilton College? How to Get Into Hamilton College Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

”Mary

Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/15/22

If you want to attend a highly-acclaimed liberal arts college, Hamilton could be the school for you. This guide provides everything you need to know about how to get into Hamilton College. 

Located in Clinton, New York, Hamilton College is one of the oldest colleges in the United States. It was chartered in 1812 and named for Alexander Hamilton, America’s first Secretary of the Treasury.

Its motto, “Know Thyself,” encourages students to pursue a program of study that excites them and helps them hone their unique strengths. Committed to diversity, equity & inclusion, Hamilton strives to foster a campus environment where students and faculty of all backgrounds can succeed. 

Read on for information on how to get into Hamilton College. 

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Why Go To Hamilton College? 

Hamilton College consistently has high levels of student satisfaction. If you’re considering Hamilton for your post-secondary studies, here are some of its highlights.

The Academics

US News has ranked Hamilton College #13 in its list of the 2022 Best National Liberal Arts Colleges

Blue cicrle with '13th' written in it outlining Hamilton's ranking in the Best National Liberal Arts Colleges rankings

Hamilton prides itself on its open curriculum. With few required courses, students have the opportunity to take classes in a variety of subject matters that suit their interests. 

Dr. Amy Koenig, assistant professor in the Classics department, loves the open curriculum because “more often than not, [students are] taking the class because they want to be in that class, which creates a fantastic atmosphere.” 

All Hamilton students are required to take:

After you declare a concentration in the spring of your sophomore year, there will be certain requirements set by the department. There are 44 concentrations (i.e. majors) and 57 total areas of study, so you’re bound to find courses that interest you. 

Beyond the open curriculum, Hamilton has off-campus study opportunities to give students the chance to travel. It has programs in New York City, Washington D.C., and the New England Center for Children. It also partners with international programs in China, France, and Spain.  

*Note: Each physical education course runs for a half semester. Varsity athletes can use their sport to satisfy one of the three physical education course requirements. 

The Faculty

With a population of approximately 2000 students, Hamilton has small class sizes that allow for meaningful relationships between faculty and students. Its student-faculty ratio is 9:1, and 76.4% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.

Dr. Clark Bowman, Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Statistics, admires that everybody at Hamilton is working together. Bowman says, “This is the first place I have been where it feels like everyone — students, faculty, staff, administrators — is on some sort of big team trying to make something great happen.”

Dr. Mo Alloush, Assistant Professor of Economics, believes that “inspired teaching and being a good advisor can make a big difference for students.” 

There are many different avenues for academic advising available to students. With tons of support from faculty and administration, students are well-equipped to succeed at Hamilton College. 

The Internships

Hamilton helps its students find internship opportunities, along with funding to cover living expenses for unpaid or minimally paid internships. Many students find excitement and passion during their internships. 

Once students secure an internship, they can apply for funding through the Summer Internship Funding portal. The applications are assessed on the following factors: 

The purpose of this funding is to cover cost-of-living. It doesn’t provide an income, but Hamilton’s intention is to grant enough money to cover your expenses during your internship. 

Current student Violet Newhouse did an internship with YWCA Missoula. She got to split her time between its domestic violence & homeless shelter (The Meadowlark) and its summer camp (GUTS! - Girls Using Their Strength). She is interested in public health, so Hamilton helped her pursue meaningful work in the field during her studies. 

Joey Moore worked as a funded Hamilton intern at the Oneida County History Center. His first exposure to the center was as a volunteer with Hamilton’s hockey team. He also praised Hamilton’s writing-intensive courses, suggesting that his writing ability helped him land the job and thrive in it.

James Argo interned with the healthcare sector at Goldman Sachs, where he combined his interests in biology and economics. He got the job by cold-emailing former Hamilton students whose contact information he found in the alumni directory. He praises Hamilton for its well-connected network of alumni. 

The Environment 

The average freshman retention rate is 94%, which shows that student satisfaction is high. In addition to encouraging students to study what they love, Hamilton College promises to allow students to be who they are. 

Blue bubble that says '94%' with caption of 'Hamilton College Freshman Retention Rate'

Praise for Hamilton comes from many students. Kathryn Kearney appreciates the community that Hamilton, both in and outside the classroom. Pat Morelli cherishes the diversity of interests he can pursue at Hamilton, from high-level athletics to music to EMT volunteering. 

With more than 200 clubs and organizations on campus, students can easily connect with each other and build a community. The array of groups participate in recreational sports, advocacy, computing, and crafting, to name a few. There is no shortage of ways to get involved on campus. 

The Inclusivity 

In 2008, Hamilton eliminated merit-based scholarships, allocating that money instead to need-based financial assistance. Financial need is not a factor in admissions decisions. All students who are admitted and qualify for financial aid will have their full demonstrated financial need met

Pink bubble that says '>200' with caption of 'Hamilton Clubs and Organizations'

Hamilton also boasts its opportunity programs. The function of these programs is to assist promising students who have faced challenges academically and/or economically. They provide academic support, financial assistance, advocacy, and personal support to students who otherwise might not be able to attend college.

How Hard Is It to Get Into Hamilton College? 

So you want to go to Hamilton College? Let’s break down its admission statistics and methods. 

Admission Statistics 

According to US News, Hamilton College has an average acceptance rate of 18%. However, Hamilton’s admissions are becoming more competitive as its acceptance rate for the class of 2026 was 11.8%.

The average SAT score of Hamilton’s admitted students is between 1380-1510, and the average ACT score is between 32 and 34.

Two circles outlining the average SAT and ACT scores of Hamilton College's admitted students

Out of 9380 applicants, there were 533 students in the most recently admitted class of 2025. Class data shows that 7.3% are international students, 32.6% are students of color, and 18.4% are the first generation in their family to go to college. 

Hamilton stresses that it is need-blind for domestic students, meaning a student’s financial situation is not a consideration during the admission process. 50% of students in the class of 2025 received need-based funding. 

Early Decision vs. Regular Decision

The acceptance rate for Early Decision (ED) is slightly higher than Regular Decision (RD). ED is a great option if you’re sure that Hamilton is the school for you. It’s a binding agreement, which means that you must commit to enrolling if they accept you. 

Hamilton also offers January admission to a limited number of promising ED applicants. It also defers a small number of ED applications and rolls them over into the RD pool. In both these instances, the binding commitment is lifted. 

The majority of Hamilton students are admitted through Regular Decision. This is a good option if you aren’t 100% certain about attending Hamilton but are considering it.

Interview

Hamilton College strongly encourages applicants to participate in a personal interview. While it isn’t a requirement, it helps the admissions committee get to know you and see how you might fit into the wider community. This is your opportunity to show Hamilton why you’re a great applicant. 

The “why?” is what matters to Hamilton. The admissions council can see all your accomplishments and accolades; the purpose of the interview is to hear the stories attached. This is your chance to talk about your passions, ambitions, hopes, and dreams, and more specifically, why you want to pursue them at Hamilton.

Hamilton emphasizes that it’s a conversation, not a formal interview. There are no trick questions or scripts to follow. As long as you come into the interview with confidence and you’re prepared to talk about your interest in Hamilton, you’ll do well. The most important thing is to be yourself! 

How to Get Into Hamilton College 

Ready to apply? Read on for a rundown of the application process and some important dates to keep in mind.

Deadlines 

Review the deadlines and keep them at the front of your mind as you pursue your application. 

Table outlining Hamilton College's application deadlines
Source: Hamilton College, Hamilton College

Students who apply through Regular Decision can convert to Early Decision II if they decide to make Hamilton their top choice. If you choose that route, you have until January 31st to indicate your decision by filing an Early Decision Agreement.  

Application Portal 

You have your choice of application portals: the Common Application or the Coalition Application. Both are centralized portals that allow you to send applications to multiple schools. Eligible applicants can apply through QuestBridge, which is a non-profit dedicated to helping low-income students attend college. 

Regardless of the platform, all applications are treated equally by Hamilton. 

You’ll begin by creating an account on either platform and filling in your personal information. There are sections for your grades, test scores, essays, and recommendation letters. 

Tests & Transcripts 

Hamilton’s primary consideration for its applicants is academic accomplishments. It describes high school achievements as “the most important piece of your application to Hamilton.” You’ll submit your high school transcript through the application portal. 

Hamilton also recognizes the strain that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on students’ ability to thrive in a testing environment. As such, it has suspended its testing requirement indefinitely.

In the application portal, you have the option to self-report your standardized tests, or you can forgo submitting these test scores entirely. And if you want to submit your test scores, you still can! 

Applicants for whom English is a second language are required to submit the results of an English Language Proficiency test. There is a section in the application portal to submit these scores. 

Essays 

Although it regards grades highly, Hamilton recognizes that the numbers don’t tell the whole story of a person. It uses the essay questions provided in the application portals to give you an opportunity to share more of your story. 

The essay section is vital because it contextualizes the rest of your application. It’s an opportunity to stand out by grabbing the reader’s attention with a great hook, telling a story with beautiful and exciting language, and doing it all in your authentic voice. 

For further guidance, Hamilton provides examples of essays that worked. These are standout essays from admitted students that impressed the admissions committee. They vary in content and tone, but they all tell compelling stories of going through complex situations and learning from them. 

Recommendations

The Common Application requires a school report and a teacher recommendation. Personal recommendations are not required, but the portal allows for up to two. 

The Coalition Application requires a counselor evaluation and a teacher evaluation. It also permits, but does not require, two general recommendations. 

Although the personal and general recommendations are not required, it’s always a good idea to include them. Recommendation letters can go a long way in solidifying your place at Hamilton. They offer insight from people who can speak to your academic potential and community involvement, both important factors for Hamilton. 

You can also have your recommenders submit their letters directly to the school. In this form, there’s a section to indicate whether the recommender is an alum, parent, or member of the Hamilton College community. 

FAQs: How to Get Into Hamilton College

Still have questions about Hamilton? Here are some common questions answered. 

1. How Much Does It Cost to Apply?

The application fee is $60. 

Hamilton College believes that finances should not be a barrier to entry, so students with financial need can submit a request for a fee waiver on their application. 

2. What Should I Do If I’m on the Waitlist? 

Being waitlisted means that you’re a promising applicant, but there was simply not enough space to admit you. Some people choose to withdraw their waitlisted applications from consideration, but you can remain on the list for review.

May 1st is the deadline for students to either accept or decline their admissions offer. It’s after this date that Hamilton has a sense of how many students it can admit from the waitlist. In recent years, it has varied from 12 to 50 students admitted. 

The wait can continue throughout the summer as numbers fluctuate. If you’re on the waitlist, it’s a good idea to pursue other options while you wait to hear the final decision. 

3. Can I Take a Gap Year After Being Admitted? 

Hamilton’s gap year policy allows for students to apply for a deferral after submitting the enrollment deposit by May 1st. You then apply by emailing the Dean of Admission stating your request and explaining your intentions for your gap year. 

From there, the admissions committee will consider your request and let you know about their decision by mid-June. If approved, there are certain conditions. You must:

All documents must be sent by January 1st of your gap year. 

4. What is the Purpose of the Open Curriculum?

With its open curriculum, Hamilton recognizes that students do their best when they get to make their own decisions. It seeks to offer students a well-rounded education that pairs rigorous academics with personal development. 

Hamilton lists the values and practices that its curriculum fosters in its students:

5. How Many Courses Will I Take Per Semester? 

If you take four courses in each semester, you’ll easily satisfy the 32-credit requirement by the end of your senior year. 

Some students opt to take three courses, and every once in a while, people will take five. As long as you satisfy the requirements of the college and your concentration, there is no set rule. 

This number does not include the physical education requirements, which don’t count toward the 32-credit requirement. 

6. How Many Concentration-Specific Courses Will I Take? 

This will depend on your concentration. For example, the neuroscience concentration consists of 12 courses, while the philosophy concentration consists of nine courses. Hamilton provides a catalogue of academic programs with a breakdown of the requirements for each concentration. 

You’ll declare your concentration in the second semester of your sophomore year, at which point you’ll be enrolled in at least your second course in that concentration.

Final Thoughts

Hamilton College is a competitive and well-respected dschool that values rigorous academic study and community-building. It offers students the opportunity to study what excites them within the flexible bounds of a concentration. Students love the campus, the opportunities it provides, and the lifelong friends they make along the way. 

If Hamilton feels like the right fit for you, apply!

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