Vassar is a community of special character in which people of divergent views and backgrounds come together to study and live in the distinctive tradition of a residential liberal arts college. A Vassar education opens minds and doors.
There is no “typical” Vassar student because they come from every socioeconomic background, ethnicity, religion, political ideology, sexual orientation, and cultural identity. But there is most definitely a Vassar “type”—intelligent, creative, idealistic, curious, ambitious, and independent.
The single most important advantage of a Vassar education is the quality of the interactions students have with their professors. Vassar professors are topnotch scholars—in many cases internationally renowned. But they are also topnotch teachers. They come here because they want the opportunity to work closely with undergraduates and have an impact on their lives.
Vassar has a student-faculty ratio of 8:1 and an average class size of 17, with upper-level classes typically much smaller. In every discipline, there are opportunities for student-faculty collaboration on original research, frequently resulting in publication in scholarly journals.
You do not have to be wealthy or even well off to attend Vassar. Financial aid is awarded to over 60% of Vassar students, exclusively on the basis of need. The loan portion of the financial aid award is replaced with Vassar scholarship funds for students from low-income families.
The Vassar curriculum has always been characterized by boldness, breadth, and flexibility. Today the curriculum is richer than ever, with an increasing emphasis on multidisciplinary approaches. 29 departments, 6 interdisciplinary programs, 12 multidisciplinary programs, 50 majors, and 1,000 courses.
Vassar’s goal in athletics is to meet the full range of needs of a diverse community — from scholar-athletes who are top competitors in their sports to weekend players looking for recreation to non-athletes interested in keeping fit. The athletics program offers a wide range of intercollegiate varsity, club, intramural, recreational, and fitness options.
There is no “core” curriculum at Vassar and very few requirements. Vassar students choose among 30 departments, 6 interdisciplinary programs, 11 multidisciplinary programs, 51 majors, and 1,000 courses to chart a rigorous course of study that explores their most compelling interests.
The Vassar campus comprises over 100 buildings in architectural styles ranging from modernist to collegiate gothic and 1,000 picturesque acres ranging from the manicured lawns and formal gardens of the main campus to the meadows and woodlands of the Vassar Farm.
At the heart of the campus is Main Building, designated a National Historic Landmark. Designed by James Renwick, Jr. (the architect who designed the Smithsonian), Main was built on the grounds of a former racetrack. Five stories high and 500 feet wide, Main encompassed more interior space than any other building in the country at the time of its completion in 1865. More about Main.
Designated a National Heritage Area by Congress, the Hudson Valley has more major historic sites per square mile than any other area in the U.S. Fabulous mansions of the Gilded Age, quaint river towns, unparalleled hiking and climbing sites in the Catskills and the Shawangunks, world-class art museums—the valley is a national treasure. The newest attraction is the Walkway over the Hudson, once an abandoned railroad bridge, now a New York State Historic Park and the world’s longest pedestrian bridge.
Poughkeepsie, Vassar’s hometown, is a small city in the middle of the valley, half way between Albany, the state capitol, and New York City. Poughkeepsie offers Vassar students invaluable opportunities for field work, volunteer work, and research in sociology and urban studies. Read more about the Hudson Valley.
At the southern end of the Hudson Valley are the bright lights of Manhattan: Lincoln Center, the Museum of Modern Art, Comedy Central, the half-price ticket booth at Times Square, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Chinatown, Greenwich Village, Soho—two hours away by commuter train.
A number of Vassar students commute to New York once a week for internships in a range of industries—publishing houses, design firms, television studios, theaters, financial services companies, art galleries, and the like.