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Berea College
101 Chestnut St.
Berea, KY - 40404
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About Us

Berea College achieved national distinction as the first coeducational and interracial college in the South. With an emphasis on service to the people of Appalachia and beyond, Berea enrolls 1,600 students from 40 states and 70 countries. The College has a longstanding commitment to interracial education; here, people of different races seek to learn from and about each other, while also living together. Berea is among the most racially diverse private liberal arts colleges in the United States. It admits only students whose families are unable to afford the high cost of tuition and awards each of them a Tuition Promise Scholarship, meaning no student ever pays tuition. Berea’s students excel in the College’s supportive but demanding academic environment, and many are the first in their families to graduate from college. The College is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, and all students hold a position in which they work 10-12 hours per week. Washington Monthly Magazine has consistently ranked Berea in the top 3 of Liberal Arts Colleges for its success in educating and graduating academically talented, low-income students who become service-oriented leaders in their professions and communities; in 2016 and 2017, the magazine ranked it number 1.

Located where the Bluegrass Region meets the Cumberland Mountains, the town of Berea (pop. 15,000) lies forty miles south of Lexington and is approximately two hours from Cincinnati, Louisville, and Knoxville. More information about Berea College is available at


Berea College offers a comprehensive benefits package to eligible employees. The Benefits Department is committed to professionalism in accurately, legally and efficiently administering the various benefits plans offered. We are dedicated to being responsive to the needs of our customers. In serving our customers, we are committed to courteous service, fair and equitable treatment, and a respect, concern and understanding of our customer’s needs.


God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth.

Inside View

About Us

Berea College offers a high-quality education to bright and talented students who have limited economic resources. Founded in 1855 by ardent abolitionists and radical reformers, Berea was the first interracial and coeducational college in the South. Today, we are consistently ranked as one of the leading private liberal arts colleges in the United States. We earn this recognition by focusing on rigorous academic programs and graduating students with little or no student loan debt.


The unique combination of factors that distinguish Berea includes:

  • Each student receives a tuition scholarship worth nearly $100,000 for four years.
  • The College is one of only seven federally recognized Work Colleges in the United States.
  • Berea primarily serves the Appalachian region and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
  • The College has an extensive collection of personal papers, organizational records, photographs, oral histories and non-commercial musical recordings gathered over nearly a century, documenting the history and culture of the Southern Appalachian region.
  • The College has had multiple Compton, Fulbright, Truman, Udall and Watson fellowship winners.

Academic Programs

Berea is a nationally recognized liberal arts college offering students experiential learning opportunities in and out of the classroom.

  • Bachelor degrees in 32 majors, including arts and sciences and select professional programs as well as independent, student-designed majors and a dual-degree engineering program in cooperation with the University of Kentucky
  • 15 teacher education programs
  • 16 national and international honor societies
  • Accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Approximately 230 Berea students study, intern, or teach abroad each year, most with the generous support of education abroad scholarships and grants
  • The Berea Term Abroad program pays up to 75 percent of student cost


The College retains excellent faculty from prestigious graduate programs across the nation and the world.

  • Full-time faculty – 132; part-time instructors – 55
  • 92 percent of full-time faculty hold the highest degree in their fields
  • Student-to-faculty ratio – 10:1


For a liberal arts college with an annual enrollment of about 1,600 students, Berea produces a significant variety of leaders in fields such as education, science, entertainment, law, business, and government.

  • 17,844 living alumni in all 50 states as well as in the District of Columbia and U.S. territories
  • Alumni in 75 nations outside the United States
  • Distinguished alumni include: John Fenn, 2002 Nobel Prize winner; G. Samuel Hurst, physicist and inventor of touch screen technology; Juanita M. Kreps, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce; George Lester, developer of the catalytic convertor; and Jack Roush, automotive engineer, designer and owner of Roush Racing

Campus Centers

Berea bases all curricular and co-curricular activities on the College’s Great Commitments, a series of mission statements focusing on equality, inclusivity, service, labor, the liberal arts and Appalachia. Campus centers are critical to ensuring that each of the Great Commitments is carried out, completing the Berea experience for all students.

The Loyal Jones Appalachian Center (LJAC) fosters the College’s Great Commitment to Appalachia. To accomplish this mission, LJAC strives to: 1) develop service-oriented leaders for Appalachia by sponsoring and integrating educational programs on and off campus; 2) explore and illuminate the richness of the Appalachian region, people and cultures; and 3) assist communities, organizations and citizens to work toward the future they envision.

The Center for Excellence in Learning through Service (CELTS) is the home of student service and community engagement. Students serve through volunteer programs, help facilitate academic service-learning courses and work in local non-profit organizations and schools. CELTS also houses the Bonner Scholars Program and provides faculty development in service-learning.

The Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education integrates the College’s Black Cultural Center and the African and African American Studies program by supporting collaborations related to interracial education, equality and justice and shared commitments to cultural understanding.

The Francis and Louise Hutchins Center for International Education seeks to foster understanding of and appreciation for “all peoples of the earth” by offering education abroad opportunities, international student and scholar services, faculty and curriculum development and campus programming each year emphasizing a particular world region.

The Willis D. Weatherford, Jr. Campus Christian Center offers opportunities for worship, weekly prayer, interfaith dialogue and intellectual and spiritual engagement with the Christian faith through convocations, lectures, workshops and occasional spiritual retreats.

The Center for Transformative Learning (CTL) fosters the personal, intellectual and professional growth of students and instructors through peer consultation, faculty development, internships and career development programs.

Labor Program

Education at Berea, where students pay no tuition, involves both academics and student labor.

  • Every student works 10-15 hours per week while carrying a full academic load.
  • Students earn money for books, food and other expenses, and their appreciation for the dignity and utility of labor is enhanced.
  • Students gain valuable job experience for their future careers by working in more than 100 college offices, departments and off-campus programs.

Student Life

Berea’s social and cultural activities complement academics and teach students valuable leadership skills.

  • The Convocation series brings notable national and regional speakers, scholars and performers to campus.
  • The wellness program encourages healthy lifestyles by offering free personal training for students.
  • A member of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), students participate in 14 intercollegiate sports (7men’s and 7 women’s) and cheerleading.
  • More than 60 student clubs and organizations enhance student life.

Student Profile

Incoming Berea students have financial need and must meet high academic standards. Since its founding, Berea has welcomed students from “all nations and climes.”

  • Of incoming first-year students, 58 percent ranked in the top 20 percent of their high school graduating classes.
  • Entering first-year students averaged 24.4 composite ACT scores.
  • There are nearly 1,600 undergraduates, representing 43 states, 2 U.S. territories and 62 countries
  • 72 percent of students are from the Appalachian region and Kentucky
  • 25 percent of students are minorities – 384 students (not including international students)
  • 120 students (8 percent of the student body) are from countries other than the U.S.
  • The median family income for a first-year Berea student is $29,043
  • 96 percent of first-year students are eligible for Pell grants

Annual Expenses

Berea charges no tuition, so students graduate with little or no debt.

  • Cost of education – $24,300 per student in 2015-16 (provided by the College from the endowment, gifts, scholarships and grants brought by students)
  • Room and board – $6,410
  • Fees – $570(includes a $340 technology fee to support student laptop computer program)
  • Books and incidentals – $3,100


Generous support from alumni and friends makes Berea’s unique labor and learning experience possible for promising young people from Appalachia and beyond.

  • A privately supported, nondenominational college, Berea relies on gifts from alumni and friends and on income from the College’s endowment.
  • Berea’s endowment funds 74.3 percent of the education and general operating budget.
  • Approximately $4 million must be raised annually for current operating expenses in addition to capital and tuition replacement funding needs.

Fine Arts

Berea offers varied opportunities for all interested students to create and perform including:

  • Music – 4 choral groups and 7 instrumental ensembles. Presser Music Building offers state-of-the-art studios, classrooms, a recital hall, rehearsal rooms and practice rooms. Kentucky’s largest 56-bell carillon, housed in Draper Tower, provides concerts.
  • Theatre – Berea College Theatre Laboratory mounts full-length and one-act plays directed by faculty, students and visiting artists. All performances take place in the Jelkyl Drama Center – either in the 250-seat McGaw Theatre or in the black box Musser Theatre.
  • Dance – Offers 25 classes in dance and a dance minor. Ten student dance groups perform a variety of styles.
  • Visual Art – Offers gallery space for year-round student and faculty art exhibits. Permanent art collection display includes the Dimitrie Berea Gallery, dedicated to the internationally recognized post-impressionist painter.

Sustainable Campus Features

The College environment demonstrates sustainable living and enhances student learning:

  • Completed in August 2013, the Deep Green Residence Hall is one of the most energy-efficient residence halls in the nation. It earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification and Petal Recognition under the Living Building Challenge.
  • Recently renovated historical buildings and residence halls include sustainable features and have been retro-fitted, often using recycled materials. The renovations reduce the College’s ecological footprint by offering better insulation, daylighting, occupancy sensors for lights and low-flow toilets.
  • Approximately 8,300 acres of forest are managed using sustainable practices. Over 1,200 acres of farmland, including the College garden and greenhouse, are used to grow local foods and provide instruction in the agriculture and natural resources curriculum.
  • Lincoln Hall was the first building in Kentucky to be LEED-certified. It attained LEED Silver status.
  • Berea College is home to Kentucky’s first ecological village (Ecovillage), an ecologically sustainable housing and learning complex with a state-of-the-art child care facility. Ecovillage residences consume 75 percent less energy and water per capita than conventional housing.
  • The historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant on College Square, which is partially staffed by student workers, is Kentucky’s first green hotel, having attained LEED Gold status.
  • The Central Plant, built to LEED standards, has reduced the ecological footprint of the College by lowering energy.

Service to the Region

Berea provides outreach to the Appalachian region through federally funded programs and student-led service projects.

  • Partners For Education houses 10 federally funded programs (e.g., GEAR UP Appalachia, the Promise Neighborhood Initiative, and Upward Bound) designed to support Berea’s commitment to serving students of Appalachia.
  • Students in the Sustainability and Environmental Studies program participate in the development of sustainable communities throughout Appalachia.


Berea, with an estimated population of 14,658 in 2014, is located 35 miles south of Lexington, where Kentucky’s Bluegrass region meets the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains. The Kentucky legislature designated Berea the “Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky.” The College is located near the center of town and is easily accessible by car from Interstate 75. Driving time from Louisville, Kentucky; Knoxville, Tennessee; or Cincinnati, Ohio is about two hours. Commercial airline service is available through Blue Grass Airport in Lexington.


The Visitor Center and Shoppe is the starting point for a 50-minute walking tour that provides a historic overview of the College. Covering three-quarters of a mile, this student-led tour visits notable structures including the Frost Building (originally a Carnegie library), Phelps Stokes Chapel (built by students from 1904-06) and the Draper Classroom Building (renovated to be eco-friendly).

In addition, tours of the Student Crafts program (including broomcraft, ceramics, jewelry, weaving and woodcraft production areas) where students produce hand-made items sold in the Visitors Center and Shoppe, Log House Craft Gallery, Boone Tavern Hotel Gift Shop and around the world.

Tour hours:

Monday-Friday: There will be two (2) scheduled tours daily at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.  At each of those times, both a historical tour and a craft tour will be offered. Outside of those hours, tours will be scheduled by reservation.

Saturday:  Historical tours on the hour from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.  (No craft tours on Saturday)

Prospective students may view the campus Monday-Friday (8am-5pm) by appointment with the Admissions Office. You may schedule a tour by filling out an online visit request form or by calling the Campus Visit Registration Center at 1-800-326-5948.


Berea College, founded by ardent abolitionists and radical reformers, continues today as an educational institution still firmly rooted in its historic purpose “to promote the cause of Christ.” Adherence to the College’s scriptural foundation, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth” (Acts 17:26), shapes the College’s culture and programs so that students and staff alike can work toward both personal goals and a vision of a world shaped by Christian values, such as the power of love over hate, human dignity and equality, and peace with justice. This environment frees persons to be active learners, workers, and servers as members of the academic community and as citizens of the world. The Berea experience nurtures intellectual, physical, aesthetic, emotional, and spiritual potentials and with those the power to make meaningful commitments and translate them into action.

To achieve this purpose, Berea College commits itself:

  • To provide an educational opportunity for students of all races, primarily from Appalachia, who have great promise and limited economic resources.
  • To offer a high-quality liberal arts education that engages students as they pursue their personal, academic, and professional goals.
  • To stimulate understanding of the Christian faith and its many expressions and to emphasize the Christian ethic and the motive of service to others.
  • To promote learning and serving in community through the student Labor Program, honoring the dignity and utility of all work, mental and manual, and taking pride in work well done.
  • To assert the kinship of all people and to provide interracial education with a particular emphasis on understanding and equality among blacks and whites as a foundation for building community among all peoples of the earth.
  • To create a democratic community dedicated to education and gender equality.
  • To maintain a residential campus and to encourage in all community members a way of life characterized by mindful and sustainable living, health and wellness, zest for learning, high personal standards, and a concern for the welfare of others.
  • To engage Appalachian communities, families, and students in partnership for mutual learning, growth, and service.

First articulated in 1962, the Great Commitments represent the historic aims and purposes of Berea College since its founding in 1855. The Great Commitments were originally adopted by the General Faculty and the Board of Trustees in 1969; they were revised and similarly approved in 1993 and most recently in 2017.

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