Williams College

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#53, overall score 60.83/100

Fun Fact:

During a baseball game against Harvard in 1869, the two teams’ uniforms could not be told apart. So one spectator went to a local store to buy ribbons for the Williams uniforms, and purple was the only color available — which is why purple is the college’s main color to this day. The woman who bought the ribbons was Jennie Jerome, the mother of Winston Churchill.

Why should Jewish students attend Williams?: “The Jewish Community at Williams is active, pluralist, conspicuous and welcoming. Whether part of a gang that Thursday night or Friday afternoon is cooking Shabbat dinner, or planning an interfaith text study, or creating a conversation around ‘Faith and Gender Identity,’ or learning a new melody as part of Shabbat worship, Jewish students from many backgrounds come together to created the Williams College Jewish Association. Since 1990, the Jewish Religious Center has been the campus home to a diverse and active Jewish community, where each student is able to explore and express one’s evolving Jewish identity and engagement.” - Cantor Robert Scherr, Williams College Jewish Association


  • Location: Williamstown, Mass.
  • Region: New England
  • Campus type: College town
  • Public/Private: Private
  • Liberal Arts: Yes
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 2,076
  • Jewish undergraduate enrollment: 225
  • Jewish population share: 11%
  • Student origin: 14% in-state / 86% out-of-state
  • Student newspaper: Williams Record
  • NCAA Division: III
  • NCAA team: Ephs
  • Ultimate Frisbee team names: WUFO / La WUFA

What Students Say:

“The students are intellectually driven and wholesome, fun people”…”Williams is great for leaving one’s privileged Jewish bubble and meeting and interacting with a diverse range of people.”

COST & AID Score: 15/15

  • Score: 15/15
  • Tuition: $53,550
  • Room & board costs: $14,150
  • Average annual scholarship/grant package: $53,866
  • Average loan debt: $16,230
  • Starting median salary: $62,000
  • Scholarship for Jewish students: No

ACADEMICS Score: 20/20

  • Score: 20/20
  • Acceptance rate: 15%
  • Student/faculty ratio: 7:1
  • Median SAT range: 1400-1570
  • Jewish Studies program: Yes
  • Jewish Studies major: Minor
  • Hebrew major: No

ISRAEL Score: 11/20

  • Score: 11/20
  • School-approved study abroad program in Israel: Yes
  • Israel Studies center: No
  • BDS vote in last four years: Never introduced

SAFETY Score: 3.33/11

  • Score: 3.33/11
  • Anti-Semitic incidents in 2017: 2
  • Campus crime rate: 20.93/1,000 students (high)
  • City crime rate: 18.71/1,000 people (low)
  • LGBT center: Yes

JEWISH LIFE Score: 11.50/34

  • Score: 11.50/34
  • Hillel: The Williams College Jewish Association, the main hub of Jewish life at Williams, is not affiliated with Hillel International.
  • Chabad: No
  • OU-JLIC: No
  • Jewish fraternities: No
  • Jewish sororities: No
  • Can you get kosher food on the school meal plan?: Yes
  • Chicken soup hotline: No
  • Friday night services: 1
  • Average Shabbat attendance: 80
  • Synagogues within 10 miles: 1 (Reform)
  • Eruv: No
  • Most famous Jewish alum: Stephen Sondheim
  • Most unique/noteworthy club: What makes Shabbat special is that the majority of students who come are not, in fact, Jewish. They come to support our community. Each week, a different student group or group of friends volunteers to cook, so they will have Williams Catholic or the Chinese American Student Organization or the rugby team spending their Thursday nights and Friday afternoons helping to make these dinners happen.
  • Kosher food details: Shabbat dinner and lunch, created by students in the kosher kitchen of the Jewish Religious Center, is available on Shabbat, and sometimes as leftovers during the week. Students can prepare kosher sandwiches as part of the Grab & Go lunch available in the Paresky Student Center. Our observant students have been comfortable eating other meals at the salad bar, or Vegan stations in various dining halls.

What Students Say:

“The Jewish community is tiny - there is only one option.”

Do you attend this school? Do you want to tell us more about what life there is like? Take our survey here, and your feedback could be featured in next year’s guide! And if you’re a student or campus professional, join our online community Jewish Campus Confidential, and apply to become a Forward Campus Ambassador.

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