Berea College

Founded in 1855 as the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, Berea College charges no tuition and admits only academically promising students, primarily from Appalachia, who have limited economic resources. Berea continues to emphasize the importance of coeducational and interracial education. Nearly 26% of our student population identifies as a minority status (with 18% of our population being African American); and the overall coeducational mix is 41% male and 59% female.

The College has an inclusive Christian character, expressed in its motto "God has made of one blood all peoples of the Earth." Berea's primary service region is the Southern Appalachian region, but students come from all states in the U.S. and in a typical year, from more than 60 other countries representing a rich diversity of colors, cultures, and faiths. About one in three students represents an ethnic minority.

Berea continues to build upon a distinctive history of 150 years of learning, labor and service, and find new ways to apply our mission (the Great Commitments) to contemporary times by promoting kinship among all people, serving communities in Appalachia and beyond and living sustainably to conserve limited natural resources. 

The Student Labor Program is a unique and integral component of the educational experience at Berea College, providing opportunities for enhanced learning, personal growth, and career exploration. All students work 10- 15 hours per week and carry a full academic course load.

One of the Great Commitments of Berea College:

“To provide for all students through the Labor Program experiences for learning and serving in the community and to demonstrate that labor, mental and manual, has dignity as well as utility.”

To achieve this commitment, the Student Labor Program at Berea is based on an understanding and expectation of labor as student- and learning-centered; as service to the College and broader community; and as providing necessary work (i.e. work that needs to be done) being done well. Students, faculty, and staff at Berea are engaged in a continuous learning environment that encourages all workers to be active learners, workers, and servers, in a place where the Christian values of human compassion, dignity, and equality are expressed and lived. Therefore Berea expects each worker to:

  • Exhibit Enthusiasm for Learning
  • Act with Integrity and Caring
  • Value all People
  • Work as a Team
  • Serve Others
  • Encourage Plain and Sustainable Living
  • Celebrate Work Well done

These Workplace Expectations, coupled with the institution’s mission to educate the whole person, complements academic learning, builds community through shared work, and prepares the student for entry into a life of work after graduation.

Berea College has earned an excellent reputation for its academic programs as well as for its unique labor program and strong focus on service to Appalachia. Our curriculum, grounded in the liberal arts, is complemented by the opportunity for students to major in many different professional and interdisciplinary programs as well as traditional liberal arts disciplines. Berea offers Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in 32 fields.

By availing themselves of opportunities for internships, field study, study abroad, and faculty-assisted research, Berea College students can personalize and enrich their academic experience. Many Berea alumni find employment in business, government, agriculture, ministry, and teaching, while one-third of Berea's graduates pursue advanced degrees in disciplines such as law, medicine, theology, education, or the arts and sciences. Berea graduates have received many prestigious awards such as Fulbright, Truman, Compton and Watson fellowships and scholarships. In 2002, Berea alumnus John Fenn (class of 1937) received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Berea College offers majors in thirty-two (32) fields of study, some offering multiple curricula that, upon successful completion, lead to Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and/or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees.

Bachelor of Arts Degree Programs

  • African and African American Studies
  • Applied Science and Mathematics
  • Art
  • Asian Studies
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Child and Family Studies
  • Classical Languages (not currently offered)
  • Computer and Information Science
  • Economics
  • Education Studies
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Physical Education
  • Physics
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Religion
  • Sociology
  • Spanish
  • Speech Communication
  • Theatre
  • Women’s Studies

Bachelor of Science Degree Programs

  • Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Business Administration
  • Nursing
  • Technology and Industrial Arts

Students participate in traditional community service, stewardship of natural resources, and preservation of regional culture and traditions. 

  • Appalachian Center directs services and programs for and about Appalachia, as well as classroom opportunities to study history, heritage, and current challenges facing the region.
  • Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service (CELTS) offers opportunities in and outside of the classroom for students and employees to serve others.
  • Entrepreneurship for the Public Good (EPG) program teaches creative problem-solving and collaborative leadership through coursework and internships.
  • TRIO programs (Upward Bound, Woodson Institute, and Educational Talent Search) encourage and assist low-income high school students to enter college and graduate.
  • Sustainability and Environmental Studies (SENS) program involves students in regional and campus environmental and ecological issues.
  • Campus Christian Center sponsors student chaplains in all residence halls and encourages participation in service activities.

Facts at a Glance

  • All students receive a four-year, full tuition scholarship, worth up to $25,500 (2009-10) annually (refer to the financial aid section of the Admissions website for more details on tuition and scholarships).
  • 86% of all students live on campus and all work at least 10 hours a week in the Student Labor Program.
  • Students can choose from among 32 majors.
  • Every student is given a laptop computer provided by the College.
  • 51% of first-year students come from families where neither parent has a college degree.
  • In academic year 2008-09, 22% of the upperclassmen participated in the Education Abroad program.
  • 57% of graduate survey respondents indicated they are employed by an educational, non-profit, or service organization.
  • In academic year 2008-09, there were 19 service learning courses and projects involving 13 departments and programs.

The Great Commitments of Berea College
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," 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 primarily for students from Appalachia, black and white, who have great promise and limited economic resources;
  • To provide an education of high quality with a liberal arts foundation and outlook;
  • 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 provide for all students through the labor program experiences for learning and serving in community, and to demonstrate that labor, mental and manual, has dignity as well as utility;
  • To assert the kinship of all people and to provide interracial education with a particular emphasis on understanding and equality among blacks and whites;
  • To create a democratic community dedicated to education and equality for women and men;
  • To maintain a residential campus and to encourage in all members of the community a way of life characterized by plain living, pride in labor well done, zest for learning, high personal standards, and concern for the welfare of others;
  • To serve the Appalachian region primarily through education but also by other appropriate services.

Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (the Nursing program has full approval status from the Kentucky Board of Nursing)
National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)

Institutional Memberships
American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE)
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
American Bus Association
American Chestnut Foundation
American College Health Association (ACHA)
American Council on Education (ACE)
Annapolis Group
Appalachian College Association (ACA)
Association of Higher Education and Disabilities (AHEAD)
Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities (AIKCU)
Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)
Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U)
Association of Collegiate Conference and Events Directors International (ACCED-I)
Association of Energy Engineers
Association of Governing Boards of Universities (AGB)
Association of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
Association of Physical Plant Administration (APPA)
Berea Chamber of Commerce
College and University Mail Services Association (CUMSA)
College and University Professional Association (CUPA)
Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE)
Council of Independent Colleges (CIC)
Craft Organization Development Association
CraftNet Association
Historical Hotel Association
International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administration (IACLEA)
Kentucky Academy of Science (KAS)
Kentucky Campus Compact
Kentucky Chapter-American Academy of Family Physicians (KAFP)
Kentucky Institute for International Studies (KIIS)
Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC)
Kentucky Woodland Owners Association /National Woodland Owners Association
Mid-South Conference
National Association of College Activities (NACA)
National Association of College Employees (NACE)
National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA)
National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO)
National Association of College Stores
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU)
National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE)
National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
Natural Intramural Recreation and Sports Administration
National Safety Council (NSC)
Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU)
Rotary Club
Smith Travel Research
Southern Association of Colleges and School (SACS)
Southern University Conference (SUC)
The College Board
The Tuition Exchange, Inc
Tuition Exchange Program, CIC
University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (ULSF)
Work Colleges Consortium (WCC)

Special Learning Opportunities
Independent Study increases knowledge, enhances analytical ability, and leads to higher skills. Independent Studies and Team Initiated Studies require previous conceptual framework, (i.e., aesthetic, ethical, historical, literary, scientific, sociological, etc.).

The Internship Program is an experiential education program individually designed for those with a special academic interest requiring integration of classroom learning with practical experience.

Mentor-apprentice summer undergraduate research programs allow students to engage on- and off-campus learning opportunities.

Service-learning courses address community issues while developing academic skills, civic responsibility, and critical, reflective thinking.

Education Abroad develops cultural awareness and world perspectives. Various travel abroad opportunities allow students to gain experience and credit.

Berea College
CPO 2220
Berea, KY 40404


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