Vassar College

Vassar College Degree Programs

Vassar College appears in our ranking of the 30 Best Colleges for Young Democrats.


Vassar College provides its students with many opportunities for study, bolstered by its groundbreaking educational philosophy of providing courses that no one else does. For example, students in several programs may elect to work with inmates at the Greenhaven Maximum Security Prison. As part of that program, scholars can study what Vassar College calls correlate sequences. One of those is prison studies. Others include continental philosophy, quantitative economics, and the aesthetics and philosophy of art. These correlate sequences count as minors.

There are 51 major programs for undergraduates at Vassar College. They include subjects as diverse as medieval and Renaissance studies and Japanese. Students don’t have the option to study online or to earn graduate degrees, although Vassar College provides students with coursework that is structured around the idea of getting into graduate school elsewhere.

Featured Programs

Interestingly, each degree awarded at Vassar College is a Bachelor of Arts. All of them offer the chance to study abroad, and students usually go overseas during their junior year. The following three majors are representative of Vassar College’s programs:

Bachelor of Arts in German Studies: Aside from the core requirements, students must take 10 units of German studies, one of which must be intensive. Then, there are also eight units of German electives required. The overseas opportunities in this major are to study for a year in either Heidelberg, Berlin, or Munich. The motto of this department is, “Wenn einer eine Ansprach hält, dann müssen die anderen schweigen. Das ist deine Gelegenheit. Mißbrauche sie,” which translates as, “Whenever someone gives a speech, everyone else must be quiet. This is your opportunity. Abuse it.”

Bachelor of Arts in History: Students majoring in history can choose from several foci in their studies. These range from Power, Politics, Labor, and Capital to Memory, Survey, and Historical Method. The courses include Europe 1945, Wars in 20th Century Asia, and Victorian Britain, among many others. The program focuses on critical thinking and analysis along with modern research techniques and the elimination of whitewashing of uncomfortable truths.

Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies: For this degree, “media” means all forms of mass communication throughout history. Courses include Approach to Media Studies, Indigenous and Oppositional Media, and Community-Engaged Learning. The focus is on the development of self-awareness and people’s personal relationship with different media.

All of these follow the standard 120-credit formula. Depending on the degree, there may be different balances between core, major, and elective credits. Students should check the website for particulars.

About Vassar College

Vassar College was founded in 1861 as Vassar Female College. About 350 women paid $350 each for tuition and room and board. The idea was to provide them with an equivalent education to the male-only schools of the day. Since the beginning, the norm at Vassar College was “breaking the norm.” The school has taught many courses as “firsts,” including the study of Russian, Drama, and Media Studies.

The college’s liberal arts philosophy teaches its students to be active learners instead of “bumps on a log.” The intellectual prowess of those first women, along with the academic standards at Vassar College, led it to be the first women’s college to open a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

An example of the forward-thinking exhibited by the students and faculty at Vassar College can be seen in the August 1869 “field trip” where Maria Mitchell took her astronomy students to Iowa to see a solar eclipse, which was trip of more than 1,100 miles. The “Golden Spike” had been driven a few months before, which meant that rail travel from Poughkeepsie to Iowa was available. Nevertheless, 19th-century train travel was not like it is today, and the trip would have taken a week or more.

The college has been co-educational since 1969, and many luminaries of society have been students there, including Meryl Streep, Lisa Kudrow, the late Anthony Bourdain, and Emily Kunstler. Vassar College ranks No. 14 on U.S. News and World Report‘s list of National Liberal Arts Universities. It is also the No. 1 college for veterans in the nation. Vassar College is very competitive, and it accepts fewer than one in four applicants.

Vassar College Accreditation Details

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education bestowed regional accreditation upon Vassar College. The Accreditation Committee of the Teacher Education Accreditation Council gave Vassar College academic accreditation as well.

Vassar College Application Requirements

Transcripts from all high schools attended are required. So are teacher evaluations, a mid-grade report, and for music and dance students, an audition. Either the SAT or the ACT is also required. The writing portion of either test is not required, however.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition is $57,910, and room and board cost $14,220. Fees come to $860 for a total of $72,990 annually. Students are required to have health insurance. Those who are older than 25 and no longer on their parents’ plans must purchase their own. Vassar College is committed to helping to meet 100-percent of each student’s proven financial need.

That financial need is determined after the student fills out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is also known as the FAFSA. The college and the government take the data therein and figure out how much aid the student is entitled to receive. That aid could be a grant, scholarship, loan, or any combination thereof. Most students receive a combination of aid.

Students may also apply for private financial aid, but any such aid received will correspondingly reduce the amount of applicable need-based aid. International students who wish to apply for work-study grants must ensure that all of their immigration documents, including work visas in addition to student visas, are complete and correct prior to both admittance and the application for financial aid.

Vassar College prides itself on its advanced place in the realm of American education and looks to continue its valued and storied traditions well into the 21st century and beyond.