Berea College's commitment to serving students from Southern Appalachia and the Commonwealth of Kentucky is demonstrated by the fact that over 74 percent of the student population comes from that region. The student body represents over 40 states nationally and more than 70 other countries. In keeping with its abolitionist roots and commitment to social justice, Berea College seeks to serve "all peoples of the earth" and places particular emphasis on interracial and intercultural education, as well as service-based learning initiatives. Because Berea also is committed to serving those students with demonstrated economic need, the College restricts admission to promising students whose families cannot finance a comparable college education without significant assistance. Thus, financial need is a requirement for admission. Furthermore, the College restricts admission to students who have not previously earned a Bachelor's degree. At Berea College, we combine our resources and those our students have available to them to pay for the costs of going to college. Thanks to our Tuition Promise Scholarship and our unique financial aid program, Berea students do not pay tuition and only pay a portion of the costs for housing and meals. Students graduate from Berea with a high quality education, practical experience from the College's Work program, and one of the lowest average student debt levels in the United States.


Berea College has a national reputation for academic excellence. Therefore, a Berea education is highly prized, and admission is competitive. The College seeks to enroll students who possess limited financial resources and who are motivated to grow intellectually and personally in an environment shaped by Berea’s Great Commitments.

In the admissions process, emphasis is placed on the candidate’s academic record, particularly the kind and strength of courses taken and the grades earned. The College recommends, but does not require, that applicants complete the following high-school academic distribution:

  • Four units of English (including composition, rhetoric, and literature)
  • Three units of Mathematics (at least Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry)
  • Two units of Laboratory Science
  • Two units of Social Science/History (including World History)
  • Two units of Foreign Language

Those wishing to explore whether they meet the financial criterion for admission to Berea College may use the following table as an approximate guide or go to to complete an online quick estimator.  All students are required to submit the FAFSA to complete an application file and students who qualify for the Federal Pell Grant typically meet the College’s financial eligibility requirement. Many factors are considered when determining a student’s financial eligibility, primarily using the FAFSA, but in some cases a student may be required to submit a Financial Resource Questionnaire, Non-Custodial Financial Questionnaire, Self-Employed/Business Owner Questionnaire or additional documentation to ultimately determine an applicant’s financial eligibility.  NOTE: Families with members who are eligible for certain types of state or federal financial assistance (SSI, Food Stamps, Free or Reduced Lunch, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or WIC) are very likely to meet Berea Financial Requirements.

# of Family Members Adjusted Gross Income with One in College Adjusted Gross Income with Two in College
2 or 3 $47,000 $59,000
4 $53,000 $64,000
5 $58,000 $69,000
6 $63,000 $74,000
7 $67,000 $79,000
8 $72,000 $83,000

The amount that Berea College charges a student for housing and meals varies in accordance with his or her family’s ability to contribute toward these expenses. The average first-year student pays $1,200 annually toward these costs, but will earn approximately $2,000 in the Labor Program their first year. The average student-loan debt of Berea graduates is $6,000 after four years, compared to the national average of $30,000. Nearly 50% of Berea students graduate debt-free. Those who do receive student loans frequently use these funds to help finance educational experiences abroad in such locations as Africa, Asia, Australia, Central and South America, and Europe. Approximately forty percent (40%) of the College’s graduates spend some time abroad during their student experience at Berea.

Generally, admitted students may not defer enrollment. However, a student with a compelling reason may request deferment of enrollment to a subsequent term by writing a letter to the Associate Vice President of Admissions stating the reason for the request. All requests are considered by the Enrollment Policies Committee and decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.  

In keeping with Berea's commitment to serving those with limited financial resources, the College does not charge an application fee.

Applying as a Freshman

Berea College accepts academically capable students who are driven toward success, are not afraid to work hard to achieve their goals, and wish to make a difference in the world. In recent years, admitted applicants have ranked in the top 20 percent of their high-school graduating class, have a high-school cumulative GPA of 3.50 or higher, and have scored between 20 and 30 on the ACT or 1030 and 1360 on the SAT I.  Please note the College’s Fall 2023 application process is test score optional. All applications will be given the same consideration, regardless of test scores being submitted or not. With the exception of test-optional applicants, all applicants must meet the faculty-established minimum criteria for admissions to the College which is an ACT composite score of 19 (or SAT of 980) and rank in the top three-fifths of their high school class.  The admissions process conducts a holistic review of each applicant. Many factors are considered in the selection of an applicant, including a properly completed application, official academic records, test scores (if not test-optional) and financial eligibility. In addition to these components, we value recommendations/endorsements, Admissions Counselor conversations, extracurricular and co-curricular activities (e.g. music ensembles, athletics, theatre), community service, character and personal qualities, social maturity and demonstrated interest in the College.

Berea College operates as rolling admissions; however interested students are strongly encouraged to apply early and meet deadlines: November 15 (Early Action I Deadline), January 31 (Early Action II Deadline) and March 31 (Regular Decision Deadline). Well qualified applicants may be accepted for fall admission as early as December. Though an early application alone will not ensure admission to the College, some advantage may be realized by those who complete an application by the Early Action I Deadline (November 15). International students can submit an application by October 15 for Early Action or January 15 for Regular Decision.

The College maintains an admissions policy where all applicants are considered regardless of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, national origin, political affiliation, disabling condition, or service in the uniformed services.

To be considered for admission to Berea College as a first-year student, an applicant must submit the following materials:

  • A completed Application for Admission and Scholarship form.
  • School Counselor Evaluation Form (to be completed by the high-school guidance counselor; GED holders and home-school applicants need not submit this form).
  • Official high-school transcript (GED holders should submit official GED scores in lieu of high-school transcripts; home-schooled students should submit the Home-School Supplement Form if no transcript is available).
  • Official ACT or SAT I scores (if applicant is not test score optional).
  • A completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 
  • One Teacher Recommendation Form -- must be from a core subject (e.g. English, Math, Science, Foreign Language, Social Studies) teacher.  If the applicant has not recently been enrolled, a recommendation form from professionals in non-education fields and/or other community leaders will be accepted.

Credit by Examination

There are several options for receiving credit by examination—College Board Advanced Placement (AP) examinations, the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and A-Levels (Cambridge Exam). 

NOTE: No examination can be used to satisfy any of the five core classes within the General Education curriculum, including GSTR 110, GSTR 210, GSTR 310, GSTR 332, and GSTR 410.

College Board AP Examinations

To receive AP credit, the student must have taken AP courses in high school and must sit for AP examinations at a high school or college, or at a college testing center location. Academic credit is awarded for scores of 4 or higher. For information on equivalencies see below.  To receive credit, official AP scores must be received directly from the College Board--Berea College's Board Code is 1060.

Exam Min. Score Required # of Credits Equivalent Course Perspective
Art History 4 1 ARH 124 Survey of Western Art Art
Biology 4 1 BIO 100 Intro to Biology Natural Science Lab
Biology 5 0 BIO 110 Modern Biology will be waived None
Calculus AB 4 1 MAT 135 Calculus I Practical Reasoning Quantative
Calculus BC 4 1 MAT 225 Calculus II Practical Reasoning Quantative
Chemistry 4 1 CHM 101 Foundations of Chemistry Natural Science Lab
Chinese Language & Culture 4 1 CHI 101 Intro to Chinese I International Perspective (Foreign Language option)
Comparative Government & Politics 4 1 PSC 100X Comparative Government & Politics None
Computer Science A 4 1 CSC 100X Computer Science A None
Computer Science Principles 4 1 CSC 101X Computer Science Principles None
English Language & Composition 4 1 ENG 100X English Language & Composition None
English Literature & Composition 4 1 ENG 101X English Literature & Composition None
Environmental Science 4 1 SENS 100 Intro to Sustainability & Environmental Sci Practical Reasoning
European History 4 1 HIS 102X European History Western History
French Language & Culture 4 1 FRN 101 Intro to French Language & Culture I International Perspective (Foreign Language option)
German Language & Culture 4 1 GER 101 Intro to German I International Perspective (Foreign Language option)
Human Geography 4 1 GST 100X Human Geography None
Italian Language & Culture 4 1 GST 1XX Italian Language & Culture International Perspective (Foreign Language option)
Japanese Language & Culture 4 1 JPN 101 Intro to Japanese I International Perspective (Foreign Language option)
Latin 4 1 LAT 101 Intro to Latin I International Perspective (Foreign Language option)
Macroeconomics 4 1 ECO 101 Principles of Macroeconomics Social Science
Microeconomics 4 1 ECO 102 Principles of Microeconomics Social Science
Music Theory 4 1 MUS 100X Music Theory Art
Physics I: Algebra-Based 4 1 PHY 127 General Physics I with Algebra Natural Science Lab
Physics 2: Algebra-Based 4 1 PHY 128 General Physics II with Algebra None
Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism 4 1 PHY 100X Electricity & Magnetism None
Physics C: Mechanics 4 1 PHY 101X Mechanics None
Psychology 4 1 PSY 100 General Psychology Social Science
Spanish Language & Culture 4 1 SPN 101 Introduction to Spanish I International Perspective (Foreign Language option)
Spanish Literature & Culture 4 1 SPN 315 Introduction to Spanish Literature Art
Statistics 4 1 MAT 104 Introduction to Statistics Practical Reasoning Quantative
Studio Art: 2-D Design Portfolio 4 1 ART 103X Art 2-D Design Art
Studio Art: 3-D Design Portfolio 4 1 ART 102X Art 3-D Design Art
Studio Art: Drawing Portfolio 4 1 ART 115 Drawing Fundamentals Art
U.S. Government & Politics 4 1 PSC 110 American Government Social Science
U.S. History 4 1 HIS 100X U.S. History Western History
World History 4 1 HIS 101X World History International Perspective (Culture option Western course)

College Level Examination Program (CLEP)

By Faculty action, students will receive credit for CLEP scores at the level determined by department. The action further provided that, if the department has not established a passing score, the student will receive credit if their score is at or above the mean for national private liberal-arts colleges.

  1. Credit is limited to introductory courses; exceptions must be approved by the appropriate Department Chair and the Registrar.
  2. Credit is granted at or above a score that correlates to a final course grade of “B,” unless additional departmental requirements have been established.
  3. No credit is granted for a subject in which the student is required to take a basic (non-credit) course.
  4. No credit is granted after college work has been attempted in the same subject area.

International Baccalaureate

IB Credit is awarded for Higher Level (HL) exams with a score of 4 or higher.  Official scores must be submitted directly to Berea College by the IB program.

A-Level Exams

Berea College accepts Cambridge A-Level exams with a grade of C or higher. Credit is determined by the Registrar's Office in consultation with the appropriate academic department. 

Course Credit and Equivalent

Berea College is on the course credit system.  In general, 32 credits are required to earn a degree.  One Berea course credit equals 4 semester hours or 6 quarter hours. A transfer course must be equal to a minimum of 3 semester hours or 4.5 quarter hours to receive equivalent credit for a Berea course or to meet a General Education requirement (except for Lifetime Health and Fitness courses).

Below is a credit conversion chart to help determine transfer credit equivalencies:

Quarter Hours: Semester Hours:
6 quarter hours = 1 credit 4 semester hours = 1 credit
5 quarter hours = .83 credit 3 semester hours = .75 credit
4 quarter hours = .6 credit 2 semester hours = .5 credit
3 quarter hours = .5. credit 1 semester hour = .25 credit
2 quarter hours = .3 credit
1 quarter hour = .16 credit

Also see “Transfer Credit” in the Admissions section of this publication.

The amount of credit awarded for each class at Berea is determined by the amount of time students are required to spend both inside the classroom and outside of the classroom in preparation.  For each 1.0 course credit in the 15 week fall and spring terms, the minimum standard is that an average student be expected to devote, in class time, preparation, laboratory, studio, fieldwork, and conferences, at least 12 hours per week.  A one-credit course meets in class between four and six hours each week. Courses awarding less than one credit often meet correspondingly less (for example, half-credit courses meet a minimum of two hours per week and quarter-credit courses meet a minimum of one hour per week).


Applying as a Transfer Student

Deadlines for completed applications from transfer students are February 1 (Priority Deadline) and March 31 (Regular Deadline).

Berea College accepts a limited number of transfer students. In recent years, most admitted transfer applicants have accumulated no more than 70 credit hours elsewhere, have presented a collegiate grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale), have successfully passed a College Algebra and College Composition course, and have been in good academic and disciplinary standing at the college or university they most recently attended.

Transfer applicants with courses currently in progress must submit final transcripts reflecting no less than a 2.5 cumulative GPA in the most recent 24 hours of courses taken.

The admissions process conducts a holistic review of each applicant.  Many factors are considered in the selection of an applicant, including a properly completed application, official academic records, test scores (if not test optional) and financial eligibility. In addition to these components, we value recommendations/endorsements, extracurricular and co-curricular activities (e.g. music ensembles, athletics, theatre), community service, character and personal qualities, social maturity and demonstrated interest in the College.

The College maintains an admissions policy where all applicants are considered regardless of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, national origin, political affiliation, disabling condition, or service in the uniformed services.  

To be considered for admission to Berea College as a transfer student, an applicant must submit the following materials:

  • A completed Application for Admission and Scholarship form.
  • Official college/university transcripts from all institutions attended.
  • Official final high-school transcript (GED holders should submit official GED scores in lieu of high-school transcripts; home school students must provide a letter confirming graduation requirements were met if a diploma or transcript is not available.
  • Official ACT or SAT I scores (if applicant is not test score optional).
  • A completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • One Professor recommendation form, from a former professor or school administrator (unless the applicant has not recently been enrolled, in which case, the recommendation form from professionals in non-educational fields and/or other community leaders will be accepted). 

Transfer Student Enrollment Policies

Policies related to transfer student enrollment include:

  • One academic year on campus residence is required of all degree-seeking candidates, except for non-traditional students who live off campus.
  • Students completing a college-level composition course with a grade of B or higher may waive GSTR 110.  If GSTR 110 is waived, GSTR 210 must be taken in the first term of enrollment.  
  • Students requiring Developmental Math must maintain continuous enrollment until the Developmental Math sequence is completed.
  • Transfer students are subject to the eight-term limit with incoming transfer credit counting against the limit. Terms are charged using the following rule: the equivalent of 4 Berea credits is equal to one term.  For example, a student with 16 semester hours (4 Berea credits) will be charged one term and a student with 32 semester hours (8 Berea credits) will be charged 2 terms, etc.  For more information see Course Credit and Equivalent and to appeal for additional terms see Eight-Term Rule and Extension of Terms.

Transfer Credit

Only courses and earned credits completed with a grade of C or higher at a regionally accredited institution within 10 years of initial enrollment at Berea are transferable to Berea College. The amount of credit granted by the original institution will be honored by Berea and transposed into comparable course credits or fractions of course credits. If not accepted to meet a specific requirement, such credit can be accepted as an elective credit. One course credit at Berea represents four semester hours or six quarter hours elsewhere. No credit is granted for developmental courses or other courses not at the college level, as defined by that institution (typically courses numbered below 100, such as 090 or 36B).

Credit for a course in which a P, S, or credit grade has been earned will be granted only upon verification from the institution that work in the course was completed at a C level or above.

Only credit is transferred to Berea, not grades or quality points. Transfer credit is not used in computing the GPA at Berea College and higher grades will not replace lower grades on the Berea transcript.

International Students: College- or university-level academic credit will NOT be evaluated for the possibility of transfer credit unless the applicant indicates the name and dates of attendance for any other college or university on the application for admission.

For information on how Berea course credits equal semester or quarter hours, please see Course Credit and Equivalent.

Math Placement

Development Math is required for graduation.  Part or all of the Developmental Math sequence can be waived for students earning particular scores on the ACT, SAT, AP Calculus or by waiver examination.  See additional details about the Developmental Math Requirement under degree requirements

Placement in credit-bearing math courses is determined by examination. 

Time Limit for Earned Credit

All course credits used to satisfy Berea’s degree requirements must have been earned within 10 years of the date of the student’s initial enrollment at Berea College or at another regionally accredited institution. An exception to this rule may be granted with approval of both the Academic Program Council and the Department Chair for the department in which the student is majoring or plans to major.

Berea’s Admissions Territory

In keeping with its historic commitment to serving the Appalachian region, Berea College strives to admit 70-80 percent of its students from counties in nine states that fall within Berea’s primary “admissions territory.” These counties, many of which are located in Appalachia, are listed below. Students from over 40 states nationally and more than 70 other countries make up the remaining 20 percent of Berea’s student population.


Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Cullman, DeKalb, Etowah, Jackson, Jefferson, Limestone, Madison, Marshall, Morgan, St. Clair, Shelby, Talladega


Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Dade, Dawson, Fannin, Floyd, Forsyth, Gilmer, Gordon, Habersham, Lumpkin, Murray, Pickens, Rabun, Towns, Union, Walker, White, Whitfield


All counties

North Carolina

Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Stokes, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes, Yancey


Adams, Athens, Brown, Clermont, Gallia, Hamilton, Highland, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Noble, Perry, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Vinton, Washington

South Carolina

Greenville, Oconee, Spartanburg


Anderson, Bedford, Bledsoe, Blount, Bradley, Campbell, Cannon, Carter, Cheatham, Claiborne, Clay, Cocke, Coffee, Cumberland, Davidson, DeKalb, Dickson, Fentress, Franklin, Giles, Grainger, Greene, Grundy, Hamblen, Hamilton, Hancock, Hawkins, Hickman, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Knox, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Loudon, Macon, Marion, Marshall, Maury, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Moore, Morgan, Overton, Pickett, Polk, Putnam, Rhea, Roane, Robertson, Rutherford, Scott, Sequatchie, Sevier, Smith, Sullivan, Sumner, Trousdale, Unicoi, Union, Van Buren, Warren, Washington, Wayne, White, Williamson, Wilson


Alleghany, Amherst, Augusta, Bath, Bedford, Bland, Botetourt, Buchanan, Carroll, Clarke, Craig, Dickenson, Floyd, Franklin, Frederick, Giles, Grayson, Highland, Lee, Loudoun, Montgomery, Nelson, Page, Patrick, Pulaski, Roanoke, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Russell, Shenandoah, Smyth, Tazewell, Wise, Wythe

West Virginia

Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Grant, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hardy, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Marion, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mineral, Mingo, Monongalia, Monroe, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Randolph, Ritchie, Roane, Summers, Taylor, Tucker, Tyler, Upshur, Wayne, Webster, Wirt, Wood, Wyoming

Immunization Requirements for New and Continuing Students

New or transfer students must submit the medical history form, TB risk Assessment form and a copy of their immunization record prior to the beginning of their first term on campus.

All students matriculating and continuing enrollment at Berea College are required to have the following immunizations: DPT series with current Td or Tdap booster (within 10 years); polio series; meningococal after the age of 16; and two measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) injections after the first birthday. Immunization for hepatitis A & B, chicken pox and HPV, while not required, are highly recommended. College policy, as informed by CDC guidelines indicate that COVID vaccinations and boosters are required of all students (

Exemptions to this policy may be made for a documented allergy to substances in one or more of these vaccines or on the basis of a sincere and genuine religious belief prohibiting an immunization. Such a medical or religious exemption must be applied for in advance on the appropriate College form and in compliance with College policy.