Williams College, located in Williamstown MA, is the 16th school in the United States and the second oldest college in the state. Williams follows a four-one-four academic plan (two four course semesters plus the one course winter study in January) and is a private not for profit that offers bachelor’s and master’s.

Williams College got its start with Colonel Ephraim Williams, an officer of the Massachusetts militia and member of a local, well known family. After he was killed in the French-Indian War in 1755, his will revealed his wish to support and maintain a free school in the town, provided that the area renamed itself “Williamstown.” After the American Revolution and Shays’ Rebellion, Williams College was finally opened in 1791 with 15 students. However, it only remained a free school for two years.

By 1815, the school was in serious financial trouble and planned on moving to Amherst, MA. However, only sex years later, when the school had still not moved, current president of the college, Zephaniah Swift Moore, took 15 students to the city to found Amherst College (they are now athletic rivals). It’s also rumored that Moore took portions of the library collection, but no proof can be found. However, thanks to the efforts of the next president and the Graduates of Williams, the school saw success and an influx of financial relief over the next fifteen years.

In the years since its founding, the college has seen prominent alumni including 35 Rhodes Scholars, 7 Pulitzer Prize winners, 54 members of the US Congress, 18 Governors, and, former president, James A. Garfield. Its motto is E liberalitate E. Williams, armigeri, or Through the Generosity of E. Williams, Esquire.

One of Williams College’s most famous traditions is Mountain Day. During a Friday in October, the president of the school will cancel classes and declare the day “Mountain Day.” Together, students travel up to Stony Ledge, where they share donuts, cider, and a cappella performances.

In the last decade of the school’s history, Williams has seen plenty of construction and renovation as it moves into the 21st century. Today, the school has 2,200 total students, comprised of undergraduates and graduates.

Campus Overview

  • Locale Town: Fringe

  • Highest degree offered Master's degree

  • Academic calendar Four-one-four plan

  • Religious affiliation Not applicable

Student Enrollment

Total Students
2,150
2,093 (97.3%)
57 (2.7%)
Undergraduate Students
2,093
Male 1,073
51.3%
Female 1,020
48.7%
Graduate Students
57
Male 23
40.4%
Female 34
59.6%


  • Campus Location

    880 Main St Williamstown, MA 01267