Elmira College - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Elmira College
Elmira College is a private, coeducational, residential Phi Beta Kappa college with a tradition...

Elmira College

Elmira, New York

A national, top-tier liberal arts college founded in 1855, Elmira College is proud of its 160-year reputation for academic distinction.  From the very beginning, Elmira has placed its focus on academic rigor. It was, in fact, the first college for women with a course of study equal in rigor to the best men’s colleges of the time. Today, as a co-educational institution, Elmira continues that same focus on academic rigor and student opportunities.


Students at Elmira College are immersed in a community of study, research, community service, and campus life. Opportunities abound for students to conduct undergraduate research, present at national and international conferences, and have their work published in scholarly journals. Every student completes a career-related internship and, as a collective, the student body completes more than 15,000 hours of community service.


Strong connections between students and alumni have created a worldwide network of opportunity. Elmira alumni have excelled in all areas of professional distinction from public service to entrepreneurialism to medicine and the sciences and beyond, with impressive success stories emanating through the generations.

Student Profile

Fall 2016 Enrollment
1,252 undergraduate students
90% of undergrad students are full time
31% male — 69% female
44% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2016-2017 Academic Year
67 full-time faculty
103 part-time faculty
12 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Fall 2016
96.5% of first year students live on campus
88.1% of all students live on campus

School Location

Located in the Southern Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York, Elmira College sits on an idyllic 55-acre campus in the City of Elmira, with an additional 20 acres in nearby Pine Valley, NY serving as home to the Murray Athletic Center. The College is 90 minutes south of Rochester and less than a four-hour drive from much of the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, including New York City and Philadelphia.

High-Impact Practices

Read more about the importance of High-Impact Practices

First-Year Seminars and Experiences X
Common Intellectual Experiences X
Learning Communities  
Writing-Intensive Courses X
Collaborative Assignments and Projects X
Undergraduate Research X
Diversity/Global Learning X
Service Learning, Community-Based Learning  
Internships/Coops/Practicums X
Capstone Courses and Projects/Senior Experience X


79% of students began in Fall 2015 and returned in Fall 2016 (full time, first time freshmen)


63% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 5%
Hispanic/Latino 3%
Black or African American 4%
White 80%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0%
Asian 2%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 2%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 4%


20 NCAA Division III varsity sports teams, including Men’s Baseball, Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Men’s and Women’s Cross Country, Men’s and Women’s Golf, Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey, Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse, Men’s and Women’s Soccer,  Men’s and Women’s Tennis, Men’s and Women’s Volleyball, Women’s Cheerleading, Women’s Field Hockey, and Women’s Softball.

School colors: Purple and Gold
Mascot: Soaring Eagle

Other Information

Grounded in the liberal arts and sciences, Elmira College’s mission is to provide a collaborative and supportive environment that enables students to become active learners, effective leaders, responsible community members, and globally engaged citizens. Proud of its history and tradition, the College is committed to the ideals of community service, personal empowerment, and individual growth.

The College is accredited by Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

More Distinctions

  • Phi Beta Kappa Outstanding Chapter

  • Best Colleges in the Northeast - Princeton Review

  • #1 College in America for Student Internships - US News & World Report

Term III

One of the unique features of Elmira College is a 6-week Term III in April and May. The College offers many experiential learning opportunities in Term III, allowing students to do immersive and intensive work in a number of different fields and countries. This can include student teaching, clinical work, and research.

Undergraduate Research

Throughout their years at Elmira College, students are actively engaged in undergraduate research alongside their classmates and professors. In business courses, students construct business plans for real clients, including product and marketing strategies. In science courses, students conduct undergraduate research with their professors and, many times, present at state, regional, and national conferences and are published in various academic journals.

Study Abroad

Elmira College partners with Regent’s University London to offer a 12-week study abroad option in the heart of London, England.  The Elmira College/Regent’s University partnership provides students the chance to spend a Term living and learning in one of the world’s preeminent capitals while exchanging ideas with students from around the world and earning academic credit toward their degrees at Elmira.

Activities Offered

Campus Ministries X
Choral groups X
Concert band X
Dance X
Drama/theater X
International Student Organization X
Jazz band  
Literary magazine X
Marching band  
Model UN X
Music ensembles X
Musical theater X
Pep band  
Radio station X
Student government X
Student newspaper X
Student-run film society  
Symphony orchestra  
Television station  
Yearbook X

First-Year Seminar

Elmira College’s First-Year Seminar (FYS) program is the foundational course in the liberal arts and sciences for all entering freshmen. The FYS introduces students to the wider world of learning beyond the professional training of their declared majors.  The seminar focuses on sharpening students’ skills in critical thinking and reading, and students have the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of seminar topics, ranging from the natural sciences and the humanities to the fine arts and the social sciences.

Academic Writing Program

The Academic Writing Program at Elmira College is designed to help incoming students acclimate to college and learn to communicate clearly and effectively, skills they will continue to develop throughout all academic areas. Through classroom instruction, in-class writing workshops, and occasional one-on-one conferences with their instructors, students learn to become more independent writers and thinkers who are better prepared to take on any academic or professional challenge.

Common Core

Arts/fine arts X
Computer literacy  
English (including composition) X
Foreign languages  
Mathematics X
Sciences (biological or physical) X
Social science X


Other: Community Service Component (60 hours required)

Class Size Breakdown

Size 2-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-99 100+ Total
Number of Classes 106 145 72 11 3 4 0 341

School Spirit

Elmira College values its many traditions. Love for the College’s purple and gold colors, songs, shape (the Octagon), and flower (the Iris), combine into traditions that connect students and alumni throughout the decades. When individuals link arms and sing the “Alma Mater” or participate in the beloved Mountain Day or Holiday Banquet, they are connecting to the spirit of Elmira College—a spirit that spans generations of Elmira College alumni, family, and friends.

Major Elmira Landmarks

The City of Elmira was the summer home of American author, Mark Twain and his family. The Mark Twain Study, now located on the Elmira College campus, is the study in which the famous author penned Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and other iconic works. USA Today named the Mark Twain Study one of the nation’s top ten literary landmarks.

Quarry Farm, home to Twain’s in-laws and where Twain and his family spent more than 20 summers, was deeded to the College in 1983 by Twain’s great-great grandnephew, Jervis Langdon. The Farm now serves as a research center for faculty and international scholars studying Mark Twain’s life and works. The Farm was named one of New York State’s literary landmarks by United for Libraries and the Empire State Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book.

Julia Reinstein ‘28 Symposium

Each year the Women’s and Gender Studies Program organizes the weeklong Julia Reinstein ’28 Symposium, made possible by a bequest from college alumna Julia Reinstein ’28, a feminist, early lesbian activist, and strong supporter of women’s issues. In cooperation with Students Against Sexism and Stereotypes (SASS), the Symposium annually features a different theme and keynote speaker.

Annual Events

The Annual Student Research Conference features the work of more than 40 Elmira College students presenting course projects and independent research conducted with faculty. Work represents multiple disciplines and is presented by students at all levels.

Other annual events include: Arts Alive Term II and Term III celebration of the arts; Trouble Begins and Park Church Lecture Series hosted by the Center for Mark Twain Studies; Dr. Anita B. Ogden Symposium on health-related research and issues; Women’s History Month Lecture Series; PRIDE Symposium celebration of PRIDE week; and the Lecture Series in the Sciences.


Coed dorms X
Men’s dorms  
Women’s dorms X
Apartments for married students  
Apartments for single students X
Special housing for disabled students X
Special housing for international students  
Fraternity/sorority housing  
Cooperative housing  
Theme housing  
Wellness housing X
Other housing options  


Other: Gender-Inclusive Housing

Community Service and Internships

Elmira College is committed to the ideals of community service, personal empowerment, and individual growth. To that end, each student completes a career-related internship and a minimum of 60 hours of community service. These programs provide students with hands-on experience and networking that many times results in postgraduate opportunities.

During the 2015-2016 academic year, more than 15,750 hours of community service were completed, altogether strengthening personal growth and connections between the College and the surrounding communities. The Office of Career Services annually hosts the Excellence in Community Service Luncheon, which highlights the importance of volunteerism and recognizes students and student clubs for exceptional service and impact.

Living Testaments to Success

Through several innovative story series developed by the Office of Career Services, students and alumni share their internship and community service experiences as well as advice for future students. These stories are posted to the College’s website and social media channels. The importance of community, getting involved, and taking advantage of the many opportunities Elmira College offers resonates throughout the articles.

Successful Alumni

Through these experiential programs, it is no surprise that more than 95 percent of students are employed or enrolled in graduate programs within one year of graduating.

A few notable alumni include:

  • Former Deputy Mayor of New York City
  • Chairman of Trident Media Group, LLC
  • Arts Editor of The Associated Press (AP)
  • Appellate Court Judge of State of Virginia



2,387 Total Applicants 
1,818 Total Admissions 
258 Total Freshmen Enrollment

76.16% of applicants admitted

Admissions Deadlines for 2017-18 Admission

Rolling admission? Yes

Admissions Factors

Very Important
Rigor of secondary school record
Academic GPA
Application Essay
Character/personal qualities

Class rank
Standardized test scores
Extracurricular activities
Level of applicant’s interest

Alumni/ae relation
Geographical residence
Racial/ethnic status
Volunteer work
Work experience

Freshmen Profile Fall 2016

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 450 560
SAT Math 460 570
SAT Writing    
SAT Essay    
ACT Composite 22 27
ACT Math    
ACT English    
ACT Writing    

Applying to Elmira

Elmira College offers two admission plans for freshman applicants: regular and Early Action. Early Action is designed for students whose top choice is Elmira College. A non-binding agreement, Early Action students will receive an offer of admission and scholarship notification sooner than regular admission students.

Elmira College is a test-optional college for first-year undergraduate applicants. The Office of Admissions will continue to accept standardized test scores from applicants who believe their results are indicative of their academic abilities to succeed in college.  If, however, students do not believe their results are indicative of their success in college, they have the option to withhold their test scores.






Tuition $41,900
Room and Board (on campus) $12,000
Estimated Total On Campus $53,900

Average Financial Aid Packages 2015-2016 ESTIMATED

$31,202 First year students
$27,161 All undergrads

Financial Aid Breakdown 2015-2016 ESTIMATED

78.4% on average, the percentage of need that was met
21% of financial need students that had need fully met

$27,161 Average need-based scholarship or grant award
$4,766 Average need-based loan

Scholarships and Finances

Students are automatically reviewed for merit- or academic-based scholarships at the time of admission. A thorough review of a student’s completed application file determines eligibility for any merit scholarship awarded by the college.

Elmira College offers an all-inclusive tuition rate, eliminating supplemental mandatory fees such as activity and technology fees.