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Berea College is distinctive among institutions of higher learning.  Founded in 1855 on the abolitionist principles of the Rev. John G. Fee, Berea was the first interracial and co-educational college in the South.  Teaching freed slaves and white students primarily from the Appalachian Mountains, Berea College discovered that its students could not afford to pay tuition or fees.  Therefore, Berea College stopped charging tuition in 1892, and continues that practice today.  Admission is granted only to students who demonstrate high academic promise in combination with limited economic means.

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 window is the southern Appalachian region, but students attend from all 50 states, as well as from across the globe, providing a rich diversity of colors, cultures, and faiths.  About 40 percent of students represent an ethnic minority.

Berea College offers majors in thirty-four (34) 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. In addition to their coursework, each student participates in the Student Labor Program, working a minimum of 10 hours per week in a variety of positions across all parts of the campus.