About Mount Holyoke College

Chemist and educator Mary Lyon founded Mount Holyoke College (then called Mount Holyoke Female Seminary) in 1837, nearly a century before women gained the right to vote. The first of the Seven Sisters—the female equivalent of the once predominantly male Ivy League—Mount Holyoke offered a rigorous program of study at a time when higher education for women was a revolutionary idea. The school quickly became synonymous with academic excellence and brilliant teaching and became a model for many other women’s colleges. In 1893, the seminary curriculum was phased out and the institution’s name was changed to Mount Holyoke College.

Today, Mount Holyoke is a highly selective, nondenominational, residential, research liberal arts college for women located in the Connecticut River Valley of western Massachusetts. The College’s 2,250 students hail from 48 states and 74 countries. Its 234 full-time and part-time instructional faculty are devoted to undergraduate teaching and cutting-edge research. A little over half of the faculty are women; a fifth are individuals of color; and over 30 percent were born abroad. With a student-faculty ratio of 10 to 1 and with most classes averaging 10–19 students, faculty and students collaborate closely on academic course work and research.

The College operates on a semester calendar, with an optional January Intersession offering opportunities for research, independent study, projects of students’ own choice, travel, internships, and study. The College’s Professional and Graduate Education program offers graduate programs and optional additional opportunities to undergraduates during January and summer sessions. The College’s accreditation was approved for continuation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc., through its commission on Institutions of Higher Education, in 2008.

Mary Lyon’s famous words—“Go where no one else will go, do what no one else will do”—continue to inspire the College’s students and its 36,000 alumnae. By offering a distinctive combination of a rigorous liberal arts education, an unusually diverse and international community, a lifelong global network, and a legacy of educating leaders, Mount Holyoke is powerfully positioned to graduate women who will be successful and contribute to a better world.

Mission of the College

Mount Holyoke’s mission is to provide an intellectually adventurous education in the liberal arts and sciences through academic programs recognized internationally for their excellence and range; to draw students from all backgrounds into an exceptionally diverse and inclusive learning community with a highly accomplished, committed, and responsive faculty and staff; to continue building on the College’s historic legacy of leadership in the education of women; and to prepare students, through a liberal education integrating curriculum and careers, for lives of thoughtful, effective, and purposeful engagement in the world.

Seal of Mount Holyoke College

On August 23, 1838, Mount Holyoke awarded certificates to its first three graduates. A seal attached by a ribbon to the diploma bore a design that had been the subject of long and careful consideration by the Board of Trustees. Created by Orra White Hitchcock (wife of Edward Hitchcock, an original trustee of the College), the seal design depicted a centering cluster of palms, a palace in the background, and a block of stone in the foreground. It cited the text of Psalms 144.12: “That our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace.”

Facilities

Mount Holyoke College’s 800-acre campus is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful in the nation with its neo-Gothic buildings, spacious greens, two small lakes, and a magnificent tree canopy. It is home to more than 40 academic buildings and residence halls. The main campus is an arboretum with a diverse collection of trees and shrubs, while a nature preserve spans more than 300 acres and serves as an environmental classroom.

A massive, $36-million expansion and renovation of Mount Holyoke’s science facilities in 2003 was completed to foster interdepartmental interaction, collaborative research, pedagogical innovation, and curricular planning. Students benefit from hands-on work with sophisticated instrumentation often reserved for graduate students at other institutions. The equipment inventory includes a solar greenhouse, a state-of-the-art microscopy facility, two nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers, a mass spectrometer, extensive molecular biology and genomics instruments, solar cell fabrication technology, a high-speed video system, an atomic force microscope and other instrumentation for characterization and fabrication of nanomaterials.

Other facilities include a center for foreign language study, two theatres for theatre performances, a 400-seat auditorium for music performance, specialized computer labs, a lively campus center, the 900-seat Abbey Chapel with its Interfaith Sanctuary, a meditation garden and teahouse, a facility offering child care and child study opportunities, and the Talcott Greenhouse, a 6,500-square-foot complex used for teaching, research, ornamental display, and plant propagation. A new environmentally sustainable residence hall housing 175 students opened in 2008; it was awarded a Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Mount Holyoke’s library has a collection that currently totals more than 750,000 print volumes, including 1,600 periodical subscriptions. The library also licenses access to more than 200 scholarly research databases as well as thousands of ebooks and ejournals. In addition, it shares a catalog with other members of the Five College Consortium; the combined collections provide students and faculty with direct access to more than eight million volumes. The library also features several innovative multipurpose venues for collaboration, research, and technology support.

The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum is among the nation’s leading collegiate art museums, with a comprehensive permanent collection encompassing more than 24,000 works from antiquity to the present. The museum offers students work/study and internship opportunities, functions as a “cultural laboratory” for the campus and is actively used in teaching by faculty and students, and brings to the community imaginative and diverse exhibitions that often attract significant national media attention.

Kendall Sports and Dance Complex houses a swimming pool and a diving well, a gymnasium with basketball, volleyball, and badminton courts, a weight room and cardiovascular area, as well as a one-acre field house with indoor track and tennis courts, squash courts, racquetball courts, and studios for dance, aerobics, yoga, and other activities. In 2007, the College completed construction of a new track and field facility, featuring a multipurpose synthetic turf field with lights, surrounded by an eight-lane track with a nine-lane straightaway. In 2009, two new dance studios, a renovated dance performance theater and a renovated and expanded fitness center opened. In 2010, the College opened a new 4,750 square foot boathouse situated on the nearby Connecticut River. The equestrian center, one of the nation’s largest collegiate facilities, features a 69-stall barn, two indoor arenas, an outdoor show ring, a full cross country course, and a regulation-size dressage ring. Outdoor cross-country courses for riders cut through 120 acres of woods, fields, and streams. The Orchards, Mount Holyoke’s 18-hole championship golf course, was designed by the legendary Donald Ross and was the site of the 2004 U.S. Women’s Open.    

In May of 2016, work began on a $50 million expansion and enhancement of the current Blanchard Campus Center, to create a new Community Center with Dining. The project will feature a 34,000-square-foot one-story addition where members of the campus community will come together to share meals. Other components of the center include a concert venue, a student art gallery, a student-life hub with offices for advising, residential life, student government, diversity programming, and religious life, and space to serve as a base for Mount Holyoke's 120 student organizations. The improvements will also make the building fully accessible and redouble the College's commitment to sustainability. The project is scheduled for completion in early 2018.

Accreditation

Mount Holyoke College is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc., through its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. Inquiries regarding the accreditation status by the New England Association should be directed to the administrative staff of the institution. Individuals may also contact: Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, 3 Burlington Woods Drive, Suite 100, Burlington, MA  01803-4514, email: cihe@neasc.org.

Statement of Nondiscrimination

Mount Holyoke is an independent, liberal arts college for women, founded in 1837 by Mary Lyon.

Mount Holyoke is committed both to its historic mission as a women’s college and to providing access to talented students from all backgrounds. The diversity within our students, staff, faculty, and curricula is a point of pride and a hallmark of the institution. The framework for our commitment to diversity sits within our active prohibition of discrimination in our educational policies, employment, campus services and activities on the basis of age, color, creed, disability, gender identity, national/ethnic origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran/uniform status, and all other classifications protected by law. This same principle applies to admission to our professional and graduate education programs.

With respect to admission to our undergraduate degree program, Mount Holyoke admits qualified women without regard to age, color, creed, disability, national/ethnic origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran/uniform status.

Catalog Updates

Degree requirements, academic policies, and course listings as stated in this catalog are subject to change by official action of the faculty. Administrative policies are subject to change by College officials. Revisions and additions to the curriculum are published each fall and spring through the online registration system.