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, not-for-profit, residential, independent, research liberal arts college for women that is gender-diverse and welcomes applications from female, transgender, and non-binary students. Mount Holyoke is a noted leader in liberal arts education with a mission grounded in the conviction that its graduates can -- and should -- make a difference in the world.

Mount Holyoke is located in the Connecticut River Valley of western Massachusetts. The College’s approximately 2,200 undergraduate students hail from 50 states and 57 countries. Twenty-five percent of undergraduate students are international citizens. Thirty-two percent of domestic students identify as African American, Asian American, Latina, Native American or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, or multiracial. Its 273 full-time and part-time faculty employees are devoted to undergraduate teaching and cutting-edge research. Over 60 percent of the faculty are women and a quarter are individuals of color. With a student-faculty ratio of 9.27 to 1 and with the majority of classes averaging 10-19 students, faculty and students collaborate closely on academic course work and research.

The College typically operates on a semester calendar, with an optional January Intersession offering to undergraduates opportunities for research, independent study, projects of students’ own choice, travel, internships, and study. 

The College’s Professional and Graduate Education program offers graduate degree programs and non-degree opportunities for study at the graduate level. 127 graduate students are enrolled in master's degree programs; additional non-matriculated graduate students enroll in graduate-level courses throughout the year. Graduate programs follow the semester calendar, supplemented by a January term and a summer term comprised of two primary summer session periods.

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 39,000+ living alumnae, living in 141 countries across the globe. 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 alums who will be successful and contribute to a better 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.”

College seal

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.


Mount Holyoke College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE, formerly the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc.). Mount Holyoke College was initially accredited in 1929. The College has been continuously accredited since, and is presently accredited at the Bachelor's and Master's levels. The College's last comprehensive accreditation review took place in 2017. An interim (fifth-year) report was submitted to the New England Commission of Higher Education in August 2022.

Questions and comments about Mount Holyoke's accreditation may be directed to the President of the College through the College's Accreditation Liaison Officer, Dr. Jane Couperus. Individuals may also contact: New England Commission of Higher Education, 301 Edgewater Place, Suite 210, Wakefield, MA 01880. For information requests: https://www.neche.org/contact/  For comments/complaints: https://www.neche.org/for-the-public/comments-complaints/

See Also

Land Acknowledgement

Mount Holyoke College is located in Western Massachusetts on the ancestral land of the Nonotuck people. It is also important to acknowledge the neighboring Indigenous nations who continue to be connected to this land: the Nipmuc and the Wampanoag to the East, the Mohegan and Pequot to the South, the Mohican to the West and the Abenaki to the North.


Mount Holyoke College’s 600-acre contiguous 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 a "living lab" for the community.

Sustainability is a top priority at Mount Holyoke College. The College has set a goal of carbon neutrality by 2037, the College's 200th anniversary. Mount Holyoke is committed to training the next generation of environmental leaders while also taking significant measures to reduce its own carbon footprint, to improve the sustainability of its campus operations and to foster a campus culture of sustainability. In the summer of 2023, the College launched a major geothermal project to be implemented in phases between 2023 and 2030. This project will replace the College's fossil-fueled steam heating system with a geothermal heat-exchange system powered by clean electricity, reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 80%. The first phase will connect Shattuck, Cleveland, Carr, Kendade, Safford and Skinner Halls to the new distribution system. In 2018, the College celebrated the grand opening of its new Community Center, a $50-million expansion and enhancement of the Blanchard Campus Center. The Community Center features the Dining Commons, a 34,000-square-foot one-story addition which serves as the campus' centralized dining facility. The Dining Commons enabled a major leap forward in sustainable operations by consolidating six dining halls into one and featuring innovative energy-saving technologies and menus focused on locally sourced food. Also in 2018, the College celebrated the installation of a photovoltaic array on Kendall Sports and Dance Complex, to generate an estimated 541,600 kilowatt hours of electricity each year -- approximately 6% of campus electricity use annually. The campus boasts five buildings certified through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council; these include one of the nation's first LEED-certified science centers, the Dining Commons built to silver LEED standards, and our newest residence hall which was awarded a Gold LEED certification. An online database for faculty and staff research projects houses decades of student and faculty monitoring obtained from fifteen permanent water sampling stations, five weather stations, and additional ecological field sites across campus.

In addition to the Dining Commons, other components of the Community 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 the Weissman Student Commons which serves as a base for Mount Holyoke's 100+ student organizations. 

The Fimbel Maker & Innovation Lab supports novices and experts alike as they turn their ideas into tangible reality. The 8,000-square-foot Lab brings together people, resources, and tools to support hands-on curricular and co-curricular programming to support maker culture on campus. The Fimbel Lab features 3D printers, laser cutters, soldering stations, a vacuum former, a vinyl cutter, a wood- and metal-working shop with hand and power tools, and other tools such as sewing machines. This broad array of tools and the Lab's collaboration and work spaces are used by students and faculty from across the curriculum in academic courses, workshops, and events to explore the role of designing and making objects and other products, deepening maker culture on campus.  

The Science Center includes labs dedicated to molecular biology, analytical chemistry, advanced electronics and optics, and geoprocessing. In the Science Center, students benefit from hands-on work with sophisticated instrumentation often reserved for graduate students at other institutions, such as the scanning and transmission electron microscope.  The equipment inventory includes a solar greenhouse, spinning disc and laser scanning confocal microscope, nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers, extensive genomics instruments, solar cell fabrication, and other instrumentation for characterization and fabrication of nanomaterials.

Other facilities at Mount Holyoke include a center for foreign language study, two theaters for theater performances, a 250-seat auditorium for music performance, specialized computer labs, 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 6,000-square-foot complex used for teaching, research, ornamental display, and plant propagation. 

Mount Holyoke’s library has a physical library collection of more than 800,000 volumes and provides access to many thousands of ebooks, articles, and video online. 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 10 million physical 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 of art, decorative art, and material and visual culture from around the world and through time. The museum offers students work/study and internship opportunities, functions as a “cultural laboratory” for the campus, 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, studios for dance, aerobics, yoga, and other activities, and a dance performance theater. The College's outdoor track and field facility features a multipurpose synthetic turf field with lights, surrounded by an eight-lane track with a ten-lane straightaway. Adjacent are the outdoor soccer field and tennis courts. The College's 4,750 square foot boathouse is situated on the nearby Connecticut River. The equestrian center, one of the nation’s largest collegiate facilities, features a 69-stall barn, a large outdoor all-weather footing show arena, a permanent dressage arena, two indoor arenas, all-weather turnout paddocks, hunt field and a full cross country course 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.    

Statement of Nondiscrimination

Mount Holyoke College is a women’s college that is gender diverse. The College is committed to providing equal access and opportunity in employment and education to all employees and students. In compliance with state and federal law, Mount Holyoke College does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, genetic information, sex, national or ethnic origin, religion, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, sexual orientation, pregnancy, gender identity or expression, ancestry, veteran or military status, or any other legally protected status under federal, state or local law.

State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement

Notice for Out-of-State Distance Learning Students

Mount Holyoke College has been approved to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA). SARA is a voluntary, regional approach to state oversight of postsecondary distance education. As a SARA-approved institution, Mount Holyoke College is authorized to offer online courses in each state that is part of the agreement without having to get approval from each state individually.

Mount Holyoke College out-of-state distance learning students residing in a SARA state may file a complaint with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education or with a state agency in the state in which they reside. Students must first attempt to resolve their complaint using internal administrative procedures offered by Mount Holyoke College. After all administrative remedies have been exhausted with Mount Holyoke College, the student may submit a SARA Complaint via the link below.

Learn more about the SARA complaint process

Access the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education SARA Complaint form