The Five College Consortium

About the Consortium

The 2015-16 academic year marked the 50th anniversary of campus collaboration within the Five College consortium, one of the country’s most successful academic consortia. Through Mount Holyoke’s membership in the consortium, Mount Holyoke students can take advantage of opportunities at three other outstanding colleges (Amherst, Smith, and Hampshire) and a major research university (the University of Massachusetts at Amherst). 

The Five College Interchange

Students in good academic standing may take courses for credit at any of the other four institutions during the fall and spring semesters at no additional cost, through the Five College Interchange. Normally, students can start taking Five College courses after the first semester of their first year. Courses need to be beneficial to an overall academic plan and must be approved by an advisor. Explore the courses offered through the Five Colleges. To enroll in a course at one of the other campuses, students complete registration procedures through the Mount Holyoke College registrar. More information about policies governing Five College Interchange enrollments is included in the Academic Regulations chapter.

A daily bus service that is fare-free during the academic year links the five campuses.

Students enrolled in the Mount Holyoke meal plan can arrange to have meals at the other campuses.

Other Five College Opportunities

  • Mount Holyoke students can borrow books from all of the Five Colleges. A user-friendly, online system enables book requests from just about any computer.
  • Distinguished guest artists, filmmakers, and scholars regularly visit the Five Colleges to lecture and meet with students, give performances, or read from their work.
  • Dance and astronomy—the two Five College departments—both rank among the largest and most distinguished undergraduate programs in their respective fields nationally. (See the dance and astronomy chapters for more information.)
  • The music departments jointly host in alternate years an outstanding composer and musicologist-in-residence for a week. In alternate years, a Five College choral festival brings together all the choral groups for a roof-raising concert.
  • The theatre departments hold open auditions for all productions and sponsor a Five College Multicultural Theater Committee.
  • Undergraduates interested in geology or coastal and marine sciences can gain research experience through Five College field trips to areas in the Bahamas, Death Valley, California, and coastal regions of the Northeast United States.
  • Five College majors include Film Studies and Architectural Studies, which take cross-disciplinary approaches to their respective subject areas.
  • Five College programs include the Five College Early Music Program (hosted at Mount Holyoke) and the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center (also hosted at Mount Holyoke), which brings together faculty from many disciplines, as well as professionals from local communities  who are working on issues of women’s health and welfare.

Five College Certificate Programs

A rich array of interdisciplinary certificate programs allows students to draw on the combined faculty, resources, and courses at the five campuses. Each five-college certificate open to Mount Holyoke students is listed among the academic offerings in this catalog.  They include:

  • African Studies
  • Asian/Pacific/American Studies
  • Bio-mathematical Sciences
  • Buddhist Studies
  • Coastal and Marine Sciences
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Culture, Health, and Science
  • Ethnomusicology
  • International Relations
  • Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies
  • Logic
  • Middle Eastern Studies
  • Native American and Indigenous Studies
  • Queer and Sexuality Studies
  • Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice
  • Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies
  • Sustainability Studies

Each Mount Holyoke student may complete one Five College certificate in addition to her major and any second major, a minor and/or a Nexus she elects.

Languages through the Five College Center for the Study of World Languages

The Five College Center for the Study of World Languages encourages students to embark on language study during their first year of college so that they can achieve the fluency needed to use the language for work in their major field. The center offers three distinct programs with varying pacing options for students who are interested in independent language study. Students interested in either of the following language programs should read the informational websites thoroughly and follow the application directions. While the application process is handled by the Five College Center for the Study of World Languages, the tutorial and conversation sessions are held on all five campuses.

Each language offered in the program is divided into four levels of study, each constituting a half-course (2 credits). It takes four half-courses (levels I, II, III, and IV) to complete the equivalent of a year-long elementary course sequence emphasizing: all four skills through the Mentored program, speaking, listening and basic literacy skills through the Independent Plus program, or speaking and listening proficiency through the Supervised Independent program.

For program information and application forms, see the center website. To make an appointment at the center, consult this page or call 413-542-5264.

Five College Supervised Independent Language Program (FCSILP)

The Five College Supervised Independent Language Program (FCSILP) offers students with excellent language skills an opportunity to study languages not currently offered in classroom courses at any of the Five Colleges. This selective program admits highly motivated students with a record of past success in language learning. Students admitted into the program normally have done very well in previous language courses; have completed the language requirement of their college; and demonstrate readiness to undertake independent work.

An FCSILP course consists of three components:

  1. one hour a day of independent study using a combination  of textbooks, workbooks, audio and video materials, software, and online materials (course components vary by language);
  2. a weekly conversation practice session led by a native speaking conversation partner; and
  3. a final oral evaluation given by a professor accredited in the target language.

Languages currently offered include:

  • African languages—Afrikaans (South Africa), Amharic (Ethiopia), Shona (Zimbabwe), Twi (Ghana), Wolof (Senegal), Yoruba (Nigeria). Limited availability (email for details)—Zulu (South Africa).    
  • European languages—Albanian, Bulgarian, Dutch, Georgian, Modern Greek, Hungarian, Modern Irish, Romanian, Ukrainian. Limited availability (email for details)—Czech, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian.
  • Asian languages—Bangla/Bengali (Bangladesh and India), Burmese (Myanmar), Cantonese for Mandarin Speakers (special admission requirements), Dari (Afghan Persian), Filipino/Tagalog (Philippines), Malay (Malaysia), Mongolian, Nepali, Sinhala (Sri Lanka), Thai, Tibetan, Vietnamese. Limited availability (email for details)—Pashto (Afghanistan and Pakistan); Khmer (Cambodia).
  • Languages of the Americas—Haitian Creole

See the program website for the most current information about languages offered, as offerings do vary.

Five College Independent-Plus Language Program

Independent Plus courses combine independent study with small group conversation sessions and one-on-one peer-tutoring. This format emphasizes speaking, listening, and basic literacy skills in the language; reading and writing practice reinforces developing oral skills. Students enrolled in Independent Plus courses need to be comfortable with self-directed language learning and with working in collaboration with a peer-tutor.

An Independent Plus course consists of three components:

  1. one hour a day of independent study using structured study guides;
  2. a weekly conversation practice session led by a native speaking conversation partner; and
  3. a weekly one-on-one tutorial with a peer-tutor.

The conversation partners and peer tutors are typically international students from the Five Colleges.

Five College Mentored Language Program (FCMLP)

Mentored courses focus on all four skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) using one-on-one tutorials with a language mentor, small group conversation sessions, and guided individual study. Students follow a series of detailed study guides outlining homework assignments and preparation steps for tutorials and conversation sessions. Languages offered include Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian, Hindi, Persian, Swahili, Turkish, and second-semester level American Sign Language. Mentored courses offer elementary, some intermediate, and some advanced courses depending on the language. See the program website for current information about languages and courses offered.