The Five College Consortium

About the Consortium

The Five College consortium recently celebrated its 50th anniversary of collaboration, one of the country’s most successful academic consortia. Through Mount Holyoke’s participation 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 eligible courses for credit at any of the other four institutions during the fall and spring semesters at no additional tuition cost, through the Five College Interchange. Normally, students may start taking courses at the other campuses 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 other campuses. To enroll in a course at one of the other campuses, students complete registration procedures through the Mount Holyoke College registrar. Some courses, such as some music lessons and/or labs, may charge all students -- including Five College enrollees -- additional course fees. Additional fees should be noted in the schedule of classes. More information about policies governing Five College Interchange enrollments is included in the Academic Regulations chapter.

Typically, regular bus service that is fare-free during the academic year links the five campuses. Students enrolled in the Mount Holyoke meal plan and taking a course through the Interchange can also apply to have a meal at the other campus before or after their class meeting if the class meeting time interferes with their ability to eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Mount Holyoke.

Other Five College Opportunities

  • Mount Holyoke students may borrow books from all of the libraries of the five campuses. A user-friendly, online catalog, discovery, and interlibrary loan 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. A Five College opera is produced every third year.
  • The theater departments hold open auditions for all productions and sponsor a Five College Multicultural Theater program.
  • 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.
  • The Five College Architectural Studies program takes a cross-disciplinary approach to its subject area and encourages students to explore a broad cross-section of courses—both in and beyond the architecture discipline of architecture across the Five Colleges. The program introduces students to a diverse collection of faculty members, methodologies and design approaches
  • 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 members  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:

Each Mount Holyoke student may complete one Five College certificate in addition to the major elected and any second major or minor and/or a Nexus elected. For information about whether courses can be applied both to a Five College certificate and another Mount Holyoke degree requirement, please consult the double-counting information in the Academic Regulations chapter of this catalog.

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

The Five College Center for the Study of World Languages offers courses in less-commonly-taught languages not available through regular Five College classroom courses. The Center also offers courses in Spoken Arabic dialects for students who have learned Modern Standard Arabic in the classroom. The Center 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.

Language courses available through the Center are offered in one of two course formats depending upon the resources available for that language. Mentored courses provide the highest level of structured support for learning and cover all four primary language skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing). Supervised Independent Language Program (SILP) courses focus on speaking and listening skills, plus the development of basic literacy in the language. SILP courses rely on more independently organized learning.

All courses emphasize development of oral proficiency through weekly conversation practice sessions. Conversation sessions focus on using the language in the types of situations one might encounter in everyday life. Students commonly engage in role plays, question and answer activities, description, narration, and problem-solving exercises. More advanced students practice expressing opinions, giving reasons in arguments, and discussing current events and cultural issues.

A standard course through the Center is a half course. Half courses require one hour a day (seven hours per week) of individual study plus weekly conversation and/or tutorial sessions. It takes four half courses (levels I, II, III, and IV) to complete the equivalent of one year of study in a traditional elementary-level classroom course. Some languages offered in the Mentored format are also available as full courses allowing students to progress at the same rate as in traditional classroom courses. Full courses require two hours per day (14 hours per week) of individual study plus conversation and tutorial sessions.

Students interested in studying a language through the Center should read the informational websites thoroughly and follow the application instructions. 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.

For program information and application forms, go to For language resources produced by the Center, see

Language offerings change depending upon available resources. Not all languages are available every semester. Please see the Center’s website for current information or contact the Center to find out about a language not listed here.

Mentored Courses

Students in Mentored courses also have one-on-one tutorials with a professional language mentor trained in language pedagogy. The individual sessions allow each student to get help with his/her particular questions and concerns. The language mentor goes over written homework, explains grammatical concepts, and engages the student in skill-building activities. Language mentors also work with students who are already fluent speakers of a language but who need to learn to read and write in the language.

Currently offered in Mentored format: Hindi-Urdu, Persian, Swahili, and Turkish.

Supervised Independent Courses

Supervised Independent courses offer students with excellent language skills an opportunity to study a variety of less commonly taught languages independently.  Students approved for Supervised Independent language study are highly motivated, have a record of past success in language learning, and demonstrate readiness to undertake independent work. Courses emphasize development of oral (speaking) and listening skills.

Recently offered in Supervised Independent format:

  • African Languages: Afrikaans, Amharic, Igbo, Twi, Wolof, Yoruba 

  • European Languages:  Albanian, Armenian, Bosnian-Croation-Serbian, Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Georgian, Modern Greek, Hungarian, Macedonian, Modern Irish, Norwegian, Romanian, Slovak, Ukrainian

  • Asian Languages: Bangla/Bengali, Burmese, Cantonese for Mandarin Speakers, Dari, Filipino (Tagalog), Indonesian, Lao, Malay, Mongolian, Nepali, Pashto, Sinhala, Thai, Modern Tibetan, Vietnamese

  • Languages of the Americas: Haitian Creole

  • Spoken Arabic courses (Mentored or Supervised Independent format): Egyptian Arabic, Levantine Arabic, Moroccan Arabic, and other dialects