Special Programs and Resources

The Harriet L. and Paul M. Weissman Center for Leadership

The Weissman Center for Leadership, established in 1999, supports student, faculty and staff in the development of leadership skills inside and outside the classroom. The Center’s work is guided by four over-arching themes: Inspiration, sparked by public events with renowned speakers; Capacity-building, to develop skills and confidence through leadership courses, experiential learning, conferences, and trainings; Mentoring and Networking on campus and across nonprofit, public service, and business realms to promote opportunities for professional success; and Reflection and Discovery, the foundation for perpetual leadership growth. The Center is home to four affiliated programs which enrich both the academic and co-curricular aspects of college life and prepare students for leadership in the 21st century:

  • Community-Based Learning,
  • Leadership and Public Service,
  • Speaking, Arguing, and Writing, which includes English Speakers of Other Languages, and
  • Teaching and Learning Initiatives.

The Passport to Leadership is an initiative that is coordinated by the Weissman Center. Any student, regardless of background or experience, can participate in challenging and transformative activities and experiences. Students with a Passport to Leadership are equipped to be effective communicators, wise decision makers, and reflective, flexible, and creative leaders. See the Passport website at www.mtholyoke.edu/wcl/passport.

The center’s website is www.mtholyoke.edu/wcl.

Community-Based Learning

The Community-Based Learning Program (CBL) enables Mount Holyoke students to engage with and learn from local communities in courses, fellowships, and independent study projects that combine analysis and action. CBL enhances understanding of public concerns and fosters leadership, citizenship, organizing, and advocacy skills while advancing positive social change. CBL courses and independent studies bring together students, faculty, and area community organizations to work on projects that provide intellectually rigorous experiences for students and tangible benefits for community partners. Working as interns with area organizations, CBL fellows work 8-10 hours/week to apply academic knowledge to concrete community challenges and offer creative solutions. CBL mentors support faculty teaching CBL courses by facilitating their community partnerships, monitoring field sites and providing in-class support to students. Students also pursue CBL research projects as independent studies for credit, in partnership with organizations and individuals in area communities. CBL fellows, mentors, and independent study/volunteer students enroll in concurrent CUSP-202 and CUSP-203 courses that facilitate reflective practice, collaboration, and networking, and build skills for community impact.

The CBL Program also manages the College's "Off-Campus Work-Study" program, in which students may choose to work in a community service position in one of the College’s partner organizations in Holyoke, South Hadley, and the region. Eligible students must receive federal work-study funds as part of their financial aid packages, and must have completed a semester of work-study in an on-campus position.

See the CBL website at www.mtholyoke.edu/cbl.

Leadership and Public Service

The Weissman Center sponsors the Leadership and Public Service (LAPS) program for students interested in being part of the solution to problems in the world, their countries, or their communities, by running for public office, working for government at any level, or advocating for public policy. Inspired by the Women in Public Service Project, a collaboration of the U.S. State Department and the Sister Colleges, LAPS offers students experiential learning opportunities including internships in government offices and at national and state-based advocacy organizations; professional networking, site visits, and seminars on public policy in Washington, D.C. and other cities; an opportunity for non-partisan training to run for public office or work on political campaigns; and a course in Leadership and Public Service that exposes students to a range of topics, skills, and accomplished professionals in the public service realm, as well as research and policy brief writing as a core course component.

See the LAPS website at www.mtholyoke.edu/wcl/leadership-and-public-service.

Speaking, Arguing, and Writing

The Speaking, Arguing, and Writing Program (SAW) strives to empower students to be leaders who can think critically and creatively as well as to speak and write persuasively and effectively. SAW peer mentors partner with faculty in designated courses. SAW peer mentors also staff the SAW Center where they are available to students from across the disciplines for individual sessions. The SAW program offers campus-wide workshops; collaborates with other college offices to support writing, speaking, and leadership-related activities; offers a library of print resources and materials for students and faculty; and provides pedagogy resources for faculty.

In cooperation with the Department of English and embedded within SAW, the English Speakers of Other Languages program offers courses to support students who are multilingual or whose native language is not English, as well as individual or group-level support opportunities, and consultation for faculty. The SAW and ESOL program administrative offices are in the Weissman Center for Leadership in Dwight Hall. The SAW Center is also located in Dwight Hall. For more information, call 413-538-3428 or visit www.mtholyoke.edu/go/saw. To schedule an appointment at the SAW Center, call 413-538-2651 or visit www.mtholyoke.mywconline.com. The ESOL website is www.mtholyoke.edu/esol.

Teaching and Learning Initiatives

The Teaching and Learning Initiatives Program (TLI) invests in the development of our faculty and teaching staff, in their many roles as teachers, scholars, artists, and scientists. We are guided by research-based best practices in the field, our institutional mission and priorities, the interests of our faculty, and the desire to invest in our students’ learning. Particular areas of emphasis include: inclusive teaching and advising practices with diverse students, technology-supported teaching innovations, and experiential learning. Our vision is to become a hub that brings the campus together around excellence in teaching, advising, and learning. A new faculty mentoring program is also supported in collaboration with the Dean of Faculty’s Office. The TLI program administrative office is in the Weissman Center for Leadership in Dwight Hall. See the TLI website at www.mtholyoke.edu/teachingfacultydevelopment.

The Dorothy R. and Norman E. McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives

We live in a world where capital and information cross national  borders at growing speed, where unprecedented human development and technological achievements exist hand-in-hand with abject poverty, deprivation, and inequality within and among countries, where unchecked economic growth is posing a growing threat to the environmental balance sustaining human livelihood, and where homogenizing global forces draw into sharper relief cross-national and cultural differences in understanding the world and its challenges.

A liberal arts education has to prepare students for these challenges of the twenty-first century. Building on Mount Holyoke College’s long tradition of international engagement, the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives was founded in 2004 to unite Mount Holyoke’s wealth of international programs and people and advance a coherent vision for education for global competence and citizenship. Through its far-reaching initiatives, the center aims to weave engagement with a global world into the very fabric of a Mount Holyoke education. Some of the main initiatives are described below; more information is available at www.mtholyoke.edu/go/global.

Engagement with Global Issues on Campus

Many departments and programs are already offering courses which investigate — from their own disciplinary vantage points — different dimensions of globalization and ask questions whose scope reaches beyond national boundaries. The center complements these offerings with initiatives that explore global issues, their origins, and their legacies from cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural, and cross-national perspectives.

Global Scholar-in-Residence Program

The Carol Hoffmann Collins ’63 Global Scholar-in-Residence program brings to campus renowned international experts who engage the community in dialogue on important issues through public lectures, classes, and informal gatherings. Daniela Schwarzer if the 2017 Carol Hoffmann Collins Global Scholar-in-Residence. A former member of the executive team of the German Marshall Fund of the United Stated and opinion page editor for the financial times, Dr. Schwarzer is the Otto Wolff Director of the Research Institute of the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin. Her focus will be on the future of the European project, the end of the West, and global power shifts.

Biennial Conference on Global Challenges

Each conference focuses on a specific global challenge, bringing together scholars and practitioners from around the world to analyze global challenges from cross-disciplinary and cross-national perspectives. The McCulloch Center also offers a team-taught 2-credit interdisciplinary course on the topic, leading up to the conference.

The course and conference in February 2018 focus on "Global and Local Inequalities: Social Action and Entrepreneurship for Change."

Learning Experiences Abroad

Learning abroad proves to be a transformative experience for many students. Immersion in another country and culture encourages students to understand the world through a different lens and to question their own assumptions and beliefs. The McCulloch Center aggressively expands learning opportunities abroad for all Mount Holyoke students, through traditional study abroad as well as summer internships and research.

Study Abroad

Each year about 200 Mount Holyoke students study for a semester or academic year at universities and programs around the world. Students may choose to study with a Mount Holyoke-sponsored or affiliated program or exchange, or with one of the many other programs that we approve, covering more than 50 countries. MHC currently offers programs and exchanges for full year or semester study in China, France, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Germany, and the UK, along with a summer program in China.

We expect each student to work closely with her faculty advisor in choosing the country and program that best fit into her plan of study. The McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives facilitates the application and approval process so that students are assured of receiving credit upon the successful completion of their program of study abroad. Though most students study abroad as juniors, study abroad in the sophomore year, or even the fall of senior year, is possible and sometimes fits better into a student’s overall program.

Mount Holyoke does not charge home school fees. Except for Mount Holyoke’s own programs and exchanges, students pay program costs directly to their host university or program sponsor. Mount Holyoke charges an administrative fee of $900 per semester of study abroad. Eligible students may use federal and state loans and grants toward the cost of study abroad. Because many programs abroad cost less than a semester or year at Mount Holyoke, many students will find that those resources, in addition to their family contribution, will be sufficient to cover their costs. For students in need of financial assistance, Mount Holyoke offers the Laurel Fellowships for Off-Campus Study (need-based awards for study abroad). While Laurel Fellowships are guaranteed for designated Mount Holyoke programs and exchanges, and they are also given for study abroad on Laurel Preferred with many other approved programs. Eligible students who are selected for most of Mount Holyoke’s own programs and exchanges are guaranteed Laurel Fellowships, provided they apply by the deadline and meet all financial and academic criteria. Mount Holyoke typically approves more than 90 percent of qualified applicants for Laurel Fellowship funding.

International Internships

The McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives promotes opportunities for students to participate in international internships. The center maintains resources on experiential learning opportunities abroad and advises students on strategies for designing their own international internship. Additionally, the center sponsors the Mount Holyoke College International Internship Program (MHC-IIP), a network of funded internship opportunities available exclusively for Mount Holyoke College sophomores and juniors. Established through  contacts of the Mount Holyoke community (alumnae, faculty, parents and friends of the College), these competitive internships provide students with unique connections and the opportunity to apply their analytical skills in a cross-cultural context. In the summer of 2017, 28 students were placed in MHC-IIP internships in 12 countries, while the McCulloch Center supported more than 20 other students for international self-designed internships, “Global/Local” internships that integrate with Community-Based Learning placements, faculty-mentored research, and creative projects.

Student Research Abroad

The center encourages students to pursue summer research on global themes. Through the Global Research Support Program (GRSP), the center provides research related workshops and networking opportunities to support funded, collaborative student-mentor research projects.

Global Competence Award

The McCulloch Center offers a Global Competence Award to graduating seniors who have demonstrated significant achievements in learning another language, cultural immersion, global perspective taking and cross-cultural learning.

Social Innovation Initiative

The McCulloch Center provides support, mentorship, and seed funding to student innovators who are developing and implementing projects to address some of the world’s most vexing challenges. It advances this agenda in collaboration with multiple units across campus, most importantly Entrepreneurship, Organizations, and Society. Under the Social Innovation Initiative (SI2), students advance projects that are grounded in the community, informed by the curriculum, and build student capacity for “effective and purposeful engagement in the world” – chiefly in the fields of education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health.

International Diversity on Campus

Mount Holyoke College boasts a uniquely diverse international faculty and student body, which provides a powerful setting for education for global citizenship, in and out of the classroom, on a personal and intellectual level. For more than 175 years, Mount Holyoke College has attracted students from many backgrounds and cultures. Currently, over 600 international students from over 70 countries attend Mount Holyoke. Most are studying toward a bachelor’s degree and enter as first-year, transfer, or Frances Perkins students. The McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives provides orientation, advising, special programming, and information about immigration regulations to international students. The center also administers a special program for students who are selected to spend a year at the College  as international exchange students or international guest students.

Foreign Languages at Mount Holyoke College

Encouraging Mount Holyoke students to become proficient in languages other than English is an essential part of the College’s goal of fostering engaged, global citizenship, both abroad and in the U.S. At Mount Holyoke, language learners become educated speakers of languages other than English with deep translingual and transcultural competence, so that they can understand and participate in our interconnected world and compete in the ever-changing global job market. As part of its Living Learning Communities initiative, the College offers students the opportunity to live on a language floor. Currently, the Living Learning Communities include language floors for the Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish languages, with plans to expand the program in the future.

The Leslie Miller and Richard Worley Center for the Environment

The Miller Worley Center for the Environment (formerly the Center for Environmental Literacy) was established in 1998. Its goal was to make environmental literacy a central part of students’ education at Mount Holyoke by using our campus as a natural laboratory for the study of landscape ecology and ecological processes. The center’s current mission is to enable our students and community to work toward environmentally responsible, just, and equitable societies by bridging diverse interests and backgrounds, and by deepening the connections between people, community, and the Earth.

We imagine “environment” broadly — not just as surroundings, not just as the air, water, and land on which we depend, or that we pollute — but as sets of circumstances, conditions, and contexts in which we live, work, and develop. We seek common ground where edges have separated us — by discipline, by lifeways, by points of view, by structures that may have kept us from engaging in dialogue about “environment” in our work and lives.

The center’s programs seek to offer frames for interdisciplinary and cross-cultural dialogue and partnerships, which recognize shared responsibility and interdependence. Our programs seek to increase awareness of local, national, and global realities and to encourage leadership within all of us to reflect, communicate, and act as responsible citizens of the Earth.

A guiding principle of the Miller Worley Center for the Environment is the integration of teaching, research, and community service such that activities and programs positively reinforce each other. The center serves as a forum that brings together people from diverse backgrounds — faculty, students, staff, and members of the wider community — to discuss and collaborate on issues of mutual concern. The center is also a resource for students interested in ecology and environmental studies, faculty developing  new courses, facilities planners managing the campus, and thoughtful individuals who want to learn how to live in more environmentally responsible ways.

More than 300 acres of Mount Holyoke’s 800-acre campus are an undeveloped nature preserve — of lakes, streams, forests, marsh, shrub wetlands, forested wetlands, and vernal pools — that is home to hundreds of animal  species, including beavers, otters, American eel, and coyotes. This remarkable diversity of environments and life forms exists in close proximity to areas of rapid development, providing Mount Holyoke students with opportunities to study a variety of ecological processes and their responses to human activities. The center collects data on the rich array of environmental phenomena that occur in the College’s undeveloped and built environments. Various science courses use the data sets to study subjects ranging from weather and water quality to biodiversity and community structure. Students can also use the center’s data for independent research.

Outside the classroom, the Miller Worley Center for the Environment works to heighten environmental awareness within the community at large. Each semester, the center presents lectures on important environmental issues. Recent guest speakers have included Barbara Block, one of the world’s leading marine biologists; Anna Lappé, best-selling author and cofounder of the Small Planet Institute; and Bill McKibben, environmental activist and author. The center has organized discussion series on local natural history and faith and the environment; panels on careers in the environment; and environmental workshops, nature walks, and hands-on experiences for children.

The Miller Worley Center for the Environment is located in Dwight Hall. For more information, call 413-538-3091, email center-environment@mtholyoke.edu, or visit www.mtholyoke.edu/mwce.

Library, Information, and Technology Services (LITS)

LITS offers the MHC community a premier research library and an award-winning teaching and learning facility with a dedicated team to assist students, faculty, and staff in their academic pursuits.

Housed in the Williston-Miles-Smith-Dwight complex, LITS is both a physical place and virtual gateway to information and technology resources, services, and spaces critical to student success. The physical library collection of more than 700,000 volumes, including an internationally known collection of archival records, manuscripts, and rare books, is enormously enriched through  a shared Five College library catalog and delivery system. Mount Holyoke students have direct access to the eight million volumes in the Five College library system, as well as a global library network at their fingertips.

Complementing the physical library collection is a rich selection of digital information sources, such as art images, electronic books and journals, digital music recordings, and more.

Teaching and learning happen in the classroom and lab and are increasingly complemented and enriched through virtual connections to other Five College classrooms, and to practitioners, experts around the world. Most classes utilize Moodle (the campus learning management system) to facilitate sharing of course materials and to foster connections and discussions between students and faculty members outside of class meetings.

Computer labs across campus offer students high-end software and computer hardware. Students may also borrow a wealth of computer and media equipment, such as digital cameras, projectors, and laptops.

Student research and technology skill development is supported through a robust array of course-integrated instruction; peer mentoring; in-person, phone, email, and chat services; noncredit workshops; and individual in-depth appointments.

Wireless and wired networks blanket the campus. Underlying the campus network is the shared Five College optical fiber network that connects the schools to each other and the world. This nationally recognized initiative enables the Five Colleges to more effectively meet ever-increasing bandwidth needs.

To protect student computers and the campus network, the College provides antivirus software free to all students. Specially trained LITS student peer consultants and staff are available to assist students with loading and running it, connecting to the campus network, and resolving computer operating system issues.

The LITS buildings include many great places to study and work, outfitted with a wide range of instructional technologies and comfortable furniture: quiet nooks, places to meet with small groups, and Rao’s, the Library’s coffeeshop, to grab a snack and meet with a faculty member or friends.

Please visit the LITS website for more information: www.mtholyoke.edu/lits/. LITS is also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/MountHolyokeLITS.

Internships and The Lynk

A central goal of Mount Holyoke’s The Lynk initiative is to ensure that each MHC student has the opportunity to explore her career interests, gain practical experience and begin to develop a professional network through a summer internship.

Students can find internships through Mount Holyoke College internship programs, existing job postings with external employers, or develop their own internship opportunity by contacting an organization and offering to work as an intern.

The Career Development Center and other Academic Centers like the Miller Worley Center for the Environment and the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives supports preparation for internships in the United States and abroad through individual advising, workshops, networking and other opportunities.

Mount Holyoke supports qualified, substantive, supervised opportunities and emphasizes the connection between the liberal arts and career and personal development.

Credit for internships is granted if a student enrolls in independent study as a practicum associated with the internship (295P or 395P. See Independent Study later in this chapter). A student can also receive credit in a department capstone or in the post-internship class COLL-211. Many students also present publicly on their internship at Mount Holyoke’s LEAP (Learning through Application) Symposium or present research done in their internship in department poster sessions, at Five College conferences, or at the Senior Symposium.

Mount Holyoke provides funding for sophomores and juniors to pursue unpaid or low paid internship and research opportunities through The Lynk Universal Application Funding (UAF) program. More information about The Lynk is available in the advising chapter and The Lynk website.

Exchanges and Semester Programs

Twelve College Exchange Program

Mount Holyoke College maintains a residential exchange program with Amherst, Bowdoin, Connecticut, Dartmouth, Smith, Trinity, Vassar, Wellesley, Wheaton College, and Wesleyan University. The exchange also includes the Williams/Mystic Program in Maritime Studies and the O’Neill National Theater Institute Program (NTI). For more information, see www.mtholyoke.edu/academicdeans/twelve_college.html or contact Kat Eldred in the Office of Academic Deans at 413-538-2855.

Women’s College Exchange Programs

Mills-Mount Holyoke Exchange

Students may apply to study for a semester on exchange at Mills College, a distinguished college for women in Oakland, California. For more information, see www.mtholyoke.edu/academicdeans/women_exchange.html or contact Kat Eldred in the Office of Academic Deans at 413-538-2855.

Spelman-Mount Holyoke Exchange

Students may apply to study for a semester on exchange at Spelman College, the premiere historically black women’s college in Atlanta, Georgia. For more information, see www.mtholyoke.edu/academicdeans/women_exchange.html or contact Kat Eldred in the Office of Academic Deans at 413-538-2855.

American University Washington Semester Program

American University’s Washington Semester Program offers more than a dozen distinct programs that cover such topics as American politics, justice, journalism, public law, and peace and conflict studies. Students participate in an intensive internship and seminar related to the program focus while living in Washington, D.C. Students apply directly to American University for admission to the program. For more information, see www.mtholyoke.edu/academicdeans/washington_semester.html or contact Kat Eldred in the Office of Academic Deans at 413-538-2855.

Semester in Environmental Science Program

The Semester in Environmental Science (SES) is an intensive, 15-week program that immerses students in rigorous field and laboratory work, lectures, and independent research in environmental and ecosystems sciences at one of the world’s leading marine laboratories. SES is primarily for juniors, and is offered only in the fall semester. For more information about the program see www.mtholyoke.edu/academicdeans/ ses_program.html or contact Thomas Millette, professor of geography, or Jill Bubier, professor of environmental studies.


Intersession, sometimes referred to as January Term, is an optional period in January during which students may pursue independent research with a faculty member, take a credit-bearing course through Mount Holyoke’s Professional and Graduate Education (PaGE) program, or explore new interests through nonacademic courses and workshops. Many students use this period as an opportunity to travel, participate in an extensive two- to three-week internship off campus, work, take a short-term course for transfer credits, or relax at home.

Housing and meals for Intersession are only available to eligible students who apply in advance to the Office of Residential Life and are approved. Qualification criteria include participating in an approved activity such as undertaking a PaGE course, a Five College course, an independent study with a faculty member, a required athletic commitment, off-campus or on-campus employment, or being an international student.  Applications due to hardship are also considered.

Students graduating in December and students going on a spring semester leave or returning from a fall semester leave are not eligible for Intersession housing or meals.

Independent Study

Mount Holyoke values independent-minded students who seek to develop and pursue a course of study that satisfies a particular intellectual curiosity. Projects may range from independent research in areas as diverse as protein folding, copyright law, rural development, literary analysis, and second language acquisition to original compositions in music, sculpture, and fiction.

All requests to undertake independent study are rigorously assessed and must be approved by the student’s independent study faculty advisor.

A maximum of 16 credits of independent study and honors work may be used toward the 128 credits required for graduation. A maximum total of 8 credits of independent study may be elected in the sophomore and junior years.

Independent work with a practicum component in a professional or volunteer setting, and a substantial academic component supervised by a Mount Holyoke faculty member, may be designated 295P (Practicum) or 395P (Practicum). When the practicum takes place during the summer or January, the bulk of the credit-bearing work will normally take place during the following semester. Practicum designation ordinarily requires consultation with a faculty member prior to commencement of the practicum. Independent work with a practicum component is governed by the same policies as all other independent work.

Courses with practicum components bearing the word Practicum in their title may qualify international students with an F-1 visa for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Students seeking CPT should contact the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives.

Honors Thesis

During the senior year, qualified  students can elect to write an honors thesis based on research and in-depth study of a particular subject. Ordinarily, a student writes an honors thesis in her major department. She may write an honors thesis in another field with the approval of that department and the Dean of Studies. To qualify to write an honors thesis, a student must have maintained a cumulative average of 3.00 in her College work or a 3.00 average in her major field prior to the senior year. The thesis must be approved by the department concerned. Students who write an honors thesis must earn 8 credits in independent study (or an alternative course sequence pre-approved by both the department and the Academic Administrative Board) over two semesters.

An honors thesis or project that does not culminate in a recommendation for a degree with honor is recorded on the transcript as independent study.