Special Programs and Resources

Academic Centers, including:

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

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

  • The Leslie Miller and Richard Worley Center for the Environment

Library, Information, and Technology Services (LITS)

Internships and The Lynk

Other Programs and Resources, including:

  • Foreign Languages at Mount Holyoke College
  • Domestic Study Away
  • Intersession
  • Independent Study
  • Honors Thesis

Academic Centers

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 the College's faculty and teaching staff, in their many roles as teachers, scholars, artists, and scientists. The TLI program is guided by research-based best practices in the field, the College's institutional mission and priorities, the interests of the faculty, and the desire to invest in students’ learning. Particular areas of emphasis include: inclusive teaching and advising practices with diverse students, technology-supported teaching innovations, and experiential learning. TLI's 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 was the 2018 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 was 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 was focused on "Global and Local Inequalities: Social Change for Sustainable Communities."

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 and mentored independent projects.

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 150 other programs that we approve in more than 50 countries. MHC currently offers programs and exchanges for full year or semester study in China, France, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Germany, and the UK, along with a summer program in China.

We expect each student to work closely with their faculty advisor in choosing the country and program that best fit into their 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 for study abroad. Except for Mount Holyoke’s own programs and exchanges, students pay program costs directly to their abroad 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 the majority of programs abroad cost less than a semester or year at Mount Holyoke, many students find that those resources, in addition to their family contribution, will be sufficient to cover their costs. For students whose family contribution and federal/state aid are not sufficient to cover the cost of study abroad, Mount Holyoke offers need-based Laurel Fellowships for for study on Mount Holyoke programs and exchanges as well as for approved programs and universities designated as "Laurel Preferred." 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 95 percent of qualified applicants for Laurel Fellowship funding. For more information about study abroad programs, Laurel Fellowships, the application process, and deadlines, visit www.mtholyoke.edu/global/study_abroad.

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 Connect-Global Internship Program (MHConnect Global), 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 2019, 35 students were placed in MHC-IIP internships in 11 countries, including through internship "hubs" in Costa Rica and Ghana, while the McCulloch Center supported numerous other students for international self-designed internships, faculty-mentored research, and creative 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.

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 with the goal of making environmental literacy a central part of Mount Holyoke students’ education through the use of the campus as a natural laboratory. In 2010, in recognition of a generous gift from Leslie Miller and Richard Worley, the Center was renamed the Leslie Miller and Richard Worley Center for the Environment.

The Center for the Environment prepares students to think critically, creatively, and globally — to tackle the worlds’ most complex issues as environmental leaders. It advances a culture of sustainability and justice on campus and beyond through community building, programming that encourages environmental literacy, and opportunities for sustainable action and leadership in service of all generations. Situated within a world-class liberal arts college on an exceptional landscape in the heart of western Massachusetts, the Center promotes an inclusive, just, equitable, and anti-racist campus and society in all its programs.


The Miller Worley Center encourages students to understand and study the connection between sustainability on campus and local and global communities — both in terms of the people moving through the institution and the resources it consumes. Mount Holyoke aims to foster a healthy environment with equitable distribution of resources by reducing the impact of human activity, implementing ethical economic development and promoting social justice. Recognizing that climate change is threatening people and ecosystems around the globe, and that without intervention, that impact will continue to escalate, the College has set a  goal of Carbon Neutrality by 2037, the College’s 200th anniversary. As an educational institution, Mount Holyoke is in a position to lead by educating students and the broader community on the science of climate change, as well as on the political, economic and social factors influencing it. The Miller Worley Center works across the College to advance sustainability as a core value in all aspects of the campus, including academic programs and research, campus planning and operations, co-curricular student opportunities, and engagement with the local community.

The Campus as Living Laboratory

The Miller Worley Center manages Mount Holyoke’s Campus Living Laboratory. Inspired by a diversity of ecosystems and a culture of sustainability, the living laboratory transforms Mount Holyoke’s natural and built landscape into an exciting destination for hands-on, multidisciplinary undergraduate research and teaching. More than 300 acres of Mount Holyoke’s 800-acre campus are an undeveloped nature preserve — of reservoirs, streams, forests, marshes, shrub wetlands, forested wetlands, pastures, meadows and vernal pools. This remarkable diversity of environments 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.

For decades, the Center has maintained several long-term water, climate and forest monitoring systems and routinely collects data on the rich array of environmental phenomena that occur in the College’s undeveloped and built environments. These datasets are stored online in the College’s Institutional Data Archive and are made publicly available. Various science courses use the datasets to study subjects ranging from weather and water quality to forest succession, biodiversity and community structure. Students can also use the Center’s data for their own independent research projects.

Internships and Grant Funding for Environmental Study

The Miller Worley Center offers curated internships and grant funding that provide students opportunities to explore environmental issues across disciplines, communities, cultures and landscapes while developing career skills and professional contacts. Miller Worley internships focus on topics from biodiversity conservation and ecological restoration to energy efficiency and sustainable agriculture, and the Center partners with a diverse group of local and national organizations to provide students both local and global opportunities. Grant funding enables students to travel to conferences, embark on environmental research projects, and promote campus sustainability initiatives. (Faculty curriculum development grants are also available through the Miller Worley Center.) Students are encouraged to integrate their Miller Worley curated internships and grant-funded opportunities with their academic coursework. Frequent collaboration with Mount Holyoke academic departments, programs, and centers, including the Nexus: Curriculum to Career program, the Weissman Center’s Community-based Learning program and the McCulloch Center’s Global/Local Fellowship program, provides students well-rounded and interdisciplinary co-curricular experiences.

Environmental Awareness within the Community

Outside the classroom, the Miller Worley Center works to increase environmental awareness within the community at large. Each semester, the center presents lectures on important environmental issues. Recent guest speakers have included Robert Musil, President and CEO of the Rachel Carson Council; Shaughnessy Naughton, chemist, science advocate, and former Congressional aide; and Sarah duPont, founder of the Amazon Aid Foundation. The Center also organizes alumnae career panels and environmental film festivals.

The Miller Worley Center for the Environment is located in Dwight Hall, 2nd Floor. For more information, visit www.mtholyoke.edu/mwce or www.facebook.com/MWCEMtHolyoke/ or telephone 413-538-3091.

Library, Information, and Technology Services (LITS)

Library, Information, and Technology Services (LITS) offers the Mount Holyoke community a premier library, teaching, and learning facility with a dedicated team to assist students, faculty, and staff in their academic and administrative pursuits. LITS endeavors to support students of all backgrounds, to help them thrive in their academic and co-curricular goals. 

LITS represents both a physical place and virtual gateway to information and technology resources critical for student success, providing access to the physical library collection of more than 700,000 volumes, 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, streaming video, and music. Students also have access to archival records, manuscripts, and rare books housed in our Archives and Special Collections, encouraging active engagement with primary sources.

Teaching and learning happen in classrooms, enhanced through connections with the Five Colleges, community practitioners, and experts around the world. Faculty use Moodle (MHC’s learning management system) to facilitate sharing of course materials and to foster discussions outside of the classroom. Student research and technology support is offered through course-integrated instruction, consultations, and personalized assistance.

Computer labs across campus offer students high-end technology. Students may also borrow a wide range of equipment, such as laptops, video/DSLR cameras, and projectors. To protect student computers and the campus network, the College provides antivirus software to all students. LITS staff assist faculty, staff, and students with computer and technology issues that may arise.

The LITS complex includes many places to study and work, outfitted with comfortable furniture, quiet nooks, places to meet, and the library’s coffee shop, the Frances Perk.

Please visit the LITS website for more information: lits.mtholyoke.edu.

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.

Other Special Programs and Resources

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 in a community of students that promotes a supportive and congenial environment of language immersion for its residents. The languages for the 2021-22 academic year Living Learning Communities are Chinese (Mandarin), Italian, German, and French.

Domestic Study Away

Mount Holyoke offers its own Mount Holyoke Semester in D.C. program for eligible students who wish to spend a semester in Washington D.C.  Further information about this program is available below or from Janet Lansberry in the Weissman Center for Leadership.

Other students may apply for academic leave from Mount Holyoke College to pursue up to two semesters (full-time equivalency) of study at any of the College's other approved domestic study away programs listed below or at another accredited U.S. institution as a visiting student. Although federal financial aid may travel with those on approved academic leaves, institutional aid does not. Occasionally programs at other institutions have program-specific aid, but this is not typical and students applying to these programs should plan accordingly. For more information see www.mtholyoke.edu/academicdeans/academic-leave or contact Kat Eldred in the Office of Academic Deans at 413-538-2855.

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.

Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program (BGIA) in New York City

BGIA provides a unique opportunity for college students and recent college graduates from around the world to take advanced courses in international affairs while working in carefully selected internships based on individual interest -- all while experiencing life in Manhattan, the island at the center of the world. BGIA students engage in the study and practice of international law; international relations theory; global public health; political economy; international reporting’ and other aspects of international affairs.

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.

SEA Semester

Boston University’s accredited study abroad program, SEA Semester® provides an experiential opportunity to gather firsthand knowledge that will influence students’ lifelong relationships with the ocean. Moving beyond the textbook toward practical application, hands-on research, and personal experience, SEA Semester® prepares students to take a more active role in solving today’s environmental problems. Several semester-long options in different regions around the globe are offered. While the academic focus varies, each program offers an interconnected suite of courses designed to explore a specific ocean-related theme using a cross-disciplinary approach.

MHC Semester in D.C.

The MHC Semester in D.C. program combines an intensive internship with rigorous coursework in government, policy, advocacy, and related fields. This program is available to both juniors and seniors to spend the Fall semester in the nation’s capital at top-ranked American University in its Washington Semester Program, studying alongside ambitious and diverse students from the United States and beyond. Much of each students' work will center around an internship they arrange requiring three to four days of internship work per week. In addition to that intensive work experience, students enroll in a total of 13 credits, completing: two multidisciplinary seminars (8 credits total) taught by American University faculty and Washington area experts, a 4-credit independent study taught by the Mount Holyoke faculty director for MHC Semester in D.C., and a 1-credit internship course. For details of the application process and deadline, see the program's website at https://www.mtholyoke.edu/wcl/mhc-semester-dc

The per-student cost for a semester in this program for fall 2021 will be the same as if attending Mount Holyoke College.

MHC Semester in D.C. program participants will be able to use most outside aid, including federal direct student loans, parent loans, Pell grants, some state aid, and outside scholarships. Please note: federal work-study and Mount Holyoke aid will not be applicable. This includes need-based aid, leadership awards, other merit awards, town grants, tuition assistance grants and employment-based aid such as tuition exchange. For those selected to participate in the program, MHC Semester in D.C. consults with the Student Financial Services offices to develop a financial package appropriate to each student based on need and the financial offer they receive.


Intersession, sometimes referred to as January Term, is an optional period for undergraduates in January during which they may pursue independent research with a faculty member, apply to take a graduate-level 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 who completed their degrees at Mount Holyoke at the end of the fall semester, students going on a spring semester leave, or students 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, students write an honors thesis in their major department. A student 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 College work or a 3.00 average in the major field prior to the senior year. The thesis must be approved by the department concerned. Students who write an honors thesis must earn at least 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.