Return to Headlines

Discover five interconnected Massachusetts colleges

Posted on Oct. 23, 2018

circular photos of the colleges in the Five College Consortium in Massachusetts

Riverdale’s college counselor, Kathleen Reid, recently toured the Five College consortium in the Northampton/Amherst, Massachusetts area. Here are her impressions from the tour: 

“The Five College Consortium tour was very informative. The member institutions of consortium include top-ranked liberal arts colleges and a Division I research university; a young, unconventional campus and two of the oldest women’s colleges in the country. With the campuses linked by a free bus service that runs until 2 a.m., students are never more than a half hour from arriving at another campus to take a class, join an intramural club or socialize.”  

Many students she met had taken classes at the other institutions, and they can do so without paying extra tuition. 

“Some of the benefits of the consortium are that students can choose from thousands of courses on five campuses, have access to 9 million library volumes through the Joint Online Library Catalog and participate in Five College academic programs that pool the strengths of each institution.” 

Below is some basic information on each of the schools. If you have questions or want further details, please contact Kathleen Reid at

Amherst College - Amherst, MA - 1,800 undergraduates
Near the center of the town of Amherst, the college is one of the most selective liberal arts colleges in the country. Amherst offers open curriculum (students have no academic requirements!), diverse student body, incredible faculty, and devoted alumni.

Hampshire College - Amherst, MA - 1,400 undergraduates
One of the most innovative colleges in the country. It requires students to pursue their passions by designing their own programs of study and recruiting a faculty committee to guide them on a rigorous path of discovery. The environment fosters intellectual engagement, exploration, and critical thinking—supported by narrative evaluations rather than grades. A large percentage of Hampshire grads go on to own their own businesses. The campus is very queer friendly/inclusive.

Mount Holyoke College - South Hadley, MA - 2,200 students
An all women’s college, Mount Holyoke offers an exceptionally diverse and global learning environment. There is a large population of international students. Mount Holyoke’s classroom experience was rated number one by the Princeton Review, and the campus is absolutely gorgeous. Students may apply test-optional to Mount Holyoke.

Smith College - Northampton, MA - 2,600 undergraduates
Another all women’s college, Smith’s 147-acre campus was planned as a botanic garden and now known for its spectacular beauty. Students are passionate, engaged and appeared to be very politically active. One student told me that the school works very hard to make sure all students are happy. I visited on Mountain Day, a Smith tradition, when the school president surprises the students by ringing an early morning bell, which indicates that school is cancelled for the day. Students join faculty to climb the mountain or go apple picking.

UMass Amherst - Amherst, MA - 21,800 undergraduates
The University of Massachusetts Amherst is consistently ranked among the nation’s top public research universities. It includes New England’s premier honors college and eight schools and colleges offering a full range of undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs, many counted among the top programs in the nation and the world.