The Consortium

Brief history and overview

Five Colleges, Incorporated is a nonprofit educational corporation established in 1965 to promote the broad educational and cultural objectives of its associated institutions: four private, residential liberal arts colleges and the Amherst campus of the state university. The consortium is an outgrowth of successful collaborations launched in 1914 in educational extension services among nearby colleges and universities and more elaborate collaborations launched in the 1950s among Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in areas of library subscriptions, joint faculty appointments, public radio, history of science and astronomy.  It was expanded in 1966 with the addition of Hampshire College.

Five Colleges, Incorporated promotes and administers long-term forms of cooperation that benefit faculty members, staff members and students. These include:

  1. Shared use of educational and cultural resources and facilities, including a joint automated library system, open cross registration, and open theater auditions;
  2. Joint departments and programs;
  3. Inter-campus transportation.

Their proximity to one another in the Connecticut River Valley of western Massachusetts favors Five College collaboration, as does their commitment to the liberal arts and to undergraduate education. Five Colleges, Incorporated is a longstanding member of the Association for Consortium Leadership (ACL), a national organization of consortia and consortium leaders.

Download the PDF An Introduction to Five Colleges, Incorporated

In it, you'll read about the consortium's broad portfolio of activities, including an overview of its various administrative structures, funding sources, and processes used to initiate and sustain Five College agreements and programs.

The Campuses

The member institutions of the Five College consortium include top-ranked liberal arts colleges and a Division I research university; a young, unconventional campus and two of the oldest womens' colleges in the country. With the campuses linked by a free bus service, students are never more than a half hour from arriving at another campus to take a class, join an intramural club or socialize.

Amherst College - Amherst, MA - 1,800 undergraduates
On a campus near the town’s center, this distinguished coeducational liberal arts college is known for its committed faculty members, open curriculum, diverse student body and devoted alumni. Consistently recognized as one of the nation’s top educational institutions, Amherst offers the B.A. degree in 36 fields of study.

Hampshire College - Amherst, MA - 1,400 undergraduates
Hampshire is among 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. The model has been described as “graduate school for undergraduates."

Mount Holyoke College - South Hadley, MA - 2,200 students
Mount Holyoke offers an exceptionally diverse and global learning environment. Students from nearly 70 countries collaborate with renowned faculty members on research and pursue experiential learning across the curriculum. Mount Holyoke’s classroom experience was rated number one by the Princeton Review and the campus is ranked as one of the nation’s most beautiful.

Smith College - Northampton, MA - 2,600 undergraduates
Smith’s learning experience includes small classes, professors who are world-class scholars, and innovative courses, all on a 147-acre campus planned as a botanic garden and now known for its spectacular physical beauty. Notable collections include the renowned Smith College Museum of Art and the internationally recognized Sophia Smith Collection of women’s history manuscripts and archives.

UMass Amherst - Amherst, MA - 21,800 undergraduates
The University of Massachusetts Amherst is consistently ranked among the nation’s top public research universities. Its campus is home to a rich and diverse cultural and academic environment that 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.

Five College Center location and hours of operation

Address: 97 Spring Street, Amherst, MA 01002

Off-street parking is available.

Phone: (413) 542-4000
Fax: (413) 542-4029

Open all year (holidays excepted), 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday

Click here for directions.

Five Colleges ® is a registered trademark of Five Colleges, Incorporated.