The Five College Consortium

A Prestigious Consortium of Four Colleges and One University in Western Mass.

The Five College Consortium in Western Massachusetts' Pioneer Valley provides students in the member institutions with a wealth of academic opportunities. Students can take classes on any of the five campuses allowing for the type of breadth and interdisciplinary study that wouldn't be possible at a single college. Combined, the five colleges offer roughly 6,000 courses to nearly 40,000 undergraduates. A free bus connects all the campuses. Students can also take advantage of cultural and co-curricular opportunities on the member campuses.

The consortium can be ideal for students who want a liberal arts or women's college experience, but worry about the limited opportunities (both social and academic) inherent to small schools. For students who attend UMass Amherst, the consortium allows them to experience the more intimate academic environment of a small college while attending a bustling university of over 30,000 students.

Amherst College

Amherst College
Amherst College. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

With an impressively low student / faculty ratio, an endowment of over $2 billion, and a beautiful location in the mountains of Western Massachusetts, it should come as no surprise that Amherst College consistently ranks at or near the top of rankings of the country's best liberal arts colleges. You're going to need an extremely strong application to get in for Amherst's admissions standards place it among the nation's most selective colleges and universities.

Fast Facts (2018)
Location Amherst, Massachusetts
Enrollment 1,855 (all undergraduate)
Acceptance Rate 13%
Student / Faculty Ratio  7 to 1
Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Hampshire College

Hampshire College
Hampshire College. redjar / Flickr

Hampshire College went through a rough spell in 2019 when the president announced its closure, but administrative changes and intervention by alumni appear to have saved the school. Hampshire is well known for its unusual approach to undergraduate education in which evaluation is qualitative, not quantitative, and students get to design their own majors working with an academic advisor. Hampshire's admissions standards aren't as selective as most of the five colleges, but the school tends to have a self-selecting student population that doesn't fit the traditional college mold.

Fast Facts (2018)
Location Amherst, Massachusetts
Enrollment 1,191 (all undergraduate)
Acceptance Rate 63%
Student / Faculty Ratio  10 to 1
Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Mount Holyoke College

Mount Holyoke College
Mount Holyoke College. John Phelan/Wikimedia Commons

Mount Holyoke is one of two women's colleges in the Five-College Consortium, and both rank among the nation's top women's colleges. The school features test-optional admissions, and the beautiful campus features gardens, lakes, waterfalls, and horseback-riding trails. In fact, horse lovers are often drawn to Mount Holyoke College, for it has a strong IHSA equestrian program and impressive equestrian facilities. Mount Holyoke's admissions standards are selective, and you're going to need strong grades to get in.

Fast Facts (2018)
Location South Hadley, Massachusetts
Enrollment 2,335 (2,208 undergraduates)
Acceptance Rate 51%
Student / Faculty Ratio  9 to 1
Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Smith College

Seelye Hall at Smith College
Seelye Hall at Smith College. Allen Grove

Another strong women's college, Smith College is both larger and more selective than Mount Holyoke, and it is unusual among liberal arts colleges because of its popular engineering program. The attractive campus features the 12,000 square foot Lyman Conservatory and the Botanic Garden, and famous alumnae include Gloria Steinem, Sylvia Plath, and Julia Child. You'll need lots of "A" grades to get accepted to Smith, but standardized test scores are an optional part of the application.

Fast Facts (2018)
Location Northampton, Massachusetts
Enrollment 2,903 (2,502 undergraduates)
Acceptance Rate 31%
Student / Faculty Ratio  9 to 1
Source: National Center for Education Statistics

University of Massachusetts at Amherst

University of Massachusetts at Amherst Student Union
University of Massachusetts at Amherst Student Union. Allen Grove

UMass Amherst is by far the largest member of the Five College Consortium, and it is also the only public university in the group. The university frequently ranks among the top 50 public universities in the United States, and it is home to the tallest university library in the world. On the athletic front, the Minutemen compete in the NCAA Division I Atlantic 10 Conference. UMass Amherst's admissions standards are selective, and you're probably going to need above-average grades and standardized test scores to get in.

Fast Facts (2018)
Location Amherst, Massachusetts
Enrollment 30,593 (23,515 undergraduates)
Acceptance Rate 60%
Student / Faculty Ratio  17 to 1
Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Explore More Great Colleges in the Region

New England Map
New England Map.

If you don't find your dream school in the Five College Consortium, be sure to explore other great colleges and universities in the region: