The Consortium

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One of the many cool things about being a student at Hampshire is that you get to use the resources of the other local colleges. Hampshire, together with Amherst College, Smith College, Mt. Holyoke College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, make up the Five College Consortium. This means that we can take classes at any of the other schools, use their libraries, eat their food, perform in their shows, and just generally use all the stuff that they have that we don’t. Here’s info on some of the basics:


Transportation between schools

The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, or PVTA, runs busses between the campuses that are free with a school ID (although you rarely have to show it). Buses run regularly throughout the school day, with reduced hours around holidays and breaks. Be aware that on the weekends buses don’t run as often, and on Friday and Saturday nights buses do run later into the night, but infrequently. They’re fairly reliable and run pretty much on schedule most of the time. There are other buses that go further away, but you’ll probably have to pay a fare. Definitely pick up a schedule when you get here. If you don’t have a car, or a friend with a car, the PVTA will become your friend. The Smith bus gets you into downtown Northampton, and the UMass bus gets you into Amherst Center. These are places with restaurants, movie theaters and other amusing things.

Taking an off campus course

Division I: In general, first semester students are discouraged from taking off-campus classes, but it’s certainly not a rule. Language (or anything else) can be taken off-campus in your first semester, but you should talk to your advisor about it. The only off-campus classes that can be used to fulfill Div I requirements are languages classes, which go towards your IA requirement. So you still have to take a minimum of four Hampshire classes during Div I in order to get your NS, SS, CS, and HACU credits.

Registering for  a Class: When you register for classes on The Hub each semester, there is a nifty little button in the ’Students’ section underneath the heading ’Registration’ that says ’Five College Requests.’ If you click on this you can follow the directions for taking a class off-campus. You can search through all of the other schools’ course catalogs online, either on the five college website, or at each of the individual schools’ websites. Write down all of the pertinent information about the course (i.e. course number, title, professor, meeting time, etc) and fill out a request form on The Hub. Central Records processes requests and once you are approved it will show up on your class schedule on The Hub. You can do this during pre-registration and during add/drop.

Instructor Permission: Some classes may require instructor permission. If you want to take a class that requires instructor permission, you should email the professor asking if you can take the class, and/or go talk to them. You will have to print out the request form from the Hub and go meet with them at some point to get his or her signature, which you will give to Central Records.

Grades/Evaluations: While we don’t have grades here at Hampshire, the other schools still do. This means that if you take a class off-campus you will have to have a grade officially recorded, both on your transcript and in that school’s records of you taking the class. But it is still possible to get a written evaluation from your non-Hampshire professor. One the first day of class you should introduce to yourself as a Hampshire student (if you haven’t already spoken with him or her), and ask your professor if he/she would be willing to write you an evaluation at the end of the class to go into your portfolio.If you intend to go to graduate school, espcialy in the sciences or maths, it is useful to take some off-campus courses, as a high GPA reassures other colleges that your work is in fact superlative.

Travel Time: An important thing to keep in mind when putting together your schedule is travel time. You should always factor in at least fifteen to twenty minutes between classes at different colleges. For example, if you want to take a 2:00 class at Hampshire, then it doesn’t work very well for your Smith class to end at 1:50. You should definitely keep a PVTA schedule on hand when picking classes if you’re going to be all over the valley.

Classes End Later: Another thing that sometimes gets overlooked is that each of the schools is on a slightly different academic calendar. Hampshire tends to end classes first, both in the fall and spring semesters. This means that you will almost certainly end up staying for an extra week or two so that you can finish your class and take the final (Most professors will not allow you to take your final earlier).  It is possible to stay on-campus after the dorms close for winter break or summer break if you have to - information about that will come from the housing office when it’s time.

Eating off-campus

While you might love Saga for its eternal stir fry stench and wacky ice cream flavors, you might sometimes have the urge to eat food with a little more flavor. One of the perks of being on the meal plan here is that the lovely Roberta will give you a five college meal plan slip. Roberta is the woman who swipes your card and gives you advice (or scolds you, reports on the weather, tells you about her dog/children/grandchildren...) at breakfast and lunch on weekdays. If you want to get breakfast or dinner off-campus you have to have a valid reason, such as class, rehearsal, lab, etc. Just go to Roberta and tell her that you need a meal slip for whichever school you want to eat at. She’ll ask you what days of the week and you can either say the days you actually have class, or just say everyday (it doesn’t actually seem to matter once you get to the other schools). (While this may work for some, this past year the rules may have changed; one student was asked for their schedule/other proof they were taking courses at another school before being given permission.) Then take that form to the dining services folks at the school you want to eat at- Roberta can tell you where they are on each campus. Again, remember to allow time in your schedule for eating and traveling when planning your schedule.

Using the inter-library loan

As a Five College student you have access to all of the libraries on all of the campuses. You can use your ID to check out books at any of the schools, or you can use the | Five Colleges Libraries Catalog (or from the Hampshire library site; just click the Five Colleges Libraries website link) to search for and request books, articles, and media. Books usually come in two or three days- you’ll get an email letting you know when they’re here. Articles can take longer, but they get delivered to your mail box. While you can pick up books from any of the other libraries, you have to request media (DVDs, etc) and get them delivered here. You can return books to any library, no matter where they’re from. You can renew books online by going into ’Your Account’ on the Hampshire library website.

Using athletic facilities

Unfortunately, the only way that you can use the splendid gyms, pools, and such at the other schools is by taking a physical education type class that takes place in those facilities. It's silly, we know. (However, you can always be signed in as a guest of a student/alumni/etc. of whichever school's facilities you are attempting to use.)

Searching For Five College Events/Courses

This website,, is supposed to make it much easier to find events and search for classes at all of the colleges at once.

Events: The Five Colleges definitely do not do a good job of broadcasting all their events on the Five Colleges website, so if you truly want to see them all you will have to refer to each college's website. However, there are definitely quite a good number advertised on the Five Colleges calendar: click here (or go to the website and click on "Events").

Courses: Sometimes the Five Colleges website really doesn't work all that well. So I've found that the best way to search for classes is to do it through each individual schools' website.

From hit "SPIRE" in the upper right hand corner, hit "Search Schedule/Browse Catalog" in the upper right hand corner, follow the directions.

From "" click on "Current Students" in the upper left hand corner, in the top middle of the page where it says "Course Catalogs" hit "Amherst", hit "Find Courses" in the upper left hand corner, in put search criteria.

From "" hit "For Students" on the right hand side, click on "ISIS" under "Web Resources" on the left hand side, hit "Course Catalogue" on the left hand side, follow the directions.

From "" click on "Current Students" in the upper left hand corner, hit "Course Catalogs" under "Academic Information" on the left hand side, hit "Smith College Course Catalog", follow directions.

Other Five College Related Information

Five College Departments, Programs, and More: One of the cool things at the consortium is that while each school is separate and unique with its own programs and departments, there are also Five College departments, programs, symposiums and events. There is Five College Dance Department which holds performances with work from students and faculty from all of the colleges, and the Five College Astronomy Department which does cool stuff. Check out for information on programs such as Culture, Health, and Science, Middle Eastern Studies, Peace and World Security Studies, Ethnomusicology, and more.

Learning a Language: If you’re interested in taking a language that’s not taught as a class, you might be able to take it as part of the Five College Supervised Independent Language Program (FCSLIP), which includes the Five College Mentored Language Program. You have to fill out an application and go to an interview to be considered for these programs. Check out this link for more information on the language programs.

Overall it’s pretty cool that we have this consortium. Hampshire was created by the other schools with the intention of collaboration between the schools. Where our resources or facilities may seem to be lacking, you can probably find a good supplement somewhere around here. While professors at other schools can’t officially be on your Div II or Div III committees, they can still be a great resource for your work.

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