Amherst is joined with Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst in a consortium that sponsors a variety of cooperative programs and enterprises. The goal of the cooperation among the five colleges is to enrich the educational opportunities available to students by providing them with access to the resources of all five institutions.

Fall 2020 - Spring 2021 Special Notice regarding Five College Interchange
In keeping with the five institutions' plans to limit campus access to their own students, faculty, and staff, all Five College students who register for a course on another campus during the 2020-21 academic year will be required to attend classes remotely, if such an option is available. As always, the instructor has the final word on who is admitted to the course.

 Five College Policies and Procedures

Students are entitled to participate in a course interchange program which allows them to construct up to one half of their program from liberal arts courses at the four other colleges without additional cost (see catalog for further information). Be aware that there is not a separate transcript for classes taken at another college. The college class is indicated on your Amherst transcript with a letter designating the particular host college: H/=Hampshire, M/=Mt. Holyoke, S/=Smith, U/=UMass. Also freely available to students are the libraries of each institution. The present and continuing emphasis of the Five College Libraries is on the sharing and enhancement of total resources and services.

Learn more about Five Colleges, Inc. at

Amherst students participating in the 5-college consortium must adhere to the Amherst College policies pertaining to Pass/Fail, grade extensions, withdrawal from courses and course credit. The Amherst Registrar will input the grade that is sent to their office from the 5-college institution. Submit the Amherst College Pass/Fail form to the Amherst College Registrar if you wish to select this option for a 5-college course.

Grades are assigned based on the grades offered at the host institution. If a grade is not offered by an institution, they cannot be offered to students from other colleges taking classes there. 

While we don't usually speak of Amherst classes in terms of credit, each class is equivalent to four semester hours of credit as are most of the courses at Hampshire, Mt. Holyoke and Smith colleges.  The majority of classes at UMass are equivalent to 3 credits and we give full course credit for a maximum of two courses per semester.  Credit of 1.5 at UMass or 2 at the other colleges is considered a "half" class which we designate with an "H" on your transcript.  Any course with credit less than 1.5 at UMass or less than 2 at the other colleges will not be accepted for credit here at Amherst.  

Note that while there are many courses offered at the Five Colleges, not all courses offered are accepted for credit at Amherst. Pre-professional and business classes cannot be taken for credit. You can check with your advisor and the registrar for approval before requesting enrollment at the host college or university.

For students who will be attending another college during meal times, there is a program allowing you to participate in meal exchange.  You can find details and contact information at Five Colleges, Inc. 5 College Meal Exchange

Important Note About Five College Registration

Many more students are participating in the Five College interchange making the actual registration at the host schools more stringent during the registration process.  This is especially true of the University of Massachusetts.  That office will only accept registrations for the class years for which they are immediately processing.  That is, they will only process our seniors when their seniors are registering and so on with the subsequent class years.  If the course has a co-requisite (discussion section or lab) and the form isn’t included, nothing will be processed. If a course requires instructor consent, you must have it in writing, either as an email or as a signature that we can confirm with them.  Also, if there are restrictions for the class (i.e., the class is only open to certain majors, or you need to have completed a specific class), you will not be enrolled unless you have met these criteria. Even permission of the instructor will not be accepted until the add/drop period when all of the UMass students have had the opportunity to enroll and it is found that there is space in the class. During the add/drop period, you will need instructor permission for every registration.