The Five College Astronomy Department is a collaborative program of these colleges, which are all located in the Connecticut River valley of western Massachusetts:
By linking our teaching and research programs, we can offer a richer environment for doing astronomy than would be possible if we each operated independently. For example, the optical and infrared observing course, generally offered at Smith College, is taken by students from each of the five schools, thereby avoiding duplication of effort and at the same time creating a more diverse classroom experience. Moreover, by combining the traditional emphasis on small classes and individual attention that is found at small liberal arts colleges with the research opportunities and infrastructure of a large university, students can find a mix of fine teaching and rich opportunities for independent research. Some 10% of the professional women astronomers in the US did their undergraduate work in the Five College Astronomy program.
In addition to the academic year program, the department offers a wide range of summer undergraduate research opportunities: