Leading the way in STEM
Mount Holyoke College, founded in 1837 by educator and chemist Mary Lyon, is at the forefront of the movement to achieve gender equity in STEM fields. Among all baccalaureate colleges in the United States over the past 50 years, Mount Holyoke launches the greatest number of women who go on to earn doctorates in science, technology, engineering and math.* Year after year, our students, faculty and alumnae change the face of scientific research, collaboration and innovation.
*Source: National Science Foundation, Survey of Earned Doctorates, 1968–2017
Roots in STEM
Cornelia Clapp, class of 1871
Earned the first and second biology doctorates awarded to women in the U.S. Clapp Laboratory was named in her honor.
Virginia Apgar ’29
Invented a screening test to assess the health of newborns — the Apgar Score — that is used worldwide
Jean Sammet ’48
A pioneer in computer science who invented the programming language FORMAC and co-created COBOL, a programming language that is still used today
Susan Kare ’75
The groundbreaking designer behind thousands of icons and screen graphics seen on digital devices worldwide
Mei Hong ’92
An award-winning chemist and professor whose focus — the development of solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy — furthers understanding of biological macromolecules
STEM thrives at Mount Holyoke
35% of students major in STEM
- Biological sciences*
- Computer science*
- Data science**
- Environmental studies*
- Neuroscience and behavior
*Among the College’s 10 most popular majors
** Mount Holyoke is one of few liberal arts colleges to offer a concentration in the emerging field of data science. The discipline integrates computational, programming and statistical skills with creativity and critical thinking. Across a range of fields, data scientists offer insight, create narratives, pose questions and visualize trends.
“Within the first 30 minutes, my professors had convinced me to pursue environmental studies as a major, and as a career.”
— Aayushi Mishra ’17, Analyst at EA Engineering, an environmental consulting firm, who earned a master’s degree in environmental science and policy at Columbia University
Peer mentorship among newer computer science students and experienced students is a hallmark of the computer science department at Mount Holyoke — and a source of social support and feedback within this robust community (the largest of our STEM majors).
Mount Holyoke was the first women’s college to host a hackathon — and the first to host one with an equal female-to-male ratio, which remains an ongoing goal. The annual event, organized by students, features a full day of collaboration that encourages hackers from around the country to create disruptive technologies and address real-world problems.
STEM resources on campus
Campus Living Laboratory Initiative
Our 700 campus acres are an exciting destination for hands-on, interdisciplinary learning.
- The Restoration Ecology Program offers a one-of-a-kind experience for undergraduate students to engage with this growing field — and to take the lead in restoring the campus lake and wetland ecosystems.
- Diverse ecosystems — lakes, streams, forests, fields, wetlands, vernal pools — invite student-faculty research and environmental monitoring.
- The campus research center stores decades of data from five weather stations, 15 water sampling stations and ecological field sites across campus.
- The Botanic Garden is home to 2,000 species of plants from six continents.
Faculty and staff voices in STEM
“The opportunity to teach a diverse student body at Mount Holyoke is very appealing. I was a student of color and supportive faculty were integral to my development as a scientist and an academic.”
–André White, Assistant professor of biological sciences
“Given the ubiquity of computing, we have an extraordinary opportunity to offer a rigorous CS major and also work effectively with students and faculty from across campus to solve problems that arise at the intersection of disciplines.”
–Valerie Barr ’77, Jean E. Sammet Professor of Computer Science and chair of computer science
“My approach to music technology and sonic art really thrives in an interdisciplinary liberal arts environment, where students are thinking in interesting ways across disciplines and across fields of study.”
–Thomas Ciufo, Assistant professor of music and founder of the digital music laboratories
“Mount Holyoke is an extraordinary destination for environmental study, thanks to its global diversity, history of strong support for women in the sciences, community partnerships and countless research opportunities provided by the Campus Living Laboratory.”
–Catherine Corson, Leslie and Sarah Miller Director of the Miller Worley Center for the Environment and associate professor of environmental studies
“What’s nice about actual hands-on experiences is that they really demystify technology. It’s ‘I did this myself’ rather than having something just handed to you. That experience creates a sense of empowerment.”
–Shani Mensing ’15, Coordinator of the Maker and Innovation Lab