Campus Updates

Visit the campus updates page for information on Mount Holyoke's response to the global pandemic. The Opening the Gates site contains details about the spring semester.

Mount Holyoke College
Opening the Gates


Although the pandemic has disrupted life as usual, Mount Holyoke continues to draw upon its mission of providing an intellectually adventurous education in the liberal arts and sciences. 

The health and safety of our students and faculty are always our priority. As we prepare to welcome more residential students back for the spring semester, we have adapted our operations while staying true to Mount Holyoke’s core values and educational mission. 

In 2020-2021, academic semesters have been divided into two seven-and-a-half week sessions. Students take two courses in each session, with an option to take an additional two-credit course or independent study. This allows faculty and students to focus their attention on fewer courses at a time in this moment of uncertainty. It also allows us to better accommodate students across a wide range of time zones. We offer a complete and rich curriculum with a full range of courses.

Depending on the learning goals and class activities, courses may involve meetings that are in person, all remote, or a combination of in person and remote students meeting together. In order to comply with health and safety guidelines, all classes started remotely for the first two weeks of the semester for students to observe the period of self isolation/quarantine. The spring semester began on January 19 and in-person activities started on February 1.

Flexible Immersive Teaching: The FIT Model

“Flexible” is the operative word when describing the FIT model. Mount Holyoke’s students come from a wide range of backgrounds and locations, and the FIT model is designed to speak to that diversity. It gives students access to the curriculum no matter where they are located or what their particular circumstances may be. The goal is to be flexible enough so that all students may participate, while preserving the immersive and rigorous academic experience of being in a Mount Holyoke class.

The FIT model does this by:

  • Using Moodle in order to maximize student and faculty accessibility.
  • Emphasizing synchronous engagement, which ensures an immersive experience and inclusive excellence.
  • Dividing the semester into two 7.5-week modules, giving students and faculty more concentrated time to focus deeply on each course.  
  • Offering classes that happen between 8 am and 10:30 pm Eastern time so that students in time zones across the world can participate.

A dialogue about the FIT Model

Amber Douglas and Elizabeth Markovits discuss the FIT model for use by all students, new and returning.

Amber Douglas is Dean of Studies and the director of Student Success and Advising. She is also an associate professor of psychology and education. 

Elizabeth Markovits is the Associate Dean of Faculty and director of the Teaching and Learning Initiative. She is also a professor of politics.

For New Students

For Returning Students


Feedback on the FIT model

Students and faculty have multiple opportunities (at least once per module) to provide feedback about their experiences in the FIT model.

The Library, Technology and Information Services (LITS) team is happy to help with technology needs, and offersresources to support the work of students, faculty and staff. Information about LITS services and hours is available online.

Borrowing equipment

LITS has a limited number of laptops available for semester loan. These laptops are available to students who do not have access to a personal computer and who need a device to complete coursework. Anyone with questions about borrowing a laptop and other equipment from LITS, please email

Computer and other technology recommendations are available on the LITS website

Email with any hardware or software questions.

Accessing G-Suite apps overseas

Students who are currently overseas can use Google Suite applications if connected to the Mount Holyoke Virtual Private Network (VPN). For more information, contact the Technology Help team, who are happy to help with technology needs.

Please see the LITS section of the Services and Cocurricular Activities page for information about library spaces and services.

Most advising appointments will be virtual, via Zoom or other video conferencing, regardless of whether students live on campus or not. There are a limited number of  approved locations that  faculty can reserve through the EMS web app to meet with students in-person, should they choose to do so. Advisors will be available on an on-going basis in much the same way they are when we are all on campus — through appointments and office hours. Many faculty list their availability within Pathways for students to self-schedule appointments. Students can also schedule appointments or take advantage of drop-in times with academic deans via video conference.  

Module 2 add/drop opens on March 10. The last day to add a Module 2 course will be March 24.

  • Students who wish to adjust their schedules to better match the time zone from which they are learning should utilize the add/drop process.
  • Students should be in touch with their faculty advisors or their academic dean as they plan to make adjustments to their schedules.

Add/drop for Module 1 opened on January 12, 2021. January 25, 2021 was the last day to add a Module 1 or full-semester course (or to make spring schedule adjustments until Module 2 add/drop.

Revised schedules for the Five Colleges institutions are available on the Five College Consortium website. Only courses that can be taken remotely are available for Five College registration.

First-semester first-year students wishing to take courses through the Five College Interchange should speak with the first-year class dean. All other students are eligible as long as the courses fit within their per-semester and per-mod credit limits and do not conflict with the times of their Mount Holyoke courses. Amherst College limits registration in its courses to two courses per semester.

Registration for Five College courses for seniors and juniors opened Monday, November 9, and closed Friday, November 20.

The usual procedures for enrolling in a Five College course during add/drop apply to all students, including sophomores and first years. Five College add/drop took place in January. Permission from the instructor of the course is required to register in a Five College course and the instructor must guarantee that there is space in the course for the student, even if the course would have to be over-enrolled to register the student. Once that permission has been sent to the MHC registrar’s office at, the student uses my.mtholyoke’s registration function to submit an official request for the Five College course. 

The MHC registrar will then transmit the request and permission to the other school’s registrar’s office. Both schools will then collaborate to get the student added to the class roster, set up with credentials to access the other school’s Moodle learning platform, and the class added to the student’s MHC schedule in my.mtholyoke.

The first day of classes:

  • Amherst College: February 15
  • UMass Amherst: February 1
  • Hampshire College: February 2 
  • Smith College: February 15

Seniors: Students should review the Five College's academic calendar before requesting courses, as start and end dates for the schools' spring semesters vary widely this year. The calendars of Smith College and Amherst College, in particular, are quite different; their spring classes will not start until February 15, so their semesters end 2-3 weeks after Mount Holyoke's. Seniors are advised that taking Smith or Amherst courses in the spring or incompletes / late grades from any of the schools may delay confirmation of degree honors or GPA; however, as long as all final grades have been submitted as expected by the end of the first week of June at the latest, seniors will be able to graduate with our May 2021 graduation date, not in October of 2021.  

For further information about taking Five College courses, please email or call the Office of the Registrar at 413-538-2025 during business hours.

Given the uncertain nature of the global pandemic’s continued effects on both public health and on travel between countries, Mount Holyoke College cancelled all College-sponsored undergraduate study abroad for fall 2020 and for spring 2021. This includes Mount Holyoke’s Montpellier France program, as well as student participation in approved direct-enroll and partner programs.

These decisions were made in consultation with Mount Holyoke College’s Travel Emergency Response Team, as well as the College risk manager and in consideration of a number of factors, including: 

  • Health concerns associated with travel.
  • Quickly changing in country conditions and travel/border closures.
  • Significant delays in visa processing.
  • Concern about unreliable access to evacuation services.
  • Disruptions to the academic integrity of programs.
  • Impact upon quality of cultural immersion. 

Study abroad in 2021–2022

When possible, students are encouraged to consider studying abroad during the fall 2021 semester. With the distribution of effective vaccines worldwide, we are optimistic about the ability to offer study abroad programs in the fall 2021 semester — at least in some locations pending local conditions, ability to obtain a visa, etc. Students who will no longer be able to fit study abroad into their academic plans are encouraged to consider alternatives, including international internships, fellowships, or study, research, or teaching opportunities abroad after graduation. Students wishing to study abroad during the 2021–2022 academic year should complete a new Request to Study Abroad form, which includes the Laurel Fellowship request. Deferral of study abroad plans into the next academic year will be subject to a re-assessment of revised academic plans, Laurel eligibility (based on next year’s FAFSA), and availability of College funds.

In the event that in-person study abroad for some or all fall 2021 programs must be cancelled, we will convey the decision to students no later than early July. Students are should consult with their program regarding deposits, fees, and withdrawal penalties and to not purchase airline tickets or make other significant financial investments until they hear definitively in early July whether the College will be able to support study abroad (and if so, where) in the fall.

Students who have applied for study abroad in the fall 2021 semester should still participate in course enrollment and room selection at Mount Holyoke.

Study abroad appointments may be booked through Pathways and weekly virtual drop in hours are available on Fridays from 3:30-4:30 pm EST.

Study at a foreign university

Students will not be able to study at a foreign university and transfer credits back in fall 2020 or spring 2021. Mount Holyoke College has made the difficult decision to cancel study abroad this academic year. This includes all study abroad programs and no credit will be transferred in from study abroad completed during the fall 2020 or spring 2021.

Students who wish to study at a foreign university should request a personal leave and no transfer credit will be accepted toward the Mount Holyoke degree, with the exception of students who opt to study in their home country. International students should be aware that their immigration status may be affected by taking a personal leave and should therefore consult with the immigration specialist in the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives before applying for one.

International students studying in their home countries

Because all study abroad opportunities have been cancelled for the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters, international students may opt to study in their home country. Students interested in doing this would be well served by contacting their academic dean to discuss their plans in more detail. To ensure that credits will transfer towards the Mount Holyoke degree, pre-approval is also necessary though the registrar’s office. 

Note that there is a way to continue with your Mount Holyoke education directly during the coming year by engaging in the College’s flexible semester, which allows students to access courses and other experiences from different locations. International students who choose to study in their home country would need to elect a personal leave and should be aware that their U.S. immigration status may be affected. They should therefore consult with the immigration specialist in the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives before making a decision about taking a personal leave.

Remote study abroad

While some study abroad partners and universities are offering remote versions of programs as substitutes for in-person study, these are not an option for Mount Holyoke students at this time.

I was going to study with a program. What now?

We have notified all approved program providers, including direct-enrollment programs, of Mount Holyoke College’s cancellation of study abroad for fall 2020 and spring 2021. In addition, all students who were planning to study on an approved program must contact their program provider or host university directly to officially withdraw their application or to defer it to a later semester. 

Students who have submitted a deposit or other fees should ask the provider directly about receiving a refund or applying the funds to another semester.

Study abroad contacts

Mount Holyoke remains committed to global learning. Study abroad is just one of the ways in which the Mount Holyoke College and the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives empowers  students to learn and thrive in a diverse and interconnected world. 

If you have study abroad questions, please contact the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives at or schedule an appointment with April Stroud or Ruby Maddox via Pathways.

New incoming students

We recognize that there may be extenuating circumstances that would lead to a request to defer entry. New incoming students should refer to our gap experience page for details on requesting deferrals and contact the Office of Admission with any questions by emailing or calling 413-538-3334. 

Returning students

Students who wish to apply for a personal leave for the coming semester can be in touch with their academic dean. The preferred deadline for requesting a personal leave is March 15; however, leave requests will be honored if they come in after that date.

As is our usual policy, students must seek faculty permission to enroll in independent study.

Approved independent study work can, with approval, include some in-person activity. Faculty interested in mentoring on-campus students in independent studies in their labs, studios or other relevant spaces may do so with permission from the Dean of Faculty’s office. Faculty are required to submit a safety plan outlining how they will maintain appropriate safety measures for all involved.

Grading in fall 2020 and spring 2021 will follow our usual guidelines, although students in eligible courses have longer than usual — until the last day of classes for the course — to elect the Ungraded Option (a GPA-neutral “CR” or “NC” grade instead of a letter grade in one eligible course per semester). Visit the ungraded option page for full policy information on the ungraded option.

There are no changes to requirements for majors or minors.

The same standard credit limits apply in 2020-21: Twenty credits total per semester (19 for first-year students in their first semester), with no more than 10 credits attempted per module.

Physical education

Non-riding PE courses will be offered remotely. Course offerings have been selected and designed with the FIT model in mind. Classes provide instruction and an introduction to the College's Be Well initiative. Part of the class may require students to complete an activity on their own, for example, walking or hiking. Instructors will recommend activity adjustments to accommodate a variety of student needs or challenges. Courses do not require specialized equipment. PE riding classes will not be offered remotely.

Senior waiver

Seniors who are eligible to graduate in March, May or October 2021 but have not yet met their physical education requirement have been granted a waiver by the faculty.

Visit the transferring credit page for information about the transfer credit process. Students are strongly encouraged to write to regarding the courses they hope to take elsewhere. They should also discuss them with their advisor, and/or the department chair if they are hoping to apply those courses towards the requirements of a major or minor.


Spring 2021 Academic Calendar

Dates subject to change