Campus Updates

Visit the campus updates page for information on Mount Holyoke's response to the global pandemic. 

Fall 2021 detailed information for the community

May 12, 2021

Dear Mount Holyoke College community members,

As announced in March, Mount Holyoke College will return to a fully residential undergraduate experience in fall 2021. We are also delighted to be returning to in-person instruction and a 15-week semester format, including semester-long courses. Mount Holyoke’s dedicated faculty and talented students will reconvene on campus for the residential learning experience.

Here is some key information that we hope will assist you in planning for your arrival on campus in August. 

Orientation and Move-In

We are excited to welcome all undergraduate students back to campus — or to campus for the first time — and are creating tailored arrival experiences that take into account what has been a long absence for many returning students, and to create a full and exciting orientation to Mount Holyoke for others. The goal is to connect (or reconnect) you to each other and to resources and people here to support your academic and personal goals, to help you get to know the campus and understand the COVID-19 procedures in place, and to celebrate together the academic and co-curricular engagement, traditions and events that are the fullest expression of the Mount Holyoke experience.

Every student will sign up for a specific move-in time on one of the dates below, organized so that we can focus on particular cohorts and their orientation needs. Move-in times will be made available to all students in late June. More details will be sent to your Mount Holyoke email address. You should plan for a two-hour time slot during the day, between 8 am and 4 pm EDT.

  • Class of 2025, new transfer students and Frances Perkins scholars:
    • Sunday, August 22 - Monday, August 23: New international student arrival. 
    • Tuesday, August 24: New domestic student move-in day.  
    • Tuesday, August 24: Pre-orientation for new international students. 
    • Wednesday, August 25 – Sunday, August 29: New student orientation.
  • Class of 2024
    • Thursday, August 26: Move-in day for the class of 2024.
    • Friday, August 27 – Sunday, August 28: Re-orientation for the class of 2024.
  • Class of 2023 and class of 2022
    • Friday, August 27 – Saturday, August 28: Move-in days for the classes of 2022 and 2023.
    • Sunday, August 29: Re-orientation session for the class of 2022 and the class of 2023.
  • Sunday, August 29: Convocation
  • Monday, August 30: Start of classes

All students will receive more detailed information, including information about this sign-up process, over the summer. That information will come directly from the Division of Student Life. We ask that you check your Mount Holyoke email regularly so that you don’t miss an update or important new information. Returning students can expect to receive updates and information in the summer edition of the Dean’s Corner at least once a month and sometimes twice.

For registration dates for new students, please see the First-Year Guide on the Orientation page. For registration dates for returning students, please see the academic calendar

International students

With the very welcome news that embassies are reopening in many parts of the world and that travel restrictions are loosening somewhat, we are optimistic that most of our students arriving from international locations will be able to join us on campus in the fall. However, we are also aware that worldwide travel restrictions may still be in place or, indeed, be imposed as public health conditions change. The pandemic continues to pose a threat here and across the world and to create uncertainty. Our thoughts are with all of you in countries currently in the grip of a deadly wave, and it is our sincere hope that you, your friends and families will remain safe and well and that you will be able to join us as soon as you possibly can.

Students living outside the United States who are unable to secure the relevant visa, or whose travel is restricted by public health conditions, may have the option to participate in some College-sponsored remote class options in the fall. We will consider all such circumstances on a case-by-case basis, and only those international students who find themselves in this situation should request such consideration. Course selections for students unable to travel to campus will likely be limited, and may be delivered in collaboration with a partner institution. More information will be shared with international students as it becomes available. 

Graduate students

We are also excited to welcome back graduate students and faculty, though fall classes will continue to be online. Graduate students who would like to use campus facilities are welcome and should follow all the requirements for returning back to campus outlined by the College. More information will be provided by Mount Holyoke Professional and Graduate Education in the coming weeks. 

Vaccine, testing, mask and community compact requirements

As previously communicated in April, students must be vaccinated before returning to campus. We expect all members of the Mount Holyoke campus community to be vaccinated for the fall 2021 semester. We urge everyone — students, faculty and staff — to receive one of the available vaccines wherever you live, and as soon as vaccination is available to you. The College will help those students unable to secure a vaccine in their home country to be immunized on arrival, as well as support any recommended quarantine requirements. The higher the level of vaccination on our campus, the more quickly and safely we will be able to return to in-person, unmasked interactions.

Mount Holyoke will continue to offer an on-campus testing program for its students and employees. The frequency and duration of testing is currently under consideration, following  recently-issued guidance from the working group that has continued to inform the policies and practices of the state’s independent colleges and universities. 

The Division of Student Life is currently working on a new community compact for fall 2021. This is an agreement that all students must sign, thus committing themselves to be accountable to each other, and to the Mount Holyoke community as a whole, and to follow the campus health and safety measures that may still need to be in place this fall. 

We will continue to monitor Massachusetts state guidelines for in-person gatherings and adjust plans as necessary. We expect that there may still be some requirements in place, such as face coverings and physical distancing for indoor events, gatherings and classes. 

Fall housing 

The return to this fuller expression of residential and community life in 2021–2022 comes with some changes from the current semester:

  • Room occupancy will be limited to no more than two students.
  • Suites and apartments will not be available next academic year.
  • The housing-group pods that were in place in the spring 2021 semester will be discontinued.
  • We are excited that we will be able to offer our interest- and identity-based Living-Learning Communities

For more on fall housing, including lottery dates and accommodations, please review this information from Residence Life

Study abroad 

After careful consideration, we have decided to resume study abroad opportunities for the fall 2021 semester. These opportunities will be limited to well-established programs already familiar to the College. For more information, please contact April Stroud, the director of study abroad at the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives. 


We are planning for a return to normal operations of the Kendall Sports & Dance Complex, as well as to varsity and club sports. The NEWMAC will continue to work with the Presidents’ Council to determine the safest path forward for our student-athletes. More information will be shared as it becomes available. 

Five College courses

Until more is certain about each of the schools’ health and safety operational parameters for the fall, it is not possible to identify with certainty which classes on the campuses will be available for interchange registration. We will have more information to share later in the summer. If you have questions about interchange registration policies or procedures, contact the Registrar’s office

Employees’ return to campus

Some staff have been working on campus continuously since March 2020, and many more returned in January and over the course of the semester as we resumed our residential activities and other operations. 

Many employees whose work is currently fully remote may be asked to return to campus as the fall semester nears, and some may have the option of continuing to work remotely or in a hybrid capacity. An employee return-to-work group is developing plans and recommendations, and I give you my assurance that we will communicate these in a timely way so that you have an opportunity to prepare for a return to in-person work, or to prepare for continued remote work. In the meantime, employees with specific questions should direct them to their supervisor or to the division vice president. 


There is a great deal of detailed work, hope and anticipation in these plans to bring us together again in person, and yet I acknowledge that, for some, there will also be continued uncertainty and anxiety. I remain immensely grateful for your exceptional commitment to your work and studies through this difficult time, for your continued trust in and engagement with Mount Holyoke and the education we offer, and for your part in making this community all that it is and all that it will yet become. The prospect of our being together on campus in the fall, and of welcoming new members of our community, at last and in full, lifts my spirits immeasurably after this long separation. I am truly looking forward to welcoming you (back) to Mount Holyoke, to campus life, to our shared endeavors and to the simplest forms of togetherness. 

With my warmest welcome to the newest members of our community, and in anticipation of a joyful return to campus life,