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College of Natural Sciences

13 Stockbridge Hall

Contact: Martha Baker; Jack Wileden
Office: College of Natural Sciences Advising Center
113 Stockbridge Hall
(220 Morrill II from June 2010)
Phone: (413) 545-1969

Dean: Steven Goodwin. Associate Deans for Undergraduate Advising: Martha Baker and Jack Wileden.

All departments in the college offer programs leading to the Bachelor of Science. The following majors do not offer a Bachelor of Arts degree: Animal Science; Building and Construction Technology; Computer Science; Environmental Science; Food Science; Natural Resources Conservation; Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences; Pre-Veterinary; and Science.

Students have great freedom in choosing a program of study and a major. However, some of the major programs require sequences of courses that can extend over seven or eight semesters. Students who do not consider this in their course selection during their first year may have to use a summer session or extra semesters to accommodate these sequences.

The Fields

Students in the College of Natural Sciences (CNS) study disciplines essential to all fields of scientific research and application: life, environmental, computational, and physical sciences. The curriculum emphasizes interdisciplinary research and experiential learning, encourages students to work closely with faculty to solve real-life problems, and provides extensive opportunities for hands-on learning. CNS students work under the guidance of dedicated professors who are nationally recognized in their fields, and receive training in labs and research centers that feature world-class instrumentation.

The Majors

Students may chose from the following majors: Animal Science; Astronomy; Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Biology; Building and Construction Technology; Chemistry; Computer Science; Earth Systems; Environmental Science; Food Science; Geography; Geology; Mathematics and Statistics; Microbiology; Natural Resources Conservation; Physics; Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences; Pre-Veterinary; Psychology; and Science (interdepartmental). There is no major in Pre-Medical or Pre-Dental, but the college provides specialized advising in preparation for these professional programs while students complete an undergraduate major of their choice.

Academic Advising Services

All students in the college are encouraged to meet regularly with an academic adviser. Faculty and staff advisers are available to assist students with questions or concerns that they have as they progress through their academic careers. This includes advice on course selection; departmental, college, and university requirements; career guidance; assistance with academic problems; and referral information about other services.

Each department in the college has a chief undergraduate adviser who facilitates advising to students concerning the major. Advising regarding college requirements, general academic advising, and information concerning other academic matters (e.g., repeat options, repeat course substitutions, late course adds, late course drops, academic discipline) and programs within the college are handled through the College of Natural Sciences Advising Center. This office also houses the College Records Office.

Career Opportunities

CNS prepares its graduates for a diversity of careers in the sciences, medicine, industry, and public policy, and entry into graduate school. Students develop understandings of process and logical and analytical ability. Graduates of the college work in such fields as animal, medical and health sciences, industrial science and technology, administration, food safety, law or environmental protection. Graduates can also pursue such careers as golf course superintendent, park ranger, therapist, elementary or secondary school teacher, software or systems developer, or university teacher or researcher.

Career and Field
Experience Advising

Students are encouraged to explore the world beyond the university. Campus Career Services operates the college’s Career Planning and Field Experiences Offices. Staff are available to help students make intelligent, well-informed career choices, and to provide opportunities to obtain experience through internships, cooperative education, and service learning programs.

Education Abroad/Domestic Exchange

Students are encouraged to consider spending a semester abroad or participating in a domestic exchange through the National Student Exchange Program. These experiences offer a valuable opportunity to expand a student’s academic experience. For further information regarding study abroad, contact the International Programs Office, tel. (413) 545-2710. For information on study exchanges in the U.S., contact the Domestic Exchange Programs Office, tel. (413) 545-5351.


The College of Natural Sciences and its departments have a variety of scholarships available for qualified students. For more information, contact the CNS Advising Center.

Degree Requirements

Each department has its own requirements for the degrees that it offers, which are described under the appropriate departmental section of this Guide and are also posted on the department’s website. Students are encouraged to meet with a departmental adviser to learn more about their departmental degree requirements.
Students majoring in Astronomy, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Systems, Geography, Geology, Mathematics and Statistics, Physics, or Science are required to fulfill a Foreign Language requirement in which they demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language at the intermediate level. Details of this requirement are provided below. Students seeking a Bachelor of Science degree in one of these majors are also required to complete at least 60 credits of coursework in science. Students seeking a Bachelor of Arts degree in one of these majors (except Computer Science or Science, which do not offer a Bachelor of Arts degree) are also required to complete two courses in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts and/or the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences in addition to any such courses used to fulfill the university’s General Education requirements. These two courses may not be graded on a Pass/Fail basis and may not be practicum, independent study, thesis or internship courses, nor courses below the 100 level, unless specifically approved by a CNS dean.
A student whose primary major is not one of those listed in the preceding paragraph but who has a secondary major that is in that list will be exempt from the Foreign Language requirement, but must complete the other requirements described there. This exemption does not apply to Second Bachelor’s Degree candidates.
Students seeking a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology are required to fulfill a Global Education Requirement, in one of four options: the Foreign Language Option, the Regional Study Option, the Individualized Study Option, or the Certificate or Minor Option. Details regarding the Global Education Requirement can be found elsewhere in this Guide under the description of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, which administers this requirement. Students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology should consult with the Global Education Office (128 Thompson Hall, tel. (413) 577-1058) to learn more about the requirement and to select one of the four options. A student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology as a secondary major will be exempt from the Global Education requirement.

Foreign Language Requirement

Students majoring in Astronomy, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Systems, Geography, Geology, Mathematics and Statistics, Physics, or Science must demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language at the intermediate level, by one of the following methods:

a) Completion of a foreign language course at the fourth semester level (Intermediate II or Intermediate Intensive courses numbered 240-249). Intermediate II courses may be graded on a Pass/Fail basis.
b) Degree credit equivalent to such a course earned through an appropriate score on a College Board Foreign Language Achievement Test (SAT II) or a College Board Advanced Placement Test.
c) Proficiency demonstrated in a test designed by a University of Massachusetts Amherst language department, or a test administered and validated by a local faculty member if the language is not one offered by a department at the university.
d) Satisfactory completion in high school or college of either a fourth-level foreign language course, or of a third-level course in one language and a second-level course in another language.
e) Successful completion of one year in a high school in which English is not the language of instruction.
f) Successful completion of a semester or year’s study abroad program that leads to foreign language proficiency at the fourth semester (Intermediate II) level as approved by the appropriate language department.

Students who have not satisfied the Foreign Language requirement for admission to a major that requires it should select a foreign language course each term in residence until the requirement has been satisfied. The university offers sequences that satisfy this requirement in the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish. Students who have not yet completed the Foreign Language requirement may not apply their Pass/Fail option to foreign language courses numbered below 240.
Students who are certified by the Disability Services Office as having a significant hearing impairment or documented learning disability that seriously limits the acquisition of foreign language skills may qualify for special accommodation. These students should meet with their academic dean in the CNS Advising Center.