Welcome to Amherst, a smart and progressive college town at the heart of our rigorous academic community. When UMass held its first class in 1867, Amherst was an agricultural town with a population of less than 4,000. Tuition to “Mass Aggie” or Massachusetts Agricultural College was $36 per year.
During the 1960s and 1970s, when UMass added six million square feet of space including the iconic W.E.B. Du Bois Library, Southwest dorms, Lederle Graduate Research Center, the Fine Arts Center (FAC), the city of Amherst began to establish conservation areas to protect farmland from rapidly encroaching development. Today 42 percent of Amherst residents have graduate degrees.
The Five College Consortium comprises Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst; totaling approximately 38,000 students.
While the Five Colleges have a explicit agreements connecting transportation and sharing library resources, the Pioneer Valley hosts nine other colleges, including three community colleges at Greenfield, Holyoke and Springfield.
Five College Consortium members:
The presence of the Five Colleges means there is a wealth of art, music and theater. Museums10 is a consortium of the art museums of the Five Colleges, along with the National Yiddish Book Center, the Emily Dickinson Museum, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, and Historic Deerfield, among others.
Galleries and Art Museums
- Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
- Mead Art Museum
- Museum of Fine Arts Boston
- Northampton Center for the Arts
- R. Michelson Galleries
- Smith College Art Museum
- Springfield Museums
Historical Museums and Societies
Live Music & Performances
The Pioneer Valley is a major stop for the music and performing arts scene. Catch live music, theater, or dance at performance venues, such as the Iron Horse Music Hall, Calvin Theater, Pearl Street, the Parlor Room, the Academy of Music, and the Shea Theater, to name a few, as well as concert halls at the Five Colleges. The Amherst Cinema Arts Center screens live theater, ballet, and opera performances in addition to first-run art films and movie classics, the Tower Theaters in South Hadley shows mainstream and independent features, and Cinemark in Hadley offers the latest blockbusters.
The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority or PVTA, funded by local governments and the Five College Consortium, provides public transportation, operated by University of Massachusetts Transportation Services. Service runs well into the early morning hours on weekdays and weekends when school is in session. Students attending any colleges in the Five Colleges Consortium have a fee included in their tuition bills (service fee for UMass Amherst students and student activity fees for the other colleges) for each semester that pre-pays their bus fares for the semester.
Amtrak rail service is available in nearby Northampton on the Vermonter service between Washington D.C. and St. Albans, Vermont. More frequent Amtrak service to New York City and Washington, D.C., is available from Union Station in Springfield.
The beautiful natural surroundings of the Pioneer Valley invite outdoor activities all year round. Wonderful hiking and camping is available locally, and in the nearby Berkshire mountain range. Quiet scenic roads with rolling hills make the area excellent for biking. Autumn in the Northeast is legendary — visitors from all over the country visit the area to witness the changing colors of the leaves. In winter, excellent skiing is just a short distance away.