Academic Catalog

Mission Statement

Our Mission

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth’s public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA prepares its graduates to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

Our Values

Our mission guides the strategic goals that advance MCLA: Excellence in Teaching and Learning; Supportive and Inclusive Community; Responsive and Intentional Stewardship; and Public Purpose and Engagement. These goals reflect the interplay of the shared values that shape our commitment to students, faculty, staff, and our community.


We believe a high quality liberal arts education should be available and affordable to all who aspire to it and are prepared for its challenges. MCLA is committed to providing this opportunity.

Critical Thinking

Through MCLA’s role as leader, convener, and partner, we cultivate critical thinking and analysis in our learning and teaching. We promote a spirit of informed and open-ended inquiry. Our community members demonstrate consideration, deliberation, and planning in addressing challenges and opportunities in our society.

Discovery and Understanding

We understand intellectual disciplines and specific courses of study interact dynamically in academic and co-curricular experiences. We believe in strengthening student, faculty, and community interaction through engaging coursework, shared research, and service.

Global Awareness

We know that a liberal arts education affords students an appreciation of the wider world, both as a subject of intellectual discovery and through engagement with our society. We work to create and sustain the breadth of curriculum, experiences, and opportunities that lead us all to understand our active roles as knowledgeable global citizens.

Inclusive Community

MCLA is committed to creating a campus climate and culture of mutual respect that represents and honors diversity in our society. We celebrate this diversity and affirm the dignity and worth of all people. We intentionally integrate topics of social, cultural, and physical diversity in the curricular, co-curricular, and work life of our community.  

Innovation, Experimentation and Creativity

We promote creativity and inquiry, and the role of a liberal arts institution to provide students with the freedom and means to explore ideas and take intellectual and creative risks.


We believe that leadership is a shared responsibility, and encourage all members of the MCLA community to develop their affinity for leadership through formal coursework, professional development, co-curricular training, and practical application. We cultivate leadership opportunities and development programs to further these goals.

Lifelong Learning

We empower learners to develop habits of learning that have integrity and engender respect for tradition. We deploy 21st century tools for learning in our academic and co-curricular programs that prepare students to be informed, engaged, and capable learners.

Practicality and Application

We believe that the disciplines of arts, sciences, and professional studies empower individuals with broad knowledge and transferable skills, and a strong sense of values and ethics. In its programs and initiatives MCLA forges the connection among academic study, experiential learning, civic engagement, and future success.


We manage our resources responsibly and sustainably, and offer a variety of educational, cultural, and recreational experiences for the campus and local communities. We provide unique resources for the greater Berkshire region. We encourage a spirit of service among students, faculty, staff, alumni, and trustees, and to serve as stewards of the future.

Accreditation Statement

MCLA is accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) - formally New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC).

MCLA received notification of our reaccreditation by NEASC in April 2014, following a campus visit in November 2013 by a team of NEASC peer reviews.

Accreditation of an institution of higher education by the Commission indicates that it meets or exceeds criteria for the assessment of institutional quality periodically applied through a peer review process. An accredited college or university is one which has available the necessary resources to achieve its stated purposes through appropriate educational programs, is substantially doing so, and gives reasonable evidence that it will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Institutional integrity is also addressed through accreditation.  Accreditation by the Commission is not partial but applies to the institution as a whole.  As such, it is not a guarantee of every course or program offered, or the competence of individual graduates. Rather, it provides reasonable assurance about the quality of opportunities available to students who attend the institution.

Inquiries regarding the accreditation status by the Commission should be directed to the Office of Academic Affairs. Individuals may also contact:

Commission on Institutions of Higher Education New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

3 Burlington Woods Drive, Suite 100, Burlington, MA 01803-4514

781-425-7785 or

MCLA Diversity Statement

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is committed to creating a campus climate, as well as a culture that values, represents, and honors diversity in our society. We actively endeavor to recruit and retain diverse students, faculty, and staff.

MCLA fosters meaningful dialogue both in and out of the classroom in order to encourage critical awareness and respect for similarities and differences. MCLA’s inclusive education and informed pedagogy reflect and draw from the knowledge and empowerment of all individuals and the diverse groups that make up our college community.

MCLA critically addresses dynamics of inequality, exposing ways in which privilege and under-privilege are produced and maintained over time in society. We create and participate in forums and activities that both model and further equity in an informed manner. We also work to foster equity on campus and in the larger Berkshire community.

Members of MCLA are defined by and/or represent a variety of intersecting and diverse identities and groups, including but not limited to:

  • Age
  • Class/Socioeconomic Status
  • Disability
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression
  • Nationality
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sexuality

MCLA strives to integrate topics of social, cultural, and physical diversity in the curricular, co-curricular, residential, and work life of the MCLA community. In so doing, MCLA works towards collaboration and purposeful engagement to achieve social justice on campus and in the wider community.

Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination Policies

MCLA is committed to a policy of non-discrimination, equal opportunity, diversity and affirmative action, and dedicated to providing educational, working and living environments that value the diverse backgrounds of all people.

MCLA does not discriminate in admission or access to, or treatment or employment in, its educational programs and activities on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, marital or parental status, or veteran status.

MCLA prohibits discrimination or discriminatory harassment on all of those bases. Such behaviors violate the Policy Against Discrimination, Discriminatory Harassment and Retaliation, will not be tolerated, and may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination or expulsion.

MCLA has appointed an Equal Opportunity Officer (“EO Officer”) to oversee its compliance with this policy, as well as with the state and federal non-discrimination and equal opportunity laws. Anyone with questions, concerns, or complaints regarding discrimination, discriminatory harassment, or retaliation may contact the EO Officer using the contact information below.

Nicole Comstock
Director of Equal Opportunity and Title IX
Office Location: 309C Venable Hall
Phone: 413-662-5571
Mailing Address: 375 Church Street, North Adams, MA 01247

It is also MCLA’s policy to provide each student, employee, and other person having dealings with the institutions an environment free from sexual violence and all forms of misconduct on the basis of gender. MCLA prohibits sexual harassment, including rape, statutory rape, sexual assault, incest, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and retaliation. These behaviors violate the Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy, will not be tolerated, and may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination or expulsion.

MCLA’s Title IX Coordinator can assist you to understand your rights and reporting options. Any person may report sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, whether or not the person reporting is the person alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute sex discrimination or sexual harassment. Reports can be made in person, by mail, by telephone, or by email using the contact information listed for the Title IX Coordinator, or by any other means that result in the Title IX Coordinator receiving the person’s verbal or written report.

Reports may be made at any time (including during non-business hours) by using the telephone number or electronic mail address, or by mail to the office address, listed for the Title IX Coordinator. If you make a report during non-business hours, the Title IX Coordinator will follow up with you when the office reopens. If you would like to speak to the Title IX Coordinator in person, please call or email to schedule an appointment.

Nicole Comstock
Director of Equal Opportunity and Title IX
Office Location: 309C Venable Hall
Phone: 413-662-5571
Mailing Address: 375 Church Street, North Adams, MA 01247

Any person with questions or concerns about any form of sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking and/or retaliation may also contact:

The U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights 33 Arch Street, 9th Floor, Boston, MA 02119-1424 (617) 289-0111/Fax (617) 289-0150, TDD (877) 521-2172

MCLA’s Non-Discrimination, Discriminatory Harassment, and Retaliation Policy and Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy apply in all College programs and activities, including, but not limited to, athletics, instruction, grading, housing, and employment. They apply to all members of the campus community, including, but not limited to, students, faculty, librarians, staff, visitors, contractors, and applicants for employment or admission. They also apply to off-campus conduct that negatively affects a community member’s experience in the MCLA environment.

For complete policy information, please refer to the Equal Opportunity, Diversity and Affirmative Action Plan (EO Plan) found at

Student Rights Under FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) of 1974, as amended, ensures the confidentiality of student educational records and restricts disclosure of such records to third parties, except as authorized by law.  FERPA also affords students certain rights with respect to their education records.

For more information, please visit

Assessment of Student Learning

Assessment fulfills MCLA’s goal of continuous improvement and is necessary in order to maintain its accredited status. The college uses assessment to determine the impact and effectiveness of programs and curricula, not of individual students or faculty members.  

MCLA’s commitment to assessing its effectiveness necessitates that student work may be examined as part of program review, accreditation or other research projects. In addition, students may be asked to participate in surveys and focus groups or contribute in some other way to the assessment process.

The college adheres to all laws, ethics and criteria for protecting the identity and privacy of students and faculty members. All use of student work for assessment is in accordance with regulations of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and monitored by the college’s Institutional Review Board. Any questions, concerns, or comments about assessment at MCLA should be directed to the office of Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning.

For more information, please visit