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Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The MCLA logo is patterned after the original gates from Murdock Hall, now located outdoors on the campus.
Established 1894
Type Public
President Dr. Mary Grant
Staff 80 full-time
42 part-time
Undergraduates 1,680
Postgraduates 2 graduate
Location North Adams, Massachusetts, United States
42°41′30″N 73°06′14″W / 42.691672°N 73.103921°W / 42.691672; -73.103921Coordinates: 42°41′30″N 73°06′14″W / 42.691672°N 73.103921°W / 42.691672; -73.103921
Campus Rural, 105 acres (0.4 km²)
Former names North Adams State College (1960-1997)
Colors Navy and Gold
Athletics Trailblazers

The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is a public, residential, liberal arts college that offers both undergraduate and graduate programs. It is a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges and is located in North Adams, Massachusetts. Originally established as part of the state's normal school system for training teachers, it now offers a variety of programs leading to Bachelor of Science and Arts degrees, as well as a Master of Education track. MCLA is the smallest college in the state system.



MCLA was founded in 1894 as North Adams Normal School, and it offered first instruction at post-secondary level three years later. In 1932, North Adams Normal School became State Teachers College of North Adams. Along with the name change, it added an upper-division curriculum and awarded first degree (baccalaureate). Four years later, the school instituted an upper-graduate program. In 1960, the college changed its name to North Adams State College and, later in 1997, to Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, the latter name being reflective of specialty school status within the Massachusetts State College public system.

In 2004, President Grant initiated collaborations with other institutions to strengthen MCLA's leadership position. Launched Berkshire Compact for Higher Education and MCLA Gallery 51. MCLA also is the lead partner in the Berkshire STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Pipeline Network. Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a Higher Education Bond Bill in August 2008 that includes $54.5 million for a new Center for Science and Innovation at MCLA.


MCLA is located in North Adams, Massachusetts, one mile from the downtown area of 14,700 people, in the northwestern corner of the state that borders both Vermont and New York. Travel time from Boston, Massachusetts is around three hours, three and a half hours from New York City, about one hour from Albany, New York, and two hours from Hartford, Connecticut. It is located 50 miles from Albany, 180 miles from New York City, and 135 miles from Boston.


MCLA awards on the undergraduate level bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science and also confers a master's degree in education and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS). MCLA offers 19 major studies and 35 minors. On average, MCLA offers 300 academic courses each semester. Starting in the 2009 fall semester, the college will be offering a master's program in BADM.


MCLA has more than 40 student clubs and 11 competitive NCAA Division III teams: the men-only sports are baseball, basketball, cross-country, soccer, golf, and the women-only sports are softball, basketball, cross-country, soccer, tennis, volleyball. MCLA also competes in the ECAC and the MASCAC.

From the 1960s, the college's athletic teams were known as the Mohawks. In response to concerns about racial stereotyping, the name Trailblazers was adopted in 2002.[1]

Institutional Structure

MCLA is governed by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. Beyond that, MCLA has extra-institutional representation of 11 voting members and the Board of Trustees, whose members are appointed by Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, which has 11 voting members. Administration positions include 12 men and 24 women. Academic affairs is headed by the vice president for academic affairs. Business and finances is headed by the vice president for administration and finance. Student affairs is headed by the dean of students. The full-time instructional faculty has 52 men and 36 women. The academic governance body, All College Committee, meets an average of nine times each year.


MCLA has a rolling-admissions plan but requires graduation from an accredited secondary school or a GED. MCLA uses SAT or ACT composite scores for entrance consideration. MCLA accepts transfer students with grade-point average requirements or with an associate degree.

Degree Requirements

Graduation from MCLA requires completing 120 credits of academic work. From these 120 credits, about 40 should be college-wide core curriculum credits. Another 40 credits are required to complete a major. Like many higher education programs, 40 upper-division credits are also required. MCLA has a college residence requirement saying at least 45 credits must be earned in residence at the college. Students must earn at least a 2.0 grade point average overall and a 2.0 in their major.

Distinctive Educational Programs

MCLA offers internships for undergraduates through the Berkshire Hills Internship Program. It also offers undergraduates coursework in other countries through its travel abroad program. MCLA belongs to the Massachusetts Council for International Education (MaCIE), College Consortium for International Studies (CCIS), and the National Student Exchange (NSE). Through these associations and connections, students are sent on semester- or year-long programs to colleges around the world.


The school has two student publications: The Beacon, a weekly newspaper, and Spires, a literary magazine published each year. Radio Station WJJW broadcasts for 140 hours each week. MCLA also has one faculty publication: The Mind's Eye.

MCLA hosted the New England premier of the musical version of Reefer Madness.

Notable alumni


  1. ^ Sheffield

External links



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