Frequently Asked Questions

Who should I call for help?

College Switchboard 413.597.3131 (24 hours)

Dean of Students Office 413.597.4171 (8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., M-F)

The A-Z Index lists links to college offices, services, departments, and programs.

Who is the president of the college?

President Adam Falk (President’s Office)

Who is the dean of the college?

Sarah Bolton is responsible for student life. (Dean’s Office)

Who should I talk to about financial matters?

Paul J. Boyer is director of financial aid (Financial Aid Office).

Mary Kate Shea is bursar (Bursar’s Office).

Where can I find information about moving in, First Days, or for returning students?

Information on First Days, arrival and dorm location, and orientation

Information for returning students

How do I contact faculty or staff?

Telephone numbers and e-mail addresses for faculty, students, and employees are available in the Williams People Directory.

Where do I send a change of address?

Parents who have moved can contact Mary Morrison in the Registrar’s Office (413.597.4286 or

How do I find out what’s going on at Williams?

For news, The Williams Record, WSO, or the college’s News Releases. For events, see our Events Calendar. In general, see Willipedia.

How do we get to Williams College?

See the Visitors Guide for driving directions, information on travel by plane, train, bus, taxi, and limousine, as well as lodging and restaurant listings.

Where do I find information about graduation?

The Commencement date is set three years ahead. For more information, see the Commencement website.

Student Life

Where can I find information about the academic programs at Williams?

Information about course offerings and degree requirements can be found in the College Bulletin. The web sites of the academic departments contain extensive information on programs of study, faculty, course offerings, and student services.

What do Williams students do for fun?

There are more than 100 clubs and organizations for everything from the Anti-Gravity Society to the Zambezi Marimba Band. One in 10 students at Williams belongs to an a cappella group, and there are numerous opportunities for student drama, publishing, and leadership. See the Willipedia page Student Groups.

The Williams College Museum of Art, Clark Art Institute, and MASS MoCA offer renowned collections. The college’s ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance is a haven for top talents of stage and screen, and the college’s productions, concerts, and dance performances, and student exhibits all contribute to Williamstown’s year-round reputation as one of the most “culture saturated” areas of the country. The state’s highest peak, Mt. Greylock (3,491 feet) overlooks Williamstown and is a symbol of the natural beauty of the landscape and a visual reminder that outdoor activities are plentiful in all seasons of the year.

What’s housing like?

With 40 different student residences, Williams housing is diverse, both among and within the buildings. In some residential houses no two rooms are alike and many students find this gives housing at Williams a less institutional feel. More on Williams student housing here.

What do we need to bring for our student’s dorm room?

Dorm rooms are equipped with extra-long twin beds and mattresses, desks, garbage and recycling bins, built-in lights, and window shades. Rooms are also equipped with phone and data jacks. All dorms have televisions in their common areas; some buildings are also equipped with television cable hookups in individual rooms. Students must supply sheets (extra-long), pillows, blankets, and towels, and may also bring lamps, rugs, or curtains if they so desire.

What items are not allowed in student rooms?

Williams does not permit students to have the following items in dorm rooms: coffee makers, toaster ovens, air conditioners, hamburger and sandwich makers, popcorn poppers (other than hot air), hot plates, crock pots, broilers, cup warmers, bread makers, candles, any lamps with halogen bulbs, microwave ovens of more than 800 watts, refrigerators larger than five cubit feet, open flame devices, toasters, electric heaters, electronic woks, electric fry pans, electric or gas stoves, deep fryers, beer coolers, kegolators, hot pots, any units with heating coils, or incense. For more information, see Campus Safety & Security

Should my son or daughter bring a computer to campus?

Williams has a large number of computers and printers available to students in public labs, but most students find that it is an advantage to work in their rooms, especially during exam periods when the labs are busy. See Purchasing a Computer for suggestions from Williams’ information technology office.

Is there a college bookstore?

Water Street Books is the local supplier of textbooks and course materials. Williams gift items (sweatshirts, mugs, etc.) can be found at The Williams Shop on Spring Street.

Where can we buy room furnishings?

The nearest store is Wal-Mart in North Adams. There are Target and Macy’s stores in the Berkshire Mall in Lanesboro.

I’d like to open a bank account for my incoming student …

For more information call:

There is a Williamstown Savings/Hoosac Bank ATM on campus and on Spring Street.

Where should we send mail to our student?

Mail is delivered to student mailboxes in Paresky Center once a day. Mail is not delivered to dormitories. Address student mail to:

BOX ####

For overnight carriers (FedEx, UPS, etc.) add “Chapin Hall Drive” above Williamstown MA.

I’d like to order a special occasion gift for my student …

Williams Dining Services offers festive cakes and cookies for any event. Orders must be places four days before the desired pick-up date (Monday through Saturday). Call 413.597.2121.

Does the college provide transportation for students at break times?

Williams Motorcoach operates to and from NYC, Boston, and Albany for major college breaks. Also see the Visitors Guide for information on commercial transportation options.

Do dorms close during the long vacation breaks?

At the end of fall semester, student residences close at 12 noon the day after the last day of finals. However, international students may request to stay on-campus during winter break and are typically consolidated into one building until Winter Study begins. Additionally, some pre-approved winter athletic teams are allowed to return a day or two early for Winter Study. During Spring Break, the residences close at 12 noon on the first Saturday of the break. However, students may ask to stay on campus if they meet specific criteria (senior doing thesis work, member of a pre-approved athletic team, students who live outside the Northeast).  Students approved to stay typically stay in their own rooms, though the college reserves the right to consolidate if necessary. At the end of Spring Semester: student residencs close at noon the day after the last day of finals. However, seniors are allowed to stay until 5pm on Commencement Sunday, and some students are allowed to stay on campus to work or do research. Questions?  Contact Gail Rondeau, Housing Coordinator, Office of Student Life.

Is my student eligible for jury duty while at Williams?

Yes. Jury selection includes all Massachusetts inhabitants, who are American citizens 18 years or older and who reside in Massachusetts for 50 percent or more of the calendar. There are virtually no exemptions; however jury duty in the Commonwealth is of short duration and one is allowed to schedule duty to suit one’s schedule. Contact the Dean’s office for more information.

Can first-year students have cars on campus?

No, first-year students are not allowed to keep a car on campus at any time during the academic year.

Where do students store their belongings over the summer?

Connors Brothers (413.458.8141) and Mullen (413.743.4969) are two independent moving and storage companies offering summer storage near campus. Storage on campus over the summer is very limited and only allowed to a few international and financial aid students who have demonstrated critical need to the Office of Financial Aid.

Williams College

How old is Williams?

The first building was opened in 1791 as the Free College, which became Williams College in 1793. See Williams History for more information.

How big is Williams?

The college has 2,000 undergraduates and 264 faculty. The campus covers 450 acres and Hopkins Memorial Forest includes an additional 2,500 acres.

How much does Williams cost?

The total cost for tuition, fees, and room and board for the 2013-14 academic year is $58,900.

How many Williams students receive financial aid and how much do they receive?

Approximately 77 percent of students receive financial aid from a variety of federal, state, and private sources. Fifty-four percent of the students share more than $44 million in scholarships provided by the college. All such scholarships are need-based, using the general guidelines of the College Scholarship Service to determine a student’s financial need.

What are the most popular majors at Williams?

The most popular majors are economics, English, political science, psychology, and biology.

What kind of career planning assistance does the college offer students?

The Career Center assists students in discovering their skills and interests, and in exploring career options. In getting from “point A to point B,” it is important for your son or daughter to take full advantage of OCC’s programs and services. You can help us by encouraging him or her to visit OCC’s website, read their printed handouts, explore their library, attend their workshops, and schedule individual counseling appointments to discuss career exploration and decision-making, summer work and study, and job hunting.

Does Williams have any graduate programs?

Williams has two graduate programs, one culminating in a Master of Arts degree in art history and the other in a Master of Arts degree in development economics. Students in the second program are professionals from developing countries.

In what year were women students admitted?

The first women were exchange students. They arrived in Spring 1969. Fall 1971 saw the first four-year women students on campus.

Why is purple the Williams color?

The story goes that at the Williams-Harvard baseball game in 1869, spectators, watching from carriages, had trouble telling the teams apart (there were no uniforms) so one of the onlookers bought ribbons from a nearby millinery store to pin on Williams’ players. The only color available was purple. The buyer was Jennie Jerome (later Winston Churchill’s mother) whose family summered in Williamstown.

Why is the mascot a purple cow?

The purple cow was chosen as an unofficial mascot of Williams College in 1907 by a group of students who were searching for a name for their new humor magazine. The purple cow’s origin is not entirely clear. In the Berkshire Mountains, when the sun sets, the mountains take on a slightly purplish tinge. One theory about the origin of the “purple cow” suggests that when the dairy cows grazed in the valley, they would look purple as the sun set. The following poem, written in 1895 by Gelett Burgess, is another possible source.

I never met a purple cow,

I never hope to see one,

But I can tell you anyhow,

I’d rather see than be one.

Where can I buy a Williams tee shirt?

Williams paraphernalia of all sorts can be purchased at The Williams Shop on Spring Street.

Are there campus tours for visitors?

Student run tours are offered through the Admission Office.

About Williamstown

How big is Williamstown?

Williamstown’s population is 8,310, including the 2,000 Williams College students. The town is in Berkshire County, pop. 131,717.

What is the town like?

Nestled in the Berkshire Hills, Williamstown abounds with natural beauty to enjoy through hikes or runs. Popular hikes include Pine Cobble, a steep two-hour climb to a rocky outcrop overlooking the campus; and Stone Hill, a shorter, but gorgeous traipse through woods and pasture. Hopkins Forest is perfect for running, hiking, or cross-country skiing.

Williamstown’s cultural institutions include the Williams College Museum of Art and the Clark Art Institute, renowned for its Impressionist collection; the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art lies within easy reach. The new ’62 Center for Theatre & Dance offers a full season of performances and presentations and is home in the summer to the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

The town is quite rural and mostly residential. Spring Street and Water Street, which constitute the main commercial district, offer banks, a drugstore, office supply stores, clothing shops, restaurants, and other necessities; a supermarket is available in nearby North Adams.

If you want to take a pleasant hike …

Pick up the Williams Outing Club’s “North Berkshire Outdoor Guide” at Water Street Books. As a comprehensive guide to the outdoor recreational opportunities in the area, it includes descriptions of local trails on Greylock, the Taconics, and the Green Mountains as well as short walks in Williamstown and canoeing opportunities in the surrounding area.

Will my cell phone work in Williamstown?

AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and Nextel provide cell phone service in this area.

Information published here is subject to change without notice.