Williams College

Table of Contents


  1. Admission Tour

    An introduction to Williams


    1. Weston Hall

      Welcome to the Williams College campus tour!


      The second-oldest college in Massachusetts, Williams is one of the trailblazing schools that launched American higher education (and on which hundreds of other institutions are modeled).


      Students, scientists, artists, and scholars come here from around the world to make Williams a creative incubator, a global stage, and a launch pad for impact that reaches far beyond campus. Each year, 550 students are chosen to join and lead, to be a part of the Williams community.


      Weston Hall is home to the Office of Admission, and it’s where our tour begins.

    2. '62 Center for Theatre and Dance

      The ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance is a state-of-the-art performance venue providing student actors, dancers, designers, and ensembles a place to creatively collaborate with each other, with faculty, and with renowned dance and theatre companies. The building opened in 2005 and is home to dance studios, classrooms, costume shop facilities, and three theaters (two prosceniums, one black box).


      The ’62 Center stages more than 70 productions each year, primarily by academic departments and students. All auditions for dance and theatre groups are open. Williams students need not major in theatre, or have any extensive experience to participate.


      The CenterSeries regularly brings performances by the New York City Ballet and Ailey II, and the Theatre Department stages such productions as Cabaret and Eisa Davis’. Each summer, the ’62 Center is home to the Summer Theatre Lab and the Tony Award-winning Williamstown Theatre Festival.

    3. Paresky Center

      Since opening in the spring of 2007, the Paresky Center has served as the hub of student life at Williams. The centerpiece of the building, Baxter Great Hall, is a kind of living room for the campus.  Its high ceiling and clerestory windows allow in lots of natural light, and, on a sunny day, it’s not unusual to find students eating lunch, studying, or tossing a Frisbee with friends on Paresky lawn.


      The building is open 24 hours a day during the academic year and is equipped with meeting rooms, study spaces, pool and foosball tables, and a 150-seat auditorium with A/V equipment, a green room, and dressing room behind the stage.


      In addition to providing a space for students to socialize and study, Paresky is home to the Office of Student Life, the Chaplains’ Office, Academic Resources, four different dining options, and student mailboxes.

    4. Frosh Quad

      The Freshman Quad consists of two residence halls: Williams and Sage. Half of the first-year class lives here, while the rest of the class lives down the hill in Mission Park.


      First-year students live together in groups of 20 or so with a pair of Junior Advisors (JAs), in a thoughtfully constructed microcosm of the Williams community known as an Entry. The Entry system is a defining part of the Williams experience. There is no special-interest housing at Williams (and we eliminated fraternities about 50 years ago).

    5. Chapin Hall

      Opened in 1912 and named for Alfred Clark Chapin, Class of 1869, Chapin Hall is one of the few spaces on campus that can hold an entire Williams class. The architects, Cram and Ferguson of Boston, designed the interior to closely resemble the debating hall at Oxford University.


      While Chapin Hall serves as a venue for musical performances and speakers such as Angela Davis and Ethan Zuckerman, the building is also an important gathering place—during the First Days program for first-year students, Junior Advisors (JAs) sing the school song, "The Mountains," to the first-years from the balcony. Convocation and Baccalaureate exercises are held in Chapin for fourth-year students at the beginning and end of their final year at Williams.

    6. Class of '66 Environmental Center

      To be dedicated in 2015, the college’s new environmental center is a living laboratory for sustainability and home to the Center for Environmental Studies and the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives


      With a classroom, meeting and study spaces, a reading room, kitchen, and gardens, the center’s development has combined sustainable building practices, historic preservation, and extensive urban agriculture. The college is seeking Living Building Challenge designation for the center, the most rigorous performance standard for sustainable design.  


      Williams' new environmental center

    7. Sawyer Library

      Dedicated in 2014, Sawyer Library is a nexus for collaborative learning, social interaction, and intellectual engagement. Home to the humanities and social sciences collections, the library juxtaposes the oldest and rarest of books with state-of-the-art technology and digital collections. This new research and academic facility includes historic Stetson, the College Archives, the Chapin Library of Rare Books, and the Center for Educational Technology.


      Surrounded by soaring mountain views, the library features flexible, interactive work environments, individual and group study spaces, 24-hour access to the historic reading room, multimedia-equipped classrooms, a videoconference room, a recording studio, exhibition spaces, faculty offices, and a venue for events. Its vast collections include about a million books in print, more than 300,000 e-books, and hundreds of electronic journals and databases.

    8. Griffin Hall

      Originally called “the brick chapel,” Griffin was dedicated in 1828 and served as both the college chapel (until Goodrich Hall was built in 1859) and library (until Lawrence Hall opened in 1847) . The building was later named Griffin Hall in honor of the college’s third president, Edward Dorr Griffin. It houses  both seminar and Socratic lecture classrooms, as well as a large lecture hall for panels and speakers.


      With 36 majors and 600 to 700 courses offered every year across the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences, opportunities to discover and pursue academic passions are unbounded.


      One of the most distinctive elements of a Williams education is the tutorial, a class in which a professor and two students engage in a semester-long examination of a single topic. More than 70 such classes are offered across the curriculum.

    9. Williams College Museum of Art

      The Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) makes dynamic art experiences to incite new thinking about art, museums, and the world. The museum draws on the collaborative and multidisciplinary ethos of the surrounding college to enliven the more than 14,000 works in its growing collection. The museum and its collection is a catalyst for student learning and community engagement. WCMA is free and open to all.


      June – August

      • open every day 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
      • Thursdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.


      September – May

      • open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
      • Thursdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
      • closed Wednesdays


      The museum is closed on New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.


      15 Lawrence Hall Drive

      Williamstown, MA 01267

    10. Spring Street

      While not an official part of the Williams College campus, the primary commercial area downtown—Spring Street—is home to a bustling coffee shop, an independent movie theater, a post office, bank, and several restaurants and shops.


      Most college events are free or very low cost, so there is rarely a need to venture off-campus, but the college runs free shuttle buses to the local grocery stores, malls, and movie theaters on the weekends. Before and after major breaks, a student-run motor coach service offers shuttles to Boston, Albany, and New York.

    11. Weston Athletic Complex

      Home to new turf fields for field hockey, football, and lacrosse, and state-of-the-art track and field facilities, the Weston Athletic Complex opened in 2014 on the site where Ephs have been playing sports for the past 130 years.


      Williams is a member of the NCAA Division III and a part of the New England Small College Athletics Conference (NESCAC). Williams has a long history of athletic success. In addition to many individual achievements and team championships, the college has won the Directors' Cup, an award for best all-around post-season competition, in 17 of the 19 years since the award's inception.


      Williams students participate broadly in athletics at the college—through varsity, junior varsity, club, and intramural sports, as well as various recreational opportunities such as the Williams Outing Club.

    12. Schow Science Library

      Schow Science Library is the second-largest library on campus and at the heart of the Science Center. The library is named for Howard B. Schow ’50 and contains more than 100,000 volumes in the fields of astronomy, physics, biology, chemistry, computer science, math, geosciences, and psychology. With individual and group study areas in the library and an adjacent atrium with a snack bar, Schow is a destination for the entire campus community.


      Williams is a powerhouse of scientific research and a national leader in training future scientists. The college promotes the work of undergraduates with financial support for research fellowships and internships, top-notch equipment and facilities, and remarkable curricular opportunities to collaborate as co-investigators with faculty.

    13. West College

      West College is the oldest building on the Williams campus, built in 1790. In fact, it was the entirety of Williams College at its founding in 1793. The dormitory, infirmary, chapel, and classrooms were all in West College.


      Today, West College is an upperclass residence hall, and it continues to play a central role in Williams tradition. Each year during Commencement weekend, members of the senior class plant ivy on West College lawn, followed by a reading of the Class Poem and performance of Class Song, and conferring of awards. This tradition is known as the “Ivy Exercises.”

    14. Horn Hall

      Horn Hall, the first new residence hall at Williams since the early 1970s, provides housing for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. The two-story, 25,000-square-foot building offers six-person suites, lounges with kitchenettes for 12, a central kitchen and dining area, a multi-purpose meeting/collaborative learning room, and a spacious central living room. There are 40 singles and 10 doubles, for a total of 60 beds.