Demystifying the Divisional System
An Informal Guide for the Perplexed
In the first stage of a Hampshire education, all students engage each semester in an innovative Div I seminar taught by faculty, all focused on a single question of contemporary relevance. Each seminar embeds a wide range of disciplinary approaches, enabling students’ learning of multiple skills and approaches to the topic. Staff educators on the seminar teaching teams convene workshops that orient students to Hampshire’s academic program and available resources, and peer mentors support students’ learning inside and outside of the classroom. Div I seminars are sized in order to shift between small and larger cohorts to enable flexibility in facilitating cohort-based experiences of learning in community with others.
Exposure to curricular areas including the sciences, culture and human experience, the arts and design, and race and power are built into the transdisciplinary approaches of the Div I seminars. There are no additional distribution requirements in the first year. Students in their first year choose at least five additional courses based on their own interests.
To complete Div I, students must finish seven courses (or supervised learning activities) — one Division 1 seminars and six elective courses, one elective may be a special project.
In addition to the seven courses, students must complete campus-engaged learning activities (CEL-1) totaling a minimum of 40 hours, approximately equal to course contact hours. Of these, 20 hours will involve participation in campus educational events focused on diversity, inclusion, equity and access in order to expand intercultural competencies; and 20 hours will consist of campus activities/projects of the student’s choice that meet the goals of the requirement to work collaboratively in community and meet a community need. The student will document the fulfillment of the CEL-1 and reflect on their CEL-1 experience in the Division I retrospective essay.
After completing all the necessary courses as well as fulfilling the CEL-1, students pass Div I by: 1) writing a retrospective essay that describes their intellectual development during Div I, and 2) compiling a portfolio of selected Div I work. This final work is coordinated with and approved by the student’s academic advisor.
Note: The Div I description above applies to students who enter in fall 2020 or later. Students who entered Hampshire College prior to fall 2020 should refer to the previous academic program description
The second stage of a Hampshire education begins in the fall of the second year. With rare exceptions, students are in Division II for their entire second and third years; during that time they develop a Division II concentration or area of focus that is 1) interdisciplinary and 2) individually designed by each student to meet their particular interests and needs. Students begin to design their individual concentrations in the spring of their first year when they participate in the Div II committee request process. As part of that process, they talk with faculty in their area(s) of interest, working toward the goal of both 1) having a faculty committee who will oversee their Div II, and 2) formulating a concise statement of what their concentration will be, including questions they plan to pursue, skills they plan to learn, and goals they hope to accomplish. During Div II, students must also complete 1) a multiple cultural perspectives requirement, and 2) a community-engaged learning requirement (CEL-2). The Div II contract briefly describes the student's plans for these.
In their final semester of Division II, students take a Division II seminar which supports students’ transition from Div II to Div III in their sixth semester. The Div II seminar supports students’ compiling of the Div II Portfolio and completion of a robust Div III proposal by the end of the semester.
Most students complete Div II by the end of their third year or may wait and pass at the very beginning of their fourth year. To pass Div II, they must 1) write an extended retrospective essay and 2) complete a portfolio of Div II work, as specified by their committee. Once the committee receives these, it holds a final meeting with the student to discuss the Div II, and the chair writes an evaluation of the student's Div II performance.
The final stage of a Hampshire education: a two-semester independent project accomplished during the fourth year.
In addition to finishing this major project, Div III students must also complete two "advanced educational activities" over the course of the year. These can be upper-level courses, teaching assistantships, or approved internships. Division III seminars are special seminars designed to support students’ Div III work in a cohort-based setting.
Students begin to formulate their plans for Div III during the spring of their third year, or sixth semester, when they participate in the Div III committee request process. As part of that process, they talk with faculty 1) to find a faculty committee to oversee their Div IIIs and 2) to draw up, in collaboration with their committee, a Div III contract that describes their Div III plan. The contract is finalized early in the fall, or seventh, semester.
The Div III committee meets regularly with the student during the year in order to support and supervise progress on the Div III project. When the project is completed, the Div III committee has a final meeting with the student, and the chair writes an evaluation of the student's Div III work.