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Division I (First-Year Program)

Division I is the foundation of Hampshire's unique three-tiered divisional system, providing a broad introduction to fields and approaches from across the College and requiring independent as well as collaborative work.

Actively negotiated at each step by the student and advisor, Division I paves the way for a well-conceived individualized concentration in Division II, and, ultimately, for Division III, upon completion of which all graduating students are expected to be fully capable of conceptualizing and executing advanced independent projects.

In Division I, students are:

  • Exposed to a wide range of distinct critical, scientific, and creative approaches across the academic program and encouraged to make critical connections between and across subjects and methodologies
  • Required to assess and demonstrably refine their abilities in four core cumulative skills (writing and research; quantitative skills; independent work; and multiple cultural perspectives)
  • Asked to engage in collaborative projects that maintain and improve the Hampshire campus community outside of the classroom

A student's advisor will periodically review academic progress during and at the end of each semester of Division I to identify the student's developing areas of strength as well as indications of the need for further study.


During their first two semesters of enrollment, first-year students must complete satisfactorily at least seven faculty-evaluated courses (which may include independent study), four of which must meet areas of distribution in four of the five distribution areas, and a Campus Engaged Learning Activity (CEL-1). Learn more about Division I requirements »

The five distribution areas, which faculty have identified as characteristic of and fundamental to Hampshire's distinctive academic program, are:

  • Arts, Design, and Media (ADM)
  • Culture, Humanities, and Languages (CHL)
  • Mind, Brain, and Information (MBI)
  • Physical and Biological Sciences (PBS)
  • Power, Community, and Social Justice (PCSJ)

The Division I description above applies to fall 2011 entering students only. Students who entered Hampshire College prior to fall 2011 should refer to the previous Division I description.

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