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 areas listed below, and a Community-Engaged Learning Activity (CEL-1, described below).
The five distribution areas, which faculty have identified as characteristic of and fundamental to Hampshire's distinctive academic program, are:
In addition to completing courses in four out of the five distribution areas, first-year students must take at least three elective courses drawn from the curriculum offered by any of the Schools of Hampshire College (Cognitive Science; Critical Social Inquiry; Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies; Interdisciplinary Arts; Natural Science) or from the Five Colleges. Students must receive a grade of C or better in a Five College course.
Distribution requirements may only be satisfied by 100-level Hampshire courses or specifically designated 200-level Hampshire courses. Fall entrants take a required tutorial, a small, advisor-led seminar, which also counts for distribution.
The requirement is that students engage in one or more CEL-1 activities on campus that total a minimum of 40 hours. CEL-1 cannot be completed over the summer. Students document their activity (or activities) on TheHub, where it is verified by a sponsor. A reflection on the CEL-1 activity on TheHub is required to pass Division I.
Students are strongly encouraged to incorporate language study into their academic program. Because languages are best learned when studied continuously, students electing to study another language are strongly encouraged to enroll in language courses in the first year. Language study is also good preparation for study abroad in Division II or III.
Language courses are part of the Culture, Humanities, and Languages (CHL) distribution area and may be used to fulfill that requirement.