Hampshire College operates on a divisional system, not a credit hour system. Students receive narrative evaluations instead of grades for all completed courses and at the end of each division. Courses for which we recommend a full four-credit equivalence meet a minimum of 160 minutes per week for the duration of our semester and include advising days and divisional progress review periods. Students from one of the other four colleges in the Five College Consortium who take Hampshire College courses and Hampshire students who transfer to other institutions generally receive four credits per academic course. Our guidelines for what constitutes successful completion of each of our divisions can be found in the student handbook.
Division I Seminars are innovative courses taught by teams of faculty in different fields, all focused on a single question of contemporary relevance. Each seminar embeds different disciplinary approaches, enabling students’ learning about a wide range of skills and approaches to the topic. Staff educators on the teaching teams support workshops that orient students to Hampshire’s academic program and available resources, and peer mentors additionally support students’ learning inside and outside of the classroom. Division I seminars are sized in order to shift between small and larger groups to enable flexibility in facilitating cohort-based experiences of learning in community with others.
These courses emphasize individual attention to students' needs and interests, engage students directly in the excitement of learning, and allow opportunity for close faculty/student relationships and evaluation of students' skills and preparation.
These courses explore subject matter needed by students in any division. These can be "skills courses" (statistics, ethnographic methods, or dance techniques). They can be general surveys or introduction-to-the-field courses, designed to convey a large body of information (e.g., introduction to economics) or cover a body of central theories or methodologies. They can be "foundational" in that they present the combination of skills and concepts that are required for any further work in the area (e.g., Film or Photo I). Or, they can approach a question or topic through integrating multiple areas and methodologies (e.g., sustainability, childhood studies).
These courses are taught on an advanced level and presume some background or experience on the part of the student.