FAQ: For Prospective Students

We asked our students and admissions staff to help us anticipate questions that prospective students might have about Hampshire.

Have a question you don't see listed below? Need more information? Contact us at admissions@hampshire.edu or 413.559.5471.


    • Yes. A supplemental essay is also required for international students who apply for either first-year or transfer admission.
    • We look for applicants who have shown initiative; self-motivation; independence; self-awareness; curiosity; creativity; and the ability and interest to make a contribution to their communities. We also look for strong critical thinking and writing skills, as well as a sense of commitment and follow-through.

      We look first at the applicant's program of study: Have you challenged yourself? Have you taken advanced courses when they've been available? Have you taken workshops or college classes outside of school? Attended a summer pre-college program? Started a community service initiative? Petitioned to get a new instructor or program at your school? These are all good signs that you'll be self-motivated enough to meet Hampshire's expectations of you as a student. We look next at your performance in these areas, which is evident through grades, test scores (if you choose to submit them), writing samples, and recommendations. We are looking for students with strong basic writing skills, as we do quite a lot of writing at Hampshire (about 20 papers per semester). We don't expect students to know exactly what they want to major in, but we do like to see students who are passionately pursuing their interests. We look for students who are active participants in life and who tend to create opportunities for themselves and take responsibility and ownership over their lives and educational paths.
    • We don't have strict course requirements for acceptance to Hampshire, but we do recommend four years of English; three of math, science, and history/social studies; and at least two of a foreign language.

      Many students find that they are finally able to take more electives in their senior year and want to know if it's okay to do so. That will depend greatly on which electives you choose. We're looking to see you challenging yourself by taking four to five academic courses each year, so if your chosen electives are academic in nature (i.e., music theory, women's history, etc.), then you're golden. If your proposed schedule has fewer academic courses than what we recommend, but you are taking them at an advanced level, that may be enough to convince us that you are still challenging yourself. Your guidance counselors are the best source of advice regarding what you should plan to take: Remember, they've helped many students before you get accepted to colleges and universities. If you want additional advice, however, feel free to call the admissions office with any specific concerns or questions.
    • Hampshire does accept AP and IB scores, as well as college credit, for Advanced Standing. Students may use up to eight courses and exams as described below.

      Regular academic courses taken from an accredited college or university during high school, graded C or better as evidenced by a college transcript, may be used:

      • For up to three Division I electives approved by both the advisor and CASA.

      • In Division II approved by both the Division II committee and CASA.

    Advanced Placement (AP) exams with scores of 4 or 5; International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher-Level exam with scores of 5, 6 or 7; or some international exams like the French Baccalaureate may be used:

    • For up to three Division I electives approved by both the advisor and CASA.Students must remain in good academic standing to be considered for Advanced Standing.
    • Please see the section Guidelines for Academic Progress for more information on good academic standing. For more information regarding Division II, please see Division II Requirements. For more information on Advanced Standing, contact the Center for Academic Support and Advising at advising@hampshire.edu.
    • Transfer credit may be applied directly toward Division I expectations. Courses may also apply toward Division II, so long as they meet the same criteria to be accepted as transfer credit. Faculty advisors can guide students in planning a curriculum that takes advantage of as much prior college work as possible. The number of courses and learning activities necessary to complete Division II will be determined by the individual student's Division II committee. Each student's program is individually designed and rates of progress vary.
    • The minimum residency requirement for transfer students for graduation is three semesters, regardless of how many credits are transferable. Students receiving financial aid should consult with the financial aid office regarding the number of semesters of financial aid eligibility.
    • Absolutely! We accept applications from homeschooled students, unschooled students, students who have received a GED or other alternative proof of high school completion, adult students of a non-traditional entering age... the list goes on!
    • If you have completed a program that does not provide a traditional transcript, we will need you to create a record of your high school and continuing education.
    • If you're concerned about your ability to get a counselor or teacher letter of recommendation, we may be able to substitute a letter from another mentor or supervisor in your life such as a boss, religious leader, or coach. Talk to your admissions counselor about your options.
    • While Hampshire does not commit to filling a certain percentage of our incoming class with students from the early applicant pool, there are many benefits to applying early. First, there is the ability to actually enjoy the rest of your senior year because you'll hear back from us sooner with your admissions decision. Second, if you apply early, you are competing against a smaller applicant pool. It's easier to stand out among the few hundred early applications that Hampshire receives versus the 2,000 we receive for regular decision. Third, if you're applying Early Decision I or II and therefore demonstrating that Hampshire is your top choice, the admissions committee does take your initiative, interest, and commitment into account positively when making admissions decisions.
    • Yes. If you apply for Early Decision I, Early Decision II or Early Action, you will use tax forms to complete financial aid forms, and you will receive a tentative financial aid award package with your acceptance letter. The award will be finalized once you file your current year taxes. You will receive our best possible financial aid package, no matter what application deadline you use, provided you submit all financial aid forms by the deadline.
    • We do not ever require an audition or portfolio, no matter what you plan as your major. Hampshire makes all admissions decisions based on your academic performance and "fit" with our program, and once accepted, you have access to all of the programs and facilities. Because we do holistic reads of applications, however, we like to know as much about you as possible. If your creative work is important to you, feel free to submit a sample of your work, as long as it fits on up to 3 8.5" x 11" pieces of paper. (CDs or DVDs must be in thin paper sleeves.) You may also send a link to an online portfolio or website. Please note that a creative option is never going to be the deciding factor in an admission decision.
    • Many students find it is easier to apply while their peers are going through the same process, and when they can easily connect with teachers and guidance counselors for recommendations. This may be an especially appealing option if you plan to be out of the country during the application season for the year you plan to attend. Your guidance counselor should be able to advise you, but you're always welcome to call us here at the admissions office to chat about your specific circumstances. In most cases, we encourage students to apply before their gap years, in part because if you are denied admission before your gap year, then you still have the option to reapply and strengthen your application for the following admissions cycle.

      Admitted first year students may, with the permission of the admissions office, defer matriculation for up to one year. Students must first confirm their intent to enroll at Hampshire by submitting the required enrollment deposit by your deposit deadline. Students who wish to defer should contact their admissions counselor. Once the student has submitted the enrollment deposit, the deferral request form will become live on their applicant status portal. The dean of admissions and financial aid will evaluate the responses, and students will receive a response to their request for a gap year within two weeks of submitting the form. Deferrals can be either one semester or one year in length, and students may not enroll in another college or university during that time. Students admitted for spring should contact their counselor if they wish to defer.


  • Hampshire students on average will take six classes through the consortium during their tenure at Hampshire. There is a fleet of free buses to take students to and from each of the other colleges. These bus routes are free of transfers and run from 8 a.m. until midnight on weekdays and until 2 a.m. on weekends.

  • They can and they do, on a regular basis.

  • All of the catalogs are linked online and students may search for materials at all the schools or one in particular. Through the consortium, students have access to over nine million volumes. To acquire a book from another library, you can simply request it online and it will be sent to Hampshire's library for you to pick up, usually within one or two days. Periodicals and rare books are non-circulating for good reason, while some art books must be checked out in person, but that's a simple undertaking with the free bus system in place.

    Hampshire is also part of a larger inter-library loan program so that in the (unlikely) event that students can't find the books they need within the Five College system, they may request them from another library. The Hampshire library is staffed with expert research librarians who can help students with this process and answer any other questions they have.

  • In Division I, first-year students are expected to take three to four classes each semester, for a total of at least seven courses in the first year.

  • Students join with other students, faculty, and staff to learn and work collaboratively around four global themes. Read more here.

  • First-year students are eligible to use AP exam scores of 4 or higher, IB Higher Level scores of 5 or higher, and transferable college coursework in place of up to three elective courses in Division I. Additionally, up to five transferable college courses may be included as part of students' Division II portfolios. All entering first-year students are required to complete their seminar, six electives, and the campus engaged learning requirement (CEL-1).

  • With a student to faculty ratio of 9:1, you can be sure you'll have almost instant access to your professors and advisors whenever you need them. Much of Hampshire depends on individual meetings and collaboration between students and the faculty they are working with, so professors teach a reduced course load to allow more time for personal interaction. Appointments are easy to make during office hours. Simply sign up for a slot on a list of available meeting times and show up for your appointment.

  • Even when our students plan to study two fields without combining them, they often find subtle connections between those fields. Beyond that, you may study two fields independently of each other. Keep in mind that there is no official, concrete, can't-be-negotiated amount of work you have to do each semester. You'll work with your advisors to design a program that will help you develop your foundation knowledge and skills in the areas you're most passionate about, even if you're not quite sure what those are yet.

  • As a Division III student, you'll function much like a graduate student, designing your own schedule for completing your year-long independent project. There will be a support system in place for you. Whether your project takes the form of a cultural studies paper, a dance performance, a photography show in the gallery, or a chemistry experiment, you will meet with your faculty committee frequently for guidance. Faculty often also hold group sessions, in which students working on their projects can talk about the process and give each other advice and feedback.

    In addition to maintaining routine contact with their committees, students are required to complete two advanced educational activities during their Division III year. These activities can take the form of advanced level classes, internships, teaching assistant positions, or guided independent studies, and are generally pursued one per semester, though it is possible to complete them both in one semester.

  • You will have a bachelor of arts degree. The diplomas don't specify the specific genre of B.A., but graduates often place the field of their concentration after the B.A. in resumes and applications. (For example, they might list a B.A. in multimedia design and educational psychology.)

  • More than 35 percent of students choose to study abroad while enrolled at Hampshire College; there are many options for global learning. In any given semester, our students can be found conducting academic work, internships, and field research in six continents around the world, though that's not to exclude Antarctica as a possibility! At Hampshire, you are encouraged to plan your academic program to include a year or a semester immersion in another culture, to learn another language, and to begin preparation in your first year.

    Hampshire offers a number of study abroad programs to such diverse places as Australia, Central America, China, Cuba, The Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Mexico, and Scotland. Hampshire also participates in the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP), which hosts opportunities in 38 countries across the globe, and the Consortium for Innovative Environments and Learning (CIEL). Looking for another corner of the world to explore? Students can also choose from hundreds of programs offered by other colleges, universities, and organizations, or even design their own field study. Additionally, faculty-led field courses during January and May provide short-term study abroad opportunities. We also offer a few domestic semester exchange programs. The global education office (GEO) on campus can help a student navigate the vast array of study abroad options.


    • The dining commons offers an extraordinary array of choices, and the staff strives to use local produce and dairy whenever possible. Many meals are even made with vegetables grown at the farm center right on campus. There are always multiple gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options (Hampshire is one of the top vegetarian-friendly schools in the country); a salad and sandwich bar; stir-fry station; make-your-own-waffles; and soft-serve ice cream. In addition to the dining commons, students may eat soups, salads, snacks, and sandwiches at the Bridge Café: the Bridge stays open later than the dining commons and has pool tables, ping-pong, and foosball. Once students move into the mods, they generally abstain from the meal plan in favor of home-cooked meals, but can certainly opt in if they so desire.

      If you're really persuasive, you can get your parents to sign you up for the off-campus meal plan as well. It's not affiliated with Hampshire, and is in addition to any Hampshire food plan. Tons of restaurants in the area participate, so if you're on the OCMP you can get food at many choice area restaurants!
    • The variety of weekend activities is as diverse as the Hampshire community. Weekends inevitably include a healthy dose of academia, with students spending time researching and writing projects; collaborating on creative endeavors; attending lectures; and getting some pleasure reading in on the side. But of course there is still time for catching up on sleep and having fun.

      A smattering of popular possibilities includes: movie screenings in the main lecture hall; openings in the campus gallery; rock climbing and kayaking trips; student-produced dance productions; a cappella concerts; midnight breakfasts; craft workshops; snow-shoeing; jam sessions; campus-wide dance parties; and area office barbecues. And that's just on campus; there are too many open activities at the other four colleges to begin listing them all.
    • Hampshire has an umbrella group called Outdoor Programs and Recreational Athletics. They oversee tons of classes on everything from ice climbing and biking to whitewater kayaking, outdoor leadership, martial arts, yoga, etc.

      There are two athletic facilities at Hampshire that include two weight rooms; indoor and outdoor tennis courts; basketball courts; indoor track; rock climbing wall and rock bouldering cave; swimming pool; sauna; bike maintenance shop; and equipment rentals. (There's also a community bike program, though many students bring their own bikes to campus.)

      Beyond that, there are currently intercollegiate teams in ultimate Frisbee, soccer, fencing, cross country, and basketball. Basically, if there is interest, you can play/start any sport you want. There have been cricket and rugby teams. The founders of Hampshire wanted to create a sports program that wasn't based on just a few people competing and a bunch of other "fans" observing. They wanted everyone to engage in sports and recreational activity...thus our super-amazing outdoors program.

      You can also play on any of the club teams in the Five College consortium. Due to NCAA rules, though, you cannot participate in varsity sports at the other schools.
    • Hampshire is diverse in many senses of the word. Our 2021 incoming class ranges in age from 16 to 40, and 39% identify as students of color. Students come from as nearby as Amherst and as far away as Hong Kong. In total, the cohort represents 33 states and Puerto Rico, as well as India, Ghana, China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Paraguay, South Africa, and Turkey. Sixty-one are first-generation college students and 16 mentioned having a family member who had attended Hampshire. Our students practice different religions and have different sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions, abilities, and backgrounds.

      Hampshire students certainly have academic diversity! Our campus is a vibrant blend of students who study natural science, social sciences, arts, humanities, cultural studies, cognitive science, and the infinite intersections of these disciplines. Students are athletes, inventors, performers, artists, writers, and more. All of our students are creators, innovators, and change-makers. Politically, our campus is open-minded and our students span the political spectrum. Diversity of opinion, critical thinking, and communication of ideas are valued as core parts of a Hampshire education.
    • There are two options for work-study: on-campus and off-campus. Both are facilitated by the student employment office. At the start of the semester all eligible students receive a list of available on-campus jobs, at which point they call whoever is responsible for hiring people to fill the position they are interested in and set up an interview. Almost every administrative office, special program, and academic area hires work study students, so it's likely students will get jobs that will pay them and interest them.

      Hampshire also provides students the fantastic opportunity to get work-study wage for work at community nonprofits. There is a list of organizations available online, and there is a wide range from which to choose. Those positions are set up in a similar fashion, necessitating a few phone calls, an in-person meeting, and a little paperwork. If students start seeking out jobs right away when they arrive on campus, they will have no problem finding one. Those who wait until mid-to-late-September to start looking, however, may run into some difficulties.


    • The majority of first-year students have singles. There are, however, a significant number of first years housed in doubles. Each hallway in the dorms has one double room, and chances are it is going to be filled with incoming students. The doubles are quite large, and the school always tries carefully to match roommates according to interests/living habits.
    • Due to Covid-19 students are not assigned to doubles. 
    • Merrill and Dakin are far more similar to one another than they are different. There are, however, a few key distinctions. Dakin's residents are mostly first year students who live 10 to 12 per hall. Each hall has its own bathroom and lounge. This lounge has a television (with cable), a balcony, and a refrigerator, but no proper kitchen. There are kitchens available for your cooking pleasure in the basement and the area office. Merrill, on the other hand, tends to house residents who are continuing students, primarily second years. Of course, there are always first years who live in Merrill. In Merrill each floor is divided into two sections; the short side houses eight students and the long side houses twelve students. Each section has its own bathroom and each floor has a shared lounge. These lounges are equipped with a television (also with cable), a balcony, a kitchenette, and a refrigerator.
    • Rooms are assigned to first-year students according to the housing information sheet they fill out. After your first year, housing assignments are determined in a lottery system based on points awarded for seniority. A group of friends may try for an entire hall in either Dakin or Merrill, or an on-campus apartment in one of the mods.
    • Student rooms come furnished with a bed frame; an extra long twin-size mattress; a built-in closet complete with hanging rod for clothes; a bureau with several drawers; a mirror (not full length); a desktop with supporting book shelves and drawer unit; a rolling desk chair; and a curtain. If it's a double room, there are two of everything. There is a ceiling light in every room, but it is advisable for students to add lamps of their choice, unless they are particularly fond of fluorescent lighting.
    • The way any other bathrooms work. Students tend to be nervous about the co-ed factor before they arrive but, in reality, it generally takes no time at all to become comfortable with the situation. Each hall has its own bathroom with multiple toilet stalls, sinks, and shower stalls (with a shower and a little area to change in right in front of it and a locking door). There are seldom, if ever, lines for any of the facilities, since students are on different schedules. Students usually get a bath basket to keep shower stuff in and either leave it in the bathroom by the sinks or store it in their rooms and carry it to the showers.

    There are washers and dryers in each residential area. They are open at all hours of the day and night, and they are free (by which we mean you pay for it as part of your tuition), so you won't be scrounging around for quarters all year. The washers and dryers in Merrill and Dakin houses are located in their basements. There are almost always machines free, and students can go online to check how busy their laundry room is or if their loads of clothes are done.

    • Indeed they are. All students have the option of registering a car for on-campus parking. Usually this registration allows students access to a parking lot quite close to their rooms, but from time to time a lot may fill up, meaning students will have to walk a little more, usually just to the next closest lot. A $150 fee is charged every year, which essentially serves to cover the cost of snow removal and security in the lots. Keep in mind that there is a free bus system, too. Often students who do bring cars still ride the buses in stormy weather or when it may be difficult to find a visitors' parking spot on another campus.