FAQ: For Parents and Families of Prospective Students

Applying to college can be exciting, exhilarating, and, yes, nerve-wracking. This is true for parents as well, even those who may have previously experienced the process with older children. Every school is different, and things change. We hope this Q&A page eases the process a bit. Perhaps our best advice is to breathe and enjoy the experience with your child as much as possible. Remember, all of us at Hampshire are here to help!


  • Tours are offered throughout the year. You are welcome to interview any day of the week that works for you, or you can do this through one of our on-campus events during the fall and spring semesters. More details can be found at visit.hampshire.edu. Please note that we only allow sitting in on a class if a student requests it specifically, since we have to inquire with each professor for COVID safety reasons.

    • We only offer information sessions at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.; however, if you are unable to make the scheduled information and tour sessions, we welcome you to stop by. We have counselors you can speak to for information or to answer any questions. Students are encouraged to contact their regional admissions counselor directly.
    • We offer both in-person and virtual info sessions throughout the year. Students and families are encouraged to sign up for visits, sessions, etc. here.
    • Students can apply to Hampshire College via the Common Application and include all the materials required to complete the application process: Hampshire’s writing supplement (only required for international students), current transcripts, a school report along with a college counselor recommendation, and one letter of recommendation from a teacher. It’s very important for students to ensure all their materials, both those they submit directly and those submitted on their behalf, are completed before the respective application deadline. College counselors and teachers are incredibly busy during the application season, so we encourage students to communicate frequently with them while their applications are being completed.
  • The deadlines for Fall 2024 at Hampshire College are:

    • Early Decision: November 15, 2023
    • Early Action: December 1, 2023
    • Early Decision II: January 1, 2024
    • Regular Decision: January 15, 2024
    • Transfer: March 15, 2024
  • Institutional research suggests a student’s performance on standardized tests does not predict a student’s success in our academic program. Additionally, studies show that standardized tests are biased by race, gender, and/or economic circumstances. We take a holistic approach when evaluating students for admittance, including grades, academic performance trends, writing supplements, and examples of community involvement. 

    To learn more about our decision, click here.


    • Hampshire structures its academics according to the divisional system, a scaffolding to guide students along the way to explore, to customize, and to create. The divisional system prepares students with necessary skills in self-direction and self-advocacy to navigate their experiences in higher education and beyond. Hampshire’s pedagogy develops each student’s ability to question, research, analyze, write, negotiate, and undertake substantial independent projects, competencies that graduate schools and employers seek in their ideal candidates. The divisional system intentionally builds upon accumulated knowledge and abilities according to the following progression:

      Division I (Year One) is a year of exploration, guiding students into new subjects and introducing the skills of introspection and reflection. Students complete a minimum of seven courses that emphasize inquiry, including courses in four academic distribution areas. Students take 100-level classes meant to help them explore their various interests, both those identified and those yet to be discovered, and develop the skills needed for advanced work at Hampshire. Students also complete a tutorial course, an academic class limited to incoming first-year students and taught by their Division I faculty advisor. Through a portfolio review process at the Division’s end, students and faculty advisors reflect on the student's academic growth and direction and goals for the next phase of their Hampshire education..

      Division II (Years Two and Three) requires students to develop a rigorous academic major guided by their interests and goals rather than departmental requirements. They’ll work in close collaboration with at least two faculty advisors, meeting frequently with them to identify key questions to explore and to develop a written contract of their ideas. In addition to coursework at Hampshire and within the Five College Consortium, the major may include independent studies, internships, fieldwork, and study abroad. Students develop the depth of knowledge, direct experience, and skills necessary for the original work they create in their final year. A second, more extensive, portfolio review further develops each student's ability to understand issues across disciplinary lines and to become a more self-aware learner.

      Division III (Year Four) students gather the insights, skills, and knowledge gained over the past three years to create an independent project of their own design, much like a graduate thesis. Again, they work very closely with at least two faculty members. If the first year can be viewed as a bridge from secondary school to the work of Hampshire, the final year can be viewed as a bridge to the independence, initiative, focus, and creativity necessary to accomplish meaningful work in the world.
  • In order to achieve the most from their individualized course of study, students need specific and insightful feedback relevant to their personal goals, something letter grades can never accomplish. Narrative evaluations provide students with a comprehensive understanding of their academic progress, reflecting how they learn in addition to what they learn. Hampshire graduates find their narrative transcripts beneficial as they apply to graduate school or seek employment since they communicate to future employers how students thrive in various learning environments. Rather than a grade based on the typical mid-term, final exam, and paper, a narrative evaluation reflects the student’s overall effort, participation, and learning throughout the entire semester. Professors carefully note how a student is learning in every class, and they offer thoughtful and meaningful feedback into the narrative evaluation they prepare for every student.

  • The sense that Hampshire’s academic environment lacks structure is inaccurate. There is an academic structure in place at Hampshire; it’s just different from that available at most other colleges. Each division includes extensive advising and close mentoring for students as they customize the structure and direction of their own education. Div I students enroll in a tutorial course their first semester, and their professor for this course also serves as their academic advisor for the entirety of their first year, ensuring consistent contact with students. Div II and Div III students identify their own faculty advisors to create their advisory committees, and in close collaboration with their faculty advisors, students customize their own concentration and work toward the final culmination of creating their capstone projects. 

    Students are encouraged to ask for help when they need it, and they often graduate with stronger skills in self-advocacy as they work towards academic and social confidence. We also offer a Holistic Learning Program via our Office of Accessibility Resources and Services (OARS), which takes the form of a class dedicated to providing assistance with executive functioning, effective reading and writing practices, organization, and time management skills. We ensure students are supported at every level of their education, allowing them the ownership to dictate their own direction by learning how to ask the right questions.

    • During the first year, students take a class known as a "tutorial." One purpose of the tutorial is to provide academic counseling to new students, as well as to acclimate students to Hampshire's expectations of them in the classroom. The professor of this tutorial serves as the student's advisor for the entirety of Division I. With only fourteen students in the class and designated advising days, the professor and student are in frequent contact.
    • An additional resource Hampshire College offers students to help them navigate the divisional system is the Center for Academic Support and Advising (CASA). CASA provides support and assistance to students and advisors to plan and achieve their academic goals and monitors students' academic progress while offering a variety of support and programming to faculty and students at all divisional levels.
    • The New Student Experience Office (NSE) is also available to help prepare students for their arrival and navigate their Hampshire experience to ensure all students make the most of their first year. Through new student orientation, special programs, and outreach, the NSE office will keep your student informed and connect them with resources to help make a successful transition to life at Hampshire.
  • The specific feedback provided in Hampshire's evaluations allows for a more comprehensive sense of how a student is progressing far more so than traditional grades can. Evaluations are also sometimes provided midway through the term. If a professor is concerned about their student’s ability to pass the course, the midterm evaluation can help to flag any of the specific issues so that the student and professor can work together to address them during the remainder of the term. 

    In addition, the advising system ensures that students remain on their right track. Close advisor and mentor relationships between students and faculty are at the core of our advising mission, ensuring each student receives individual attention at every level of their education. The Center for Academic Support and Advising (CASA) also monitors students' academic progress and helps students and advisors plan and achieve academic goals.

  • The Five College Consortium is a unique collaboration among Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Historically, more than 90% of our students have averaged six courses taken at one or more of the other institutions in the Consortium during their tenure at Hampshire, at no additional charge. Students on average take six courses at one or more of the other institutions in the Consortium during their tenure at Hampshire, at no additional charge. The Consortium offers access to thousands of courses and more than 900 student clubs and organizations.

    The Five College library system, which holds approximately fifteen million volumes, is indispensable. In addition, students attend lectures, performances, sporting events, and various social gatherings at the other schools on a regular basis. Nearly five hundred companies recruit among the five colleges as well. All of the consortium campuses are connected via the PVTA Bus system, which is free to all students and offers extensive accessibility and frequent availability between all campus locations.

    • Hampshire offers a number of study-abroad programs to such diverse places as China, France, Central America, Cuba, Germany, India, and Mexico. Students can also choose from hundreds of programs offered by other colleges, universities, and organizations. A trip to the Global Education Office (GEO) on campus can help a student discover an opportunity appealing to them.
    • Hampshire tuition, room and board, and financial aid awards may cover the costs of these programs (including travel). GEO and faculty advisors, as well as the office of financial aid, can all provide specific information about arranging for the financial aspect of study abroad programs.
  • Hampshire College evaluates transfer students using the same criteria we do first-year applicants, looking for students who demonstrate a growth-oriented mindset, authenticity, passion for learning, motivation, discipline, self-awareness, maturity, intellectual bravery, interest in various passions, empathy, and dedicated interest in community building. Hampshire provides necessary resources for transfer students to help transition between undergraduate programs. Many successful and passionate students transfer in to Hampshire from other collegiate institutions.

Life After Hampshire

  • Education at Hampshire College prepares students to excel beyond their four years here. Students graduate with the necessary skills of critical thinking, quantitative literacy, scientific reasoning, written and verbal communication, civic engagement, self-direction, and self-advocacy to enter either into higher degree programs or the professional world capable of adapting to change and navigating uncertainty. Nearly all of our graduates report receiving an offer of employment six months after graduation, and 65% of our alums go on to earn degrees at either a master’s or doctoral level; Hampshire College remains in the top 3% of universities whose students go on to earn a research Ph.D. Graduates of Hampshire have, over the course of their academic careers, extensive experience in witnessing the practical application of education.

  • Students graduate from Hampshire College with a bachelor of arts degree. As far as majors are concerned, because students customize their own, it is the student’s discretion to indicate their studies on subsequent professional documents such as graduate school applications or resumes.

    • Extremely well! Sixty-five percent of our students go on to earn higher degrees either at a master’s degree level or a doctoral degree level. Of that number, 85% are accepted into their first or second choice program. Top graduate schools to which Hampshire alums matriculate include Columbia, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, New York University, Harvard, and Yale. 
    • Hampshire College’s Divisional system closely models a graduate program; the curriculum is student-centered and student-driven, students work closely in mentorship with faculty advisors, research is conducted in collaboration with students, and students complete an extensive independent project necessary for graduation. Hampshire students make a natural transition to graduate school; 65% of Hampshire graduates advance to earn a higher degree at a master’s or doctoral level within ten years of graduation. Hampshire ranks among the top 3% of the nation’s colleges whose graduates earn a research doctorate.
    • Graduates of Hampshire College embody necessary skills that appeal to graduate school admissions, such as abilities in self-directed research and self-advocacy, demonstrated passion and creativity, and the resourcefulness to create connections across disciplines. The typical Hampshire student's transcript usually includes several letter grades from courses taken at the other colleges in the Consortium, indicating the student’s ability to thrive in multiple academic environments.

Financial Aid

  • Approximately 99% percent of Hampshire students receive some sort of financial aid from Hampshire. This means that the cost of attendance varies according to a family's ability to pay. For the 2021-2022 academic year, the average financial aid package (Hampshire grants, student loans, and work-study job) was $46,818. Merit aid is also provided in many cases. Read more about merit aid at the College here.

  • Yes! Although it does take time to complete the forms, we know many families who have unexpectedly received aid.

  • Completion of the FAFSA form is required for federal financial aid, and the only form domestic/U.S. applicants must complete. The CSS Profile is necessary for international students only, to disperse college funds.

  • Yes. We offer several different merit scholarships based on achievement, initiative, and service. Awards range up to $35,000/year for four years. There is no separate application process; admissions counselors nominate students for merit awards as they read their applications. Scholarships are meritoriously awarded, and award amounts are determined holistically based on the overall quality of the student’s application. We recommend each student complete the application as thoroughly as they can, including a detailed resume of extracurricular activities, instances of community involvement, and any supplemental materials that evidence a student’s particular interest or talent.

Campus Life

  • Home at Hampshire is the best of both worlds, with weekends full of possibilities for students who love indoor and outdoor recreation. Through the Consortium, there are daily activities at each institution such as lectures, film screenings, and sporting events. The local area houses several venues, and there are more than a dozen museums in the Pioneer Valley. On Hampshire's campus alone, each weekend provides a full itinerary of activities for students from student groups to HampEngage. Those who love the outdoors will find an array of options right in their own backyard. Our Outdoor Programs, Recreation, and Athletics program provides students with opportunities to swim, hike, climb, and kayak, and, in the wintertime, ski and snowboard. With over 30,000 students in the surrounding area, students are never at a loss for something to do.

  • Yes. The closest airport is Bradley International (BDL), located between Springfield and Hartford about an hour away from campus. Several companies in the Pioneer Valley shuttle students back and forth to the airport at reasonable prices. The Peter Pan bus system runs to all the major cities in the surrounding area, including Boston and New York. Locally, the PVTA bus system provides free transportation to all students in and around the Five College area. The closest Amtrak station is in Northampton, only a twenty minute drive from campus.

  • Hampshire is a residential college, and the vast majority of our students live on campus. First-year students almost always live in a dorm, either Dakin or Merrill, predominantly in single rooms with available options for students to live with roommates. Each hall has a communal space (the lounge) which houses a television and a refrigerator. In Merrill, the lounges also have a kitchenette. Div II and Div III students often live in our on-campus apartments, known as mods; living in a mod feels more like living in a house as they have a kitchen, a common space, and more private bathrooms.

  • Each area is staffed by a live-in professional area coordinator, supported by student resident advisors (RAs). Each hallway and mod is assigned a resident advisor. RAs organize activities and help foster community. They also serve as a direct link between students and the professional housing staff. Each housing area also has an "area office" where students can get cleaning supplies (including vacuums), submit work orders, or hang out over coffee or hot chocolate.

  • Cars are allowed on campus. There is typically ample parking available on campus for students, since a majority of our students opt instead for the free PVTA bus system. As of the 2022-23 school year, parking decals are issued to students who request them free of charge, with a replacement sticker fee of $10.00. While having a car can sometimes be helpful, our free bus system runs to the other colleges, the grocery store, the mall, and almost anywhere in between. 


  • The Department of Campus Safety and Wellbeing (formerly Campus Safety and Security) is located on the ground level of the Harold F. Johnson Library Center. Campus Safety and Wellbeing staff respond to all manner of service and emergency calls and are a 24/7 presence on campus. Campus safety assistants work in tandem with the health and wellbeing advocate staff to address the needs of the campus community in ways that are most productive and supportive of the community member at hand. You can learn more about our approach to campus safety here.

    • Health and counseling services is open Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (except from 12-1 p.m.) when the College is in session. For physical ailments, students have the options of going to the University of Massachusetts Medical Center or the local hospital, Cooley Dickinson. For health emergencies, students are encouraged to ca11 Hampshire College campus safety and security, and the Amherst Fire Department ambulance will respond. 
    • Students should call health and counseling services at 413.559.5458, option 1 for after-hours mental health concerns. For after-hours medical care on weekends and evenings, students should call 413.559.5555. Campus safety and security will also respond to all EMT calls.
    • For after-hours medical telephone advice, students may call 413.577.5000. A trained registered nurse will assess their medical issues and either help with advice or direct your child to further care.
    • The Office of Accessibility Resources and Services (OARS) provides services to students with documented physical, learning, sensory, psychological, developmental, and other disabilities, and also supports students who cannot or do not want to formally disclose. 
  • Hampshire College dining is fresh and plentiful, with several options available at each meal. Much of our food is locally sourced from our on-campus farm, ensuring farm-to-table freshness. In addition to our dining commons, students can dine at the Bridge and Kern Cafes. And for those times when students prefer to eat off-campus, Amherst and the other surrounding towns are only a free bus ride away.