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Hampshire College

Hampshire College is an experimenting private liberal arts college in Amherst, Massachusetts. Its alternative curriculum is very different from most traditional colleges'. It was founded in 1970 as an experiment in alternative education by four other colleges in the Pioneer Valley: Amherst College, Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Together, they are known as the Five Colleges.

The College is generally well-reputed for its film, writing and art programs, but its graduates also have one of the highest Ph.D. rates among all American undergraduate institutions; 56% of its alumni have at least one graduate degree. Its School of Cognitive Science was the first interdisciplinary undergraduate program in cognitive science and still has few peers.

Table of contents
1 Curriculum
2 History
3 External link


Hampshire College describes itself as "experimenting" rather than "experimental" in order to emphasize the continually changing nature of its curriculum. However, from its inception the curriculum has generally had certain non-traditional features:

The curriculum is divided into three "Divisions" rather than four years, and students complete these Divisions in varying amounts of time.

The Hampshire College faculty are organized not in traditional departments but in broadly defined Schools. The Schools' names and definitions have varied over the College's history, but there have always been between three and five of them. As of
2003 the Schools are:


Though the college opened to students in 1970, its history dates to the immediate aftermath of World War II. The first "New College Plan" was drafted in 1958 by the presidents of the then-Four Colleges; it was revised several times as the serious planning for the College began in the 1960s. Many original ideas for non-traditional ways of arranging the College's curriculum, campus, and life were discarded along the way, but many new ideas generated during the planning process were not described in the original documents.

For several years in the early 1970s, directly after its founding, Hampshire College was the most selective undergraduate program in the United States. Its selectivity declined thereafter, but the school's applications increased in the late 1990s, making admissions more difficult. The College's selectivity in admissions is now comparable to many other small liberal arts colleges'.

The school has struggled with financial difficulties since its founding, and ceasing operations or folding into the University of Massachusetts Amherst were seriously considered at various points. Today the school is on more solid financial footing (though still without a sizable endowment), a condition often credited to the fundraising efforts of the most recent presidents, Adele Simmons and Gregory S. Prince, Jr. The College has also distinguished itself recently with plans for the future including a "sustainable campus plan" and a "cultural village" through which organizations not directly affiliated with the school are located on its campus. Currently this "cultural village" includes the National Yiddish Book Center and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

Some of the most important founding documents of Hampshire College are collected in the book The Making of a College (MIT Press, 1967; ISBN 0262660059). The Making of a College is (as of 2003) out of print but unofficially remains available from the Hampshire College Bookstore. A new edition is rumored to be in progress.

External link