About the Requirement

The Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) Requirement is an indispensable part of every student’s undergraduate education that provides students with a broad understanding of human society, its traditions, and its institutions. The Requirement deepens students’ knowledge in a variety of cultural and disciplinary areas and encourages the development of sensibilities and skills vital to an effective and satisfying life as an individual, a professional, and a member of society.

To fulfill the HASS Requirement, each student must complete eight HASS subjects designated as counting towards the Requirement. Students are expected to complete at least one HASS subject each semester until the eight required subjects are complete. There are three components to the HASS Requirement: Distribution, Concentration, and HASS Electives.

Distribution Component (3 subjects)

All undergraduates are required to take three HASS Distribution subjects, one from each of the three categories: Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences to complete the Distribution Component of the HASS Requirement.

Concentration Component (3 or 4 subjects)

All undergraduates must complete a HASS Concentration of 3-4 subjects (some fields require 3, some 4) that together provide an increased knowledge in that particular field. Students must select a field of Concentration and submit a proposal form by the end of the first week second term junior year. One subject may be counted toward both the Distribution and Concentration Components with the permission of the Concentration Advisor.

A list of Concentrations can be found in the Concentration section of this site.

HASS Elective (1 or 2 subjects)

The remainder of the eight-subject HASS Requirement can be fulfilled with subjects of the student's choosing from any HASS category (HASS-A, HASS-H, or HASS-S) or subjects designated as HASS Elective (HASS-E).


Special Notes:

The HASS Requirement overlaps with the Communication Requirement. All students must take two HASS subjects that are designated Communication Intensive (CI-H or CI-HW). The first subject must be completed in the freshman year. Complete information can be found on the Communication Requirement site.

Students who wish to enroll in a HASS subject that is also designated as CI-H or CI-HW in the subject listings must select them through a special process. For more details and deadlines visit: http://enrollmenttools.mit.edu.

HASS Distribution Categories:

Humanities: Humanities subjects describe and interpret human achievements, problems, and historical changes at individual as well as societal levels. Although humanist inquiry employs a variety of methods, such disciplines as history, literature, and philosophy typically produce their accounts of cultural accomplishments through close analysis of texts and ideas: contemporary and historical, personal and communal, imaginative and reflective.

Arts: Arts subjects emphasize the skilled craft, practices, and standards of excellence involved in creating representations through images, words, sounds, and movement (e.g., sculptures, stories, plays, music, dance, films, or video games). Although arts subjects also engage in critical interpretation and historical analysis, they focus more centrally on expressive and aesthetic techniques and tools, such as the uses of rhythm, texture, and line.

Social Sciences: Social Science subjects engage in theory-driven as well as empirical exploration and analysis of human transactions. They address the mental and behavioral activities of individuals, groups, organizations, institutions, and nations. Social science disciplines such as anthropology, economics, linguistics, political science, and psychology seek generalizable interpretations and explanations of human interaction.



    Assistant Dean, Communication and HASS Requirements


    Office of the HASS Requirement

    HASS Academic Administrator



    SHASS Dean's Office



    Patty Fernandes

    Andrea Wirth

    Questions about:

    • HASS Requirement
    • HASS Concentrations
    • Petitions for substitutions within the HASS Requirement and HASS credit for transfer subjects
    • Overlap between the HASS and Communication Requirements

    Questions about:

    • Advising for special HASS concentrations
    • HASS Minors
    • Major Departures
    • 21E/S Majors
    • HASS@Cambridge (CME)
    • General SHASS information


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