Streamlined HASS Requirements May Make Debut for 2014 Frosh

Starting perhaps as early as next fall, MIT will introduce its new Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences requirements, which were simplified after a faculty vote last spring.

Gone will be the five-category HASS-D system. The new HASS requirements will ask students to take one subject in each of three categories — humanities, arts, and social sciences. There will no longer be a distinction between HASS classes and HASS-D classes. All HASS classes will fall into one of the three categories.

Students will still have to complete a HASS concentration and eight HASS classes.

A HASS governance committee has been convened to oversee the transition. Much of the work is in categorizing classes into the new categories, said Associate Professor Jeffrey S. Ravel, chair of the committee.

The committee hopes to complete this work by spring, in time to work with the Registrar to put the new requirement in place for the freshman class entering MIT next fall, Ravel said.

If the committee does not complete its work in time, the new categorization system will instead go into effect in fall 2011, the deadline set by the faculty for implementation.

Current students might be allowed to opt in to the new system. The committee hopes to announce more information the spring.

To divide subjects into the three new categories, the HASS committee is working with all departments that teach HASS courses to decide where each class fits best.

The committee, which has met twice so far, is comprised of five faculty members from the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, as well as one faculty member from the School of Engineering and one from the School of Science. As of last Friday, the committee was still looking for a faculty member from the School of Architecture and Planning and for two student representatives to join the group.

Of ten undergraduates interviewed by The Tech, none knew specifically what the new HASS-D system required, and most had not heard of the new requirements at all.

“The new system sounds better,” said Olivia H. Bishop ’11, “because you have more choices for classes so you wouldn’t be taking classes you hate just because you have to satisfy a requirement.”

“It’s way easier to keep track of what you need to take, as opposed to the current system, which some advisors don’t even understand,” said Judy Hsiang ’12.

After listening to an explanation of the new system, those students who had already completed most of their HASS-D classes said they would not opt to switch to the new HASS-D system even if given the option.

Those who had completed few HASS-D classes said they would choose whichever system would allow them to take the classes they wanted to take.