The HASS Requirement provides students with opportunities to deepen their knowledge in a variety of cultural and disciplinary areas, practice critical thinking, and develop vital skills. A part of the General Institute Requirements, it consists of eight subjects of at least nine units each in the humanities, arts, and social sciences and includes three components: Distribution, Concentration, and HASS Electives.

Oversight and assessment

The Subcommittee on the HASS Requirement (SHR) is responsible for oversight. Specifically, SHR supports, encourages, and monitors the development of new, innovative subjects and changes to the HASS Requirement, and completes regular reviews of new and existing subjects to ensure that the educational goals of the HASS Requirement are met, while maintaining MIT’s high educational standards. SHR also periodically reviews the roster of Concentrations to avoid overlap in offerings, attest to the sustainability of existing Concentrations, and facilitate the establishment of new Concentrations, when merited.

HASS Distribution categories

Humanities (HASS-H)

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, disciplines such as history, literature, and philosophy typically produce their accounts of cultural accomplishments through close analysis of texts and ideas.

Arts (HASS-A)

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.

Social scienceS (HASS-S)

Social science subjects engage in theory-driven and 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.

HASS Exploration subjects

Additionally, some subjects are designated as HASS Exploration (HEX) subjects. HEX subjects are team-taught classes that allow students to approach a given topic from multiple vantage points. Emphasizing close interaction with faculty, these subjects encourage the development of foundational skills such as critical reading and analysis of primary materials. More broadly, they offer students an opportunity to explore concepts that are crucial to understanding and inhabiting the complex world in which we live.