Frequently Asked Questions

What is the benefit of the Culture, Health, and Science certificate?
The CHS certificate is a way to express a unifying thread in your undergraduate coursework. It enables students to demonstrate a multidisciplinary breadth that goes beyond a specific major. Pre-health students and those interested in health careers of all kinds use the certificate to express their ability to bridge a variety of different fields and develop a profile that is relevant to our multifaceted world.

What if I am a sophomore, junior, or senior? Will I still have time to complete the requirements for the certificate?
Often the answer is "yes." If your studies have been in the culture/health/science genres, some of the classes on your transcript may already fulfill CHS requirements. It’s ideal to go into the CHS certificate with intention, but the requirements are not impossible and it’s likely any remaining courses can be completed in just 2–3 semesters.

How do I sign up to get the CHS certificate?
We strongly suggest you declare your interest as early as you can and get an advisor for the program. Fill out the Declaration of Interest Form as soon as possible and download the Certificate Checklist to keep track as you complete the requirements. Again, please contact your campus faculty advisor early in your planning to get his/her advice.

How many courses may count for both my major and CHS requirements?
No more than three of the courses used to satisfy requirements in your major may also count toward CHS requirements. The remaining four of the seven courses must be from departments outside of your major.

How will this show up on my transcript?
We work with the offices of the registrars at each campus to make sure the certificate appears on transcripts of graduating CHS students as long as there is space (some schools only will include 2–3 credentials on the transcript; check your campus rules). We also send out physical certificates each July to that year's graduates.

How can I get into a CHS course on one of the other campuses in the Five College system?
CHS professors often hold spots in their classes for qualified Five College students. Check to make sure you have fulfilled the prerequisites for the class. It's a good idea to contact the professor early to let her/him know that you hope to use the course to satisfy a CHS requirement. Use the cross-registration procedures set up by your registrar to make sure that you are formally enrolled in the course.

Do I have to take courses on all five campuses to fulfill the requirements for the Certificate?
Not necessarily. It is recommended, but not required, for students to study beyond their home campuses. CHS is an inter-campus, interdisciplinary program; this is one of our greatest strengths. For that reason, we encourage students to take advantage of the wide variety of health-related courses available on the five campuses in the consortium.

What do I need to do to fulfill the requirement for an independent project?
The independent project requirement allows students to design and carry out a health-related project suited to their own particular interests. The project can take the form of a summer or January-term internship, a substantial research paper for a course, laboratory research, a Hampshire Division III project, an independent study or an honors thesis. It's a good idea to consult with your campus faculty advisor about your plans. A report explaining how your particular project contributed to your knowledge of human health may be required.

Do I need to take a foreign language for the certificate?
Foreign language study is not explicitly required in order to earn the certificate.  However, taking four semesters of a foreign language (or the equivalent) is recommended for the CHS certificate. Languages other than English are beneficial for those applying for international internships, graduate programs, and many jobs.

Once I’ve completed the requirements, how do I notify the CHS committee and get my certificate?
Review your checklist form and an unofficial copy of your transcript with your CHS advisor by the date listed on the checklist form. If your advisor agrees you have completed the requirements, the advisor will sign the form and send it to the CHS Steering Committee.  At the end of each semester, the CHS Steering Committee reviews all completed forms and makes a final determination as to whether the certificate will be awarded. The certificate award is noted on the student's transcript by the student's home campus registrar. A hard copy of the certificate is mailed to the address on the checklist form, normally in July.

Is there a grade requirement for courses that count toward the certificate?
There is no grade requirement, but you must pass a course to count it toward the certificate. 

Can I count online courses toward the Certificate?
Online courses can be counted toward the certificate if the policy of your home institution allows you to count online courses toward your degree, and with the approval of your CHS campus advisor.

Can I count AP courses toward the Certificate?

What about getting CHS credit for courses taken at other colleges and universities, including those outside the U.S.?
If you want to have a course from another college or university count toward the Certificate, consult with your campus faculty advisor. Your advisor will want to see a copy of the course description, syllabus and any work you completed for the course. The advisor may use his/her discretion, in consultation with the CHS Steering Committee, to decide whether the course will qualify for your CHS Certificate requirements.

How do I subscribe or unsubscribe to the CHS email list?
Visit the the CHS Email List page for more information and to sign up.

How do I post an announcement to the CHS email list?
Send announcements of health-related events and opportunities to We will be happy to post notices of relevant health-related events!

What if I have a question that isn't answered on this page?
Please contact us at


Tips from CHS-alum Elisabeth Wirsing for students interested in pursuing a career in public health:
"Overall, CHS was very valuable—especially taking epidemiology as an undergrad at UMass Amherst to get my feet wet. For epidemiology, I would recommend taking statistics or biostatistics, natural science (biology especially) and being exposed to a research experience in college (whether qualitative or quantitative). Anthropology has shaped my perspective of disease and health, which has been important to me when working with doctors and statisticians who may look at disease as mainly a biological process, when there are many behavioral factors involved. Also, I would highly recommend spending some time working before returning to school to help focus interests and gain perspective of the bigger picture."