Five College Program in Culture, Health, and Science

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-medical students and those interested in continuing on to a career in human health have used the certificate to express their ability to bridge a variety of different fields in their path and develop a profile which is more relevant to the multifaceted world we live in.

What if I am a Sophomore, Junior, or Senior level? Will I still have time to complete the requirements for the certificate?
Oftentimes, 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 as soon as possible and email it to Download the Certificate Checklist (from the bottom of the Certificate Requirements page) 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 3 of the courses used to satisfy requirements in your major may also count towards CHS requirements. The remaining 4 of the 7 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 qualifications). We also send out physical certificates each July for all graduates of that year.

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. Students are recommended, but not required, 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 our 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 why your particular project contributed to you gaining 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 because languages are beneficial for those of you applying for international internships, graduate programs, and jobs.

Once I’ve completed the requirements, how do I notify the CHS committee and get my certificate?
Submit a transcript along with your completed Certificate Checklist to your CHS faculty advisor. Your advisor will submit the paperwork to the CHS Steering Committee for final approval. The CHS Director will notify Five Colleges, Inc. and your Registrar that you have completed the requirements and have been approved to receive the Certificate. This happens once a year in late April/early May. Your Certificate will be mailed to you from the CHS office.

What if I get a B- or lower in a course I want to count toward the Certificate?
Unfortunately, if you receive any grade lower than a “B” you cannot count that course towards the Certificate; you will have to take another course.

Can I count online courses towards the Certificate?
Online courses can be counted towards the Certificate if they are 3.0 or more, if the policy of your home institution allows you to count online courses towards your degree, and with the approval of your CHS campus advisor.

Can I count AP courses towards 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 towards the Certificate, consult with your campus faculty advisor. Your advisor may 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 listserv?
Follow the "join listserv" link at the top of this page (even to unsubscribe!).

How do I post an announcement to the CHS listserv?
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 by e-mail at or by phone at 413-559-6892.

Tips from CHS-alumn 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."