Why Humanities & Fine Arts?
Today’s students are increasingly pressured to major in “practical” fields of study in order to improve their chances of finding a job after graduation. What could be more practical than superior writing and communication skills, strong critical abilities, a facility for language, and the ability to connect ideas across fields of study and inquiry?
While also pursuing their passions, students in HFA develop useful and transferable skills that are invaluable to employers. Striking this unique balance allows today's students of humanities and fine arts to develop into tomorrow's artists, teachers, pioneers, inventors, and leaders.
Professor of English, former dean of the Commonwealth Honors College, and Paul Murray Kendall Chair in Biography at UMass Amherst, Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina is a prolific author and media host. She has written or edited nine books. From 1997 to 2012 she hosted the nationally-syndicated public radio program "The Book Show," and interviewed guests like Toni Morrison, Julian Barnes, Kazuo Ishiguro, A.S. Byatt, Salman Rushdie, Tracy Chevalier, Maya Angelou, and Philip Roth. In 2020, she has experienced heightened interest in her work as writer specializing in Black British Studies.
Upon first entering UMass Amherst, many students are not ready to choose a specific major or want to find out more about the many majors offered. First-year students who are undeclared or undecided on their major are placed in the Exploratory Track program. This program allows students to explore majors and enables them to take advantage of the advising and support programs embedded within schools and colleges.
The Humanities and Fine Arts Exploratory Track encourages students to discover a major that allows them to pursue their passions—in art, literature, design, music, language, history, and many other areas of study—while gaining valuable skills.
Frequently Asked Questions
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Amherst has long been recognized as one of America’s best college towns, and the University of Massachusetts is proud to be part of this exciting and vibrant community. The university is dedicated to being a good neighbor and committed to developing and maintaining community partnerships that support area citizens, businesses, and organizations. We invite you to explore the Amherst area, learn about its history and traditions, and discover its attractions. From restaurants to shops to museums, there is plenty to see and do.