About Compass

We believe college should help students find direction. Compass is our unique approach to hands-on learning and preparing men to compete for top jobs and graduate programs. How? By helping every student navigate his future through guided access to internships, study abroad, research, service learning, and active classroom experiences.

Hampden-Sydney men benefit from learning by doing, and Compass requires every student to take three experiential learning courses from a broad menu of options. One of these Compass experiences must have a significant off-campus component, such as environmental studies on Hatteras Island, a semester abroad in Spain, a summer internship in New York, or even community service in the local region.

The Compass Experience

You’ll choose from a broad range of Compass course options.

Active Classroom Learning

From acting and directorial studios to authentic science labs to courses that recreate key moments in history, these classes give students open-ended problems to solve through hands-on learning and reflection. Faculty guide students to see how course content connects to larger issues beyond the classroom. 

a student in an art studio making prints

Student Research

In these courses, students propose and develop individual or group research projects to complete with faculty supervision. As they work to solve multifaceted, complex, and often interdisciplinary problems, they also explore how their research connects to other coursework and their career aspirations.

Student hands doing research in a lab

Service Learning

Pairing community engagement with academic study, these courses get students to consider not just how to be involved, but why that involvement matters in their lives and in the world.


students working together in the march

Study Abroad and Away

Compass courses abroad and in off-campus US locations immerse students in local cultures through guided active engagement with other places and the people who live there.

students hauling in a shrimp line on a boat in the ocean


Internship courses meet before, during, and after the internship to help students make the most of their experiences, both during their time in the workplace and beyond.

Internships in Washington DC

For every student, a path.

Guidance and Support

Each Compass course is led by a trained, committed professor, and the tight-knit Hampden-Sydney community is united in helping you navigate your future and get the most out of college. Advisors offer guidance as you select classes, expert career center staff will help you apply for and secure internships, and alumni may offer mentorship and support—and expert faculty will help you put it all together.

Access and Funding

Every student must complete the Compass program, and for qualified students, funding will be available to support experiences such as study abroad & away or internships.

Collaborate. Connect. Communicate. Compete.