For more information about the history of the Colleges, visit HWS History.
To learn more about HWS faculty members, check out Meet The Faculty.
To browse the 2016-2018 Catalogue online as a PDF, click here.
To browse the 2014-2016 Catalogue online as a PDF, click here.
To browse the 2012-2014 Catalogue online as a PDF, click here.
To browse the 2010-2012 Catalogue online as a PDF, click here.
To browse the 2008-2010 Catalogue online as a PDF, click here.
The 2006-2008 Catalogue is still available online as a PDF. To browse it, click here.
If you have questions or comments about the new online Catalogue, please send us your feedback.
COURSE CATALOGUE : THE COLLEGES
Since Hobart’s founding in 1822 and William Smith’s founding in 1908, Hobart and William Smith Colleges have stayed true to their mission of providing a student-centered, residential learning environment, globally focused, and grounded in the values of equity and service. Located on 320 acres on the shore of Seneca Lake in a setting of incomparable beauty, Hobart and William Smith Colleges enjoy a rich heritage based on a two-college system now unique in higher education.
As an institution of higher education, we are dedicated to educating young men and women to lead lives of consequence. In all our work, the Colleges are bolstered by the dedication and philanthropy of loyal alumni, alumnae, parents, faculty, staff, students and friends. Through a challenging liberal arts curriculum, the Colleges prepare students to think critically and make astute connections. In partnership with the Geneva and global communities and through robust programs in career development, study abroad, service, leadership and athletics, the Colleges foster an environment that values global citizenship, teamwork, ethics, inclusive excellence, social justice and cultural competence.
The Colleges offer three degrees – Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in Teaching. The Master of Arts is designed exclusively for HWS graduates enrolled in the Teacher Education Program. Our student body includes 2,344 undergraduate students and seven graduate students. We have 223 full-time faculty members and a student- faculty ratio of 10:1. The average class size is 16 students.
Sixty percent of HWS students study abroad on six continents and we have ranked in the top 15 nationally among liberal arts colleges for the percentage of students participating in off-campus study. With nearly every student taking part in community service projects, the Colleges have been consistently named to President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor. In 2007, President Mark D. Gearan signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, making HWS a charter member of a national effort to reduce emissions of the gases responsible for global warming. The Colleges have more than 22,000 alumni and alumnae with distinguished careers around the globe.
In the past decade, our students have been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, Marshall Scholarship, Gates Cambridge Scholarship, six Ernest F. Hollings Scholarships, three Morris K. Udall Scholarships, nine Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships and 31 Fulbrights. Students have received FBI internships, a Pfizer Fellowship, an EPA internship, American Chemical Society Scholarships and Merck Fellowships. Recent graduates are teaching English in Brazil, working for NGOs, and have accepted assignments in the Peace Corps and Teach for America. Others are working on Wall Street, Capitol Hill, or attending prestigious graduate and professional schools.
Through strategic planning initiatives instituted by President Gearan, the Colleges have benefited from a clear road map to achieve academic excellence, intensify student engagement, advance financial stability and expand access.
History of the Colleges
When John Henry Hobart, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, visited Geneva in 1818, he knew that the bustling lakeside village was the perfect place to build what he called an, “outpost for civilized and learned behavior.” He founded Geneva College, and its first building, Geneva Hall, was completed in 1822.
Known as Geneva College until 1852 when it was renamed in memory of its most forceful advocate and founder, Hobart College offered a classical education, requiring that students pass courses in geometry, Latin grammar and Roman history. After 1834, students were also able to earn a medical education.
Notable 19th-century graduates included Albert James Myer, Class of 1847, a military officer who created the United States Weather Bureau; General E. S. Bragg of the Class of 1848, who was a commander in the Iron Brigade, served one term in Congress and later was ambassador to Mexico; two other 1848 graduates, Clarence Steward and Thomas M. Griffith, who were assistant secretary of state and builder of the first national railroad across the Mississippi River, respectively; and Charles J. Folger, Class of 1836, who was U.S. Secretary of the Treasury from 1881 to 1884.
Amid the many distinguished male graduates of the 19th century was one woman. In an era when the prevailing wisdom was that no woman could withstand the intellectual and emotional rigors of a medical education, Elizabeth Blackwell applied to and was rejected - or simply ignored - by 17 medical schools before being admitted to Geneva College in 1847.
The medical faculty, largely opposed to her admission but unwilling to take responsibility for the decision, decided to submit the matter to the students for a vote. The men of the College voted to admit her. She graduated two years later, on Jan. 23, 1849, at the head of her class, the first woman doctor in the hemisphere.
Dr. Blackwell went on to found the New York Infirmary for Women and Children and had a role in the creation of its medical college. She then returned to her native England and helped found the National Health Society and taught at England’s first college of medicine for women. She was a pioneer in preventive medicine and in the promotion of antisepsis and hygiene, and was responsible for creating the first chair of hygiene at a medical college.
A new chapter in the history of the Colleges opened with the dawn of the 20th century. As Geneva philanthropist and nurseryman William Smith was determining how to best transform his wealth into opportunity for others, he befriended a number of suffragettes and activists including Elizabeth Smith Miller and her daughter, Anne Fitzhugh Miller. The two had a deep impact on him, encouraging him to become a part of the women’s movement. Through their involvement, Smith became committed to found a nondenominational, liberal arts institution dedicated to educating women broadly, not just vocationally.
On Dec. 13, 1906, Smith formalized his intentions, and two years later, William Smith College enrolled its first class of 18 students, although there were 20 by the end of the year.
Despite sharing facilities and teachers, Hobart College and William Smith College remained quite separate. Classes were conducted in duplicate, and William Smith students were not allowed on the Hobart campus. The strict separation eroded gradually as it became increasing impractical to enforce. In 1922, the first joint commencement was held, though baccalaureate services remained separate until 1942. By then, coeducational classes had become the norm, and the curriculum centered on the idea of an interdisciplinary education, encouraging students and faculty to consider their studies from multiple perspectives.
In 1943, during the administration of President John Milton Potter, William Smith College was elevated from its original status as a department of Hobart College to that of an independent college, on equal footing with Hobart. At President Potter’s suggestion, the two colleges established a joint corporate identity, adopting a “family” name: The Colleges of the Seneca, which remained the legal name of the Colleges until September, 2010.
As Hobart and William Smith matured and grew during the mid-20th century, students and faculty challenged the old rules and developed an increasingly innovative approach to education. To keep up with changing attitudes, the curriculum changed significantly during this time, moving from an intensive study of Western Civilization toward increasingly open-ended and goal-oriented requirements.
The focus on interdisciplinary education remained and strengthened, and HWS became one of the first colleges in the country to introduce a First-Year Seminar program. HWS saw the dawn of several other ground-breaking additions to the curriculum, including robust programs in Far Eastern studies, Russian studies, Black studies, women’s studies, Middle Eastern studies and men’s studies. In fact, Hobart and William Smith were the first in the nation to offer a degree in men’s studies.
It was also during this time that the international HWS campus was founded. In 1975, Professor of Art Elena Ciletti accompanied 30 students to Italy for the first HWS abroad program. Today, HWS students study on every continent except Antarctica.
When named president, Mark D. Gearan was serving as director of the Peace Corps in Washington, D.C., a post he assumed in 1995. Under his leadership, the Peace Corps experienced a resurgence of interest. The Colleges have similarly progressed under his guidance.
Mission of the Colleges
Hobart and William Smith Colleges are a student-centered learning environment, globally focused, grounded in the values of equity and service, developing citizens who will lead in the 21st century.
The Colleges’ commitment to these principles was solidified in 1999 when they appointed the then-director of the Peace Corps as president of Hobart and William Smith. President Mark D. Gearan has since reinforced the Colleges’ commitment to global understanding and study abroad opportunities, community service, and service learning, with the goal of providing these elements through contemporary facilities and state-of-the-art technology.
In maintaining this environment, the Colleges create opportunities to engage faculty and students with other languages and diverse cultures. The majority of students participate in a study-abroad experience during their four years here. These experiences enhance what takes place on campus in the academic and social lives of students while allowing the community to delve into the broader intellectual world.
The academic program at Hobart and William Smith Colleges keeps this highly interactive environment alive. Education takes place not only inside classes, but also outside in off-campus programs and service projects. The Colleges view civic responsibility, community engagement, and international education as integral components of a liberal arts education. This rigorous academic program challenges students’ minds while expanding their horizons to new worlds.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges are accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and by the Regents of the University of the State of New York. The Commission on Higher Education is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
The following is Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ inventory of registered programs approved by the New York State Education Department. The listing contains program title, degree awarded, and HEGIS code number.
Africana Studies, B.A., 0305
American Studies, B.A., 0313
Anthropology, B.A., 2202
Anthropology and Sociology, B.A., 2208
Architectural Studies, B.A., 4902
Art History, B.A., 1003
Arts and Education, B.A., 1099
Asian Languages and Culture, B.A., 0301
Biology, B.A., B.S., 0401
Biochemistry, B.S., 0499
Chemistry, B.A., B.S., 1905
Classics, B.A., 1101
Comparative Literature, B.A., 1503
Computer Science, B.A., B.S., 0701
Critical Social Studies, B.A., 2299
Dance, B.A., 1008
Economics, B.A., 2204
English, B.A., 1501
Environmental Studies, B.A., B.S., 0420
European Studies, B.A., 0310
French and Francophone Studies, B.A., 1102
Geoscience, B.A., B.S., 1999
Greek, B.A., 1110
History, B.A., 2205
Individual Studies, B.A., B.S., 4901
International Relations, B.A., 2207
Latin American Studies, B.A., 0308
Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Studies, B.A., 2299
Mathematics, B.A., B.S., 1701
Media and Society, B.A., 0699
Music, B.A., 1005
Philosophy, B.A., 1509
Physics, B.A., B.S., 1902
Political Science, B.A., 2207
Psychology, B.A., B.S., 2001
Religious Studies, B.A., 1510
Russian Area Studies, B.A., 0307
Sociology, B.A., 2208
Spanish and Hispanic Studies, B.A., 1105
Studio Art, B.A., 1002
Theatre, B.A; 1007
Women’s Studies, B.A., 4903
Writing and Rhetoric, B.A., 1599
The Colleges do not offer a major in education but rather a broad and innovative Teacher Education Program that combines extensive classroom experience in local schools and related seminars in the HWS education department with the student’s liberal arts major.
Students can be certified (initial) to teach elementary grades 1-6 in the following areas:
Childhood and Special Education (dual certification)
Note: Students pursuing childhood certification can select almost any of the majors that HWS offers; there are only a few exclusions including studio art, theater, and writing and rhetoric.
Students can be certified (initial) to teach adolescent grades 7-12 in the following areas:
Biology, B.A., B.S., 0401
Chemistry, B.A., B.S., 1905
Earth Science, B.A., B.S., 1999
English, B.A., 1501
French, B.A., 1102
Greek, B.A., 1110
Latin, B.A., 1109
Mathematics, B.A., B.S., 1701
Physics, B.A., B.S., 1902
Spanish, B.A., 1105
Social Studies (with a major in history, political science, or economics)
Students can also be certified (initial) in the areas listed below:
Art (P-12), B.A., 1002
Music (P-12), B.A., 1005
Students can also earn a Master of Arts in the following areas:
Adolescent Education, M.A.T., 0803
Childhood Education, M.A.T., 0802
Special Education Childhood, M.A.T., 0808*
*Certification in special education is available only in conjunction with certification in Childhood Education.
The graduation rate for Hobart students entering in the fall of 2010 and graduated by 2016 (six years later) was 72 percent. The graduation rate for William Smith students entering in the fall of 2010 and graduated by 2016 (six years later) was 80 percent. The overall graduation rate for both Colleges was 77 percent. Additional information on graduation rates and student retention is available from the Office of the Registrar.