Professor and Student

This website is intended for faculty advisers and students—current and prospective—in making decisions about course selection and planning for the academic experience at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. The information is designed to provide a general overview of the academic expectations of the curriculum and assist advisers and students in mapping out the four-year experience. Specific questions about courses, Goals, and requirements can be addressed by a student’s first-year, primary major, or secondary adviser; by the respective academic deans of Hobart and William Smith; or by the Office of Academic and Faculty Support.

The Four-Year Degree: Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science

All programs of study for the degree of Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science are designed to be completed in four years. Most students graduate in the traditional four-year period, although individual programs allow for five years. The first year, either the second or third year, and the senior year must be spent in residence.

Graduating seniors in the humanities, fine and performing arts, social sciences, and most interdisciplinary programs are awarded the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)degree. Students in the natural sciences alternatively may complete a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree, provided they meet departmental requirements. There are generally more course requirements in the major for the B.S. degree than the B.A. degree, though both degrees require the completion of 32 courses for graduation. Individual Majors in scientific subjects may also receive the B.S. degree if their applications are approved by the Individual Majors Committee. Students may also create and apply for an Individual Major in another program and receive a B.A. degree.

Degree Requirements

For those who enrolled at HWS during or after the Fall semester of 2016, your course of study must include:

  • Addressing each of the eight educational goals of our general curriculum; two of the goals are integrated across the four-year curriculum, and six are aspirational goals satisfied through the completion of specific coursework that addresses each goal.
  • Passing a First-Year Seminar with a grade of C- or higher.
  • Completing any potential faculty-mandated writing requirements.
  • Passing 32 courses (including achieving a minimum grade and GPA standards).
  • Completing the requirements for an academic major, including a capstone course or experience, and a minor (or a second major).

When you need to do it:

  • You should meet each semester during Advising Week with your academic adviser, either your FSEM adviser or your primary major adviser, to discuss and identify courses toward completion of the requirements of the major, the minor, and the goals.
  • You should declare a major by the end of your sophomore year.
  • You should declare a minor or second major by early in your junior year.

Students who enrolled at HWS prior to the Fall semester of 2016 may follow the requirements of the curriculum above or the one in place when they matriculated. The major differences between the two are (1) that in the Spring of their junior year, they must submit a Baccalaureate Plan that describes their progress towards the completion of the eight educational goals and (2) that they must complete an academic major and a minor (or a second major), one of which must be disciplinary and one must be interdisciplinary.

General Information

The normal course load for HWS students is eight full-credit courses in an academic year, evenly distributed across the two semesters. Students in good academic standing may take three, four, or five courses in any particular semester.

Students may take additional half-credit courses (ex. RCOL, MUS, DAT) without the Dean’s approval, but are not allowed to count two half-credit courses as one full credit for the normal course load policy. No more than four half-credit courses can count toward graduation.

Courses taken CR/DCR/NC will not affect a student’s GPA but do count towards the required 32 courses for graduation, if a grade of CR or DCR is received. No more than four courses with grades of D+, D, D-, or DCR can count toward the 32 courses needed for graduation. Majors and minors may have additional grade requirements for the specific degree.

Pre-Med and Pre-Engineering interests must be addressed immediately and carefully. Justin Miller (x3884) can answer all health professions questions, and Don Spector (x3594), Engineering.

News and Announcements

Updated information that highlights new requirements/changes to major and minor information.



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