Course Catalogue
The Educational Goals
Aspirational Goals-Course List
Guide to Completing Goals
Quick Reference Guide for Advising
PeopleSoft Website
Academic Day Scheduler
Four-Year Academic Planner
Online Forms


Sarah Kirk
Provost and Dean of Faculty

Academic Requirements and Options

The curriculum of Hobart and William Smith Colleges reflects its mission to provide an undergraduate liberal arts experience in a coordinate, residential, and student-centered learning environment. The curriculum emphasizes the importance of disciplinary foci that ground students in traditional approaches to the liberal arts, the linkages that exist across disciplines to understand different approaches of human comprehension, and the responsibility and background to be integral citizens in global and local communities. Students are thus required to complete a First-Year seminar, major and minor programs of study, and address the eight educational goals through their coursework.


Academic departments at the Colleges reflect the range of traditional liberal arts disciplines, providing students with access to scholars and courses that characterize most institutions of higher education. Students thus are exposed to the knowledge and intricacies within the social sciences, natural sciences, humanities, and the fine and performing arts in focused and detailed approaches designed by scholars in their respective fields.

In addition, faculty members with interests in a common interdisciplinary subject establish and oversee interdisciplinary programs that develop multi-disciplinary approaches to that topic. As described in the Course Catalogue, the Environmental Studies Program, for example, requires students to take core courses in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences and to develop a concentration that integrates different disciplines as well as divisions. Faculty members with appointments in a number of disciplines such as Environmental Studies, Philosophy, Biology, Anthropology, and Women’s Studies contribute to this program. Most interdisciplinary programs cross not only disciplinary but divisional lines. This approach encourages students and faculty to think about these overarching topics from different vantage points.

The major provides the means by which students acquire knowledge in depth of a discipline, interdisciplinary program, or individually designed area of study.

The typical departmental major at the Colleges requires eight to 12 courses in the major department, and additional courses from related departments. The total number and sequence of courses needed to complete the major are determined by the department or program. All departments and programs require a capstone course or experience, typically completed in a student’s senior (or junior) year, to complete a major. While most majors have established capstone courses or experiences, a few majors will be adding their capstones in the Fall of 2016.  These capstones will be added to the online catalog this fall.  Regardless, all incoming first-years are expected to complete a capstone at the time of graduation. Students should consult departmental or program offerings in this catalogue or discuss requirements with the department chair or program coordinator. In the case of individual majors (see below), the student should consult with his or her adviser and the Individual Majors Committee.

Students must declare a major before they register for classes during the second semester of their sophomore year. Failure to submit a declaration of major form by the deadline set by the Deans and the Registrar will result in the student being blocked from registration. In addition, students are responsible for ensuring that prerequisites for the major are met as they plan their schedules. Some students choose to do two majors rather than a major and a minor, but this is not a requirement.  Of the courses required for a major, six must be unique to that major (cannot be counted toward another major or minor.)

Individual Majors

The Individual Majors program provides students the opportunity to design an individually tailored major when the focus of study lies outside an established department or program-based major, and/or combines multiple disciplines. To create an Individual Majors proposal, the student works closely with a faculty adviser and designs a specific curriculum of study (including a capstone experience), articulating the focus and goals of the major. The student’s proposal and adviser’s recommendation is submitted to the Individual Majors Committee, which reviews the proposal. Once an Individual Major is approved, any subsequent changes to the student’s curriculum or major must be approved by the Individual Majors Committee and the student’s adviser. While most Individual Majors earn a B.A., it is possible to create an Individual Major with a B.S.; this requires a minimum of 16 courses, all from within the natural sciences division.

All course work for the major must be passed with a grade of C- or better, including courses taken credit/no credit. The Individual Majors Committee takes the role of departmental/program chair for certifying the student’s completed program of study (senior audit).

The process of designing and submitting an Individual Major requires a substantial time commitment. Students who are interested in pursuing an Individual Major are encouraged to begin the process in their sophomore year by contacting a faculty adviser, reviewing the Individual Majors proposal form, and contacting the Individual Majors Committee.


A minor also allows students to focus on a particular area of study, though to a lesser extent than a major. Minors ordinarily consist of at least five courses. Students can file a declaration of minor at any time but should do so prior to the second semester of their third year. Declaration consists of completing a form that names the minor field, lists the courses that count toward the minor, and includes the signatures of the student and the department chair or program director of the minor department or field. Of the courses required for a minor, three must be unique to the minor (cannot be counted toward another major or minor).

Writing Requirement

Students may be required to enroll in writing courses at two points in their studies. First-year students needing special attention for their writing skills may be required to enroll in, and pass with a grade of C- or better, WRRH 100 Writer’s Seminar during the fall semester. First-Year Seminar instructors may require a student enrolled in their seminar to take a supplemental writing class during the student’s first year. Courses that satisfy this requirement are any 100-level rhetoric course.

Independent Study

Students who have demonstrated a capacity for individual work at an advanced level may, with permission of the department chair, register for independent study.  Each department sets its own qualifications for such advanced work.

Independent study may grow out of a regular course, or it may deal with problems or fields not otherwise covered in regular course offerings. It may take one or a combination of several forms:

1) Extensive reading from a bibliography, ordinarily compiled in consultation with a faculty member, and a final examination;
2) An individual research topic approved by the department and culminating in a substantial course paper; or
3) A scientific experiment, a musical composition, an art project, a play, or some other individual work approved and supervised by the department.

In all cases, independent study is under the supervision of a faculty member, who guides the student in planning and carrying out the program.

Independent study is listed on the student’s record and confers credit.  Both full credit and half credit opportunities are available for independent study, depending on the scope and depth of work and hours committed to the independent study.

Credit Bearing Internships

Students may earn course credit for an internship experience in two ways:

  • Half Credit Internship - Students may register for a half-credit (.50) internship INT 199.   The INT 199 credit-bearing internship course registration allows students to receive half credit for an approved internship. Internships must include a minimum of 120 on-site contact hours, and students must keep a journal of their experience for submission to their faculty adviser. Students may receive financial compensation for their internship, including wages.  A maximum of two INT 199 internships may count toward graduation requirements. Students should meet with their faculty adviser to discuss the internship, and to make sure all required documentation has been submitted and received. Once their adviser has approved the internship, students should bring the form to their dean for final approval. An evaluation from the site supervisor should be sent to the adviser after the internship is completed, and the adviser will submit a CR/NC grade. Any international student doing an INT 199 must have the signature of approval from the Director of International Students Affairs.
  • Full Credit Internship - Some programs and departments offer a 499 full credit (1.00) internship course. Students may register for that credit with the permission of their department/program chair. Students may receive financial compensation for their internship, including wages.

Students are advised to be in close contact with their adviser as they plan their internship experience.

Course Equivalents

Normally, a student takes four courses per semester. However, students may develop imaginative alternative programs that substitute other forms of academic activity for one or more courses. Course equivalents have been undertaken in the form of internships at Geneva General Hospital, Rochester General Hospital, the Geneva Historical Society, radio stations and newspapers, and community service organizations. Students have also received course equivalents for volunteer research, and assistantships in law offices.

Course equivalents require the approval of the student’s faculty adviser and the Committee on Standards. Course equivalents, which are listed with their title on the student’s transcript, may count toward the major with the approval of the appropriate department chair. Course equivalents are not graded; they may be taken as credit/no credit only.


See Salisbury Center for Career, Professional and Experiential Education.