HWS Academics

HWS Class

Majors and minors are programs of study defined by the faculty that provide you with the opportunity of studying one field or area of concern in depth. Typical majors consist of 9-16 courses; typical minors require 5-8 courses. Students usually select programs of study that are of particular interest, reflecting a potential career choice.

Some programs are disciplinary while others are interdisciplinary. All students must complete one major and one minor (or second major).

Disciplinary Programs

Disciplinary studies are designed to impart depth of knowledge about the fundamental questions, methods of inquiry and expression, and literatures of a single, focused area of study (like economics or biology).

Interdisciplinary Programs

Interdisciplinary programs span traditional disciplines and are often driven by important questions about subjects related to science, public policy or the environment. These areas of study broaden understanding and emphasize the interrelatedness of knowledge by reaching across traditional disciplines and drawing upon the work of scholars from a variety of subjects and departments. Interdisciplinary scholars and students often study the same problems that disciplinary scholars study, but they do so from the perspectives of several distinct disciplines.

Double Majoring

Students who are deeply interested in two academic programs may consider the possibility of double majoring.

Individual Major

Self-motivated students may consider developing an individual major to meet specific intellectual needs. These majors are as rigorous, if not more so, than regular department majors. Typically, an individual major consists of 11 or 12 courses selected by the student in consultation with a faculty adviser and approved by the Committee on Individual Majors. The most successful students have been those who have planned their courses of study early and have executed them with imagination and intellectual vitality. Individual majors may be constructed around relatively personalized topics (e.g., Psychological Aspects of Early Education; Contemporary Folk Cultures) or around recognized fields of study not offered under a formal organizational structure at the Colleges (e.g. Ethnomusicology; Movement Science).


Hobart and William Smith Colleges,
Geneva, NY 14456
(315) 781-3000

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