HWS Faculty

Since 1935, Hobart and William Smith have believed that the best way to educate students broadly and deeply is through a curriculum that requires students to complete courses that are both disciplinary – deeply focused on a single area of study – and interdisciplinary – reaching across disciplines and drawing on a variety of departments.

To ensure that students receive an education based on multiple perspectives and experiences, all Hobart and William Smith students must complete a course of study that includes:

  • Addressing each of the institution's eight educational goals and objectives (at right)
  • Passing a First-Year Seminar
  • Completing any potential faculty-mandated writing requirements
  • Passing 32 courses (including achieving a minimum grade and GPA standards)
  • Completing a major and a minor or a second major.  Of the major and minor (or second major), one must be DISCIPLINARY, the other INTERDISCIPLINARY. (In the case of a student completing two disciplinary majors, the student may elect to design an individual interdisciplinary minor.)

When you need to do it:

  • 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.
  • You must meet with your adviser in the spring of your junior year and complete a Baccalaureate Plan that describes your progress toward completion of the requirements of the major, the minor and the goals. The plan identifies any additional work needed to complete the degree requirements.

Note that with the exception of the First-Year Seminar, the Colleges do not dictate that students take a particular set of courses.

The eight goals and objectives can be achieved in the context of many different programs of study. You must work with your faculty adviser to design a program of study that both meets your interests and fulfills all the requirements for a degree, including addressing all eight of the goals and objectives.

The Colleges' curriculum is overseen by the Committee on Academic Affairs. This committee includes faculty, administrators and student representatives from Hobart and from William Smith. These student representatives are appointed by the two student governments.


Every Hobart and William Smith student must fulfill these eight goals before graduating:

Goal 1

Develop skills for effective communication, including the ability to read and listen critically and to speak and write effectively. You are not required to petition for completion of Goal 1.

Goal 2

Develop skills for critical thinking and argumentation, including the ability to articulate a question, to identify and gain access to appropriate information, to organize evidence and to construct a complex written argument. You are not required to petition for completion of Goal 2.

Goal 3

Develop the ability to reason quantitatively, including an understanding of magnitude and proportion, the ability to visualize those abstractions and the ability to apply them to a problem. Download the Goal 3 Petition Form (PDF).

Goal 4

Experience scientific inquiry and understand the nature of scientific knowledge in both its promise and limitations. Download the Goal 4 Petition Form (PDF).

Goal 5

Develop an appreciation of artistic expression based in the experience of a fine or performing art. This goal exercises each individual's capacity for artistic expression through direct participation in a creative artistic endeavor. Download the Goal 5 Petition Form (PDF).

Goal 6

Develop an intellectually grounded foundation for understanding differences and inequalities of gender, race and class. Download the Goal 6 Petition Form (PDF).

Goal 7

Acquire critical knowledge of the multiplicity of world cultures, as expressed for example, in their languages, histories, literatures, philosophies, religious and cultural traditions, social and economic structures and modes of artistic expression. Download the Goal 7 Petition Form (PDF).

Goal 8

Develop an intellectually grounded foundation for ethical judgment and action, deriving from a deep, historically informed examination of the beliefs and values deeply embedded in our views and experience. Download the Goal 8 Petition Form (PDF).