For more information about our curriculum, visit the Academics section of our Web site.
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.
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2014-2016 COURSE CATALOGUE : THE CURRICULUM
Hobart and William Smith Colleges educate students in the liberal arts. The faculty strives to provide students with a framework for the development of knowledge, skills and independence through a program of work that combines general study with in-depth study of two fields of knowledge and inquiry, one of which must be interdisciplinary.
The instructional program is presented in two semesters, and students typically take four courses each semester. 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.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges offer an innovative Teacher Education Program embedded in the liberal arts. Through a series of seminars and field experiences that complement their regular academic schedules, students can earn New York State teacher certification. Normally, students apply towards the end of their first year, and if accepted, complete seminars and field experiences during their sophomore and junior years and finally student teach during one semester of their senior year.
The Ninth Semester Student-Teaching Option provides students increased flexibility in completing the Teacher Education Program. It permits students to apply as sophomores or can help students balance demanding academic schedules. If all other requirements are completed, students can complete their student teaching semester as a tuition-free ninth semester. More information is available in Department of Education section.
The faculty of Hobart and William Smith Colleges has established the following requirements for the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science beginning with the Classes of 2000. To qualify for the degree, a candidate must have:
1) passed 32 academic courses or their equivalent with a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 (C). At least 28 of these courses must be passed with a grade of C- or higher;
2) spent three years in residence: the first year, the second or third year, and the senior year. Normally, the senior year is defined as one complete academic year taken in sequence (fall and spring semesters);
3) passed a First-Year Seminar with a grade of C- or higher;
4) completed the requirements for an academic major and an academic minor or second major. One of these must be based in a discipline. The other must be interdisciplinary in character (an established interdisciplinary major or minor);
5) completed any faculty-mandated writing requirement;
6) completed a course of study, designed in consultation with a faculty adviser, which addresses each of the following skills, areas of knowledge, and qualities of mind and character. These are referred to as the eight educational goals.
The Eight Goals
The eight goals and objectives can be addressed through formal course work in the context of many different programs of study. Students must work with a faculty adviser to design a program of study that both meets their interests and addresses the goals and objectives—this is a graduation requirement. Goals are addressed through formal academic work, i.e. courses. Only courses in which students received a passing grade can be considered as evidence for having addressed a goal. After finishing the course work necessary to address a goal, students must complete a Goal Certification form which must be signed by the adviser. (Note that no form is necessary for Goals 1 and 2.)
In petitioning for certification in a goal students must explain to the faculty adviser how they have addressed that goal. The eight goals and comments on the types of course work that may address them are described in greater detail below. Note that the goals can be divided into three groups.
- Goals 1 and 2 are foundational; they will be part of any major.
- Goals 3, 4, and 5 speak to specific types of experiences, and the necessity of a breadth of experiences.
- Goals 6, 7, and 8 are higher order goals involving the application of learning to important problems. These goals are more likely to be met in the context of an entire major or minor, or by a combination of courses.
The essential skills which serve as a foundation for effective communication. These include the ability to read and listen critically and the ability to speak and write effectively. Beginning with the First-Year Seminar and continuing through the completion of the major, effective communication is an important component of all course work at the Colleges. Academic work which supports this goal includes the reading of primary texts, sustained writing experiences, oral presentation of argument and extensive faculty feedback.
The essential skills which serve as a foundation for critical thinking and argumentation. These include the ability to articulate a question, to identify and gain access to appropriate information, to organize evidence, and to construct a complex written argument. Critical thinking, argumentation, and reflective reasoning are the skills that underlie most courses and all major programs at the Colleges. Work that supports this goal includes research-based papers, critical and explicative essays, evaluation of competing hypotheses, and experience in the use of bibliographic and other library resources to identify literature appropriate to a research problem or area of investigation. Special opportunities include the Colleges’ Honors program and independent study.
Addressing Goals 1 and 2
Because these goals speak to foundational skills necessary for any major, completing a major (while meeting both course and minimum GPA requirements), addresses these goals.
The ability to reason quantitatively. Quantitative reasoning involves an understanding of magnitude and proportion, the ability to visualize those abstractions, and the ability to apply them to a problem. Courses in mathematics, the natural sciences, and the social sciences that require students to work with numbers; to recognize trends, patterns and relationships represented by those numbers; and to express conclusions drawn from such evidence, address this goal. Courses that have typically been used to address this goal include introductory courses in biology, chemistry, computer science, geoscience, mathematics and physics. Courses involving statistical analysis in economics, sociology and psychology have also been used in support of this goal.
The experience of scientific inquiry and an understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge. The understanding of scientific knowledge, in both its promise and limitations, is best achieved through the direct experience of experimental investigative, scientific inquiry. Such scientific inquiry involves the development and experimental testing of competing hypotheses. This normally means a lab-based course in biology, chemistry, geoscience, physics or psychology.
An understanding 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. Courses that typically support this goal include studio art, music performance, dance, theatre and creative writing.
Addressing Goals 3, 4, and 5
Students must petition their adviser for certification in each of these three goals. This petition must spell out how the course work addresses the respective goal. Simply noting completion of a particular course is not sufficient.
An intellectually grounded foundation for the understanding of differences and inequalities of gender, race, and class. An intellectually grounded foundation for the understanding of the differences and inequalities of gender, race and class can develop from courses that explore the historical development and social construction of difference, illuminate and allow the visualization of the experience of difference, and/or provide a framework for a critique of historical and or contemporary differences of privilege and the experience of peoples of different genders, races and classes. Students generally address this goal through a combination of courses. Students should address each element of “race, class and gender” in one or more courses.
A 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. Courses in history, literature, language, the social sciences and the arts that study and explore the multiplicity of world cultures address this goal, as does the experience of a different culture in an off-campus program. “Critical knowledge” refers to a broad understanding that allows students to understand the global complexity of the world and their place in it; this can include but is not limited to a critique of cultures. Students generally address this goal through a combination of courses that examine at least two distinct cultures.
An intellectually grounded foundation for ethical judgment and action. An intellectually grounded foundation for ethical judgment and action derives from a deep, historically informed examination of the beliefs and values deeply embedded in our views and experience. Courses that examine values, ethics, social action, social policy, social justice and the responsibilities of citizens in contemporary society address this goal.
Addressing Goals 6, 7, and 8
Students must petition their advisers for certification in these goals explaining how the courses they identify meet the descriptions above. This petition must spell out how the course work addresses the respective goals; this may take the form of a discussion with the adviser or completion of a petition for certification form. Simply noting completion of a particular course is not sufficient. Combinations of courses, rather than single courses, may more effectively meet these goals.
The faculty’s intention in adopting this curricular plan is that students achieve breadth and coherence in their programs of study by working with faculty advisers to construct programs that simultaneously explore the student’s interests, while concretely addressing the Colleges’ educational goals and objectives through formal academic work. The requirement that this program include both disciplinarily based work and work that is interdisciplinary in character reflects the Colleges’ intention that students learn to see the world in its complexity, while at the same time acquiring the essential critical skills of a specific area of inquiry.
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.
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 10 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. 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, 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 seeing 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.)
Credit Bearing Internships:
Students may earn course credit for an internship experience in two ways:
- Students may register for a half-credit INT 199. To receive credit for the INT 199, the internship must be unpaid, a minimum of 150 hours, and have the approval of the student’s adviser and dean.
- Students whose major offers a 499 internship course may register for that credit with the permission of their department/program chair.
Students are advised to be in close contact with their adviser as they plan their internship experience.
The Individual Majors program provides students with the opportunity to create an individually tailored major when the focus of study lies outside an established departmental or program-based major, 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 and articulates the goals and scope of the major. The Individual Majors Committee reviews each student’s proposal and decides whether to approve the major, require changes, or ask for revisions. Once an Individual Major is approved, any subsequent changes to the student’s curriculum 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 plan a program of study which results in a B.S. degree; this requires 16 courses in the natural sciences division and the prior approval of the Individual Majors Committee.
Courses to be counted toward an Individual Major must be passed with a grade of C- or better, including courses taken credit/no credit if the student receives “Credit.” The Individual Majors Committee takes the role of departmental/ program chair for certifying the student’s program of study (senior audit) and provides feedback on course availability, registration, and scheduling.
The process of designing and receiving approval for 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 advisor and the Individual Majors Committee.
Two Disciplinary Majors and the Integrative Minor Option
A student choosing to declare two disciplinary majors must complete an interdisciplinary minor. This interdisciplinary minor can be either a) an established interdisciplinary minor, for which any uniqueness requirements are waived, or b) an integrative minor, which the student constructs with the help and consent of the two major advisers. The integrative minor must consist of a minimum of five mutually agreed-upon courses that address a single problem or area of inquiry from at least two identifiable disciplinary points of view.
Two Interdisciplinary Majors
A student choosing to declare two interdisciplinary majors must complete an established disciplinary minor listed in the catalogue. Any uniqueness requirements pertaining to this minor are waived.
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).
Late in their third year, all students meet with their faculty adviser to construct a baccalaureate plan. This plan records a student’s progress in addressing the Colleges’ educational goals and objectives and progress toward completing a major and minor or second major, and identifies work to be done in the senior or baccalaureate year to complete all requirements. Submission of this plan is a requirement for admission to the senior year. Seniors may not declare additional majors or majors unless required for graduation—after the Friday before Spring Break.
Students who have demonstrated a capacity for individual work at an advanced level may, with permission of the department chair, register for independent study in place of one regular course. 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
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 course credit.
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.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges award two undergraduate degrees, the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Science. The Colleges award one graduate degree, the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT). In addition, the Colleges participate in several joint degree programs leading to a Hobart or William Smith undergraduate degree and a specialized degree from another institution.
Graduating seniors in the humanities and social sciences are awarded the degree Bachelor of Arts. Students who major in biology, chemistry, geoscience, mathematics, physics or psychology may choose to receive the degree Bachelor of Science, provided they meet departmental requirements, and apply to receive approval from the chair of the major department. Individual Majors in scientific subjects may also receive the B.S. if their applications are approved by the Individual Majors Committee. At the discretion of each science department, certain courses not counted toward a normal major in that department may also not be counted toward the courses required for the B.S. Consultation with department chairs is advised.
Master of Arts in Teaching
Hobart and William Smith Colleges offer a Master of Arts in Teaching program. Only students enrolled at HWS can be considered for admission to the MAT program. Students apply in two stages. Late in their first year they join the teacher education program (through a competitive application procedure), and in their sophomore and junior years they complete the teacher education seminars and field experiences. In November of their junior year, these students may apply to continue in the fifth year MAT program.
Admission to the program is highly competitive. In order to be considered, students must have an outstanding academic record, an outstanding record of performance in the teacher education program, and strong faculty recommendations.
Those who are admitted take a research/thesis preparation seminar in the spring of their senior year. In the fall of their postgraduate year, they take a semester of teaching along with two education seminars: one to guide their reflection on student teaching, and the other to guide their thesis. In the spring semester they take four graduate courses. Three are courses in a department or departments of the students’ choice, and one is a research seminar in the Department of Education that is thematically related to the other courses. Also in the spring the candidates complete a master’s thesis in their area of concentration. For more information see the Department of Education section.
Joint Degree Programs
The Colleges have joint degree programs in engineering with the School of Engineering and Applied Science at ColumbiaUniversity, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College.
In general, for these programs, students spend three years at Hobart and William Smith, and then two years at the other institution. At the end of five years the student receives a B.A. or B.S. from Hobart or William Smith and a B.S. in engineering from the cooperating university. In some cases, a student can arrange to receive the degree from Hobart or William Smith at the end of the fourth year, and the degree in engineering from the partner institution at the end of the fifth year.
The Dartmouth program is structured a little differently. Typically, a student spends the first two years at Hobart and William Smith, the third year at Dartmouth, the senior year in Geneva, followed by the fifth and final year at Dartmouth. Upon completion, the student receives two degrees, one from Hobart or William Smith and one from Dartmouth. For more details on the joint degree programs in engineering, consult Professor Donald Spector, Department of Physics.
The Colleges have agreements with both Clarkson University and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) allowing students to complete the requirements for a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree in one year rather than the usual two or more.
Admission to the “4-1” programs at Clarkson and RIT is available to students who include foundation courses in their undergraduate programs and meet prescribed admissions standards.
For more details, consult Professor Warren Hamilton of the Department of Economics.
HWS and the University of Rochester School of Nursing have established a 4+3 program that provides third-year students a guaranteed seat in either the one-year post baccalaureate program leading to RN licensure or the three-year program leading to nurse practitioner certification.
For more details, contact the Health Professions Adviser, Salisbury Center for Career Services.
Financial Aid for 3-2 Joint Degree Programs
Financial aid for the 3-2 joint degree programs (in which the student spends three years at HWS followed by two years at Columbia University or the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) is available during the first three years at Hobart and William Smith Colleges through the regular financial aid application process and deadlines. For the two years of study at the other institution, Hobart and William Smith will not process or award any sources of financial assistance. Students should contact the other institution directly to find out what, if any, sources of financial assistance are available.
Financial Aid for 2-1-1-1 Joint Degree Programs
Financial aid for the 2-1-1-1 program with Dartmouth is available for the first four years of study through Hobart and William Smith. Financial aid for the fifth year is processed through Dartmouth. Contact Dartmouth directly for application requirements and deadlines.