Requirements for the Degree
For Students Matriculating Fall 2012 through Spring 2013
The general degree requirements introduce students to the special nature of inquiry in each of the three major divisions of learning (the arts & humanities, the social sciences, and the laboratory sciences), to a variety of cultural and intellectual perspectives, and to the place of physical activity in their lives. The requirement for a major concentration of study in one area ensures that each student engages in complex levels of intellectual examination and inquiry.
It is the responsibility of the student to choose and satisfactorily complete courses that fulfill the requirements for graduation. Only those students who have completed all requirements for the degree are eligible to participate in the Commencement ceremony each May. The general course requirements are described below. The specific requirements for each major are listed in the sections describing the courses of study. A single course may be used to fulfill multiple general degree requirements, distribution requirements, cross cultural requirements and major requirements, except as restricted below. Degree requirements may not be fulfilled by combinations of half-courses; only full courses fulfill distribution and graduation requirements.
All students must pass 32 courses with a cumulative average of 2.00. A student must complete a minimum of 16 courses on campus; twelve courses must be completed on campus after the student has matriculated and has declared a major. The final four courses or six of the last eight courses immediately preceding graduation must be completed on campus. To be considered "on campus" a student must be registered for a numbered course at Dickinson and must be physically on the Dickinson campus for this course work.
General requirements for the degree:
1. First-year seminars The First-Year Seminar (FYS) introduces students to Dickinson as a "community of inquiry" by developing habits of mind essential to liberal learning. Through the study of a compelling issue or broad topic chosen by their faculty member, students will: 1) Critically analyze information and ideas; 2) Examine issues from multiple perspectives; 3) Discuss, debate and defend ideas, including one's own views, with clarity and reason; 4) Develop discernment, facility and ethical responsibility in using information, and 5) Create clear academic writing.
The small group seminar format of this course promotes discussion and interaction among students and between students and their professor. In addition, the professor serves as students' initial academic advisor. This course does not duplicate in content any other course in the curriculum and may not be used to fulfill any other graduation requirement.
2. Writing Intensive Course A Writing Intensive Course is a regular academic course designed to integrate the teaching of writing with the teaching of subject matter. Courses with the "WR" designation are offered across the curriculum and may overlap with any other requirement for the degree. The major goals of any "WR" course include the practice of selected general forms of academic writing or the introduction of specific forms of writing common to the discipline or interdiscipline of the course. The course approaches writing as a process of planning, drafting, revising, and editing, and it encourages students to read assertively for content, forms, and conventions of the text and for rhetorical concerns such as author's purpose, audience, and context. Since this course works to reinforce and develop the general writing skills introduced in the First-Year Seminar, it is most often offered at the 200 or 300 level and should not normally be taken concurrently with the First-Year Seminar. A single course that fulfills this and other requirements may be used to fulfill each requirement, but counts as only one of the 32 required for graduation.
3. Quantitative Reasoning Course A Quantitative Reasoning Course is a regular academic course designed to provide a solid foundation for the interpretation and critical understanding of the world through numbers, logic, or deductive and analytical reasoning. Both words are carefully chosen: "quantitative" suggests having to do with numbers and relations and logic, while "reasoning" refers to the creation and interpretation of arguments. Courses that focus on the analysis of and drawing of inductive inferences from quantitative data as well as courses that concentrate on the formulation of deductive and analytical arguments can satisfy this requirement. "QR" courses can be offered from any department at the college. A single course that fulfills this requirement and other requirements may be used for each requirement (unless the other requirement is Division III, Lab Science), but counts as only one of the 32 required for graduation.
Each semester courses meeting the Writing Intensive and Quantitative Reasoning requirements are noted with an attribute when viewing the course offerings on the Registrar's Office Web page.
4. Distribution courses Distribution requirements engage students in the full breadth of liberal learning as represented by three fundamental branches of the academic curriculum: the Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, and Laboratory Science. Arts and Humanities help us interpret the human experience through artistic and conceptual self-expression and through critical reflection. Social Sciences seek to describe, analyze, and interpret the ways in which people interact within and among the societies they have created. Laboratory Science aims at understanding the character of the natural order through investigation of the basic structures and regularities in the planet Earth and universe.
A single course may be used to fulfill the distribution requirement in only one division. A single course that fulfills a distribution requirement and other general and/or cross-cultural requirements may be used to fulfill each requirement, but counts as only one of the 32 required for graduation.
Division I: Arts and Humanities (2 courses) Students must select two courses from two of the following three areas:
a. philosophy or religion; or Environmental Studies 111, Environmental Studies 215, East Asian Studies 205 or Women's and Gender Studies 101, depending upon topic.
b. literature in Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish; or Women's and Gender Studies 101 or 201, depending upon topic.
c. art & art history or classical archaeology, music, theatre, dance, Film Studies 101 or another film studies course (exclusive of history or media) and depending upon topic, or East Asian Studies 205, depending upon topic.
Division II: Social Sciences (2 courses) Students must select two courses, each from a different area or department within the social sciences. Those areas or departments are American studies, anthropology, economics, education, history (or classical history), political science, psychology, sociology, and Women's and Gender Studies 102, 200, or 202, or East Asian Studies 206.
Division III: Laboratory Science (2 courses) Two courses which may be from the same department: biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental science, Earth sciences, physical science, and physics.
5. Cross-cultural studies The college requires three different types of course work to familiarize students with the ways in which the diversity of human cultures has shaped our world. These courses seek to prepare students to be effective citizens in an interdependent world and to be aware of the breadth of voices, perspectives, experiences, values, and cultures that constitute the rich tapestry of U.S. life and history.
Languages All students must complete the equivalent of intermediate level coursework in a language that is not their native tongue. This includes languages not currently taught at Dickinson College, including American Sign Language. Fulfillment of this requirement may take the form of college-level courses for which credit is earned at Dickinson (or transferred from another institution) or through certification based on approved testing without the posting of college credit. Intermediate language courses for which credit is posted do not fulfill any other general or distribution requirements at the college. Students for whom English is not their native language, may be able to use English to fulfill this requirement. No exemptions of the language requirement will be provided.
U.S. Diversity To prepare students to function effectively in civic life and to help them gain a broader understanding of the commonalities and differences among cultures and values in the context of the making of American society, the college requires one course with a focus on U.S. diversity. U.S. diversity is a comparative course that focuses on the history of cultures based on race/ethnicity, gender, class, religion and/or sexual orientation. A single course that fulfills this and other requirements may be used to fulfill each requirement, but counts as only one of the 32 required for graduation.
Comparative Civilizations To deepen students' understanding of the diversity in cultures by introducing them to traditions other than those that have shaped the modern West, the college requires one course with a focus on the comparative study of civilizations. A single course which is designated as fulfilling this and other requirements may be used to fulfill each requirement, but counts as only one of the 32 required for graduation.
Each semester courses meeting the U.S. Diversity and Comparative Civilizations requirements are noted with an attribute when viewing the course offerings on the Registrar's Office Web page.
6. Physical education activities Satisfactory completion of four blocks of physical education is required: four fitness activity blocks or three fitness activity blocks and one cognitive physical education block. (Full block physical education courses fulfill only one block of credit.) Effective July 1, 2009, participants in intercollegiate sports will receive credit for one block of physical education for each season they play a varsity sport; ROTC students will receive credit for one block of physical education for each year they remain in the program. Selected sports club activities may also receive a maximum of two fitness blocks. Transfer students with junior standing with no physical education course work need to take only two blocks of physical education. Persons who enter Dickinson after at least two years of active military service will be awarded two fitness blocks toward the requirement. Physical education blocks carry no academic credit. Most meet for half-semester; all courses, even those meeting for the entire semester, count as one block.
Every student must complete the physical education requirement unless excused in writing by the Chairperson of the Physical Education Department. Students are expected to have completed the physical education requirement by the end of the first semester of their senior year.
7. Major Students should select a field of concentration from among those departments offering major fields of study, (See the Courses of Study, page 21) or should, by working with a faculty committee, design their own major field of study. (See The Self-Developed Interdisciplinary Major at Special Approaches to Study.) Majors consist of 9 to 15 courses.
The major is normally selected during the spring of the student's sophomore year. The departments determine the student's acceptance as a major upon the basis of stated criteria. The department assigns the accepted student to an advisor, using the student's preference as one of the bases for assignment. A student must be accepted for a major field of concentration by the time he or she earns junior standing. A student who does not have a declaration of a major on file in the Registrar's Office by the end of the semester in which the sixteenth course (counting towards the degree) is completed may be required to withdraw from the college.
The student may also elect a minor field of study which usually consists of six courses of academic work specified by the department offering the minor. If a student completes a minor in one or more fields of concentration, this fact will be noted on the permanent record when the degree is posted.
If a student intends to major in more than one department, approval must be secured from each department. This student must develop a program in consultation with both departments, and therefore must be advised jointly by a member from each department and must secure approval of both advisors. The same course may be counted for more than one major except for courses under the self-developed major program. However, a student will receive only one degree.
Students who wish at any time to change a major must be accepted by the new department in accordance with normal procedures for declaring a major.
Latin Honors A student in any field who attains an average of 3.90 - 4.00 in the total program at Dickinson College shall be awarded the degree summa cum laude. A student who attains an average of 3.70 - 3.89 in the total program at Dickinson College shall be awarded the degree magna cum laude. A student who attains an average of 3.50 - 3.69 in the total program at Dickinson College shall be awarded the degree cum laude.
Academic Honorary Societies: The Pennsylvania Alpha chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was established at Dickinson College on April 13, 1887. Election to membership is the highest academic honor available to a Dickinson student. To be considered, a student must first satisfy specific criteria (GPA, total number of courses, number of Dickinson graded courses) set for each of the two elections held annually. For each class, the number of students considered does not exceed 10 percent of the total number graduating in the class. Student members are elected primarily on the basis of academic achievement, broad cultural interests, and good character.
Alpha Lambda Delta, chartered at Dickinson in 1989, is a national academic honor society for students who have high academic achievement during their first year in college.
Additionally there are fifteen honor societies recognizing achievement in a specific field of study: Alpha Omicron Delta (Athletics), Alpha Psi Omega (Drama), Eta Sigma Phi (Classics), Omicron Delta Epsilon (Economics), Phi Alpha Theta (History), Pi Delta Phi (French), Pi Mu Epsilon (Mathematics), Pi Sigma Alpha (Political Science), Psi Chi (Psychology), Sigma Beta Delta (International Honor Society in Business Management & Administration), Sigma Delta Pi (Spanish), Sigma Iota Rho (International Studies), Sigma Pi Sigma (Physics), Upsilon Pi Epsilon (Computer Science), Kappa Delta Pi (Education).
See Dean's List at Academic Policies and Procedures
See Honors in the Major at Special Approaches to Study and individual department majors.
Courses of Study
Students may elect either of two broad approaches to the curriculum: the Bachelor of Arts or the Bachelor of Science. General graduation requirements are the same in either case. Only those students with a major in one of the natural or mathematical sciences may choose the Bachelor of Science rather than Bachelor of Arts, but the requirements for the major are the same in either case. Regardless of the number or type of majors a student completes, each student earns only one degree. Students also study in some depth at least one disciplined approach to knowledge. Dickinson students, therefore, develop a concentration in a major. The arts and humanities provide 10 such concentrations; in the social sciences there are six concentrations; the natural and mathematical sciences provide six. These 22 disciplinary majors represent the basic academic disciplines that outline the liberal arts. They are complemented by 20 interdisciplinary majors and three interdisciplinary certification programs.
Major fields of concentration offered are: Africana Studies, American Studies, Anthropology, Archaeology, Art & Art History, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry, Classical Studies, Computer Science, Dance & Music, Earth Sciences, East Asian Studies, Economics, English, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, French, German, History, International Business & Management, International Studies, Italian Studies, Judaic Studies, Latin American, Latino & Caribbean Studies, Law and Policy, Mathematics, Medieval & Early Modern Studies, Middle East Studies, Music, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Physics, Policy Management, Political Science, Psychology, Religion, Russian, Sociology, Spanish, Theatre Arts, and Women's and Gender Studies.
In addition, minors are offered in Astronomy, Chinese, Creative Writing, Education, Film Studies, Italian, Japanese, Linguistics, and Portuguese and Brazilian Studies.
Certificate programs can be completed in Health Studies and Security Studies, as well as the CPYB/Dickinson certificate program.
Explanation of coding for course descriptions: when two course numbers, followed by a single description, are separated by a comma, either course may be taken without the other, although the two are normally taken together as a one-year course. When two course numbers, followed by a single description, are separated by a comma, and preceded by an asterisk, the first course may be taken without the second, although the two are normally taken together as a one-year course. The first course, however, is a prerequisite for the second.