Getting Started in a Concentration
NOTE: Listed by concentration, not by department.
Students interested in majoring in Africana Studies should aim to take AFRST 101 in their first year, and AFRST 201 as early as possible. These courses fill up quickly, so if you are interested in concentrating in Africana Studies you should express this interest to the instructor as soon as possible.
Contact the department chair or another faculty member in the department if you are thinking of majoring or double majoring.
At the center of the American studies curriculum are an introductory course (AMST 201) and an intensive seminar, taken in the junior or senior year (300-level or higher). Students also take selected courses in U.S. literature (two at the 200-level or higher) and history (two at the 200-level or higher, with approval from the program director). From this base, students work closely with their faculty mentors to chart their own academic paths. Contact the program chair for more information.
To get started in a cultural anthropology concentration, students should take one of the introductory courses in anthropology. Eventually, you should take one course each within three areas. The areas include cultural anthropology (Anthropology 113, 114, or 115), linguistic anthropology (Anthropology 126, 127, or 201), and archaeology (Archaeology 106 or 108).
To get started in an archaeology concentration, students should take one of the introductory courses in anthropology. Eventually, you should take one course each within two areas: archaeology (Archaeology 106 or 108) and cultural and linguistic anthropology (Anthropology 113, 114, 115, 126, 127, or 201).
Students may begin an art concentration with an introductory class in any of the following areas: Animation, Ceramics, Drawing, Figure Drawing, Painting, Photography, Sculpture or Video.
Students interested in concentrating should see the chair of the department as early as possible. The department maintains a pre-registration policy to ensure art concentrators get a seat in their required studio courses. Some advanced courses are only offered once a year so require careful study abroad and/or double concentration planning.
Introductory courses fill quickly. Students who are not registered for a class but are interested in art should express their interest to the professor and sign up for the wait list.
The department offers four different introductory (100-level) courses. None is required for the concentration, but if a student has no previous experience with art history they are a good starting point and may count later as one of the required electives. Several of the 100-level courses (AH 150, 151, and 152) can be difficult to get into. AH 152 is taught each semester, the others every year, so students have the opportunity to try again. If a student is particularly interested in the history of architecture, we strongly recommend taking one of the introductory architecture courses (AH 150 or151) as soon as possible.
If students have had an AP art history course or other art history experience in high school, we recommend that they enroll in a 200-level course, particularly AH 258, 254, 282, 285, 292 or 293; most of these have no prerequisite and all also fulfill a concentration requirement.
If a student is seriously considering art history as a concentration, he or she should arrange to speak with the chair as soon as possible, especially if they want to study abroad.
Students interested in concentrating in Asian studies can select one of three study tracks: China studies, Japan studies, and India studies. All majors must: (1) study an Asian language to the level of 140; (2) take AS180; and (3) take Asian culture and society courses in at least two of the following departments—Anthropology, Art History, East Asian Languages and Literatures (e.g., linguistics, language acquisition, literature, and film courses), English, Government, History, Religious Studies, and Theatre. Students are strongly encouraged to begin taking a language course in their first semester at Hamilton, unless they test out of this requirement through prior preparation. Students should take AS180 ideally by the end of their sophomore year.
Chair: Thomas Wilson
Asian Studies website
The departments of biology and chemistry offer an interdisciplinary concentration in biochemistry/molecular biology. The concentration is administered by a committee consisting of representatives of the two departments. To begin a concentration in biochemistry and molecular biology, introductory biology and chemistry courses should be taken in the respective departments. See chemistry and biology below.
There are two different ways to begin the study of biology. The standard approach is a two-semester sequence that surveys diversity, genetics and evolution in the fall semester (Bio 101) and cells, organisms and ecosystems in the spring semester (Bio 102). Either course may be taken first. The alternative route is Bio 115, a one-semester fall course that covers fundamentals of biology by examining selected biological topics in depth. Which option a student should choose depends on the strength of his/her science background and general confidence with science subjects. The two-semester combination (Bio 101-102) provides a survey of the breadth of biology and includes necessary background in related topics (e.g., chemistry). Bio 115 assumes a good high-school background in biology and chemistry. It is designed particularly for those who enter Hamilton with an AP Biology score of 4 or 5 or have equivalent experience and who are interested in pursuing further study in science at Hamilton. Students must contact the instructors to get permission to enroll in Bio 115. Pre-med students may take either option (101/102 or 115). They sometimes prefer the two-course Bio 101-102 sequence to ensure that they have surveyed all of biology before taking the MCATs.
See Chemistry below.
Students interested in concentrating in Chemistry, Biochemistry/Molecular Biology or Chemical Physics and/or students interested in medical school or other health professions are strongly encouraged to begin their study of Chemistry at Hamilton in their first semester. Introductory chemistry courses are only offered in the fall semester so students who do not enroll in chemistry in the fall semester must wait until their sophomore year to begin their study of chemistry (unless they have an exceptional chemistry background and can place directly into Organic Chemistry I). Since 100- and 200-level chemistry courses must be taken in a defined sequence, students will have more flexibility to study abroad and/or complete a double concentration if they begin chemistry in their first year. In addition, we typically have 8-10 summer research opportunities available for rising sophomores who have completed a year of college chemistry.
Introductory chemistry students have the option to take either Chem 120 or 125 in the fall. Both provide an appropriate foundation for subsequent work in chemistry and for students intending to pursue a pre-health curriculum.
Lecture sections of Chem 120 will contain approximately forty students and will provide a broad overview of the central principles and theories of chemistry. The Chem 120 lab involves weekly experiments intended to explore specific chemical concepts and to familiarize students with a range of standard laboratory techniques. Chem 120 is open to all students.
Chem 125, which has an enrollment limit of twenty-four and is generally open to first-year students only, is intended for students with a strong interest in science and/or medicine who wish to engage with the material beyond its fundamentals. Lectures will discuss the central ideas of chemistry and its applications, and the laboratory component is a discovery-based, semester-long investigation that addresses analytical and chemical approaches to environmental chemistry and toxicology. Students electing to take Chem 125 should have a good high school preparation in chemistry, typically demonstrated by a 4 or 5 on the AP exam.
Students with questions about which course to elect or those who have exceptional background in chemistry should contact Ian Rosenstein (email@example.com) to discuss options for beginning chemistry at a more advanced level.
Students should elect Chem 190 (Organic Chemistry I) in the spring semester of their first year then enroll in Chem 255 (Organic Chemistry II) in the fall semester of their sophomore year. It is possible to start chemistry in your second year at Hamilton and complete a Chemistry, Biochemistry/Molecular Biology or Chemical Physics concentration but it requires careful planning.
Students who are interested in Chinese should start their Chinese language courses (Chinese 110 for beginners) and Chinese culture course (Chinese 150, 205) in their first year at Hamilton. These courses are prerequisites for advanced Chinese courses and Hamilton’s Chinese study abroad program ACC in Beijing. Students with prior study in Chinese should take a placement exam.
Students should start with one of the core courses: CMS 120; one course on media or cinema theory or genre: CMS 125, 201, 290, 301 or 300; one course in production: ART 113, ART 116, ART 213, MUS 277, THT 130 or THR 213.
Cinema and Media Studies website
Students interested in Latin, Greek, and the ancient world may major or minor in either classical languages or classical studies. Classical languages requires substantial accomplishment in both Latin and Greek. Only one of the languages is required for classical studies. Prospective concentrators with no knowledge of Latin or Greek should make an immediate start with the appropriate 100- or 200-level language course (you can only start beginning Greek in the Spring semester). Those interested in study in Rome should also note that the best study-abroad program there, the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies (the Centro), tends to favor students who have taken both Latin and Greek.
Students considering concentrating in computer science should start by taking Computer Science 110. If starting in the fall, the first three semesters generally would look like:
Spring: 111 and 123
Fall: 210 and 240
If starting in the spring, the first three semesters would be:
Spring: 123 and 220
Students planning to take creative writing workshops must first take either a writing-intensive 100-level Literature course or LIT 204w (Poetry and Poetics), which is available both semesters, or LIT 222w (Chaucer), which is a fall-only course. Prospective concentrators in creative writing are not required to take a workshop in the first year; however, they must take 215 by the end of their sophomore year (earlier if they have plans to do a semester off-campus). Please note that the fall section of 215 (Introduction to Creative Writing) is NOT open to first year students. Students may not use AP scores to place directly into 215.
Concentrators in creative writing must complete the department’s language requirement.
Students interested in a dance and movement studies concentration should take a technique course (Contemporary, Martial Arts and Dance or Ballet) during the first year. It is highly recommended that concentrators enroll in a technique class each semester to advance their skill level. Since the senior projects involve original student choreography, it is important for the students to take a dance composition/choreography course during their second year.
The economics major starts with Econ 101 followed by Econ 102. Both courses are offered every semester. If you are considering majoring, it is a good idea to take these in the first year.
Students who are considering majoring or minoring in economics should be aware that Math 113 (Calculus I) or its equivalent is a prerequisite for Economics 275 (Microeconomic Theory), one of the courses required for the major and the minor. (Concentrators are required to complete Econ 275 by the end of their junior year; this course must be taken at Hamilton.) Students who are placed into Math 116 (Calculus II) by the math department will have fulfilled the calculus prerequisite for Economics 275. Thus, prospective majors or minors in economics should take one of the math placement exams.
Environmental studies is an interdisciplinary concentration, and there is no specific course that all majors must take. However, you must choose six foundational courses distributed between the concentration’s two tracks, natural sciences and social sciences/humanities. The foundational courses must include two lab science courses: one in geosciences and one in biology, chemistry or physics. First-years often take one of the lab science courses, ES 150: Environmental Science and Society, and/or ES 250: Interpreting the American Environment. Also, Religious Studies 118: Religion and Environmentalism, is open only to first-years. When declaring an environmental studies major, you will need to choose either of the concentration’s two tracks. This decision, and your eventual thesis topic, will help determine the foundational and other courses you take toward your ES concentration. The ES concentration consists of a total of 13 courses, so if you are contemplating majoring in ES, you should begin your coursework in your first semester.
The most important thing for a major in French is to take courses consecutively and not to create "gaps" in the study of the language. These can be overcome but require extra effort when one takes back up the language. First-year students should take the placement exam in French and enroll in the course it indicates. If, after attending the course, the level does not seem appropriate to the student, speak to the professor immediately. Study abroad helps enormously with the required number of courses and, normally, awards a student credit for the civilization requirement, French 250. The Hamilton program in France requires the completion of French 200 prior to the program.
The geosciences curriculum is quite flexible and broad and serves students in several majors. All students intending to concentrate in geoscience, environmental studies, or geoarchaeology must take one 100-level geoscience course. The department normally offers two different 100-level courses each semester. A student cannot receive credit for more than one 100-level course - a second course in geoscience must be at the 200-level. Students interested in concentrating should take an introductory course no later than fall semester of sophomore year - earlier if he/she also intends to study abroad.
German studies is an interdisciplinary concentration focusing on the language, literature, culture, historical development, and politics of German-speaking countries. The German program also offers beginning German language (110, 120), but only courses numbered 130 or above count toward the concentration. Students wishing to take advanced courses should see the departmental advisor for placement. Courses in the department that are available to first-year students include German language and/or literature courses (110, 130, 186, 200) and History 117.
Students interested in concentrating in government should take Gov. 116, 117 and either 112 or 114, all of which are required for the concentration. They are all offered every semester and can be taken in any sequence. Concentrators should take at least one of them as a writing-intensive course. Gov 117 is also required for the world politics major and is not required but counts for the public policy major as well. Both Gov. 112 and 114 are required for the world politics major (see further details below).
Students who are interested in Spanish should start their Spanish language courses in their first year at Hamilton. Students interested in majoring or in going abroad during their junior year should take Spanish starting in their first semester and avoid “gaps” in their language study. Those who come with Spanish from high school should take the placement exam and enroll in the course it indicates. If you are a native speaker you should still take the placement exam, and contact the chair of the department in order to be placed correctly. (Native speakers do not always have the written skills necessary for advanced courses.)
Students interested in taking HSPST 110 (First Semester Spanish) should be aware that they could complete two years of Spanish language study in one year by taking our immersion courses 115 (fall) and 135 (spring). HSPST 115, Spanish Immersion I, covers HSPST 110 and 120 in one semester. The course meets five days a week and is counted as two units on the student’s transcript. Students who take this course will be ready to take HSPST 130 in the spring, or HSPST 135, which covers 130 and 140 in one semester and also counts as two units. These courses are open to all students, but are especially designed to help beginning students to major in Hispanic studies, and/or to be ready to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country.
The Hamilton program in Madrid requires the completion of HSPST 200 prior to the program.
The way to begin a history major is to take a writing-intensive 100-level course. These courses are dedicated to broad topics such as Europe and its empires, the Atlantic world, the great cities of Asia, murder and opera in Muscovy, and many others. A writing-intensive 100-level course will teach you the basics of how to think historically, how to use primary sources, how to synthesize information, and how to write.
Students who are interested in Japanese language and Japan-related subjects (e.g., literature, linguistics, or history) will be able to major in a Japan track under Asian studies. Those who are interested in this track are highly recommended to take Japanese 110 (language), 150 (language and culture) and Asian Studies 180 (general studies about Asia) in their first year. For more information about majoring in the Japan track, see the Asian studies web page.
Students interested in literary study are encouraged to take a writing-intensive course in Literature or a related department (see below) during the first-year. (Students interested in Creative Writing, see above.) The department allows students to study literature, film, and new media across the centuries and across national boundaries, as well as to create their own literary works. The flexible concentration allows students, in consultation with their departmental advisors, to pursue their particular interests.
Students who have taken AP Literature and/or Language, and have scored a 4 or 5 in either course, have the option of going straight into one of these 200-level courses in the fall: LIT 204w (Poetry and Poetics), LIT 211w (Intro to World Lit I), and LIT 222w (Chaucer). There will be other options in the spring.
Writing-intensive courses in literature taught in other languages—such as German 200w, French 200w and above or Hispanic Studies 200w or above—as well as writing-intensive courses in literature in translation or in relation to other media—such as Japanese 160 (film and animation) or Russian Studies 225w (19th-c Russian literature)—will count as a pre-requisite to upper-level courses in Literature. Those courses, as well as course in film offered by other departments, may count, with your concentration advisor’s approval, toward a major in Literature.
Note that there are many Literature courses that students can select after their first year, even if they have not taken a first-year Literature course.
Concentrators in Literature must complete the department’s language requirement. Potential concentrators considering graduate study in literature should keep in mind that most doctoral programs require proficiency in at least one foreign language.
Math advice is fairly straightforward: start with the calculus course — Math 113, 116, or 216 — recommended by the department based on the math placement exam.
If you are planning on taking a calculus course we recommend the following:
- Take Math 113 if you have had no calculus or less than a year of calculus.
- Take Math 116 if you have had a year of calculus and an AB 4 or 5.
- Take Math 216 if you have had a year of calculus and a BC 4 or 5.
If you have had a year of calculus but do not fit in one of the categories above, we strongly recommend that you take the Calculus Placement Exam.
Chair: Sally Cockburn
Students considering a major in music should take music theory their first term (either 109 or 209, depending on results from the music theory placement exam). The department strongly recommends that students enroll in 180 and/or 181 (basic aural skills/basic keyboard skills) when they begin music theory classes. While only one credit in performance is required, students are also expected to participate in department ensembles in each semester.
Students intending to major in neuroscience should plan to complete their introductory biology sequence during their first year and their introductory chemistry sequence either their first or second year. The courses in psychology (Introductory Psychology, Statistics/Research Methods, and Introduction to Brain and Behavior) should be completed by the end of the second year. Thus, a reasonable approach for the first semester is to enroll in Biology 101 (or 115) and either Psychology 101 or Chemistry 120 (or 125).
Chair: Herm Lehman
The philosophy concentration has as its core a history sequence and a logic requirement that should be fulfilled as early as possible in a student's career. Students should plan to take Phil. 201, 203, and either 100, 200, or 240 as early as possible. The department encourages concentrators to complete those courses by the end of sophomore year, if possible.
The department also prefers that students fulfill the 400 level seminar requirement while on campus, so students should not expect to be able to count any courses that they take off campus toward the department's 400 level seminar requirement. Exceptions may be made at the chair's discretion.
Students interested in physics or in pre-engineering studies should begin studying physics in the fall semester of the first year. The year-long introductory physics courses begin in the fall at Hamilton; it is not possible to take the first course in the spring.
Most students who are interested in majoring or minoring in physics, or in completing the pre-engineering track, take Physics 190 in their first semester. (Information for students with advanced placement is in the next paragraph.) Physics 190 students should concurrently sign up for a class in mathematics; the math department offers placement advice based on the results of an exam. Calculus I (Math 113) is a co-requisite for Physics 190; any student who elects Physics 190 and places into Math 113 must take both. We recommend that students who enroll in 190 also enroll in a math course during the first semester.
Entering students with advanced high school work in physics may also choose to enroll in 190, but can consider other possibilities. Students with a score of 5 in AP Physics C (mechanics) can skip 190 and enroll in Physics 195, which follows 190 in the spring term. Students with scores of 5 in both parts of Physics C (mechanics and E&M) are eligible to begin with Physics 290 (Quantum Physics, offered in the fall semester). Similarly, students who arrive with high scores on A-levels or Higher IB - 6 or 7 - may place into classes beyond the first physics course, and should contact the Department Chair for advice about placement. Normally, we recommend that students who place into 195 or 290 elect to take math during the first semester.
For more information see the AP credit policies.
The department offers a collection of classes that are ideal for students who place into 195, but who want to begin studying physics right away. These classes include Physics 160 (Introduction to Astronomy), Physics 175 (Physics of Musical Sound), Physics 120 (How Things Work), Physics 135 (Spacetime and the Quantum World) and Physics 136 (Physics and Art). At least one of these will be offered every fall semester.
First year students interested in taking one year of physics to support a premed, or life-sciences program should begin with Physics 100. Physics 100 (fall) followed by Physics 105 (spring) does not require calculus. Another two-semester survey sequence, Physics 200 (fall) followed by Physics 205 (spring), requires Calculus II (Math 116) as a prerequisite and is normally taken after the first year by some pre-med students and by students who major in other physical sciences.
Acting Chair: Seth Major
The public policy concentration requires a long list of courses, so it is best to get started early. First-year students interested in a public policy concentration should take Economics 101 and at least one of the following: Economics 102, Government 116, Government 117, Philosophy 111, or Philosophy 112. Public Policy 251 and Government 230 should be taken by the fall of the sophomore year. Students interested in the concentration should consult as early as possible with the program’s director, Professor Gary Wyckoff (Government).
Students begin their work in religious studies by taking any of the department’s 100 level classes. Students expand their course of studies with additional 100, 200, and 300 level courses in a self-designed program constructed in consultation with the faculty of the department.
Students intending to major in psychology are encouraged to take PSYCH 101 (Introductory Psychology) in the fall of their first year, as there are fewer sections in the spring. Students with a 4 or 5 on the Psychology AP exam may opt out of PSYCH 101. Students are then encouraged to take their required neuroscience course (PSYCH 204 or 205). Students are advised to take Psych/Neuro 201 (Statistics/Research Methods) in the fall of their sophomore year. Students planning to be abroad for their entire junior year should plan to take a laboratory course and an elective in their sophomore spring.
Chair: Jen Borton 315-859-4693
Taylor Science Center 3032
To begin a concentration in Russian studies, students should take First-Term Russian (RUSSN 110) unless they have studied Russian earlier, in which case contact the chair of Russian studies. Other options that count toward the major are Introduction to Russian Studies (RSNST 100) or Early Russian History (RSNST/HIST 221). You are encouraged to talk with the chair of Russian studies in your first semester.
The sociology concentration has relatively few "core" course requirements: a 100-level course, Social Theory, Research Methods, and a year-long senior project. If you are interested in concentrating in sociology, you should take a 100-level course in sociology (either Introduction to Sociology (Soc 101) or American Society (Soc 110)) in your first or second year. These courses are very often oversubscribed, but at least one or two sections of a 100-level course in sociology usually are offered every semester. If you are unable to register for a section of 101 or 110, contact the instructor to be placed on a waiting list for the course. Many (though not all) students will find a spot if they contact the professor and show up to class during the first week of the semester. If you are still unable to find a place in a section, please try again the following semester. If you are considering studying abroad during your junior year, you may wish to speak with a member of the Sociology Department faculty to discuss options for how you might structure your program.
Students interested in any aspect of theatre should begin with Theatre 100. This course introduces students to all aspects of theatre art and offers opportunities to develop both theoretical and practical knowledge in various areas of theatre making. Theatre 100 is a prerequisite for many 100-and 200-level theatre courses. Students interested in the theatre concentration (or minor) should do their best to register for Theatre 100 in their first semester. If both sections are full, students should express interest in the course to one of the theatre faculty members and attend the first class meeting to see if a seat opens. The Theatre Department encourages all students interested in theatre to meet with department faculty members informally during the first few weeks of classes, whether or not they choose to enroll in a course or major.
Chair: Mark Cryer
Students intending to major in women’s studies should take WMNST 101 and 201 early in their career. The 101 course is popular and fills quickly. Students should contact the professor to express interest if they are not preregistered for it. The department offers 6 sections of 101 throughout the year, so there are many opportunities.
Students interested in concentrating in world politics should start with Gov. 112, 114, or 117, all of which are required for the concentration. They are all offered every semester and can be taken in any sequence. Concentrators should take at least one of them as a WI course. (Note: Gov 117 is also required for the government major and is not required but counts for the Public Policy major as well.) Gov. 290 and 291 are also required for the major. Each concentrator develops his/her own focus within the major. Students are encouraged to speak with a faculty member in the concentration about that as early as possible.