Academic Information

Academic Programs and Services


The College Year

The College's calendar consists of two 14-week semesters. Students will normally elect four full-credit courses each semester to meet the minimum graduation requirement of 32 credits.

Students elect courses from among the offerings of 28 departments and 15 interdisciplinary programs. For qualified upperclass students, the College's Term in Washington, Program in New York City and programs in China, France and Spain, provide rich off-campus educational experiences.


Academic Advising

The Hamilton College curriculum affords students a wide range of courses and disciplines within the liberal arts. The College relies heavily on a system of academic advising to assist students as they establish their academic goals and select courses. Each advisor is a member of the faculty with a term of service beyond one year. Although students ultimately decide which courses to take, their advisors help them determine the level and sequence of courses appropriate to their needs and guide them in planning a balanced four-year program.

Each first-year student is assigned a faculty advisor who provides guidance during the first and second years. Utilizing the results of placement exams, the student and advisor discuss and agree upon appropriate courses to develop a balanced academic program.

Preregistration for each semester takes place near the end of the preceding semester. At such times, students are advised not only to plan for the coming semester but also to look ahead to their entire course of study, with special attention to the educational goals of the College.

In the second semester of the second year, students elect their concentration, after which time advising becomes the responsibility of a faculty member in the student's field of study. Student and advisor continue to work on the student's plans to satisfy the goals of the College, to fulfill the requirements of the concentration and to prepare for the senior program of the concentration. Certain members of the faculty offer counsel to students preparing for particular professions and careers.

Hamilton's advising system is distinctive among colleges and universities in its reliance upon the faculty to do academic advising. The advisor is more than a casual faculty contact: advisor and advisee are expected to meet frequently and discuss the advisee's academic needs and problems. The performance and course selections of each student are reviewed carefully by the student's advisor, who may also consult with other advisors about his or her advisees' curricula and ways of strengthening them. Students may seek additional advice about their academic programs from the deans in charge of academic advising.

Students with learning disabilities may request special arrangements for academic activities. Students who request special arrangements must provide to the associate dean of students (academic) a professional diagnosis of the disability. In consultation with the student and with appropriately qualified psychologists in the Counseling Center, if necessary, the associate dean will determine what accommodations (such as extended times to complete examinations) are reasonable. Students who are allowed special arrangements must inform their instructors well in advance of the time the arrangements will be needed.


Academic Support Services and Programs

English for Speakers of Other Languages

Hamilton's English for Speakers of Other Languages Program (ESOL) offers services to students who are not native speakers of English and those who are interested in English language instruction. Two courses give students the opportunity to become familiar with American academic expectations and to master English language skills. Fundamentals of Composition I is offered in the fall, and Fundamentals of Composition II is offered in the spring. Both focus on individual needs and on the practice of language skills — reading, writing, listening and speaking — through text preparation, discussions and written assignments. Composition 101 is open to first-year students only, while Composition 102 is open to students of all classes.

Students may take advantage of the resources available through the ESOL program and may meet with the coordinator at any time to discuss course work or academic issues related to the program. Information on the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign ­Language) and other language-based tests, intensive English programs, graduate ­programs in ESOL/applied linguistics and ESOL job opportunities is available in the ESOL office located in Buttrick Hall. Students are welcome to use the program's library, which covers topics on language skills, ESOL methodology and English ­language acquisition. Students who are interested in teaching or tutoring ESOL should see the descriptions for the ­following courses listed under Education Studies:240 (Methods of Tutoring English for Speakers of Other Languages) and 340 (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).

The Library

The Daniel Burke Library contains 610,000 volumes, and the collection is constantly expanding in response to ever-changing academic interests and curricular needs. The main collection is particularly strong in the areas of history, the social sciences and the humanities. In addition to books, the library subscribes to approximately 2,000 periodicals, more than 24,000 electronic journals and some 430,000 pieces of microfiche and microfilm. Additional materials for research purposes are available through interlibrary loan and document delivery from various online systems. The library network includes the online catalog (Alex), 175 research databases, electronic reserves and many other Internet resources.

In addition to the Burke Library, the Media Library houses videos, slides and films, and the Music Library holds music compact discs, scores, audiocassettes and an archival collection of LPs. Established in 1995, the Jazz Archive features a collection of more than 250 videotaped interviews with jazz musicians, arrangers, writers and critics. The interview collection has been fully transcribed and may be reviewed in print, video and audio.

Among the library's special collections are the Rare Book Collection, the Ezra Pound Collection, the Beinecke Lesser Antilles Collection, the Communal Societies Collection and the Alumni Collection of books and other materials written by and about Hamilton graduates. In addition, an area of the first floor of the library contains easy-chairs and a collection of books selected for leisure reading. Seminar rooms for small classes are located in the library.

Information Technology Services

Information Technology Services (ITS) provides a variety of support services for faculty, staff and student users of computers, the telephone system and the campus data network. The campus data network provides more than 6,000 high-speed wired connections to the Internet, including one for each student living in the residence halls. Wireless access to the network is available from all campus buildings and outside areas.

There are approximately 1,700 college computers located in offices, classrooms, departmental laboratories and public computing clusters.

ITS' offices are located on the third floor of the Burke Library and the mezzanine in Christian A. Johnson Hall.

The Multimedia Presentation Center and Information Commons

Supported by the library and Instructional Technology Support Services, the Multimedia Presentation Center (MPC) is a state-of-the-art computing facility equipped with cutting-edge hardware and software, as well as a full range of support services specifically designed for authoring multimedia-enhanced presentations. Students and faculty members utilize the MPC's large-format printers and audio, video and animation software to create materials for courses, conferences and the Web.

The MPC is collocated with the Information Commons (IC), a jointly staffed service desk where information and technology questions can be answered in an integrated manner. The IC also provides access to individual and group work areas equipped with computers.

The Diversity and Social Justice Project

Through educational programs, research support and community outreach, the Diversity and Social Justice Project prepares students to live and work as engaged citizens in an increasingly diverse world. The project organizes lecture series, discussion groups, a student associates program (teaching, service and research), pedagogical workshops and related activities to promote rigorous intellectual inquiry around issues of social justice and diversity. The Diversity and Social Justice Project office is located on the ground floor of McEwen Hall.

The Language Center

Centrally located within the language departments on the third floor of Christian A. Johnson Hall, the Language Center is integrated into all levels of the language curriculum, providing support for course-related student assignments, research and projects, as well as general language acquisition resources. The Language Center also provides the pedagogical and technical expertise to support language faculty in the adaptation, implementation and development of the most current technology-enhanced instructional materials and methods. Equipped with computing and multimedia facilities tailored for languages, the Language Center offers a state-of-the-art learning environment where classes meet and students of all languages and levels work and interact with one another.

The Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center

Located in the Kirner-Johnson Building, the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center assists faculty members and students in examining public affairs issues. The center sponsors programs in the areas of sustainability, security, and inequality and equity. It also brings prominent speakers to campus, funds faculty-student collaborative research (Summer Research Fellows), assists faculty who wish to include service learning or community-based research projects in their courses, organizes student presentations in high schools (Levitt Scholars) and sponsors weekly discussions on a variety of issues (Think Tank). The center provides a cluster of computers and special software to support research and maintains a small library of newspapers, journals and references. The services of the center are available to everyone in the College community.

Nesbitt-Johnston Writing Center

Designed to support writing in courses throughout the curriculum, the Writing Center offers individual writing conferences with peer tutors for students who wish to discuss any piece of writing, at any stage of its development. Writing conferences sometimes are incorporated into the requirements of writing-intensive courses, but many students request conferences on their own. The Writing Center also offers Web and in-center resources on writing, computer facilities and faculty consultation.

Oral Communication Center

Oral communication courses and support services exist to assist students in achieving the College's standard for oral communication by encouraging the integration of effective oral communication throughout the curriculum. The Oral Communication Center offers variable credit courses, discipline-specific workshops and tutoring opportunities through the Oral Communication Lab to link the study and practice of oral communication with the contexts and uses of communication in the classroom and society-at-large. In consultation with their advisors, students should discuss their communication skills relative to the competencies the College expects and, if necessary, register for an oral communication quarter-credit course or seek appropriate support through the Oral Communication Lab to attain necessary aptitudes and abilities.

Peer Tutoring Program

The Peer Tutoring Program, located in 223 Christian A. Johnson Hall, offers one-on-one peer tutoring and academic skills assistance. Students may be referred to the program by faculty members, or may seek assistance on their own by meeting with the coordinator of peer tutoring and completing a tutor request card.


Located in 223-224 Christian A. Johnson Hall, the Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning Center was established to offer drop-in peer tutoring in courses that have a mathematics/quantitative component. The center is staffed by students majoring in Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Geosciences, Mathematics, Philosophy (symbolic logic), Physics and Psychology. Students may drop in to review Mathematics topics as needed, or to use the resources of the computer lab. Other programs offered by the center include the non-credit-bearing tutorial for the quantitative literacy requirement, a review for the mathematics portion of the Graduate Record Exam and workshops designed to accompany specific courses.


Among the requirements for graduation is the successful completion of a concentration (major) offered by several departments and programs of instruction.

The number of courses comprising a concentration normally ranges from eight to 10. Every student is required to complete a senior program as defined by his or her concentration. 

The specific disciplines and programs in which a student may concentrate are:


The specific disciplines and programs in which a student may minor are:

Senior Program

All students are required to complete the Senior Program in their concentrations. Each department and program of concentration has designed a senior program that serves as an integrating and culminating experience for the concentration. Students use the methodology and knowledge gained in their first three years of study. Building on their courses and showing their increasing ability to work independently in terms of both motivation and subject matter, seniors are required to produce a significant synthesis of knowledge by means of one of the following: a research project leading to a written, oral or visual creation; a seminar for concentrators, including a major presentation and research paper by each student; or comprehensive examinations ideally involving both written and oral components. This requirement allows seniors to demonstrate at an appropriate level their mastery of content and the methods of the discipline.


Senior Fellowship Program

Each spring, the vice president for academic affairs/dean of faculty designates up to seven academically outstanding members of the junior class as Senior Fellows. Students in the junior year may become candidates by submitting a proposal for a senior year of independent study. The proposal usually grows out of previous academic study and is framed in consultation with two faculty advisors of the student's choice. Senior Fellows are exempt from taking a normal course load in the conventional curriculum, and they need not complete concentration requirements; they may take such courses as are appropriate to their fellowship projects and their educational goals. A written thesis is required at the close of the fellowship year, along with a public lecture to the College community. Evaluation is made by the advisors and an examination committee.


Hamilton-Sponsored Study Abroad Programs

The Academic Year in Spain, the Associated Colleges in China and the Hamilton in France programs are distinguished for their thorough preparation and total immersion of students in the language, history and culture of those countries.

Academic Year in Spain

Hamilton College Academic Year in Spain has enjoyed a long and solid association with Swarthmore and Williams, has recently signed a new affiliation with Princeton, and also benefits from students and visiting faculty members from Amherst, Bates, Bryn Mawr, Brown, Bucknell, Carleton, Claremont McKenna, Colby, Grinnell, Harvard, Scripps, Stanford, Washington & Lee and Yale. The program is open to sophomores, juniors and seniors who wish to pursue studies in Spanish culture, language and literature. Hamilton's own Centro Universitario de Estudios Hispánicos is located in the heart of the Ciudad Universitaria in Madrid, so that students may enroll in one course per semester in the fine arts, humanities, sciences and social sciences at Hamilton's Spanish affiliate, the Universidad de San Pablo. To be admitted, students must demonstrate a strong academic record and a solid knowledge of Spanish. Students may be admitted for one term, but they are encouraged to spend one full academic year in Spain. Each term begins with a 10-day orientation trip, including four days of classes at a beachside village.

Associated Colleges in China

The Associated Colleges in China Program is both sponsored and administered by Hamilton College in collaboration with Bowdoin, Oberlin, Swarthmore and Williams colleges and Lawrence University. It offers students the opportunity to pursue the intensive study of Chinese in Beijing, China. Minzu University in Beijing is the host institution. Open to academically successful students who have completed at least one, but preferably two, years of study in Chinese, the program has a summer, a fall and a spring session. A combination of two semesters is recommended.

Hamilton in France

Hamilton in France celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2007 and is one of the oldest U.S. academic programs in France. It is a year-long program designed for students in good standing at the intermediate or higher level in French, and is coordinated and supervised by a faculty member of the French Department. The Hamilton in France program is open to majors in the humanities, fine arts, social sciences and sciences, not just French concentrators. During the Hamilton in France program, students choose courses according to their level that support their majors. They make their selection among in-house courses organized by the program and courses at a variety of Paris institutions of higher education such as the Université de Paris III, the Institut Catholique, the Université de Paris VI, the Ecole du Louvre and the Institut d'Etudes Politiques. The program also includes field trips and cultural activities. Home stays and a French-only pledge ensure that students receive the best possible immersion experience. Hamilton students are joined by students from Amherst, Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, Grinnell, Scripps and Williams.

Students who intend to apply to the programs in China, France or Spain should pursue study in the relevant language and consult with a member of the departments of East Asian Languages and Literatures, French or Hispanic Studies. Applications are available through the Programs Abroad Office.


Hamilton-Affiliated Study Abroad Programs

Classical Studies in Greece and Rome

Hamilton is an institutional member of the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome, Italy (the Centro) through the Empire State Consortium, and of the American School for Classical Studies in Athens, Greece.

The Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome is open to students who have been trained in Latin or Greek. The one-semester program is offered during the fall and the spring. The center provides an opportunity to study Greek and Latin literature, ancient history and archaeology, and ancient art in Rome. The Duke University Foreign Academic Programs administers the center, and the faculty is chosen from among college and university teachers in the United States and Canada. The language of instruction is English.

The American School of Classical Studies in Athens operates summer programs that are open to undergraduates, graduate students, and high school and college teachers. There are two six-week summer sessions that focus on the topography and antiquities of Greece. Scholarships are available. Students interested in the programs in Greece or Rome should contact the chair of the Classics Department.

Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies

The Geosciences Department encourages students to consider enrolling at the University of Tasmania (Australia), where Hamilton has a cooperative agreement with the Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies. Hamilton is officially a member of the International Antarctic Institute. For additional information, contact Professor Eugene Domack in the Geosciences Department.

New York State Independent College Consortium for Study in India

Hamilton is a member of the New York State Independent College Consortium for Study in India, which offers a rich and rigorous semester-long program each fall designed to introduce students to the geographic and cultural diversity of northern India. Students spend significant time living in Delhi, Mussoorie, Jaipur and Varanasi, in addition to making shorter trips to such cities as Amritsar, Agra and Sarnath. The program offers study of elementary Hindi, historical and contemporary India and an independent field study project that students design themselves. Courses introduce students to a variety of disciplines including anthropology, art history, history, literature, political science, religion and sociology. The program is directed each year by a faculty member from one of the colleges in the consortium. Joining Hamilton are Hartwick College, Hobart and William Smith colleges and St. Lawrence University.

The Swedish Program at Stockholm University

Hamilton is a consortium member of the Swedish program that enables students to enroll at Stockholm University and take courses in English with Swedish and other international students. Course offerings are diverse. Living arrangements are with host families or in the university dormitory. Participation is either for one semester or the full academic year. For information, contact info@swedishprogram.org.


Hamilton-Sponsored Off-Campus Study in the United States

Hamilton Program in New York City

Through internships, independent projects and coursework, this program gives participants an understanding of global politics, economics and culture while living in a global city. Each semester a Hamilton faculty director designates a theme that provides a focus for integrating each student's internship and independent study into classroom learning. The program selects motivated, mature students who are willing to share their internship experiences and independent projects with each other.

The fall semester is open to juniors and seniors; the spring semester to sophomores, juniors and seniors. Criteria for rolling admission include an interview, two references, a transcript and course prerequisites chosen by the faculty director for that semester. Participants receive one to two courses of concentration credit in the director's academic department or program. Special arrangements may be made to receive one course credit in a cooperating department.

A participant is eligible for the Dean's List if she or he earns a grade point average of at least 90 in the three graded courses and completes the required internship with work evaluated by the director as "excellent."

Hamilton Program in Washington

Hamilton offers a program in Washington, D.C. In the fall, the program is open to qualified juniors and seniors; in the spring, it is open to qualified sophomores, juniors and seniors. The program is directed by a resident member of the Government Department. It consists of internships in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government that are integrated with coursework involving research and writing. The term is designed for students who have demonstrated the ability to work independently and who have interest in the problems of government and public affairs. The program is not restricted to those concentrating in government, and it is open to select students from other colleges.

A Hamilton student who participates in the program will be appointed to the Dean's List if that student earns a grade point average of 90 or higher in the three conventionally graded courses in the program and completes the required internship with work evaluated as "excellent" by the director.

Academic Program in the Adirondacks

Beginning in Fall 2015, Hamilton will offer a semester-long living and learning experience in the Adirondacks that combines rigorous academic study with the skills and understanding gained through field experience with local organizations and in wilderness contexts. Each fall a Hamilton professor-in-residence will lead discussions focused on local, interdisciplinary environmental issues with global implications. In addition, the general director will be on site year-round to facilitate students' Common Experience Seminar and Field Component, as well as to provide pedagogical support and advising. Combined with an intensive seminar and an independent capstone project, students will immerse themselves in the ecological, geological, political, economic and cultural issues that have shaped the complex mix of natural and human environments in the Adirondack Park.

The New England Center for Children Cooperative Learning Program

Hamilton students (usually juniors) who are interested in applied psychology and the education of children with special needs may spend a semester at the New England Center for Children. NECC conducts a nationally recognized program of intensive intervention using the methods of applied behavior analysis. The facility, located near Boston, offers Hamilton students a semester's academic credit for study and practical work with children with autism. Interested students should consult with the chair of the Department of Psychology.


Hamilton Cooperative and Affiliated Programs

Hamilton has established cooperative arrangements with several institutions to expand educational opportunities for students. Several instances are described below. Students enrolled in cooperative programs receive a Hamilton degree only upon demonstrating to the department in which they concentrate that they have fulfilled concentration requirements and have satisfied the goals of the College. If the concentration requirements have not been met by the end of the junior year, they may, with the approval of the department, be completed at the cooperative institution.

American Council of Teachers of Russian Undergraduate Program

Hamilton has been designated as a host institution for students from the Russian Federation and other nations of the former Soviet Union. Each academic year, one or more Russian students will have the opportunity to study at Hamilton. In the past the College has hosted students from Kazan, Voronezh, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Alma-Aty, Everan and numerous other cities in the New Independent States (NIS). The program is funded by the United States Information Agency and the governments of the NIS.

Assurance of Admission: Master of Arts in Teaching

As a result of an agreement with Union Graduate College, well qualified Hamilton students can gain assurance of admission to Union Graduate College's Master of Arts in Teaching Program. The M.A.T. degree will normally require two summers and one academic year in residence at Union College, and carries with it secondary school teaching certification. Students interested in pursuing this option should contact Susan Mason, chair of the Education Studies Program Committee, preferably no later than the fall semester of their junior year.

Cooperative Engineering Program

Liberal arts-engineering (3-2) plans are in effect with Columbia University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Washington University in St. Louis, whereby the student spends three years at Hamilton and then two years at the cooperating engineering school. At the end of this period, the student earns an A.B. from Hamilton and a B.S. from the engineering school. Hamilton also offers access to a combined plan at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College. This program is on a 2-1-1-1 schedule. The student completes two years at Hamilton, the junior year as a visiting student at Dartmouth and returns to Hamilton to complete the senior year and to earn the A.B. The student then returns to Dartmouth to finish the second year of engineering studies and to receive a degree in engineering. Admission to these programs in the traditional divisions of chemical, civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, and now many others such as biomedical, computer and environmental engineering, is based on obtaining a G.P.A. of 3.0, or a B average, and the positive recommendation of the Department of Physics. Various 4-2 plans lead to different degree options. For details, consult with the engineering advisor, Professor Peter Millet, in the Department of Physics.

Cooperative Law Program

The Hamilton cooperative law program permits highly qualified students to enter the Columbia University School of Law after completion of their junior year. The program in Accelerated Interdisciplinary Legal Education permits these students to earn both the Hamilton baccalaureate degree and the Columbia juris doctor degree after three years of study at each institution. Interested students should consult Douglas Ambrose in the Department of History no later than the first semester of their junior year.

Direct Admission MBA Program

Under a direct admission agreement with the William E. Simon School of Business Administration at the University of Rochester, Hamilton will recommend students who are especially well prepared to proceed directly to the MBA program upon earning their undergraduate degree. Drawing on the College's recommendations, the Simon School will select candidates, preferably by the end of their Hamilton junior year, who have demonstrated above average maturity and strong academic preparation, regardless of undergraduate major. The Simon School will evaluate candidates through a priority interview with a Simon School graduate or a member of the admissions committee. The application fee will be waived. Hamilton students admitted to the Simon School by direct admission should complete business-related summer internships or work experience, or both, during their undergraduate years. The Simon School will provide counseling and support to identify pre-MBA internships and offers merit-based support. For more information about direct admission with the Simon School, see Ann Owen in the Economics Department.

Early Assurance Program in Medicine

A handful of medical schools in New York State allow highly qualified students to submit an application after their sophomore year, gaining assurance of a place in a specific medical school after they graduate from Hamilton. In recent years, Hamilton students have submitted early assurance applications to Albany Medical College, University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Upstate Medical University College of Medicine. Students who intend to apply through the early assurance program complete six of the eight semesters of required science courses by the end of the sophomore year and submit a record of strong standardized testing from high school in lieu of the MCAT. The early assurance option is intended for students who have thoroughly explored their career choices and whose undergraduate plans include foreign study or other educational opportunities that will enhance personal development but preclude the more typical premedical calendar. Although the early assurance program may reduce the pressure that premedical students sometimes experience, its primary purpose is to allow students to access the wide-ranging educational opportunities offered by Hamilton. Additional information may be obtained from Leslie North, health professions advisor.

MBL Semester in Environmental Science

Hamilton is an affiliated institution with the Semester in Environmental Science of the Marine Biological Laboratory Ecosystem Center in Woods Hole. Participants engage in a 14-week program of rigorous field and laboratory work, lectures and independent research in environmental and ecosystem science. For additional information, contact Todd Rayne in the Environmental Studies Program.

SEA Education Association

Hamilton is an affiliated institution of the SEA semester program in Woods Hole, Mass. The shore component includes courses in oceanography, nautical science and maritime studies. The sea component includes six weeks aboard ship learning skills and conducting research. A student may receive a maximum of four Hamilton units of transferred credit for participation in the SEA program. Each award is conditional on the student's earning a grade of C or higher. For further information, contact the associate dean of students for off-campus/international study.


Study at Neighboring Institutions

With appropriate approval (see "Transfer of Credit" under "Academic Regulations"), a Hamilton student may take coursework toward the baccalaureate degree at neighboring institutions during the fall and spring semesters. In recent years students have enrolled at Colgate University and Utica College. Usually one course is taken at a neighboring institution while the rest of the work is done at Hamilton.