Academic Regulations

Baccalaureate Requirements

To qualify for the baccalaureate degree, a student must meet the degree requirements established by the faculty for the class in which he or she has matriculated.

Course Units

The number of full-credit courses (or the equivalent) required for graduation is 32. They must be completed with passing grades; a grade of C- or higher must be achieved in at least one-half of the courses taken at Hamilton. No more than 15 course credits in a single department earned after entering the College, including transferred credits, may be counted toward the courses required for graduation. Each unit of credit is equivalent to four semester hours.


A student must complete at least one-half of the courses required for graduation while in residence at Hamilton and be in residence for the final semester of study. Residence means enrollment in programs conducted by the College, on or off campus.

Time for Completion of the Degree

The normal pattern for earning the baccalaureate degree is four consecutive years of study. The requirements must be completed within seven calendar years from the date of matriculation.


A student must complete the requirements for a regular concentration, a double concentration or an interdisciplinary concentration with a cumulative average of at least 72 in all courses taken at Hamilton that are approved for the concentration. Seniors must take at least one course each semester in their concentrations unless granted an exemption by the department or program chair. All students must complete the Senior Program in their concentrations.

Each student elects a concentration in the second semester of the sophomore year. For each student the requirements for the concentration elected are those specified in the edition of the College Catalogue published for that student's sophomore year.

Regular Concentration

Students declare their concentrations in the spring of their second year, before preregistration for fall semester courses. By the end of the second year, a student must have completed at least two courses in the department or program of concentration, and must have received a cumulative average of 72 or higher for all work taken in that department or program. The concentration is listed on the official transcript. A student may change from one concentration to another only with the approval of the departments or programs involved and the Committee on Academic Standing.

Double Concentration

While students normally declare a single concentration, it is possible for a student to complete and gain recognition for concentrations in two departments or programs, provided that approval to elect a double concentration is granted by the department or program chairs involved. A student may not count a course as part of the concentration requirements in more than one department or program. When approved, both concentrations are listed on the official transcript. Those who have been granted permission for a double concentration may drop one of them at any time by informing the appropriate department chair and the registrar.

Interdisciplinary Concentration

A student may design and declare an interdisciplinary concentration involving two or more departments. After consulting with and gaining approval from the appropriate department chairs, the student must submit the proposed interdisciplinary concentration in writing for approval by the Committee on Academic Standing, which will evaluate the proposal according to standards similar to those for a regular concentration. The student must have a cumulative average of at least 72 in all courses approved for the concentration. The student must specify a Senior Program that meets the approval of the committee.

Regular Concentration with Option of One or Two Minors

A student with a concentration in a single department or program may declare minors in one or two other departments or programs that offer a minor, or in an interdisciplinary minor program previously approved by the Committee on Academic Policy. Students declaring a minor must consult with and gain the written approval of the appropriate department or program chair. Declaration of a minor in the same department or program as the student's concentration requires approval of the Committee on Academic Standing. To enter a minor, a student must have completed at least one course in the discipline and must have earned a cumulative average of at least 72 in all courses counting toward the minor. This average must be maintained if the minor is to be listed along with the concentration on the official transcript. A minor consists of five courses as approved by the department, program or committee under which the work is undertaken. A student may not count any course as part of both a concentration and a minor, or as part of two minors.

Senior Program

All students must complete a Senior Program in their concentrations. For additional information, see "Senior Program."

Standards for Written Work

The College requires satisfactory standards of correctness in all written work. Students are encouraged to take writing-intensive courses, which are offered by most departments and programs. Writing-intensive courses include any so designated by the Committee on Academic Policy. The online description of each course indicates whether it is writing-intensive.

The Writing Program requires that every student pass at least three writing-intensive courses, each taken in a different semester. One must be taken during the first year of study and a second completed by the end of the second year. This requirement should be completed by the end of the junior year.

Writing-intensive courses in mathematics or courses in which assignments are written in a language other than English may count for no more than one of the three required courses. In exceptional circumstances, the Committee on Academic Standing will allow a student to earn no more than one writing-intensive credit by completing a suitably constructed independent study. At least one course must be outside the student's area of concentration.

The College offers peer-tutoring in writing at the Nesbitt-Johnston Writing Center. Many courses require first-draft writing conferences, and writing conferences are also available on request. Many students take advantage of peer review of their drafts.

The English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Center is another option for students who are non-native English speakers or for those seeking to improve their English language skills.

Students who experience difficulties with the writing components of a particular course are encouraged to seek such assistance and to consult with their instructors and advisors. They may also consult the director of the Writing Center or the ESOL center about other services available.

Writing Program

Courses that fulfill the Writing Program requirements are published each semester in the pre-registration booklet available in the Office of the Registrar. They are also listed as writing-intensive in the course descriptions found online.

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).

Standards for Oral Communication

The College requires effective use of public and academic discourse as defined and appraised by the faculty and the College community. Many courses across the curriculum, including proseminars and seminars, require class participation through discussion, performance and debate, as well as through individual or group presentations. Most departments require a public presentation of their concentrators' Senior Projects. Students may develop their speaking abilities and public presence through courses in Theatre, Communication and Oral Communication. Course descriptions found in the online catalogue include "Oral Presentation" if an instructor has designated a course as such. See the "more information" link in the online course listings or the instructor for more information on the type of oral presentations required for that course. Students who experience difficulty in meeting the College's expectations for effective oral communication are encouraged to pursue a plan for progress in consultation with their instructors, advisor and/or associate dean of students (academic).

Standards for Quantitative Work

Each student must demonstrate basic quantitative literacy by passing the quantitative skills examination offered during Orientation, passing a course having a significant quantitative/mathematical component or completing a non-credit-bearing tutorial through the Quantitative Literacy Center. The quantitative skills examination tests basic mathematical and quantitative knowledge, including computation, algebra, analysis of graphs and charts, and probability.

During Orientation, the QSkills Exam is offered to first-year and transfer students. Students who do not pass the exam, or who do not take the exam, should meet with their academic advisors during Orientation Week to plan how to fulfill the quantitative literacy requirement. Courses currently designated as containing a significant quantitative/mathematical component are Archaeology 106, Biology 110 and 115, Chemistry 120 and 125, Computer Science 105 and 110, Economics 230, 265, 275 and 285, Geosciences 209, Government 230, Math 100, 113, 114, 115, 123 and 253, Philosophy 240 (Symbolic Logic), Physics 100, 120, 130, 135, 160 and 190, Psychology 101 and 280, and Sociology 302. A listing for each semester can be found online in Web Advisor and in the back of the course schedule booklet. Please check with the registrar for any additions or changes to this list. Tutorial help for students taking quantitative courses is available at the Quantitative Literacy Center.

The non-credit-bearing tutorial offered each semester contains four modules: Basic Computation, Algebraic Expression, Graphs and Charts, and Proportional and Functional Reasoning. Students meet weekly with their tutors to prepare to take a final module exam. Participation in tutorials and the exam score are taken into consideration for the fulfillment of the requirement.

This requirement should be completed by the end of the second year.

Physical Education Requirement

Every student must participate in the program of instruction offered by the Physical Education Department. Each student is required to pass tests in swimming and physical fitness. A complete specification of the requirement is stated in the "Physical Education" section. Instruction is available in badminton, fitness, golf, jogging, lifeguard training, power walking, racquetball, skating, squash, swimming, tennis, toning, volleyball and yoga. Except under unusual circumstances, it is expected that the requirement will be completed in the first year. All students must complete the physical education requirement by the beginning of Spring Break of the sophomore year and before studying away.

Transfer students and January admits should register for a physical education course upon matriculation and consult with the department chair about completion of the requirement. Prior instruction may be applicable to Hamilton requirements.

Conferral of Degrees

All qualified students receive the degree of Bachelor of Arts, which is conferred once a year at the graduation ceremony. The degrees are conferred only upon students who have completed all the baccalaureate requirements described above, who have no outstanding bills at the College and who are present to receive their diplomas (unless they have requested and received authorization from the Committee on Academic Standing for conferral in absentia). Only students who have completed all the requirements for the degree may participate in the graduation ceremony.

Honor Code

Matriculation at Hamilton is contingent upon a student's written acceptance of the Honor Code regulations. The code covers all coursework and course examinations at Hamilton during a student's college career. Complaints alleging violations of the Honor Code shall be submitted in writing by instructors or students to the chair of the Honor Court or to the associate dean of students (academic).

Independent Study

After the first semester of study, a student may engage in independent study during the school year in place of a regular course. The student's independent study proposal must receive the approval of the faculty supervisor, the appropriate department chair, the student's faculty advisor and the Committee on Academic Standing. Normally, arrangements are completed in the semester preceding that of the independent study; late petitions may be denied. Independent study requires discipline and responsibility, and therefore the faculty takes into account the maturity of the student and the level of his or her knowledge and academic background when it considers proposals for independent study. A student normally will not engage in more than one independent study in any one semester, and may not engage in more than two independent studies in any one academic year.

Independent study may take many forms, but normally it consists of the study of material unavailable in the formal College curriculum, of laboratory or field research, or of the creation of some body of work in the creative arts, such as poetry, fiction, musical composition or visual art.


The College recognizes that off-campus internship and apprenticeship experiences can be a valuable supplement to a student's academic program. Students beyond the first year (eight courses) who are in good academic standing are eligible to engage in such internships and apprenticeships. Students may seek to earn academic credit based on an internship or apprenticeship experience in one of two ways. First, students may apply to the Committee on Academic Standing, prior to beginning an internship or apprenticeship, for approval to earn 1/4 credit (using the credit/no credit option only). The committee's determination to award credit/no credit is based on a letter of evaluation submitted by the project supervisor and, at the discretion of the committee, an interview with the student conducted by the associate dean of students (academic). The Office of the Dean of Students will place the project supervisor's letter of evaluation in the student's permanent file. Students may not apply credits earned for internships in this manner toward the requirements for their degree, including the regulation requiring the completion of a minimum of 32 credits. Second, under the direction of a regular member of the faculty, and with the approval of the Committee on Academic Standing, students pursuing approved off-campus internships and apprenticeships may use their off-campus experience as the basis for a 1/2-credit or one-credit independent study conducted during a regular semester once the student returns to the College. Such an independent study will be governed by the same policies that apply to all independent studies.

Independent Coverage of Coursework

Under certain circumstances, a student may cover a course independently and receive credit on the basis of demonstrated proficiency. The course covered in this manner must be one that is normally offered in a regular semester. Such study is ordinarily undertaken during the summer recess and permits the student to move rapidly into advanced courses for which there are prerequisites, or to make up a course failed during a preceding semester.

A student wishing to cover a course independently must obtain the approval of a faculty supervisor, the appropriate department chair, the faculty advisor and the Committee on Academic Standing.

Course Election

Both Hamilton's commitment to excellence and its need to operate within its resources have implications for course enrollment policy. Except for independent studies and courses with limited enrollments, a student shall be free to elect, during the calendar periods for registration, any course for which the prerequisites have been met. However, a senior who desires to elect a 100-level course must first obtain permission from the instructor.

Full-time students normally elect courses equal to four credits during both the fall and spring semesters. During each of these semesters, students may carry no more than five, and no fewer than three, full-credit courses. Any exception must be approved by the Committee on Academic Standing (see also "Overelection Fee" under "Tuition and Fees").

Part-time study at Hamilton is available only to special students and to those participating in the Hamilton Horizons Program.

Course Changes for Fall and Spring Semesters

A student may change (add or drop) courses during the first five calendar days of the fall and spring semesters after consultation with the advisor. An add/drop form must be completed and returned to the Registrar's Office within the five-day period.

Classes may not be added after the first week without permission of the Committee on Academic Standing. After the first five calendar days of either semester, a student who is taking four or more courses may drop a course up to one week after midterm, after consulting with the advisor and the instructor of the course. The dropped course counts as one of the 37 courses that a student can elect without extra charge (see "Overelection Fee" under "Tuition and Fees").

After the drop deadline, a student may drop a course without the penalty of failure only with approval from the Committee on Academic Standing. Only extraordinary circumstances warrant the committee's approval of such a request.

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