Jun 14, 2024  
College Catalog 2023-2024 
College Catalog 2023-2024 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Compass Curriculum

Wheaton’s Compass curriculum gives students the freedom and flexibility to create their own path to success with personalized advising and professional mentorship. The Compass curriculum builds on Wheaton’s core principles of intellectual curiosity, global citizenship, experiential learning, social justice, diversity and inclusion, and enables students to link the liberal arts with career and professional paths. These key elements are required for graduation:

Connected First-Year Experience (FYE)

Taught by faculty teams, the First-Year Experience course combines the deep discussions, reading and writing of a traditional first-year seminar with cross-discipline discovery, encouraging students to consider complex problems and questions through multiple lenses.

All new students are required to complete an FYE during their first semester. Transfer students who arrive as first semester sophomores or earlier will be enrolled in an FYE within their first year at Wheaton. The placement of upperclass transfer students will be treated on a case by case basis. 

The Sophomore Experience

The Sophomore Experience (SE) connects student learning to the real world by engaging in hands-on, experiential learning. This allows students to explore career possibilities, make connections with practitioners in their chosen fields, and/or develop projects they are passionate about. Options include internships, guided research, service learning, and experiential courses.

Sophomore Experience Learning Objectives:

In an experience of 60 hours or more, students will:

  • Examine how professionals in the private, public, or non-profit sectors approach problems and practice these approaches themselves;
  • Apply elements of the liberal arts to tasks and activities within the SE;
  • Take initiative, make decisions, and be accountable for the results, consistent with professional practice, and
  • Practice interpersonal skills and verbal and nonverbal communication in everyday social and professional exchanges.

The Sophomore Experience may be completed any time between the summer after the first year and before the end of summer following the sophomore year.  PLEASE NOTE: Transfer students should complete in their first year at Wheaton.

Students may select from any one of the many options. There are resources available to help them determine the best alternative, including their MAP Advisor, faculty who are teaching their courses, Career Services staff, major advisor, student success advisor and/or other mentors.

Course Options

Each semester, departments and programs will offer course options with integrated experiential learning. Courses will carry the “SE” attribute for Sophomore Experience.  Students can search the Course Schedule for Compass: Sophomore Experience under Attributes to find the list of courses.

Off-Campus Experiences

Students may complete the SE requirement through an internship or sustained volunteer/service experience not affiliated with a course. Experiences must total at least 60 hours and include clear learning goals agreed to by the supervisor and outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).  MAP Advisors will review and approve these MOUs prior to the student’s beginning.

Students will send an email connecting the experience supervisor and MAP advisor to confirm satisfactory completion of the experience.

We encourage students considering this option to reach out to Career Services for support in their off-campus experience search.

Approved On-Campus Experiences

Some on-campus experiences that meet the learning goals of Sophomore Experience, such as student employment opportunities, research with faculty members, and more, will be pre-approved to count toward the requirement. These experiences will not need a Memorandum of Understanding or pre-approval by your MAP advisor.

EXAMPLES: Dialogue Facilitator with the Marshall Center, Collections and Curatorial Assistants with the Permanent Collection, Social Entrepreneurship Launch Program

Verifying Sophomore Experience Completion

At the close of the off-campus or on-campus experience: THE STUDENT is responsible for providing their MAP Advisor with proof of completion of the experience (typically an email from the student that includes both site supervisor and MAP Advisor stating the experience is complete). 

IMPORTANT: This step is critical to ensure that the requirement is completed for notation on your student record.

The indication that Sophomore Experience is COMPLETE on the student record:

  • Courses coded as as “SE” for Sophomore Experience attribute 
    • Course will appear as completing the Sophomore Experience and will display on the DegreeWorks audit.
  • For Off-Campus and On-Campus experience options
    • A notation will be made on the DegreeWorks audit recording the Sophomore Experience as completed once notification of completion is submitted by the MAP advisor by using the Sophomore Experience form available to them in WINDOW on InsideWheaton.

The Major 

Wheaton’s major and minor offerings are expansive, encompassing more than 100 options. Some, such as biology, are located within an academic department; others, like environmental studies, are interdepartmental programs. In either case, you will find the requirements for established majors and minors outlined on each program’s web page as well as in the Programs of Study by Department  section of this publication.

You also may propose an independent major in which you determine and define the focus of study. These are normally designed with the guidance of faculty advisors and combine courses from two or more departments. These majors require the approval of the provost, and must be declared by the end of the fifth semester. (Contact Academic Advising for more information.)

All Wheaton students elect a major by the end of the sophomore year. Visit Academic Advising for guidance in choosing a major, and plan to meet with a faculty advisor for the area in which you intend to study before formally declaring a major or minor to the Office of the Registrar.

The major provides an opportunity to select more focused and advanced work in a particular area of study. You should be prepared to declare a major by the end of your fourth semester (your sophomore year) and should meet with advisors in your sophomore year to do this.

Each major has slightly different requirements for completing it; these are outlined in the college catalog. Alternatives to the standard major programs offered in each department, independent majors, are outlined below. The connection between your choice of major field and your choice of career field may offer more possibilities than you are aware of. Career Services, located in the Filene Center, can help you understand better what the choice of major offers for your career interests. It is most important to pick a field in which you are interested and in which you are likely to do comparatively well. It is also important to remember that many liberal arts graduates, by the time they are five years out of college, are working by choice in jobs or fields that have little obvious connection to their undergraduate major.

Mentored Academic Pathway (MAP)

Mentored Academic Pathways (MAP) is a program designed to foster deep reflection and facilitate effective mentoring between students and faculty. Wheaton takes a team approach to advising. Upon arriving at Wheaton a student is assigned a MAP advisor, who serves as their primary advisor until the student declares a major, at which time they are assigned a major advisor who then becomes the primary advisor.  . 

Students participate in MAP every semester. The MAP has two components. First, there are a series of questions that students reflect on and respond in writing each semester over the four years at Wheaton. Students share their response with their MAP Advisor, typically at least a week before MAP Day. Advisors will respond to these reflections either in writing or during the one-on-one conversation during Advising Week.

Second, one day each semester is MAP Day.  MAP Day is a day set aside for students, faculty, and staff to reflect on one’s individual and collective journeys, while focusing on building a stronger, more inclusive community, and making a thoughtful plan to move forward academically and socially. On these days, student cohorts will participate in a variety of programming tailored to a class year a student is in.  This programming may include meeting with their MAP advisors, participating in cohort-to-cohort advising, attending sessions that highlight specific parts of the curriculum, and/or focused engagement with Career Services, Academic Advising, and other campus partners.  Students earn their MAP grade each semester via their successful participation in MAP Day.

Completion of the MAP is a graduation requirement. Attendance and participation will be recorded and reported to the Registrar. Completion of the MAP requirements will be indicated on the degree audit.

The Mentored Academic Pathway
Year One:

First  Semester. The theme of year one is Explore and Engage. Students will connect in cohorts to discuss academic and co-curricular interests, begin reflective exercises, and consider initial steps towards an academic major or a plan for continuing to explore majors. 

Second Semester. Students transition from community member to community contributor, linking academic, co-curricular and career. Continuing discussion of academic interests and choosing a major.

Year Two:

First Semester.  The theme of the Second-Year MAP is Making a Plan. This involves considering academic, co-curricular and workplace experiences and skills, planning for a semester abroad, evaluating interests and finding ways to be challenged.

Second Semester. Declare academic major and review initial MAP responses from Summer Orientation. What are your goals now and what is the timeline for these goals? Early planning for post-graduate academic experiences.

Year Three:

First Semester. A dynamic semester to adjust to student needs as many students will find themselves planning for or traveling abroad. Advising helps as students immerse themselves in academic communities, global learning experiences, and gain essential skills (including interpersonal skills) for the future and clarify future academic and career goals. 

Second Semester. Network to establish connections and investigate possibilities for post-graduate plans. Develop a plan for post-graduate success.

Year Four:

First Semester. This year, the MAP will focus on a successful transition to a student’s post-Wheaton life, implementing steps to pursue post-graduate goals, and ensuring that all degree requirements will be met in time for graduation.

Second Semester. Finish strong in academics. Apply, interview, negotiate offers, etc.  Continue to strengthen professional networks.  Continue to reflect and learn!

Honors and Scholars Programs

Wheaton’s signature honors and scholars programs are not required, but are open to all students. These programs encourage students to deepen their studies through global exploration,  social justice and diversity work, and/or a broad-based curriculum of courses across the Wheaton curriculum. Successful completion of honors and scholars programs will be noted on a student’s final transcript.

Before deciding to pursue honors and scholars programs, students should consult with their MAP and major advisors about best practice to complete the requirements.

Eliza Wheaton Scholars

The Eliza Wheaton Scholars program provides a map for students to explore and celebrate the breadth of the liberal arts and challenge themselves to take courses across the divisions, departments, and programs at Wheaton. 

Students interested in pursuing the Eliza Wheaton Scholar designation should consult with their MAP and major advisors and declare their intention using the form available in WINDOW in insideWheaton.


Students will be designated Eliza Wheaton Scholars when they earn at least one credit from a course designated with an attribute in each of the following areas:

  • QUAN Quantitative Analysis 

  • NSCI   Natural Science

  • CA       Creative Arts

  • HM      Humanities

  • WRIT  Writing (100-level+)

  • SSCI   Social Sciences

  • SPI      Structures of Power and Inequality\

And two credits in Foreign Language courses with attribute FORL

  • FORL  Foreign Languages (2 semesters in the same language)

Some courses may carry more than one of the designations.  In these cases students may count any and all (i.e. double dip) of the designations to complete the Eliza Wheaton Scholars requirements.  

There is no grade point average requirement for a student to successfully complete the Eliza Wheaton Scholars program. Pending approval by Academic Advising, all IB and AP may be applied to meet the requirements of the Eliza Wheaton Scholars program. Transfer students may apply credits toward the Eliza Wheaton Scholars program with approval of the appropriate department.

Latin Honors 

(Eliza Wheaton Scholar + cumulative grade point average)

For students entering Wheaton College in the Fall 2020 and after, to be awarded the degree of Bachelor of Arts with Latin honors, a student must have completed all requirements of the Eliza Wheaton Scholars program AND have achieved the following cumulative grade point average:

  • summa cum laude 3.90
  • magna cum laude 3.70
  • cum laude 3.50

Global Honors

Global Honors recognizes students who discover and experience cultures outside of the United States, develop advanced proficiency in a second language, and reflect on their place in the world. The Global Honors program provides students the skills to connect and collaborate with diverse communities and build possible career paths in many areas, including government, private companies, and non-profit organizations. 


In order to qualify for Global Honors, students must:

  • Take 5 classes designated as Global Honors courses. The courses must be across at least 2 academic divisions (Creative Arts, Humanities, Natural Science, or Social Science), and at least 3 of the 5 courses must be at the 200-level or above. 
  • Achieve a grade point average of at least 2.85 in all courses required for Global Honors, or be recommended for Global Honors by 2 different faculty members.  Students may only count one grade of “P” toward Global Honors.
  • Complete a Study Abroad experience or a Global Project. Wheaton-approved Study Abroad and Global Projects should offer students immersive and transformative learning experiences by providing meaningful opportunities to analyze and explore cultures other than the US. Students are encouraged to complete their study abroad experience in areas of the world that speak the same language in which they will demonstrate proficiency but this is not required. Study abroad programs are ordinarily one or two semester-long programs but may include summer programs.
    • Students unable to participate in a study abroad program can complete a global project, a substantial and critical engagement with the target culture developed in conjunction with the advisor. Examples include a paper of no less than 10,000 words, a substantive creative project, or an international internship with a reflection component.  Students engaging in global projects can use them as the foundation of their final Global Honors essay with the agreement of the advisor. 
    • Courses taken abroad will only count towards the completion of the five courses for Global Honors if a given course matches the learning goals for Global Honors. The Global Advisory Committee will evaluate requests for credit toward Global Honors. Those requests should typically include evidence of the learning goals of the course (e.g. a complete syllabus). Students will typically complete no more than two of their five Global Honors courses abroad or away from Wheaton.
  • Demonstrate advanced proficiency in a second language. This will ordinarily be accomplished through a 300-level class taken at Wheaton after a study abroad experience or a global project. Students who wish to demonstrate advanced proficiency in languages not taught at Wheaton can do it through the use of accredited testing services such as Learning Testing International or those offered by the European Union. Students are responsible for the cost of the exam but can apply to the Center of Global Education for funding.
    • Advanced proficiency is generally defined for the purpose of Global Honors as the ability to use the target language as part of normal social or professional duties at a normal rate of speech and to reliably elicit information and opinions from native speakers. Examples include answering objections, clarifying points, stating and defending ideas, and reading with almost complete comprehension a variety of materials on familiar and unfamiliar topics such as news reports, emails, general correspondence, and technical material in trained fields of competence.
    • Students not raised or educated primarily in English, with the approval of their advisor and the Global Advisory Committee, may propose a course of study that identifies English as their second language. Working with the support of a faculty advisor, they will propose a course of study for approval by Global Advisory based on the alternative path to Global Honors guidelines established by the Global Advisory Committee.
  • Complete a Global Honors reflection essay or creative project under the guidance of two faculty.  The Global Honors essay should critically and comparatively analyze or bring attention to the place of the student in worldwide systems and their legacies, including natural systems (biological, chemical, or physical sciences) and human systems (cultural, economic, social, political, and built environment). Final essays may also reflect on how cultures have assigned places within power structures that determine hierarchies, inequalities, and opportunities and how they vary over time and place. Topics can include, but are not limited to, understandings of race, ethnicity, gender, nationhood, religion, ability, and class within a comparative global perspective.
    • The final Global Honors reflection essay or creative work should be agreed upon between student and faculty advisor. Generally, essays will be written in English and be composed of no less than 1,300 words. A creative project of comparable work, which could, for example, take the form of a podcast, photo essay, or video, could be the medium for this reflection. Creative arts projects are expected to be presented with a critical statement when appropriate. Students will share their reflection with the Global Honors coordinator for feedback and comments. The final version of the reflection essay must be submitted  to the Global Honors coordinator  at least one month before the last day of classes of the student’s final semester.
    • Global Honors reflections essays and creative works should be shared with the community via symposiums during programs such as Academic Festival. All works will be digitally stored and available for consultation.

Students interested in pursuing Global Honors should talk with their advisor and declare their intention using the form available in WINDOW in insideWheaton.

Taylor and Lane Scholars

The Taylor and Lane Scholars program provides a path for students interested in solving the problems facing our world, from racism, sexism, poverty, and violence to climate change, unequal access to healthcare, and hunger. The Taylor and Lane program helps students develop an understanding of the structures and practices that shape social problems and that form the context for solutions, global and intercultural fluency, and the ability to interact respectfully with all people in pursuit of a common objective.

Students interested in pursuing Taylor and Lane Scholar designation should talk with their advisor and declare their intention using the form available in WINDOW in InsideWheaton.

The program honors Alice Taylor Sanford ‘50 and Nadine Lane ‘50, the first African-American graduates of Wheaton College. Both women had a strong interest in education and spent their lives serving their communities: Lane as a social worker, and Sanford as a teacher and school psychologist.



All Taylor and Lane Scholars must take 4 classes with the Taylor and Lane scholar designation. These courses focus on diversity, social justice, or structures of power and inequality. These 4 courses must include the Taylor and Lane foundational course, and span at least 3 subjects.

At least 2 of these courses must be at the 200-level or above. 

At least 1 course must carry the Structure of Power and Inequality (SPI) designation.

Students may only count one grade of “P” toward Taylor and Lane Scholars. At least two of the Taylor and Lane designated courses must be taken at Wheaton for a letter grade.

Taylor and Lane Scholars can petition the Coordinator to have a course fulfill one of their Taylor and Lane course requirements, even if it is not officially designated Taylor and Lane.

Students must achieve a grade point average of at least 2.85 across the 4 designated classes, or be recommended by two different faculty members. Recommendations will go to the Taylor and Lane Program Coordinator, who will make the final determination on the student’s petition.

Experiential Learning:

All Taylor and Lane Scholars are required to participate in at least 1 full 10-week workshop session of the Intergroup Dialogue Program hosted by the Marshall Center for Intercultural Dialogue or an alternative approved by the Taylor and Lane Program Coordinator.

All Taylor and Lane Scholars are required to participate in at least 1 sustained immersive experience approved by the Taylor and Lane Program Coordinator. There are multiple options to fulfill this requirement:

  • a semester abroad
  • a semester study-away– including a semester with the College for Social Innovation (Semester in the City)
  • a faculty-led study away experience
  • an internship or research experience      
  • a sustained community service placement at a single site on a recurring basis/practicum/service-learning course for a semester
    • must be approved by Program Coordinator
    • must have supervisor support at placement site


All Taylor and Lane Scholars are required to complete designated Taylor and Lane question(s) as a part of their Mentored Academic Pathways (MAP).


All Taylor and Lane Scholars must complete a final project that is shared with the broader community at Academic Festival or some similar venue. The final project can be undertaken either in junior or senior year, or summer and winter breaks between these years, once at least 3 of the 4 Taylor and Lane courses and the immersive experience are complete.

Students interested in pursuing the Taylor and Lane Scholars program should talk with their advisor and declare their intention using the form available in WINDOW in insideWheaton.

LEAPS (Liberal Education and Professional Success)

LEAPS serve as a bridge between the liberal arts and careers, helping students identify, develop, and put into practice the knowledge and skills needed for professional success. 

Each LEAPS is overseen by a LEAPS faculty advisor and a professional mentor from the alumni body or greater Wheaton community.While each LEAPS has its own set of requirements, LEAPS completion will require:

  • 3-5 courses designated as part of the program, at least 2 of these must be full-credit courses

  • An experiential component approved by the LEAPS advisor

Additional requirements may be necessary for completion of specific LEAPS.

Students interested in pursuing any LEAPS program should talk with their advisor.