A Wheaton Education
The open spirit of inquiry is reflected in our curriculum, which emphasizes connections among traditional academic disciplines. With more than 100 major and minor programs, you will find plenty of opportunities to discover how the arts and sciences, humanities and social sciences compliment each other. At Wheaton, artists dig into chemistry, biologists delve into literature, historians explore the power of digital technology.
We believe education is an active pursuit. Wheaton offers myriad opportunities to put theory into practice through internships, independent research projects, studying in another country, spending a semester at one of our partner institutions in the United States and participating in campus leadership.
The Wheaton Curriculum
Wheaton College’s bold and innovative liberal arts and sciences curriculum reflects the college’s long-standing values. The Wheaton curriculum encourages students to develop a broad foundation of knowledge, consider important issues across disciplines and from many perspectives, explore diverse cultures and languages and work to understand how structures of power and inequality operate in a global world.
Wheaton’s curriculum requirements are evolving to provide a highly personalized experience for students, helping individuals find the path or paths that match their interests and goals, encouraging them to take on challenges and embrace exploration and providing strong mentorship, guidance and self-reflection along the way. A Wheaton education is at its heart experiential—students learn by doing, both on and off campus, and their internships, research projects, clubs and activities, leadership roles and other experiences contribute to their growth and set them up for a successful life, both personally and professionally.
Students entering Wheaton in Fall 2020 or later will follow the Compass Curriculum requirements, which include a first-year connected course, an experiential program typically during their sophomore year and completion of a Mentored Academic Pathway, along with many other opportunities.
Students who entered Wheaton prior to Fall 2020 are completing requirements under Wheaton’s Connections Curriculum , which includes an engaging First-Year Seminar, a strong foundation in writing and quantitative analysis and an interdisciplinary approach to learning.
All Wheaton students complete at least one major which ensures an in-depth exploration of their chosen discipline and a capstone experience in that field. (Many students choose more than one major and/or one or more minors, with specific requirements for each.)
Every Wheaton student benefits from The Wheaton Edge, which includes guaranteed funding for an internship, research position or other experiential learning opportunity, before their senior year.
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 “Courses of Instruction” 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. Major advising sheets, detailing the requirements for all majors, minors and dual-degree programs, are available at the Filene Center, at the Office of the Registrar and on department websites. 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 probably holds 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 know you will do comparatively well. And it is 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.
Interdepartmental majors, such as American civilization, neuroscience, or the program in mathematics and economics, have been approved by the faculty and are described in the catalog. Students interested in these majors should consult the major advisors or coordinators listed for these programs in the listing of departments and interdepartmental programs.
Information for Undecided Students
Choosing your major can be an exciting process that involves self awareness and personal reflection. There are many resources on campus to help you with this decision (your advisor, the Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services, your preceptors and more).
An academic minor can be a great way to diversify and enhance your curricular experience, gain knowledge in an area outside of your major, or compliment your current major.
Minors should be carefully considered and declared as early as possible to ensure proper completion of the necessary coursework. It is our hope that minors are an intentional part of a student’s academic choices, and therefore they require a certain degree of advising for the minor.
All departments offering majors also offer minor concentrations in the same field. Some departments also offer minors in more specialized areas. Other minors are offered in areas with no corresponding major, such as animal behavior, journalism studies, and peace and social justice. A complete list can be found on the college’s website and in the “Courses of Instruction” section of this publication.
Minor concentrations consist of at least five interrelated courses, at least one of which is taken at an advanced level (300 level or above). Students planning minors may consult with appropriate major advisors about guidelines and restrictions. Only one course in a minor program may also be counted toward the student’s major, and no course may be included in more than one minor program.
During the process of completing the minor declaration form, students will meet with the department coordinator to outline the requirements for the minor. This information should be used in later advising meetings to ensure proper completion, in union with classes required for the major.
Students must complete the Minor Declaration Form, which can be picked up in the Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services or at the Office of the Registrar. A minor cannot be declared before a major is declared.
The Wheaton Curriculum invites students to explore a broad range of topics, and to choose a large proportion of courses based entirely on where their interests lead. Students might even want to pursue one or more of these self-chosen courses through an additional Connection.
Additional courses in astronomy, biology, chemistry, computer science, geology or physics can empower an alert observer of the natural world and an informed participant in important changes happening in science and technology. Courses in the arts—music, theatre, dance, creative writing, literature, visual art and the history of art—can offer lifelong pleasure in artistic performance and expression. Courses in anthropology, classics or history will help put contemporary events and modern cultures into perspective. Courses in economics, psychology, political science or sociology will provide a foundation for understanding how individuals and groups function and interact. Additional courses in philosophy or mathematics will strengthen the ability to analyze problems, while advanced foreign language study will enrich understanding of others and provide a valuable tool for communicating with them.
Enhanced courses offer self-selected students an opportunity to work at a faster pace and/or with more advanced materials in introductory courses which are often required for further work in a discipline. Typically they have additional meeting times and (often, but not always) are awarded an additional half credit.
From time to time, departments design new courses that are offered on an experimental basis. These courses may be offered only once or may eventually become part of the regular curriculum. Numbered 198, 298 or 398, such courses frequently offer unusual opportunities to study at the cutting edge of a field of knowledge.
Wheaton students interested in creating interdisciplinary or cross-disciplinary majors may design their own independent major. Students will develop their own rationale for their proposed major in consultation with advisors from two or more departments and will select an appropriate program of courses from two or more areas of study in the established curriculum. Proposals must be approved by the faculty who will advise the program, by the dean for advising and by the provost. There is no minimum grade point average requirement. Guidelines and proposal forms are available in the Filene Center. Independent majors who are approved for honors in that field of concentration will be designated Wheaton Scholars.
Individual research courses are typically undertaken as yearlong courses in the senior year and involve the production of a senior thesis or other advanced work to qualify the student for departmental honors. These courses are numbered 500. Independent study. These courses are arranged individually between faculty and students, and provide the means by which students interested in pursuing a topic not covered in an existing course may do so with appropriate scholarly guidance. These courses are numbered 099, 199, 299, 399 or 499, depending on the level of the work involved, and are normally undertaken only after the first year.
Students completing internships through the Career Services of the Filene Center may wish to develop these experiences into a fieldwork or independent study course yielding academic credit. Students interested in this possibility should speak with the dean of academic advising, or appropriate faculty before undertaking the internship to determine the best way to prepare for such a course. Normally the student can expect to complete additional research and reading and a paper or project to be evaluated by a faculty member. Fieldwork may consist of work in museums, with government or social service agencies, or in business or public service offices, but it must be primarily an educational rather than a career-oriented experience if it is to become the basis for academic credit.
Global Study and Intercultural Learning
Over the past decade, the number of American students studying abroad has more than doubled, and at Wheaton international study has become an ever more popular feature of the undergraduate experience. Increasingly, Wheaton students understand that study abroad enriches their academic experience and better prepares them for life after college.
Wheaton offers an exciting range of study abroad options and activities through the Center for Global Education and opportunities for intercultural learning through the Marshall Center for Intercultural Learning to encourage students to broaden their cultural boundaries and knowledge of the world.
The Wheaton Curriculum emphasizes the infusion of global and intercultural perspectives, and the college has set a priority on preparing every graduate to be globally and interculturally competent. To support these goals, Wheaton now offers 33 study abroad programs in 19 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Scotland, South Africa and Spain. Students select from a wide range of academic disciplines, become immersed in the culture of their host country, and gain unique insights into themselves and their world. Students may also pursue intercultural learning opportunities within the United States and the Americas.
To be eligible for study abroad, students must be in good academic and social standing and must maintain an overall grade point average of 2.85. Most students elect to study abroad in their junior year, but applications from sophomores (second semester) and seniors (first semester) are considered in relation to the plan of study and preparation. Each fall, the Center for Global Education sponsors a Study Abroad Fair featuring information about Wheaton overseas partner schools and programs. Students may also take advantage of general, country-specific and major-specific information meetings, the resource library at the center, and peer advisors who, as study abroad returnees, share their knowledge with prospective study abroad students. Students submit study abroad applications to the Center for Global Education and receive advice regarding the program most appropriate to meet their academic objectives. Prior to departure, a mandatory orientation program is offered, as well as a reception to honor those selected to participate in studying abroad.
In most cases, students who participate in Wheaton study abroad programs pay regular Wheaton comprehensive fees that cover most overseas fees and educational expenses. Details are outlined in specific program literature available at the Center for Global Education and on the center Web site at www.wheatoncollege.edu/global. Students participating in a Wheaton study abroad program may utilize their federal, state, merit and need-based aid while abroad.
Students whose academic needs cannot be met through Wheaton programs may petition to participate in an approved non-Wheaton program. Such petitions must receive strong support from the faculty advisor. Staff at the Center for Global Education will guide students through the process of identifying an appropriate non-Wheaton program.
In addition to the traditional semester and yearlong options, students may participate in short-term, faculty-led study abroad programs. In past years, these opportunities have included field research in tropical biology in Belize and Costa Rica, sociology in Cambodia and Vietnam and elementary education/English literature in England.
Off-Campus Study in the United States
Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.
Selected Wheaton students may participate in a semester of interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in documentary photography, non-fiction writing and editing, and field research at the Salt Center, based in Portland, Maine. Selected student projects are published in the center’s magazine, become part of the permanent archives, and are displayed in the Salt Gallery for a wider public audience. Enrollment is limited to approximately 25 students, who receive close guidance and individual supervision as they develop their projects. Students learn the steps of field data collection and the development of professional skills needed to shape their independent research for publication. Grades and credits become part of a Wheaton student’s academic record and students pay regular Wheaton tuition and fees for this Wheaton-affiliated program.
The Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts
Wheaton is a member of the Marine Biological Laboratory Consortium in Environmental Science. Select students with strong backgrounds in environmental studies may qualify for fall semester study at this world-renowned center for research, education and training in biology. While at the MBL, students enroll in two core lab and lecture courses in aquatic ecosystems and terrestrial ecosystems, select elective seminars and undertake an independent project. A special effort is made to understand the links between ecosystems on land and in water at global, regional and local scales. The MBL library is jointly operated with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, serving as a primary source of scientific information for the large, multi-institutional Woods Hole scientific community. Grades and credits become part of a Wheaton student’s academic record and students pay regular Wheaton tuition and fees for this Wheaton-affiliated program.
Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program of Williams College and Mystic Seaport
The Williams-Mystic program offers students an interdisciplinary, field-based approach to maritime studies and offers classes in maritime history, literature of the sea, oceanography or marine ecology, and marine policy. Students live in five historical homes in Mystic, CT and also study maritime skills under professional instruction, including demonstration squad, music of the sea, shipsmithing, boat-handling, and celestial navigation.
The program offers three field seminars each semester, including an offshore voyage in the Atlantic onboard a traditionally rigged tall ship, exploring the Pacific Coast, and a trip in the Mississippi River Delta along the Gulf of Mexico. Admission is competitive and applications are accepted on a rolling basis. More information is available in the Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services. Grades are considered as transfer credit and do not factor into the Wheaton GPA. Students pay tuition and fees to Williams College, and financial aid is applied for through Wheaton. Federal, state and institutional need-based funding is transferable; however, merit scholarships do not transfer.
The National Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center
Under the auspices of Connecticut College and the Twelve College Exchange Program, described below, students in theater may spend one semester of concentrated study in directing, playwriting, acting, movement and voice, design and other electives. A final project draws together all these elements, culminating in a performance open to the public. The semester opens with two weeks spent abroad, either in Stratford-upon-Avon or at Russia’s Moscow Art Theater (subject to change). The program is very competitive and may require an audition with NTI staff. Grades and credits become part of a Wheaton student’s academic record. Grades are considered as transfer credit and do not factor into the Wheaton GPA. Students pay tuition and fees to Connecticut College, and financial aid is applied for through Wheaton. Federal, state and institutional need-based funding is transferable; however, merit scholarships do not transfer.
The Twelve College Exchange Program
Regional colleges cooperating with Wheaton in exchanging junior-year students include Amherst, Bowdoin, Connecticut College,Dartmouth, Mt. Holyoke, Smith, Trinity, Vassar, Wellesley and Wesleyan. Admission is competitive, and students should indicate strong curricular reasons for wishing to participate in the exchange. Applications and information on eligibility are available through the Academic Advising Center; a minimum GPA of 2.67 (B-) is required to apply, though individual colleges have the final say on whether they will accept a student or not. Credits become part of a Wheaton student’s academic record. Grades are considered as transfer credit and do not factor into the Wheaton GPA. For the period of study away, no fees are paid to Wheaton; students pay tuition and fees to the host exchange institution. Wheaton merit scholarship and financial aid funds are not available, though students are eligible for state and federal aid programs. Applications are due to Academic Advising by February 1 of the sophomore year for fall or spring attendance during the junior year.
Washington Semester at American University
Qualified students may spend one semester of their junior year at American University (Washington, D.C.) studying a variety of topics. Students enroll in a core seminar, which consists of meetings with guest lecturers from a huge network of national and international organizations and agencies, and class readings. An elective course or research project is undertaken, along with an internship placement two days a week. For the period of study away, no fees are paid to Wheaton; students pay tuition and fees to American University. Wheaton merit scholarship and financial aid funds are not available, though students are eligible for state and federal aid programs and may apply to American University for special scholarships. Credits return to Wheaton, though grades are considered as transfer courses and do not affect the Wheaton grade point average.
A limited number of Wheaton students may cross-register for Brown University courses in subjects or areas not covered in the Wheaton curriculum. Students may not take specific classes at Brown that are offered at Wheaton without the consent of the faculty advisor. A minimum GPA of 2.67 (B-) is required to apply. Students can take up to two classes at Brown during their time at Wheaton, and they must be in different semesters while taking three courses at Wheaton. Students taking a language at Brown that is not offered at Wheaton (Catalan, Czech, Modern Greek, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi-Urdu, Korean, Modern Persian, Portuguese, and Swedish) may do so for four semesters. Course and credit are posted as transfer work on the Wheaton transcript.
Applications and details regarding eligibility and other limitations for Brown cross-registration are available in Academic Advising in the Filene Center and should be referred to before completing the application process. The student’s faculty advisor must sign off on the application. Both the dean in Academic Advising at Wheaton and the dean at Brown must approve all applications. Application for cross-registration must be submitted to Academic Advising in the Filene Center by the end of the week of registration every semester.
Transportation to and from Brown University is the responsibility of the student. Pay careful attention to the times courses are offered so that you can plan for enough travel time to Providence (especially for parking).
Wheaton is a member of the Southeastern Association for Cooperation in Higher Education in Massachusetts (SACHEM). As a member of this group, full-time students at Wheaton are eligible to enroll in a course through a cross registration program at one of the following institutions: Bridgewater State University, Bristol Community College, Cape Cod Community College, Dean College, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Massasoit Community College, Stonehill College and University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. Students apply for SACHEM cross-registration through the Office of the Registrar by completing a SACHEM approval form. Courses must fall outside the Wheaton curriculum. Students are limited to two courses per term and are subject to limitations placed by the host institution. Approval forms and pamphlets outlining the regulations and procedures for SACHEM registration are available at the Office of the Registrar in the Doll’s House.
Boston Marine Studies Consortium
Wheaton students may enroll through the normal pre-registration process in one of eight Marine Studies courses offered through the member schools of the Boston Marine Studies Consortium. Students may generally enroll in no more than two courses, generally one per semester. Eligible students must be enrolled as full-time students at Wheaton and, where appropriate, have the necessary prerequisite courses. Courses are taught at Bentley University, Wellesley College, and the New England Aquarium. Students must provide their own transportation. Students should direct questions to Academic Advising in the Filene Center.
Wheaton actively encourages students to continue their education in professional and graduate programs. Information and advice about graduate schools and undergraduate preparation for graduate study is available in the Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services.
Dual-degree programs permit a student to begin graduate-level study in communications, engineering, business, theology and optometry before graduating from Wheaton. A student will take one to three additional years to earn a second degree in one of these fields; the Wheaton A.B. is normally awarded at the same time as the second degree. More detailed information about these programs and the undergraduate programs of study that lead to them is available under dual-degree programs in the Courses of Instruction section of this catalog.
Dual-degree programs exist with the following institutions:
Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College (B.S. Engineering)
Emerson College (M.A. Integrated Marketing Communication)
Andover-Newton Theological School (M.A. Religion)
New England School of Optometry (Doctor of Optometry)
Clark University Graduate School of Management (M.B.A.)
Pre-med and other health professions
Students interested in postgraduate work in medicine, dentistry, veterinary and other health professions should consult the pre-health careers advisor early in their first year to plan a program of study appropriate to the health career of the student’s choice. Medical, dental and veterinary schools normally require a minimum of two semesters of biology, two years of chemistry (including one year of organic chemistry), two semesters of physics, one semester of mathematics and two semesters of English. Some schools have additional requirements and all admit students who have completed majors outside of the sciences if their record in science courses is strong.
Because law schools recognize the value of traditional liberal arts education, there are no set courses making up a pre-law program. An interested student should select courses that will develop an ability to write, to argue persuasively and to analyze critically the arguments of others. Students considering a career in law should consult one of the pre-law advisors about their academic program and to prepare for law school admissions. Wheaton offers a legal studies minor, but this minor is not a prerequisite for law school.
Architecture and related fields
Students interested in architecture and art-related fields such as architectural restoration, city planning, landscape design or urban design may enroll in advanced degree programs at other institutions after completing their Wheaton A.B.Their Wheaton program should include at least one year of calculus and physics, as well as courses in drawing, art and architectural history and design.
In addition to the Emerson College program, students may prepare for journalism or media careers in graduate schools of journalism or communications. Students may prepare by completing the writing/literature program in the English department, the visual art major (with an emphasis on graphic design or photography), the sociology major (with an emphasis in documentary sociology or media and society) or the journalism studies minor. They are encouraged to meet with members of the relevant departments or the dean of academic advising about their interests.
Students may earn a Massachusetts license in Early Childhood, Pre-K Grade 2 and Students with Special Needs, Elementary, and Secondary school teaching through the Education department. Observation and practical teaching experience through supervised student teaching is available at local private and public schools, as well as at the nursery school run by the college. Students considering teaching careers may major in any liberal arts field, but should meet with members of the education department in their freshman year to plan courses leading to licensure. More information may be found under the Education department listing of courses.
Preparation for postgraduate education in management requires no prescribed undergraduate curriculum; most schools offering the Master of Business Administration degree are concerned with the overall quality of an applicant’s undergraduate work, and many prefer students who have completed majors in traditional liberal arts fields. Some work, however, in mathematics, economics and/or the behavioral sciences is relevant for M.B.A. programs.
Many students will be interested in postgraduate education in an academic discipline or field and will find that opportunities for careers in college and university teaching and research will grow rapidly in the next two decades. A liberal arts education offers the best preparation for most graduate school programs, and interested students should consult major advisors in appropriate departments at their earliest opportunity. Juniors and seniors will be invited to attend graduate preparation symposia through Academic Advising. Further information about graduate school admissions can be obtained from Academic Advising in the Filene Center.