Academic Requirements

This is simply an introduction to some of the degree requirements at Bates. For complete requirements, see the college catalog.


The Overview

Educators often suggest that the core of the liberal arts program lies in the balance it attempts to achieve between a defined approach to specialization, that is a major, and exposure to diverse fields of study through general education requirements. More recently, the value of interdisciplinary approaches to study has been verified as important in our increasingly global and flexible world. Curricular planning by students at a liberal arts institution is crucially important to achieving the desired education. An imbalance in any direction detracts from the value and possibilities of the experience.

The Major

Bates offers majors in the fields listed below. Students are urged to consider carefully the areas in which they might be interested in majoring. They are advised to take introductory courses in those fields during the first year in order to become acquainted with the substance of potential majors. At the same time, a too-heavy preoccupation with the need to take courses only in possible major areas detracts from desirable diversity in curricular selection, particularly in the early portion of the undergraduate years. Full list of majors and minors. Full list of majors and minors.

Student-designed Interdisciplinary Majors

Students who have a particular interest which crosses the boundaries of the established disciplines may develop an individual and specific program of study drawing on courses from two or more established major fields. Such majors must be submitted for approval by the Curriculum and Calendar Committee.  Students must submit their proposals/programs for approval before they participate in the registration process during the spring semester of their sophomore year or the fall semester of their junior year. A more complete description of guidelines is available from the registrar.


General Education Requirements

The opportunity for students to concentrate or major in one of the academic disciplines is accompanied by the responsibility to complete a minimum of study in areas outside the major which are considered by the Faculty as having general and lasting significance for one’s intellectual life. Through such study students gain critical appreciation of ideas, values, and artistic expressions, which make up traditions of civilization. They also gain critical appreciation of the methods and theories of the natural sciences and social sciences. Bates graduates are expected to be knowledgeable in the “major” area, but above all they are expected to be capable of understanding the self and its relationship to prior traditions and present environments. In order to help students fulfill these educational purposes, members of the Class of 2014 must meet the following requirements.  These requirements are stated in the 2009-10 College Catalog, pp. 19 and 20.

General Education Curriculum

Two General Education concentrations. In addition to their major, students successfully complete two general education concentrations, declared at the same time as their major.  A concentration consists of four courses chosen from a faculty-designed menu that is structured on the basis of a clearly articulated organizing principle.  These concentrations may also include relevant non-course-based experiences such as significant community service, orchestra, chorus, plays, volunteer work, etc., in lieu of courses.  Non-course-based experiences, though counting towards a concentration, may not be counted towards the 32 credits needed for graduation. Concentrations may be of two basic types: (1) concentrations focusing on a particular issue or topic or area of inquiry (2) concentrations within a single department, program, or major.  The latter might replace or be in addition to existing minors, at the discretion of individual departments or programs. Note: Effective with the Class of 2017 and beyond, there are no longer restrictions of “double-dipping”-using one course to fulfill both a GEC and a major, minor, or second GEC-however, several GECs are not available to certain majors, minors, or other GECs whose work is deemed too close to the content of the GEC. These exclusions are detailed in the GEC descriptions. Students in the classes of 2014, 2015, and 2016 who wish to fulfill their General Education requirements according to this revised rule may do so, but they must follow all the requirements stated in this catalog, including any revised requirements for majors, minors and GECs. Three writing-attentive courses.   Students successfully complete three writing attentive (“W”) courses, one at the first-year level (WI), one at the sophomore or junior level (WII), and one at the senior level (WIII). All First Year Seminar course sections will serve to fulfill the WI requirement. All courses fulfilling writing requirements will be identified as such in the College Catalog. Double-dipping rules:  When appropriate, W-attentive courses may also be used to fulfill any other degree requirements at Bates (major, concentrations, scientific reasoning, laboratory experience, quantitative literacy). Scientific Reasoning, Laboratory Experience, and Quantitative Literacy.  Students successfully complete three distinct courses:  (1) one course that includes a regularly scheduled laboratory component (in the laboratory or in the field), i.e., an “L” section; (2) one Scientific Reasoning (“S”) course, which may or may not have a laboratory component; (3) one course in quantitative literacy (“Q”). Double-dipping rules: no double-dipping is allowed between L, S, and Q courses (i.e., these requirements must be met by three distinct courses). However, when appropriate, L, S, and Q courses may be used to fulfill other degree requirements (major, concentrations, and writing). Overall Implementation and Timetable. The new Bates Education Requirements were introduced gradually, beginning with the class of 2011, in the Fall of 2007.  Students graduating before 2011 will not be given the option of fulfilling the new requirements, but will be expected to abide by the ones current at the time of their matriculation.   By the Fall of 2010, all students will be subject to the new requirements. Starting in the Fall of 2007, all fulltime faculty members are expected to offer at least one “W” or “L” or “S” or “Q” course per year, or one course per year that counts towards a concentration of type 1 (area of inquiry).  Exceptions to this may be granted by the Dean of the Faculty.


The Three-year Option

Students who choose to complete the Baccalaureate Degree in three years register for five courses each semester and take a unit each Short Term.  Students should understand that, since the normal registration at Bates is four courses each semester, the three-year program allows less flexibility and requires the student to progress toward the completion of the degree at a more demanding pace.  Students considering the three-year option should seek counsel from their advisors or the deans office as soon as possible in order to complete all requirements in a timely fashion.

Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts

Although it should be remembered that no major in the College requires that a student do a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts Degree, students who major in the natural sciences (biology, chemistry, geology, physics) must complete CHEM 107A, CH/ES 107B, or FYS 398; CHEM 108A or CH/ES 108B; MATH 106 or 206PHYS 108 or FYS 274. Students with Advanced Placement credit, International Baccalaureate credit, A-Level credit, or approved transfer credit may fulfill the requirement for one or more of these courses. Students must declare their intention to earn the B.S. degree no later than the end of the first semester of their senior year. For students entering in fall 2012 and beyond, pass/fail may not apply to courses for the B.S. requirements.


Pass/Fail

Students may elect to take courses on a pass/fail basis according to the following stipulations:

  1. Students may take a total of two Bates courses on a pass/fail basis, with a maximum of one per semester.
  2. Students may declare or change a pass/fail option up to the final add day (end of second week of classes).
  3. Students taking a course pass/fail are not identified as such on class rosters. Faculty members will submit letter grades for all students to the Registrar.  The Registrar will convert such grades to a pass or fail. Unless the student wishes to inform the instructor, only the student, the Registrar, and the student’s advisor know the grading mode for a course.
  4. Departments and programs decide whether courses taken pass/fail can be used to satisfy major and secondary concentration requirements.
  5. Courses taken pass/fail do not affect the student’s GPA and do not count towards general education requirements. A pass is equivalent to two quality points.

Pass grades may not be changed if the student later wishes to use the course to meet general education requirements, nor may a student change a letter grade to a pass grade, or vice versa, to affect their academic record.

Advanced Placement

Bates College participates in the Advanced Placement Program of the College Entrance Examination Board. Please see the enclosed memorandum in the “Learning” section of this packet regarding AP credit policy and procedures.

Physical Education

Two activity courses (ten weeks in length) of physical education or its equivalent are required at Bates. The requirement may be met in part by proficiency tests administered by the Department of Physical Education or by participation in intercollegiate athletics, Club Sports, Outing Club activities, or the Modern Dance Company. Students should sign up for physical education with the Department of Physical Education during the first week of classes.  We will inform you of the specific date and time in September.  In addition, students should be aware that although academic credit is not granted for physical education, completion of two semesters is a degree requirement. Participation in Commencement is not allowed unless the physical education activities requirement has been completed. Given the course requirements for majors, and the popularity of studying off campus and abroad during the Junior year at Bates, we recommend VERY STRONGLY that students complete this requirement by the end of the sophomore year.