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. List of General Education requirements.

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.
  • Three writing-attentive courses.   Students successfully complete three writing attentive (“W”) courses: one at the first-year level (W1), one at the sophomore or junior level (W2), and one at the senior level (W3). All First-Year Seminar course sections will serve to fulfill the W1 requirement. All courses fulfilling writing requirements will be identified as such in the College Catalog.
  • 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”).

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 dean’s 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.

Advanced Placement

Bates College participates in the Advanced Placement Program of the College Entrance Examination Board.

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 activity courses including proficiency tests administered by the Department of Athletics and Physical Education or by a full year of participation in intercollegiate athletics, Club Sports, or select Bates dance courses. Students should sign up for physical education courses on the Garnet Gateway 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.