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 many fields (see the link 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 Review 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. Full Description of General Education requirements.

General Education Curriculum

  • One General Education concentration. In addition to their major, students successfully complete one general education concentration, 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 and the Schedule of Courses.
  • Five Modes of Inquiry courses.  Students successfully complete five distinct courses from the following modes of inquiry:
    Analysis and Critique [AC]
    Creative Process and Production [CP]
    Historical and Social Inquiry [HS]
    Scientific Reasoning [SR]
    Quantitative and Formal Reasoning [QF]
    Students may apply a total of up to two courses from the combined major and the second area of study toward fulfilling the mode of inquiry requirements.

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 or FYS 398; CHEM 108A; 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. Pass/fail may not apply to courses for the B.S. requirements.


Advanced Placement, IB, and A-Levels

Bates College participates in the Advanced Placement Program of the College Entrance Examination Board and also awards credit for some results of the International Baccalaureate and A-Level examinations.

Additional information may be found on the Registrar’s Office website.