General Education

Throughout the College’s history, its faculty has expected all students to pursue certain common patterns of study as well as complete a major or concentrated focus of study.

The faculty believes that there are areas of knowledge and understanding, modes of appreciation, and kinds of skills that are of general and lasting significance to the life of the mind. General Education provides a critical perspective on the ideas, values, expressions, and experiences that constitute our culture. General Education also encourages respect for the integrity of thought, judgment, creativity, and tradition beyond the culture of contemporary America. In addition, the faculty encourages each student to do some study in a foreign language.

The faculty spent several years examining the College’s General Education requirements and designed new requirements for students in the classes of 2011 and beyond. The new General Education requirements continue the tradition honoring breadth and depth of intellectual experience while placing greater emphasis on cross-disciplinary collaboration and exploration. The new requirements are an integral and focal component of a Bates education, which also features study in a major and optional minor, and a senior thesis or other capstone experience.

The requirements

General education requirements for the Class of 2011 and beyond

A Bates Education is structured around a major, General Education requirements, and other elective courses. Some students declare two majors; many declare a major and minor.

The General Education requirements include the following types or groups of courses:

1. Two four-course concentrations

Each student successfully completes two General Education concentrations. A concentration consists of four courses chosen from a faculty-designed menu that is structured on the basis of a clearly articulated organizing principle. Some concentrations may include relevant co-curricular experiences such as significant community service, orchestra, chorus, theatrical productions, or volunteer work.

Concentrations may focus on a particular issue or topic or area of inquiry identified by several professors working across different disciplines; examples include “Environment, Place, and History” and “Public Health.”

Concentrations may also be formed within a single department or program; examples of these include “Chinese Language” and “Philosophy.”

If a student elects a second major, it counts as one of the two required concentrations. If a student elects a minor, it counts as one of the concentrations.

2. Three writing-attentive courses

Each student successfully completes three writing attentive courses, one at the first-year level [W1], one at the sophomore or junior level [W2], and one at the senior level, usually the senior thesis [W3]. W courses help students refine their writing skills as they move through their Bates career, so that they are well-prepared to undertake significant writing for a senior thesis or capstone project.

3. Three courses focused on scientific reasoning, laboratory experience, and quantitative literacy

Each student completes: a) one course that focuses on scientific reasoning [S], which may or may not have a laboratory; b) one course that includes a regularly scheduled laboratory component [L]; c) one course focused on quantitative literacy [Q]. Though many Bates courses fulfill two or three of these requirements, the requirements must be met by three distinct courses.

FAQ – General Education – Classes of 2011 and beyond