Undergraduate courses offered by Whittier College lead to the degree of Bachelor of Arts. Graduate instruction leads to the degree of Master of Arts.
The Bachelor of Arts degree at Whittier is built upon a pattern of general education requirements to develop breadth of knowledge and an understanding of the relationships among various disciplines. General education, known as the Liberal Education Program at Whittier, is complemented by a major, which may be in a single department or interdisciplinary program, and by electives, which offer students an opportunity to explore additional areas of academic interest. Within this basic structure, Whittier College’s curriculum is flexible, to allow for the individual needs, academic interests, and goals of its students. Through the Whittier Scholars Program, the College encourages students with a desire to design their own curricula to do so, in close consultation with a Scholars’ Council. Regardless of which curricular path or major a student chooses, Whittier College is committed to developing strong writing skills throughout the curriculum.
Liberal Education Program
Fritz Smith, Coordinator of the Liberal Education Program, Associate Dean of the Faculty, and Professor of Mathematics
Statement of Educational Values and Objectives
The Liberal Education Program provides an academic framework for collaboration and transformation within the community that is Whittier College. Through the Liberal Education Program, Whittier College prepares students to solve problems and communicate ideas in an increasingly complex and interdependent world community. It does this through its emphasis on cultural perspectives and the importance of connections between different fields of knowledge. Both critical thinking (the development of the skills and methods necessary for systematic investigation - i.e. the ability to define, analyze, and synthesize using a variety of methods and technologies) and the practical application of knowledge inform all elements of the program and are central to the transformation that distinguishes Whittier College graduates.
- Students should develop the ability to make connections across disciplines in order to understand the convergence and divergence of different fields of knowledge and to understand the nature of an academic community.
- Students should develop an understanding of, and competency in, the use of signs and symbols to construct, create, perceive, and communicate meaning.
- Students should develop the capacity to entertain multiple perspectives and interpretations.
- Students should develop an understanding of culture and the connections between themselves and others in relation to physical, historical, social, and global contexts.
- Students should develop breadth, defined as familiarity with essential concepts in major fields, and depth, defined as knowledge of at least one field (usually achieved in the major).
Requirements for Graduation
In order to graduate through the Liberal Education Program students must:
- Complete the requirements listed in the core framework below.
- Complete the requirements for a Major.
- Complete 120 units of coursework (Major courses, core courses and elective courses).
- Out of the 120 units, six units, from at least two departments, must come from each of the three Divisions: Natural Science, Social Science, and Humanities/Fine Arts. This is referred to as the Breadth Requirement (18 credits). Courses used for Natural Science breadth are not eligible for use in the Connections II requirement.
Outline of the Liberal Education Program Core
The goals of the Liberal Education Program are met by a set of core requirements that are contained in a framework of four categories. The selection of these four categories is a reflection of what we value most here at Whittier College.
Community: The transformative experience begins in learning communities that introduce the idea of building connections across disciplines, as well as the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the world.
Communication: Students learn to communicate understanding using different sets of symbols.
Cultural Perspectives: Students gain cultural perspective by exploring different cultures.
Connections: Students again connect as a community in the context of interdisciplinary courses and pairs.
The Liberal Education Core Requirements
- Community, 6 credits (FWS): INTD 100 - College Writing Seminar, linked with another course; typically completed fall semester of freshman year.
- Communication (9 credits)
- Quantitative Reasoning, 3 credits (COM1)
- Writing Intensive Course, 3 credits (COM2): courses satisfying the Communication II requirement must be taken after the successful completion of INTD 100 - College Writing Seminar, and should be completed by the end of the first semester of the sophomore year.
- Creative and Performing Arts, 2 credits (COM3): the Creative and Performing Arts requirement may be satisfied by a single course of two or more units or by two courses of one unit each.
- Senior Presentation, 1 credit (COM4)
- Cultural perspectives, 12 credits, one course each from four of the following seven areas:
- African (CUL1)
- Asian (CUL2)
- Latin American (CUL3)
- North American (CUL4)
- European (CUL5)
- Crosscultural (CUL6)
- Languages (CUL7)
- Connections (10 credits)
- Two Paired courses or a sequence of two team-taught courses, 6 credits (CON1)
- One course that integrates scientific and mathematical methods and ideas with analysis of cultural or societal issues, 4 credits (CON2). Courses used for Connections II are not eligible for use in the Natural Sciences breadth requirement.
Once a student has matriculated at Whittier College, course work taken at other institutions (except Whittier College Foreign Studies programs) cannot be used to satisfy the Liberal Education requirements.
Courses taken in a semester-length study-abroad program may be applied to the Liberal Education requirements, as specified in the catalog description of Whittier Foreign Study Programs. Courses from foreign study programs must be approved in advance by the Registrar, based on guidelines developed by the Liberal Education Committee.
Credit received for Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IBC) may be used to satisfy Liberal Education requirements.
- AP credit in Art History will satisfy the European requirement.
- AP credit in English will satisfy the Freshman Writing Seminar requirement.
- AP credit in History will satisfy either the American and/or European requirement.
- AP credit in Mathematics will satisfy the Quantitative Reasoning requirement.
- AP credit in Music or Studio Art will satisfy the Creative and Performing Arts requirement.
Except for Natural Science Breadth and Connections II, courses that meet the guidelines for more than one category may satisfy requirements for each of those categories concurrently. Courses used to satisfy Liberal Education requirements may also be used to satisfy requirements in other areas such as majors, minors, and credentialing programs. A student may satisfy both high school deficiencies and Liberal Education requirements with the same course. If you have completed two Connection II courses then one may be used for the Natural Science Breadth requirement. Please contact the Registrar’s Office for assistance.
When a student fails to complete satisfactorily a paired set of courses, the student must then complete a different pair to satisfy that part of the Liberal Education Program.
Students completing a 3-2 Engineering curricula are exempt from the Communication IV, Senior Presentation, requirement.
Graduation Requirements for Students with Transfer Credits
All requirements for graduation apply, as stipulated above, with the exceptions indicated below. The Registrar of Whittier College will determine which credits transferred from another institution may be used to satisfy each requirement. Adjustments of the Graduation Requirements (based on Undergraduate Standing at entrance): Liberal Education Requirements: All students with transfer credits, regardless of the number of transfer credits that satisfy Liberal Education Program requirements, must complete the Connections I requirement at Whittier. At least twelve credits in the major must be taken at Whittier College.
College Writing Programs
Charles Eastman, Director
At Whittier College, each student learns to think critically and write effectively. Because the need to communicate clearly is essential in every discipline, faculty from every department share responsibility for improving students’ writing abilities. For these reasons, the faculty has constructed a writing program that spans four years at Whittier College.
The undergraduate curriculum is writing-intensive, designed to teach students how to communicate effectively at each successive level of their major discipline, as well as to general audiences outside their chosen fields. Students begin with Freshman Writing Seminars, progress to Writing Intensive Courses, proceed through Writing Across the Curriculum, and write a capstone Paper-in-the-Major as part of their senior year experience.
Peer tutoring is offered through the Center for Advising and Academic Success (CAAS). Students interested in tutoring, peer mentorship, or teaching careers are encouraged to take INTD 035, the required training class, and work at the Center.
The Freshman Writing Program
Freshman Writing Seminars introduce students to Whittier’s writing program. These seminars, themed courses designed by faculty from all disciplines, delve into challenging intellectual questions that freshmen explore in class discussions and in essays. Freshmen develop both critical thinking skills and the ability to communicate their conclusions about complex problems in clearly written form. Seminars are limited to 15 students and differ in content each year. Each seminar is 3 units and is taken for a letter grade.
INTD 100 - College Writing Seminar
Students read complex texts chosen to sharpen critical reading and thinking skills. Texts frame a central course theme. Writing assignments based on these texts are designed to teach and practice description, narration, exposition, argument, analysis, synthesis, and research-based writing, as well as writing under pressure of time. Extensive revision is emphasized as integral to the writing process. Letter grade only, one semester, three credits.
Writing Intensive Courses
Writing Intensive Courses continue students’ development as writers by emphasizing writing and revision in the context of specific disciplines. Students write at least one longer paper to emphasize the importance of applying information and interpretations gleaned from research or textual analysis. Research paper assignments focus on using information and interpretations to present a case, rather than simply to catalogue information. Papers emphasizing analysis of textual materials involve comparison and synthesis of ideas presented in sources read. Each student must complete a Writing Intensive Course by the end of the first semester of the sophomore year. The Writing Intensive Course may be taken within or outside the major; it may simultaneously satisfy other Liberal Education Program requirements.
Writing Across the Curriculum
Writing to communicate understanding of core concepts is the primary mode of assessment in both lower and upper division courses at Whittier, including mathematics and science, in both the Whittier Scholars Program and the Liberal Education Program. In their majors, students learn not only to master written modes of discourse typical of their discipline, but also how to translate complex disciplinary information to general audiences.
The capstone writing experience in Whittier’s curriculum is the Paper-in-the-Major. Researched and written in the senior year (occasionally in the junior year), this paper demonstrates students’ command of their major’s perspectives, methods, and body of knowledge, as well as their ability to communicate these skillfully in writing. The Paper-in-the-Major can serve as a writing sample in applications to graduate programs. The faculty in each department determine the specific topics and formats for the Paper-in-the-Major.
The Campus Writing Center and the Peer Mentor Program
Students interested in teaching careers should consider applying to and training for work as peer tutors at the Center for Academic and Advising Success (CAAS). Students may also apply to work in partnership with faculty teaching Freshman Writing Seminars as peer mentors to incoming freshmen. See the Director of College Writing Programs for information about these programs.
Requirements For Graduation
All undergraduate students entering Whittier College follow one of two paths to a Whittier degree: the Liberal Education Program or the Whittier Scholars Program. The completion of all requirements for a degree is the student’s responsibility. A student has the option of completing graduation requirements prevailing at the time of admission or readmission, at the time of graduation, or any intervening year of continuous full-time enrollment. Graduation requirements cannot be selected from two or more catalogs.
Students must monitor their own progress through frequent reference to the appropriate catalog, and their online degree audit. Consultation with faculty advisors as well as with the Registrar is suggested to assure satisfactory progress toward completion of the degree.
High school deficiencies may be met by enrolling in appropriate Whittier College courses, through a local high school or community college, through extended education or summer school courses, or by some other acceptable alternative. Students with high school foreign language deficiencies must take six credits of a single foreign language.
Both degree paths require a minimum of 120 credits for graduation, satisfaction of the College Writing Requirement (see College Writing Programs), and residence at Whittier College while completing a minimum of 30 credits of college work. Further, minimum overall grade point averages of 2.0 in Whittier College courses and in courses taken in the major discipline(s) are required in order for a student to be eligible for graduation. Note: some major disciplines require a grade point average higher than 2.0 for graduation.
Requirements For the Major
Each student must declare a major and select an appropriate advisor by the spring registration period of their sophomore year when registering for junior year courses. To declare a major, students must file a Declaration of Major form with the Office of the Registrar and do so by this registration period or else there will be a hold on their registration for junior year courses. Students who transfer in with 45 credits or more must declare a major upon entrance.
A maximum of 48 credits in a single discipline may be counted toward the 120 credits needed for graduation. At least 72 units must be completed outside of the major discipline. Up to six units from courses cross-listed with the major discipline may be used toward the 72-unit requirement. In a department housing two or more recognized disciplines, a maximum of 60 credits may be counted from the department.
At least twelve credits in the major must be taken at Whittier College. A minimum grade point average of 2.0 is required in the courses taken from the major department. Note: some majors require a grade point average higher than 2.0 for graduation.
Requirements For a Minor
Minors may be earned as part of a student’s academic achievement but are not required for graduation. Students considering a minor should contact the faculty advisor for minors in their department of interest early in their academic career.
A minimum of 16 credits is required for a minor, and specific requirements are defined in this catalog for each department.
Graduation Requirements For Transfer Students
All Requirements for Graduation apply, as stipulated in the previous pages, with the exceptions indicated below.
The Registrar of Whittier College will determine which credits transferred from another institution may be used to satisfy each requirement.
All students with transfer credits, regardless of the number of transfer credits that satisfy Liberal Education Program requirements, must complete one set of paired courses or a team-taught sequence in Comparative Knowledge at Whittier.