Graduation Requirements

The Graduation Requirements are designed to provide all students with diverse learning opportunities, as well as with depth in more than one area. Every student must complete work in each division of the College.

To receive a degree from Allegheny, students must complete the following requirements:

  1. The First-year/Sophomore Requirement
  2. The Major Requirement
  3. The Minor Requirement
  4. The Distribution Requirement
  5. The Junior Seminar Requirement
  6. The Senior Project Requirement
  7. The Credit Requirement
  8. The Grade Requirement
  9. The Residency Requirement

The First-year/Sophomore (FS) Requirement

All students are required to take three FS courses in the first two years: FS 101, 102, and 201. The FS program encourages careful listening and reading, thoughtful speaking and writing, and reflective academic planning and self-exploration. These courses provide opportunities to develop communication and research skills useful for generating, exploring, defending, and challenging ideas. This background prepares students to succeed in the Junior Seminar and Senior Project that are required in the student’s major. Taken together, the FS program, Junior Seminar, and Senior Project ensure that all Allegheny graduates are equipped to think critically and creatively, to communicate clearly and persuasively, and to meet challenges in a diverse, interconnected world.

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The Major Requirement

All Allegheny students must complete a major (the “graduation major”) consisting of a minimum of 36 semester credit hours of coursework in the major program, including the Junior Seminar and Senior Project. Students may choose to take more than 48 credits in a department, but no more than 64 credits from any one department may count toward the 128 credits needed for graduation. Students must achieve a minimum grade point average of 2.0 in the major.

Students electing majors in addition to the graduation major must fulfill all requirements for each program. Each major must contain at least 20 credits not counted in another major or minor.

After consulting with their current advisors, students should select a major advisor and declare a major and minor by the end of the sophomore year. Students who have completed at least 48 semester credit hours will not be permitted to register for the next semester until they have declared a major and a minor. Appropriate forms may be obtained from the Office of the Registrar.

Divisional Majors

Seventeen departments at Allegheny offer at least one major; several offer two or more. Six interdivisional majors also are available, providing 36 choices in all:

  • Art
    • Art History
    • Art and Technology
    • Studio Art
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Communication Arts
    • Communication
    • Theatre
  • Computer Science
    • Applied Computing
    • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • English
  • Geology
    • Environmental Geology
    • Geology
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Modern Languages
    • French
    • German
    • Spanish
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Religious Studies

Interdivisional Majors

  • Environmental Science
  • Environmental Studies
  • Global Health Studies
  • International Studies
  • Neuroscience
  • Women’s Studies

Double Majors

Students electing double majors must fulfill all requirements for each of the two programs. The student must receive approval from both major advisors to register for classes. A student completing two majors may choose to complete a single senior project that integrates both disciplines or two separate senior projects, one in each discipline. In the former case, the Senior Project must be evaluated by faculty from both programs. The degree awarded (B.S. or B.A.) corresponds to the major listed first on the student’s major declaration.

When a second major is used to fulfill the College Minor Requirement, each major must contain at least 20 credit hours that do not also count toward the other major. A second major that is used to fulfill the College Minor Requirement must also be in a different division from the graduation major. If either major is interdivisional, then in most cases the requirement that the graduation major and second major be in different divisions is satisfied. Students should consult specific descriptions of interdivisional majors to identify specific double major combinations that do not satisfy the College Minor Requirement.

The appropriate department chairpersons and a faculty advisor from each department must approve the double major. A decision regarding the type of Senior Project should be noted on the approval form when it is returned, even though changes may be made later with the approval of the departments and the individuals involved.

Student-Designed Majors

Students at Allegheny may design their own majors in cases where their academic, personal, and professional interests are not met by the combinations of majors and minors available in the standard curricula. The Self-Designed Major must embody the educational objectives of Allegheny College, match the rigor and scope of existing major programs, and be true to the vision of the Liberal Arts as intellectual, academic, and civic preparation for life. In conjunction with their advisors, students create a plan of study that reflects compelling intellectual connections between departments, allowing for the student to synthesize multiple bodies of knowledge. Students pursuing a Self-Designed Major must complete a Senior Project that functions as a culmination of the student’s interdisciplinary study. The Senior Project should directly contribute to the student’s expressed academic goals and must be evaluated by faculty from more than one department.

Qualifying students who wish to propose a Self-Designed Major should do so using the forms available from the Registrar’s Office. To submit a proposal, students must have a 3.0 semester GPA for the two semesters prior to the proposal submission, and must submit their proposal by the end of the 7th week of their 5th semester at Allegheny College.

The student’s proposal should clearly articulate the intellectual goals for the plan of study and should provide a compelling case for how the proposed major fulfills those goals in ways not otherwise available through either double majors or other major/minor combinations. The major must include a minimum of 50 semester credit hours. The proposal should address how each course (including the Junior Seminar, the Senior Project, and potential study abroad, internship, or independent study opportunities) fits together to create a coherent and viable program of study. The program must show a progression to higher-level courses and include significant work at the 300- and 400-level. A self-designed major may not count more than 4 credits of internship or independent study, or more than 16 credits of transfer credit (e.g. from a study abroad program) towards the 50 credit requirement.

A self-designed major requires a great deal of care in its design. The primary responsibility for the proposal rests with the student. Faculty are critical to the student’s success, however, particularly in the planning and development stages. All proposals for Self-Designed Majors must be accompanied by a faculty evaluation letter from the advisors for the proposed majors that assesses the intellectual and academic cohesiveness of the proposed plan of study as well as its commensurability with the goals of a Liberal Arts education.

The complete proposal will be evaluated by the Curriculum Committee, which will ultimately grant or deny permission based on the quality of the proposal and the academic viability of the plan of study. Any subsequent changes to the program must be approved by the Curriculum Committee.

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The Minor Requirement

All Allegheny students must complete a minor (the“graduation minor”) consisting of at least 20 credits of coursework. The graduation minor must be in a different division from the graduation major. If the graduation major or minor is interdivisional, then in most cases the requirement that the major and minor be in different divisions is satisfied by taking any other minor/major. Students should consult specific descriptions of interdivisional majors and minors to identify specific major/minor combinations that do not satisfy the College Minor Requirement. Students must achieve a minimum grade point average of 2.0 in the minor. Courses may not be counted for both the graduation major and the graduation minor.

The minor requirement can also be satisfied by a second major. When a second major is used to fulfill the College Minor Requirement, each major must contain at least 20 credit hours that do not also count toward the other major. The graduation major must be in a different division from the second major if the second major is satisfying the College Minor Requirement. If the graduation major or second major is interdivisional, then in most cases the College Minor Requirement is satisfied. Students should consult specific descriptions of interdivisional majors to identify specific double major combinations that do not satisfy the College Minor Requirement.

Students electing minors in addition to the graduation minor must fulfill all requirements for each program. Each additional minor must contain at least 12 credits not counted in another major or minor. Forms for declaring a minor may be obtained from the Office of the Registrar.

Divisional Minors

The requirements for these minors are defined by the department and described in “Courses of Instruction”:

  • Art
    • Art History
    • Studio Art
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Communication Arts
    • Communications
    • Theatre
  • Computer Science
  • Dance and Movement Studies
  • Economics
  • English
    • English
    • Environmental Writing
    • Writing
  • Geology
  • History
  • Jewish Studies
  • Mathematics
  • Modern and Classical Languages
    • Chinese
    • French
    • German
    • Latin
    • Spanish
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
    • Astronomy
    • Physics
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Religious Studies

Interdivisional Minors

The requirements for these minors are included in the catalogue in their own individual pages and under the “Interdivisional Section”:

  • American Studies
  • Art and the Environment
  • Asian Studies
  • Black Studies
  • Chinese Studies
  • Classical Studies
  • French Studies
  • German Studies
  • Global Health Studies
  • Journalism in the Public Interest
  • Latin American and Caribbean Studies
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies
  • Medieval and Renaissance Studies
  • Middle East and North African Studies
  • Values, Ethics and Social Action
  • Women’s Studies

Multiple Minors

Students electing to do more than one minor must fulfill all requirements for each program. Each minor must contain at least 12 credits not counted toward any other major or minor.

Student-Designed Minors

A student may propose a Self-Designed Minor outside of the existing departmental and interdisciplinary minors. A Self-Designed Minor must be comparable in academic rigor and integrity to a conventional minor, must offer sufficient depth of study, and cannot be a subset of an existing minor. A minimum of 24 semester credit hours is required. A minor must include coursework at or above the 300-level not including independent study or internship credit. No more than 4 credits of transfer and independent study credit can be applied to the minor. Students who wish to propose a self-designed minor should do so no later than the end of their 6th semester at Allegheny by using the forms available from the Registrar’s Office. The proposal must be approved by faculty from the two departments most represented in the minor and by the Curriculum Committee.

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The Distribution Requirement

All Allegheny students must take at least two courses (eight semester credit hours) in each of the three divisions of the college, including at least one laboratory course (four semester credit hours) in the natural sciences. Students majoring or minoring in Mathematics are exempted from the requirement that one of the natural science courses be a laboratory course but must satisfy the Distribution Requirement in all other respects. AP courses may not be used to satisfy distribution.

Students should be aware that Math 159 (Precalculus) does not count toward the Distribution requirement. In addition, some courses in the Environmental Science Department count for distribution in the Social Science division and not the Natural Science division – see the “Environmental Science” section of the Catalogue for information on specific courses.

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The Junior Seminar Requirement

All students must complete a Junior Seminar, which forms a bridge between the FS sequence and the Senior Project. These seminars develop the student’s ability to engage in advanced scholarship and communication in a discipline and are typically taken in the junior year or first semester of the senior year. Although the structure and timing of the Junior Seminar vary among programs, the course typically emphasizes methods of scholarship, the process of independent inquiry, and oral, written, and/or other (e.g., visual) communication skills.

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The Senior Project Requirement

All students must complete a Senior Project in their majors. A student completing two majors may submit one Senior Project that integrates both disciplines and is evaluated jointly by faculty from both programs, or two separate Senior Projects, one in each program. In all cases, the Senior Project must satisfy the standards of evaluation in each department. Students completing integrated Senior Projects should work closely with faculty from both programs.

Since the College’s first commencement in 1821, Allegheny students have showcased their exceptional academic achievements through a senior capstone experience of one kind or another. At times it involved an oral defense, at others a written thesis. The notion of a written Senior Project coupled with a comprehensive oral examination first appeared in the 1942 College Catalogue. In the 1970s, oral examinations shifted from a general defense of disciplinary expertise to a more focused verbal presentation of the Senior Project findings.

In keeping with Allegheny’s commitment to provide students with a liberal arts education of high standards, the Senior Project is not a mere report or semester paper, but a significant piece of independent study, research or creative work conducted under the supervision of one or more faculty members. The outcome of a Senior Project is more than a grade or a written document; for the student it often results in a new way of looking at complex problems and inspires an appreciation for the power of ideas that might previously have seemed like abstract concepts in a textbook. Often it can be a pivotal moment where a student realizes his or her own abilities and potential.

The Senior Project provides students with an opportunity to integrate discipline-specific scholarship with the communication and research skills necessary for professionals in the 21st century. During their first year at Allegheny, students write, speak, and research frequently in their first-year seminars. By the sophomore year, they are ready to undertake the complexities of writing and speaking in a specific discipline. They further hone these disciplinary communication skills in a junior seminar, the final preparatory phase for the Senior Project. By the senior year they are sufficiently prepared to undertake a scholarly endeavor approximating those experiences they will face as professionals in their field.

The culminating experiences of the Senior Project are as varied as the disciplines that produce them, from recitals, performances, and exhibits to written and oral presentations on laboratory research. Many departments provide open forums for seniors to present their projects, allowing students to refine their skills in presenting discipline-specific information to a broad audience and providing a model for the communication skills required of informed professionals in a global society.

Principles Regarding Research

All regular academic courses, all independent study courses including senior projects, and all internships involving research with human participants will be conducted in an ethical manner. Proposals for study will be reviewed in advance by appropriate departmental and/or College review boards to ensure that this will be the case. In all instances the health, safety, and welfare of the individuals involved will be protected. Participation in such research or classroom projects will be by informed and voluntary consent, in accordance with accepted and appropriate general and disciplinary research guidelines. All research subjects will be given full clarification of the nature of the study. The laws of the nation, state, and community will be respected, and care will be taken that interpersonal relationships within the College community are not abused.

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The Credit Requirement

Each student must successfully complete 128 semester credit hours. These shall include courses taken to meet the first-year/sophomore requirement, the major requirement, the minor requirement, the distribution requirement, and the Senior Project requirement, as well as elective courses. Students may take an unlimited number of credits in all departments, but no more than 64 credits from any one department will be counted toward satisfying the 128-credit graduation requirement.

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The Grade Requirement

A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 is required for graduation from the College. Descriptions of the grading system and the academic standing requirements are found in the sections “Academic Regulations and Policies” and “Academic Standing.”

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The Residency Requirement

The residency requirement is satisfied upon completion of 64 semester credit hours “in residence.” Of these, a student’s final 16 semester credit hours before graduation must be taken in residence. Work in residence is undertaken through registration at Allegheny and supervision by Allegheny faculty, who evaluate the student’s performance. Students are not required to live on campus or in Meadville to satisfy the residency requirement.

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