Sep 25, 2021  
Course Catalog 2008-2009 
Course Catalog 2008-2009 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Academic Opportunities

Academic Opportunities

Oberlin College offers many opportunities to its students; this section is intended to provide information about those opportunities. Each opportunity also has policies which govern how and when students may participate. Please see the Academic Policies section of this catalog for detailed academic policy.

Click on a link to be taken to the entry below.


Winter Term


Oberlin provides a Winter Term of four weeks in January to encourage and enable students to discover the value of self-education. This term affords students an opportunity to devise and pursue programs of independent study or research and to undertake, individually or with a group, on or off campus, other projects of educational value that the structured curriculum during the academic year cannot accommodate easily.

Winter Term provides an opportunity for variations and supplements to the usual course offerings, with an emphasis on experimentation and creativity, intellectual independence, and personal responsibility. Projects may be proposed by faculty, students and occasionally by members of the administrative and professional staff and alumni. Many departments offer individual and group projects; students often devise their own projects.

Students who pursue their projects on campus can take advantage of the facilities and opportunities that Oberlin offers. Many concerts, theatrical productions, films, lectures, forums, and discussion groups that enliven Winter Term are part of on-campus projects. Typical off-campus projects include (but are not limited to) career exploration, internships, and community service.

Winter Term policies and deadlines, and a listing of Winter Term Group Projects can be found at Policies regarding winter term can be found in the Academic Policies section of this catalog; please consult that section for guidance on completion of the winter term requirement.

Winter Term Planning and Advising. Students should discuss their Winter Term plans with their academic advisors and potential project sponsors in October. Early planning is especially important for students who choose an internship or other individual project.

In this catalog, many departments list information about Winter Term. For students interested in a career-related or community service project, advisors and numerous resources are available to assist them in identifying opportunities. Please see for detailed information.

The First-Year Seminar Program


The First-Year Seminar Program (FYSP) offers first-year students a wide variety of low-enrollment classes to encourage critical thinking, develop discussion and writing skills, and provide a venue for intellectual exchange between students and faculty. Each seminar is limited to 14 students. First-year seminars are offered primarily in the fall semester, with a small number offered in the spring semester, by departments and programs throughout the College. Students may fulfill one-half of Oberlin’s writing proficiency or part of the quantitative proficiency as well as part of certain other graduation requirements as indicated in particular course listings. A full listing of FYSP courses can be found in the First-Year Seminar Program section of this catalog. Individual departments and programs also list these courses in their curricula. For further information, please see

Experimental College (ExCo)


For students who wish to pursue topics outside the normal course offerings of the College of Arts and Sciences or the Conservatory of Music, an alternative is available in the Experimental College.

Experimental College (ExCo) is a student-run organization that sponsors courses (for limited academic credit) taught by members of the Oberlin community: faculty, students, administrators and townspeople. Each year a list of subjects not found in the regular curriculum is offered. Students can receive up to five hours of credit toward graduation from ExCo courses; courses are typically offered for one credit. Credits earned in ExCo courses count toward the general graduation requirement; they do not satisfy any distribution, cultural diversity or other requirement. Experimental College catalogs are distributed shortly before ExCo registration, which takes place in the first week of each semester. Students must follow the academic dates and deadlines calendar for registration and course adjustments for EXCO courses.

ExCo also invites applications from individuals who wish to coordinate an ExCo course. The Experimental College Committee approves applications for courses in advance of the semester in which the course is to be offered. Student instructors may receive the number of credit hours listed for the course, plus one additional hour. Information is available at the ExCo office in Wilder Hall and at

Off-Campus Study (Study Away)


Oberlin College encourages students to supplement their Oberlin experience through a program of study off campus for credit. By providing exposure to new perspectives, participation in quality off-campus programs enriches the educational experience. Students on financial aid should consult the Office of Financial Aid before planning to participate in an off-campus program, because not all types of financial aid can be applied to off-campus programs. Further information about off-campus study(study away) is available at

Off-Campus Study Programs Sponsored by Individual Departments


The Danenberg Oberlin-in-London Program offers students the opportunity for intensive disciplinary and interdisciplinary study with Oberlin College and Grinnell College faculty. Oberlin and Grinnell students live and work together in London, a great, diverse city. The curriculum is designed to take advantage of all that London has to offer. The program was instituted as a memorial to the late Emil Danenberg, eleventh president of Oberlin and a great friend to international education. For further details, see London Program in this catalog or

Studies in Spain at the University of Córdoba. Students of Spanish language, literature and culture may participate for fall, spring or both semesters in the Programa de Estudios Hispánicos en Córdoba (Spain) [PRESCHO]. This program is sponsored by a consortium comprised of Wheaton College, Oberlin College, Smith College, Trinity College, Wellesley College and the College of Wooster. Córdoba, one-time capital of Roman Spain and seat of the Muslim Caliphate, offers a unique opportunity for on-the-scene study of the Muslim, Jewish and Christian influences on Spanish culture. Courses are offered in literature, history, art, architecture, music, economics, and social and political reforms. (Please consult the catalog section for the Hispanic Studies Department.) In the fall of 2004 PRESHCO was awarded the “Distinción Santo Tomás de Aquino,” by the University of Cordoba. This is the highest honor the University can confer on a group related to the University; the award was for the quality of PRESHCO’s collaboration with the University.

Oberlin-in-Italy is an intensive summer program in Italian language and culture sponsored by the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. This month-long program includes intensive language study and the study of Italian culture. For singers, instrumentalists, and liberal arts students, the program includes musical, vocal and dramatic coaching, and performances of an opera, chamber opera, opera scenes, chamber music, and other concerts. Auditions are required for performers. Application deadline is early February. More complete information about application for this program may be found at No financial aid is available for this program.

Oberlin-in-Europe. The Euro Summer School is a seven-week intensive and multicultural program offered through a partnership with the Center for European Studies at the University of Maastricht, The Netherlands, and the International Studies Center of the Wirtschaftsuniversitat, Vienna, Austria. The program provides a unique opportunity for Oberlin students to mix and study with students from across Europe while experiencing firsthand the life and business cultures of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands, and visiting several of the most vibrant cities in Europe. Courses in this program are taught in English and carry full Oberlin College credit; they explore the economics, institutions, and business practices shaping Europe today. As minimal preparation for the program, students need to have completed introductory economics. More information and application forms can be found on the web at

Off-Campus Study through Great Lakes Colleges Association Programs


Through its membership in the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA), a consortium of 12 midwestern colleges, Oberlin College allows its students to participate in certain off-campus programs in the United States and in foreign countries. Each program is administered by a member school. Information on these programs is available from the campus liaison for each program and from the Office of the Dean of Studies. Through its membership in GLCA, Oberlin offers students the opportunity for academic leaves of absence to participate in the following:

Overseas Study. GLCA recognizes one-semester or year-long programs in Europe, Russia, Japan, Kenya, and Senegal.

In the United States. GLCA recognizes the following off-campus study programs:

  • The Philadelphia Center combines work-study in a community organization with a seminar in urban affairs and an independent study project.
  • The Oak Ridge Science semester places students with research scientists working on intensive investigations and provides advanced coursework in the natural and social sciences.
  • The Newberry Library Program in the Humanities, based in Chicago, provides an opportunity for seminars and independent study with the Newberry’s rich collection of books and manuscripts.
  • The New York Arts semester provides both seminars and placements in a variety of arts areas.
  • The Border Studies Program based in El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, is offered each fall semester. It explores the cross-boundary relationships and encounters that now shape the U.S.-Mexico border region.

Further information about consortial study away programs is available at

Other Off-Campus Study Options


Inter-College Exchanges. Students may be selected each semester to participate in an exchange with Gallaudet University, the nation’s only liberal arts school for the deaf, or Fisk University, a predominantly black university in Nashville, Tennessee. Sophomores and juniors in good academic standing and an interest in intergroup relations are eligible to apply. In 2007, Oberlin College entered into an exchange agreement with Science Po in Paris, France. Application for these programs should be made through the Office of the Dean of Studies following the Academic Leave of Absence deadlines and procedures.

Oberlin Affiliated Programs. Oberlin College academic departments and programs have affiliations with approximately 80 U.S. and international programs and institutions. Oberlin Affiliated Programs are offered in nearly all parts of the world and cover a broad range of curricular opportunities. Affiliation indicates that the program has been recommended by the faculty of a department or program and approved by the Off-Campus Study Committee. In addition, students who receive approval to participate in affiliated programs may apply Oberlin financial aid to the program costs within the specified guidelines. Students who participate in non-affiliated programs may not apply Oberlin financial aid to the program costs.

The Office of the Dean of Studies maintains Study-Away Library and a list of Oberlin Affiliated Programs. Detailed information about these and other programs is available at

The Bonner Center for Service and Learning


In keeping with Oberlin’s historic commitment to thoughtful civic engagement, the Bonner Center for Service and Learning promotes the integration of intellectual inquiry, artistic development and community involvement. The center’s mission involves working in partnership with the surrounding community to encourage all students to become engaged citizens through curricular and co-curricular initiatives that both enrich the community and enhance students’ education. The Bonner Center for Service and Learning supports a growing number of faculty-initiated, community-based research and community-based learning experiences that educate students and strengthen the community.

Each year, over 1,200 Oberlin College students serve organizations and individuals in the surrounding communities and beyond. This involvement allows students to explore issues of personal and intellectual concern while becoming active members of their community. The Bonner Center for Service and Learning links students with community organizations providing educational service opportunities that satisfy community needs. Students interested in opportunities for socially relevant research or in developing community-service programs receive consultation and assistance. The Center also offers several programs that enable participants to better understand how their efforts can contribute to long-term, systemic solutions to social problems.

Examples of current programs include the Bonner Scholars Program (a community service scholarship program), the Community Service Work-Study Program, and the availability of community-based learning courses at all levels of study. The Bonner Scholars Program, which accepts 15 participants per year, provides students who have demonstrated outstanding community service with financial support needed to attend college and continue to be involved in the community. For more information, please see

The Office of Career Services


Career Services helps students in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Conservatory of Music identify and achieve meaningful career objectives that synthesize their Oberlin education and experiences. The office provides high-quality advising as well as opportunities, resources, and programs for students to engage actively in an on-going career development process that includes:

  • assessing career interests, skills, and values;
  • utilizing effective search strategies for finding employment, internships, performance opportunities, and post-graduate education;
  • gaining exposure to a broad range of career fields through informational interviewing and experiential opportunities; and,
  • honing application and presentation skills.

The Office of Career Services is located in Longman Commons, Stevenson Hall; the Career Resource Center in the Conservatory of Music is located in Robertson Hall 129. The main office in Longman Commons maintains an on-site career resources library as well as a comprehensive web site to make resources easily accessible to students. Students are encouraged to make an appointment with a career advisor during their freshman or sophomore year. For more information please see

Oberlin Connect


Oberlin Connect is an experiential program of structured winter term projects. Currently there are two sections of the Oberlin Connect Program offered: Business Scholars and Entrepreneurship Scholars.

Oberlin Business Scholars


The Oberlin Business Scholars program is an intensive winter term project that provides selected Scholars from all majors with a foundation of skills, knowledge, and contacts to successfully compete for jobs and internships in the fields of finance and consulting. Through discussions, lectures, shadowing, and on-site visits with Oberlin alumni and friends of the College, Scholars interact with and learn from leaders in these fields.

As a result of the program, students will clarify job and career focus through greater understanding of the finance and consulting industries; increase marketability to employers through acquisition of industry knowledge and business-related skills including business case analysis, project management, teamwork and presentation skills; gain familiarity with basic accounting and financial analysis; and utilize effective job search skills, including resume writing, networking, and interviewing skills.

Oberlin Entrepreneurship Scholars


Open to students of all majors, the new Entrepreneurship Scholars program provides students with a vital experiential opportunity to explore entrepreneurship and begin building a foundation of the practical skills essential to planning and launching a venture. In the spirit of the Creativity and Leadership Project it will provide students with a global, practical, and socially responsible perspective on entrepreneurship.

The program is structured similarly to the successful Oberlin Business Scholars program. Students will engage in discussions, lectures, shadowing, and on-site visits with Oberlin alumni and friends of the College. There will also be several training days during which students will learn about different practical aspects of running and launching a venture.

As a result of the program, students will clarify focus through greater understanding of the skills and challenges involved in planning and launching an endeavor; acquire entrepreneurship-related skills and knowledge through case analysis, teamwork and presentation skills, and exposure to basic financial and organizational knowledge for entrepreneurs; learn more about their field of interest through targeted shadowing opportunities; become familiar with Oberlin’s resources including funding, support, and an extensive network of alumni and friends.

Oberlin Law Scholars


The Oberlin Law Scholars Program is a unique, selective, year-long program designed to build scholarship and experience for a maximum of 12 students per year interested in law. The program is open to all sophomores and juniors and includes a one-module, introductory course entitled Legal Advocacy, funded summer internships, a distinguished speakers series, field trips, additional funding for students’ costs associated with the law school admission process, and advising from faculty, staff, and alumni. Scholars are chosen each spring for the following academic year. For more information, please visit

Cole-Oberlin Initiative in Electoral Politics


The purpose of the Cole-Oberlin Initiative in Electoral Politics is to identify students with a strong interest in electoral politics, to encourage them to take career paths that include holding elected office, and to help prepare them for this through specific training and concrete experience as well as through academic inquiry and learning. The main components of the Initiative include: the selection of “Cole Scholars” in fall semester; Topics in Electoral Politics, a course taken in the Spring; an eight-week paid summer internship working in a political campaign; and Projects in Electoral Politics, a course taken in the fall in which students write a research paper which draws upon insights from the internship in light of the academic literature on elections.

Honorary Societies


Phi Beta Kappa. The Zeta of Ohio Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was established at Oberlin College in 1907. Students in the College of Arts and Sciences are elected to membership on the basis of scholarly achievement, broad cultural interests and good character. Rules of eligibility are established in accordance with regulations of the national society. Among other requirements, students must have completed at least nine credit hours, of which up to four may be AP credit, in each of the three divisions of the College of Arts and Sciences and must have taken at least two-thirds of their hours for letter grades. Most students are elected in the spring of their senior year; spring election for second-semester juniors is also possible for students with truly exceptional academic records. The total number of students elected from any class will not ordinarily exceed 10 percent of those expected to receive the Bachelor of Arts degree.

Society of Sigma Xi. The Oberlin Chapter of the Society of Sigma Xi was established in 1941 for the promotion of scientific research. Any graduate student who has shown noteworthy achievement as an original investigator in some field of pure or applied science may be elected as a member. Any graduate student or undergraduate student who has shown marked aptitude for research in pure or applied science may be elected as an associate member.

Pi Kappa Lambda. The Theta Chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda National Honor Society was established in 1926 at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music in order to recognize outstanding achievement in musicianship, musical leadership and scholarly attainment. Twenty percent of the Conservatory and College of Arts and Sciences music majors graduating seniors are eligible for election, provided the residence requirement of at least four semesters prior to graduation has been met.

Oberlin Shansi


Oberlin Shansi is a non-profit educational exchange program affiliated with Oberlin College and institutions in China, India, Indonesia and Japan. It fosters international understanding at three levels: undergraduate, post-graduate and faculty. It offers winter term and summer grants to undergraduates going to Asia for work and study and, through the Shansi Student Committee, carries out a variety of public programs on campus. For recent Oberlin graduates, it offers two-year teaching fellowships at its affiliated institutions in Asia. Shansi sponsors Asian faculty and students to teach, do research, and study at Oberlin and provides grants to Oberlin faculty and staff to travel and lecture in Asia. Through its Global Education Program, Shansi provides opportunities for faculty, staff and students to introduce Asia and Asian American topics to area school systems. Further information is available from the Shansi Program website.