Jul 21, 2024  
Course Catalog 2010-2011 
Course Catalog 2010-2011 [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.




The Office of the Dean of Studies

The Office of the Dean of Studies supports students and faculty members in both the College of Arts and Sciences and in the Conservatory of Music. Collaborating with other offices on campus, the primary goal of the Office of the Dean of Studies is to help students succeed in their Oberlin College careers, and to complete their degree programs in a timely way.

More specifically, the Office of the Dean of Studies coordinates academic advising in the College of Arts and Sciences and advises students about curriculum and academic policy.

In addition, for all students, the office offers advice and resources for exploring off-campus study options; advises international students on issues including immigration, cultural adjustment, and academic, career, and personal counseling; and provides information and counseling about Winter Term.

The offices in the Dean of Studies Division include: Winter Term, off-campus study, international student advising, Bonner Center for Service and Learning, Office of Undergraduate Research, and Office of Career Services.


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 www.oberlin.edu/winterterm. 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.

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 www.oberlin.edu/winterterm 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 www.oberlin.edu/fys

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 www.oberlin.edu/exco

Off-Campus Study (Study Away)


Oberlin College believes that all interested students, regardless of major, should have the opportunity to spend a semester away from campus on an academic program in a different part of the country or world through quality off-campus programs. Study Away opportunities offered by Oberlin or affiliated with the college cover a wide range of geographic areas of the world, curricular or academic interests and program types. Over 300 Oberlin students each year participate in approved semester- or year-long study away programs.

Students interested in studying away for a semester or year can choose from Oberlin-sponsored programs, consortial programs, or over 85 affiliated programs. 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. Further information about off-campus study (study away) is available in the Study Away Library (Peters 205) or at www.oberlin.edu/studyaway

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 www.oberlin.edu/london.

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 www.oberlin.edu/con/summer/italy. No financial aid is available for this program.

Oberlin-in-Europe. The Euro Summer School is a six-week intensive and multicultural program offered through a partnership with the Center for European Studies at the University of Maastricht, The Netherlands. 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 Belgium, 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, politics, institutions, and business practices shaping Europe today. As minimal preparation for the program, students need to have completed introductory economics or have consent of the program director. More information and application forms can be found on the web at www.oberlin.edu/oeurope.  

Off-Campus Study through Great Lakes Colleges Association Programs


Through its membership in the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA), a consortium of 13 schools in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. 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 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 the Southern Arizona borderlands is offered each 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 www.oberlin.edu/studyaway/choosing_consortial.html

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. Oberlin College has also entered into an exchange agreement with Sciences 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 over 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 www.oberlin.edu/studyaway/choosing_affiliated.html. 

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 also 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 learning how to become active citizens. The Bonner Center for Service and Learning connects students with community organizations providing educational community 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 (which includes both America Reads and America Counts), 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 about all of these programs, please see www.oberlin.edu/bcsl

The Office of Undergraduate Research

The Office of Undergraduate Research provides intellectual and administrative support for students conducting faculty-mentored research at Oberlin College. The student-mentor relationships supported by this office have allowed students to transfer their curiosity from the classroom to the library, the laboratory, and field sites across the globe. The opportunity for learning and laboring under faculty supervision provides our students with a first-hand understanding of the rigor and discipline necessary to maintain an active research program.  Oberlin College produces more eventual PhDs than any of its peer institutions, and the opportunities for research provided by this office help ensure that Oberlin alumni with PhDs are a diverse group. 

The Office of Career Services


Oberlin’s Office of Career Services helps students and recent alumni in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Conservatory of Music identify and achieve meaningful career objectives that build upon their Oberlin education and experiences. We support the career development process through services that:

  • Enhance self-awareness of interests, values and talents
  • Encourage exploration of future paths
  • Provide opportunities to acquire knowledge and experience
  • Develop skills for effective self-presentation

Advising Services
•    Career: Advisors assist students with: choosing a major; career exploration; searching for internship or post-graduate opportunities; developing materials including resumes, cover letters, biographies, personal statements, and applications; preparing for the interview process; negotiating job offers; and researching performance opportunities.
•    Health, Medical, Law, Business and Graduate School: Advisors support students through the exploration and application processes, which includes providing tools to conduct preparatory research, offering students resources for test preparation, reviewing application materials, preparing for admissions interviews, and, in the case of health and medical school,
providing coursework advising.  
•    Fellowship: Advisors assist in selecting appropriate opportunities, provide application editing, assist fellowship faculty representatives, compile and send out applications, as needed.

Career Exploration Programs


•    Oberlin Business Scholars: 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.
•    Oberlin Entrepreneurship Scholars: Open to students of all majors, the 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.
•    Winter Term Internships: During the Winter Term, a strong network of alumni and friends of Oberlin offer more than 100 challenging internships in a variety of fields.
•    The Oberlin Law Scholars Program: Open to all sophomores and juniors, the program includes an introductory course, summer internships, and a distinguished speakers series.

Summer Internship, Post Graduate, Music Festival
and Music Competition Opportunities


  •    ObieOpps, UCAN and LACN: Oberlin’s own database as well as partnerships with two college consortia, the University Career Acton Network (UCAN) and the Liberal Arts Career NetWORK (LACN), provide students with access to thousands of internships and post-graduate jobs in a variety of fields and geographical locations.
•    Bridge: Resource includes over 3,200 international opportunities for musicians including job announcements, summer festival and competition information, master classes, and young artist programs.
•    Regional Interview Days: Oberlin College is a member of the Selective Liberal Arts Consortium, which organizes post-graduate job interview events in Chicago, Boston, New York, and Washington, DC. Opportunities are available in Education, Science, Technology, Publishing, Social Justice, Public Policy, Government, Consulting, Finance, Nonprofit and Media.

Cole-Oberlin Initiative in Electoral Politics


The purpose of the Cole-Oberlin Initiative in Electoral Politics (OIEP) 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. The OIEP also brings to campus experts on topics in campaigns and elections who conduct workshops or give talks to the general campus community. Alumni who hope to run for public office may also apply for grants from the OIEP to attend campaign workshops or conferences on a particular policy topic that will be relevant in their campaign. 

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 5 credit hours for letter grades at Oberlin in each of the three divisions of the College of Arts and Sciences. Two thirds of the overall credit hours presented for graduation must be graded. AP credits, transferred credits, and courses taken P/NP at Oberlin do not count towards these requirements. 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.