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.
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The Academic Advising Resource Center
The Academic Advising Resource Center (AARC) supports students, faculty, and advisors 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 is to support advisors and help students succeed in their Oberlin College careers leading to a successful completion of the student’s degree program. The offices in the Academic Advising Resource Center include academic advising and the Office of the Registrar.
The Academic Advising Resource Center coordinates academic advising in the College of Arts and Sciences and advises students about curriculum and academic policy and offers advice and resources for academic, career, and personal counseling.
Oberlin provides a Winter Term of four weeks every January that provides students with immersive learning experiences outside the structure of a typical classroom. It affords students an opportunity to join a group project that has been organized by Oberlin faculty, or staff, or to devise their own individual project in collaboration with a member of Oberlin’s faculty or staff. Projects are meant to have an emphasis on experimentation and creativity, intellectual independence, and personal responsibility. They can either be a continuation of students’ academic study, or they can supplement interests or academics not generally accessed through the standard curriculum. Whether individual or group, projects extend across a wide range of possibilities, such as research, intensive language classes, internships, artistic work, entrepreneurship, community engagement, personal development, and many other fields.
Students can choose to participate in projects on campus, across the U.S., and abroad. Those who remain on campus during Winter Term can take advantage of the on-campus project resources and the vibrant community that Oberlin offers. Concerts, theatrical productions, films, lectures, forums, and a full calendar of social events make Winter Term on-campus a truly special part of the academic year. Students who are interested in completing an individual project should start their projects planning with Oberlin faculty or staff by mid-September.
Winter Term policies and deadlines, and a full catalog of Winter Term Group Projects can be found at www.oberlin.edu/winterterm, as well as in the Academic Policies section of this catalog. Please consult that section for guidance on completion of the Winter Term requirement.
The First-Year Seminar Program
The First-Year Seminar Program (FYSP) invites incoming students to begin their Oberlin educational experience in a small seminar setting. The topics and academic approaches of seminars are diverse, but all are a designed to help students hone their critical thinking, discussion and writing skills. First-year seminars provide a venue for intellectual exchange between students and faculty. Each seminar is limited to 16 students. First-year seminars are offered primarily in the fall semester, with a small number occurring in the spring. Most seminars allow satisfy part of the Writing or Quantitative and Formal Reasoning requirements, 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 co-curricular credit) taught by members of the Oberlin community: students, faculty, administrators and townspeople. Each year an array of subjects not found in the regular curriculum is offered. 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 credits listed for the course, plus one additional credit. Information is available at the ExCo office in Wilder Hall 302 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students in the Arts and Sciences may earn up to 8 co-curricular credits toward graduation; these 8 co-curricular credits include but are not limited to those from ExCo courses. Students in the Conservatory may also earn up to 8 co-curricular credits of which a maximum of 4 may be from ExCo courses. ExCo 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.
The ExCo Committee disseminates information on Experimental College courses 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. Students must complete all ExCo course work during the designated course time. No incompletes are given for ExCo courses.
Study Abroad and Study Away
Oberlin believes that studying abroad is an integral part of the liberal arts education and a pivitol piece of career readiness. With that in mind, we endeavor to support all interested students, regardless of major, identity, or financial need-level, in finding a semester or year-long program that meets their adacemic, personal, and cultural interests. We offer over 100 programs in more than 40 countires spread across six continents - including several programs here in the U.S.
Regardless of students’ major, minor, and whether a student is in the College or Conservatory, they can transfer coursework completed abroad back to Oberlin to satisfy major/minor requirements. While studying abroad students are also able to participate in international internships, immersive language study, community engagement, research, perofrming arts, solidarity work, and much more. Nearly 400 Oberlin students participate each year in international programs during winter term, summer or semester/academic year.
In many cases, students’ financial aid packages on campus can transfer to their study abroad experience (please contact the Office of Study Away for specific details). The Office of Study Away also supports students in finding and applying for study-abroad specific scholarships that can help offset the travel-related costs of their programs.
Study Abroad Programs Sponsored by Individual Departments
The Danenberg Oberlin-in-London Program offers students the opportunity for intensive disciplinary and interdisciplinary study with Oberlin College faculty. Oberlin students live and study 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.
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.
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 the Office of Study Away. Through its membership in GLCA, Oberlin offers students the opportunity for academic leaves of absence to participate in the following:
GLCA recognizes a one-semester or year-long program in Tokyo through the Japan Study program.
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 internship 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.
Find more information about consortial study away programs.
Other Off-Campus Study Options
Oberlin College has entered into an exchange agreement with Sciences Po in Paris, France. Application for these programs should be made through the Office of Study Away following the Academic Leave of Absence deadlines and procedures. In addition, each year Oberlin welcomes visiting students from Waseda University through the Japan Study exchange program.
Oberlin Affiliated Programs
Oberlin College academic departments and programs have affiliations with over 85 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 International Programs maintains a Study-Away Library and a list of Oberlin Affiliated Programs.
Find detailed information about these and other programs.
Bonner Center for Community-Engaged Learning, Teaching, and Research
The Bonner Center helps students connect their academic, career, and co-curricular interests through community engagement. Across its programs, the Bonner Center brings together students, staff, faculty, and community partners to promote student learning, advance scholarship, and respond to community-identified goals and needs. Core program areas include:
- Bonner Scholars Program, a national community-service scholarship program
- Ninde Scholars Program, a college access program for middle and high school students in Oberlin City Schools
- Community-Based Work-Study Program, which allocates at least 20% of the institution’s federal work-study budget for eligible students to work with local nonprofit and public sector partners
- America Counts and Reads programs, which hire, train, and place students to provide math and literacy tutoring in Oberlin City Schools and afterschool programs
- Partnering with faculty to incorporate community engagement into classes and research
Other opportunities include the Community Engagement Institute during new student orientation, winter term projects, funding for student-community partnerships, and car rentals for transportation to local organizations.
Visit for more information about all of these programs.
The Career Development Center
Oberlin College’s Career Development Center 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 offer group and individual advising as well as experiential opportunities that complement all students’ learning and experiences during their time at Oberlin.
We encourage students to take advantage of the center’s many programs and resources in order to:
- Enhance self-awareness of interests, values and talents
- Explore future paths
- Acquire knowledge and experience
- Develop skills for effective self-presentation
Cole Scholar Program-Oberlin Initiative in Electoral Politics
The Oberlin Initiative in Electoral Politics (OIEP) provides academic and experiential learning opportunities for students with a strong interest in campaigns and elections. The “Cole Scholars Program” is the core component of the OIEP. Interested students apply to the program in the fall. Those who are selected then take a “Studies in Electoral Politics” seminar before doing an eight-week summer placement on a political campaign. Students then return in the fall to take another seminar, “Projects in Electoral Politics,” in which they write a major research paper that draws on insights from the placement in light of the academic literature on campaigns and elections. The OIEP also brings to campus campaign experts and researchers who conduct workshops and give talks to the general campus community.
Visit for more information on OIEP.
Phi Beta Kappa
Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest academic honor society in the United States. The Zeta of Ohio Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was established at Oberlin 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 3 full courses for letter grades at Oberlin in each of the three divisions of the College of Arts and Sciences. AP credits, transferred credits, and courses taken P/NP at Oberlin do not count towards these requirements. 85% or more of the overall credits presented for graduation must be earned with the letter grade option. Starting with the class that matriculates in 2013, students must also complete one course at the 200-level or higher in a language other than English. Most students are elected in the spring of their senior year; spring election for second-semester juniors is also possible for students with 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.
Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society
The Oberlin Chapter of the Sigma Xi was established in 1941 for the promotion of scientific research. Sigma Xi, one of the oldest and largest scientific organizations in the world, is the international honor society of science and engineering. More than 200 Nobel Prize winners have been members. Any 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. Pi Kappa Lambda elects the top twenty percent of graduating music majors from the Conservatory and the College of Arts and Sciences.
Nu Rho Psi
The Oberlin chapter of Nu Rho Psi the National Honor Society in Neuroscience was established in 2011 to encourage and recognize excellence in the discipline of neuroscience. Oberlin Neuroscience majors are elected to membership on the basis of scholarly achievement. Majors must have a minimum cumulative college GPA of 3.2 and a minimum departmental GPA of 3.50. Most students are elected in the spring of their junior or senior year.
Delta Phi Alpha
The Tau Lambda chapter of Delta Phi Alpha (DPA), the National German Honor Society, was established at Oberlin College in 2014 to recognize excellence in the study of German and to provide an incentive for higher scholarship. DPA inductees are typically rising juniors, who have taken 2 years of college German or their equivalent; who maintain a minimum GPA of B+ in German courses and a minimum cumulative GPA of B-; and who indicate continued interest in the study of German language, literature, and culture. DPA members are eligible to apply for competitive study abroad scholarships, as well as scholarships to support the pursuit of graduate studies and teaching certification in German.
Oberlin Shansi is a non-profit educational exchange program partnered with Oberlin College and institutions in China, India, Indonesia and Japan. Shansi believes in empowering people to bring diverse worlds together. To Oberlin College undergraduates it offers Winter Term and summer fellowships to journey to Asia to volunteer with non-governmental organizations, to study languages and cultures, or do research. For recent Oberlin graduates, it offers two-year fellowships at its Asian partners. For Asian faculty and staff, Shansi provides opportunities to do research, study and teach at Oberlin. For Oberlin faculty and staff, Shansi provides grants to lecture and do research at its Asian partners. On the Oberlin campus Shansi sponsors a series of public programs on current Asian and Asian American topics.
Find further information from the Oberlin Shansi website.
Oberlin Shansi considers without prejudice, all eligible applicants regardless of race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, creed, age, sex, sexual orientation, academic major or physical handicaps (where reasonable accommodation is possible). In the selection process the priorities and sensitivities of the host institutions and cultures also will be taken into consideration.
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 represent the diversity of their alma mater.