Apr 15, 2024  
Course Catalog 2021-2022 
Course Catalog 2021-2022 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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 that 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 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 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.

Winter Term

Every January, Oberlin’s four-week long  Winter Term provides students with immersive learning experiences outside the structure of a typical classroom. Students have the 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 fields not generally accessed through the standard curriculum. Whether group or individual, projects extend across a wide range of possibilities, such as research, intensive language classes, internships, artistic work, entrepreneurship, community engagement, and personal development. 

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 project 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 the 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 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 taking place in the Spring. Most seminars 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.

arrow For further information, please see www.oberlin.edu/fys.

Experimental College (ExCo)

For students who wish to pursue topics outside the normal curricular course offerings of the College of Arts and Sciences or the Conservatory of Music, a co-curricular 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, including students, faculty, administrators, and townspeople. Each year ExCo offers an array of subjects not found in the regular curriculum. 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 exco@oberlin.edu. 

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. Bachelor of Music students may apply a maximum of four ExCo credits toward their degree. 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 requirements.

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 coursework during the designated course time. No incompletes are given for ExCo courses.

Study Away

Oberlin believes that studying away is an integral part of the liberal arts education and a pivotal piece of academic development and 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 academic, personal, and cultural interests. We offer over 120 programs in more than 40 countries spread across six continents - including several programs 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 away students are also able to participate in internships, immersive language study, community engagement, research, performing arts, solidarity work, and much more. Over 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 away 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-away specific scholarships that can help offset the travel-related costs of their programs.

arrow Visit the Office of Study Away’s program page to start exploring the full range of study away experiences available to Oberlin students.

Danenberg Oberlin-in-London Program

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, one of the world’s most exciting, diverse cities. 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, the eleventh president of Oberlin and a great friend to international education.

arrow Visit the Oberlin-in-London Program website for more information.

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.

arrow 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. 

arrow Visit for more information on OIEP.

Honorary Societies

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 by an active faculty/staff member of the Oberlin Chapter.

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. 

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

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. 

arrow 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.