Sep 25, 2023
Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree program, working closely with faculty advisors and following the requirements below, take responsibility for their education in designing an educational program appropriate to their interests, needs, and long-term goals. Their educational program will emphasize both breadth and depth.
Oberlin’s curriculum exploration requirement supports breadth by introducing students to a range of scholarly approaches in different subject areas within the three divisions of the College of Arts and Sciences: arts and humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences and mathematics. Classes in the Department of Athletics and Physical Education allow participation in physical activities and the study of physical education. Students are encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities. Before graduating, Oberlin students must also develop writing and quantitative and formal reasoning abilities and study cultures different from their own. Students are strongly encouraged to achieve proficiency in a foreign language.
To achieve depth in a chosen area of knowledge, BA students must pursue a major in one of more than forty areas of specialization. Students choose a major by the end of their second year of study. This allows time in the first two years to take a variety of courses, to discuss areas of interest with faculty members and other students, to rediscover a forgotten interest, or to explore a new field. Students may also declare a minor or an integrative concentration.
For students interested in earning the BA in conjunction with other undergraduate degrees, Oberlin offers the Double Degree Program , a five-year program leading to the Bachelor of Arts (BA) in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Bachelor of Music (BM) degree in the Conservatory of Music. A combined liberal arts and engineering program is also available, during which students earn the Oberlin BA in conjunction with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) degree by spending three years at Oberlin and two at an engineering school.
Advising for Bachelor of Arts Students
Each student enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts degree program has an academic advisor for help in planning an educational program consonant with the student’s interests and goals. The advisor can offer guidance in evaluating academic strengths and weaknesses and provide information on Oberlin’s curriculum and regulations. Entering students are assigned faculty/staff advisors, usually in areas of stated interest. A student may change advisors at any time by asking another faculty member to serve and by notifying the Academic Advising Resource Center. Students who have declared a major are advised by a member of the department in which they are majoring.
Access the change of advisor request form.
Types of Study Within the Bachelor of Arts
Students wishing to declare a specific path of study must do so before graduation. Majors, minors, or integrative concentrations may not be declared after a student’s degree is conferred, even if all the requirements were met before graduation.
To provide depth in their education, students enrolled in the college must elect an area or field in which to do major study. A major allows students to pursue their learning beyond the introductory level, through advanced courses in a discipline, and in many cases in seminars or research courses. There is no thesis requirement at Oberlin, but many majors require students to engage in an extended project of research or creative activity.
Most departments and programs offer one or more majors. Each department or program determines the detailed requirements for completion of the major or majors in that department or program. All majors consist of no fewer than eight full courses or the equivalent, including prerequisites.
The requirements that apply to a student are those published in the most recent edition of this catalog at the time the student submits the declaration form; however, any student who returns to Oberlin to complete a major after more than four semesters away may be required to follow the requirements in effect at the time the student reenters Oberlin. These requirements may be altered as necessary in individual cases by the departments or programs. The completion of a major is included on the transcript.
See majors available to students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Declare a major administered by the college.
Students enrolled in the college can also pursue an individual major in an area that is not encompassed in an existing major. With the help of at least two faculty advisors, students wishing to pursue an individual major propose their own program of study. Such proposals are normally submitted by the end of the sophomore year. The program must consist of at least 10 full courses or the equivalent with no more than two full courses or the equivalent below the 200-level, must include courses from more than one department, and usually must not have more than two-thirds of the total full courses or the equivalent in any one department.
Learn more about requirements and guidelines for the individual major.
Many departments and programs offer honors programs to students of proven ability and independence. Departments and programs may open their honors programs to qualified students other than their own majors. Students wishing to enter the honors program should consult the chairperson of the department no later than the beginning of the second semester of the junior year.
Recommendations for the award of honors are made to the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences by departments, by programs with majors, or by the individual major committee. A department or program may recommend any student for honors if that department’s criteria are met, regardless of the student’s specific major. The individual major committee may make such recommendations only for students whose honors work is in the field of their individual majors. The Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences makes the final decisions on all recommendations for honors, maintaining reasonably uniform standards for the award of honors at graduation. An honors candidate whose project demonstrates the requisite degree of excellence is awarded the Bachelor of Arts degree with departmental honors, high honors, or highest honors. The level of honors awarded is recorded on the transcript.
A student may not pursue a minor in the same subject area in which they have declared a major.
The minor is a way to focus and record a significant area of a student’s work, without the more stringent requirements of a major in that field. After initially declaring a minor, a student may subsequently elect a different minor and/or drop the previously declared minor with the consent of the heads of the departments or programs involved. Students may pursue a minor in more than one department or program, but normally may not pursue more than one minor within a department or program.
Many departments and programs offer at least one minor. Each department or program determines the detailed requirements for completion of the minor or minors in that department or program. All minors consist of at least four full courses or the equivalent and normally include at least two components of work above the introductory level.
The requirements that apply to a student are those published in the most recent edition of this catalog at the time the student submits the declaration form; however, any student who returns to Oberlin to complete a minor after more than four semesters away may be required to follow the requirements in effect at the time the student reenters Oberlin. These requirements may be altered as necessary in individual cases by the departments or programs. The completion of a minor is included on the transcript.
See minors available to students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Declare a minor administered by the college.
Interdivisional minors allow both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music students to deepen and widen their understanding of music by learning about it in a variety of contexts and disciplines. Students can complement their major study with an academic experience that encompasses depth of study in a well-established field with an experimental curriculum in an emerging area. Interdivisional minors are declared using the same process as departmental minors. The completion of an interdivisional minor is included on the transcript.
Declare an interdivisional minor.
Integrative Concentration Study
Integrative concentrations are educational pathways that connect course work from a range of disciplinary perspectives with experiential learning opportunities such as high-quality internships. Integrative concentrations have two overarching goals:
- enhancing student learning by enriching student’s academic learning with direct practical engagement; and
- helping students explore meaningful career options.
Integrative concentrations are designed to deepen the interplay between ideas learned in the classroom and experiential learning. Toward this end, students are required to reflect on the relationship between the course work (theory) and the experiential learning (practice). This “integrative” requirement is met by completion of a learning portfolio.
Integrative concentrations thus include three components:
Integrative concentrations do not replace majors. They are open to undergraduate students in both the college and the conservatory. The requirements that apply to a student are those published in the most recent edition of this catalog at the time the student submits the declaration form; however, any student who returns to Oberlin to complete an integrative concentration after more than four semesters away may be required to follow the requirements in effect at the time the student reenters Oberlin. These requirements may be altered as necessary in individual cases by the departments or programs. The completion of an integrative concentration is included on the transcript.
See integrative concentrations available to students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Declare an integrative concentration.