The course of study at Hampden-Sydney College offers to students opportunities for both breadth and depth in learning and encourages independent study. The requirements for a bachelor's degree fall into two areas: Core Requirements and Major Requirements. In addition, there is the opportunity to take elective courses that are not required but may enhance the education of the student. In order to graduate, students must earn 120 semester hours of credit with a cumulative grade-point average of at least 2.0 and be in residence at the College at least two academic years, including the last year preceding graduation.

Every student who completes the requirements in ten or fewer semesters will receive a Bachelor of Arts or, for a student majoring in the natural sciences who requests it, a Bachelor of Science degree. It is solely the responsibility of the student to make sure that he meets all of the stated requirements for his degree.

Exceptions to these requirements may be considered by the Executive Committee of the Faculty under extraordinary circumstances if sufficient justification is offered. Petitions for such exceptions should be directed to the Executive Committee through the Office of the Dean of the Faculty.

Faculty advisors supervise students' fulfillment of core and major requirements, provide help in understanding academic policies and grades, recommend and approve course selections appropriate to the students' background and educational interests, and, in general, oversee their academic program. Students consult their advisors before registering for classes each semester, and they should seek consultation whenever an academic or personal problem warrants counsel. Advisors may give guidance in the choice of graduate study or vocational opportunities.

The Registrar assigns a faculty advisor to each entering student well before the student arrives on campus in order to aid him in setting his first-semester schedule of courses and to advise him during his first three semesters. Freshmen normally take a Rhetoric course, Western Culture 101, and a course in a foreign language. The rest of the schedule may include a science and/or a mathematics course and courses in other areas that satisfy core requirements, and in areas in which students may consider majoring. Students should complete many of the core requirements during their first two years so that in the last two years they can concentrate on their majors and electives.

Entering students also take an advising seminar conducted by their advisors with the assistance of student peer advisors. The purpose of the seminar is to introduce the student to the free exchange of ideas that characterizes life at a liberal-arts college.

The student meets regularly with his advisor and peer advisor in the seminar, at other times as the student's academic or personal situation demands, and occasionally for social events. In other semesters the advisor and student continue to meet, though not in a regularly scheduled seminar. Each semester, the student must meet with his advisor prior to registering for courses.

In the second semester of the sophomore year, each student selects a major, and the Registrar assigns an advisor in the department of that major to him for subsequent advising and planning a coherent program for the junior and senior years of study.

Students may use any appropriate courses, unless otherwise stated, to satisfy both core and major requirements. A course that is used to satisfy one core requirement cannot also be used to satisfy another core requirement.  Special topics courses intended to fulfill core requirements must be approved by the Academic Affairs Committee prior to registration.

Only courses worth at least three semester hours of credit may be used to satisfy the following core requirements:

I. Language and Literature  

  1. Rhetoric
    1. Rhetoric 101 and 102 (unless exempted), and
    2. Pass either the Rhetoric Proficiency Exam or Rhetoric 200.
  2. Foreign Language: the 201-202 sequence of a classical or a modern language, or any 300-level course in a classical or a modern language. International students who are non-native speakers of English may have the foreign-language requirement waived upon presentation of evidence to the Executive Committee of the Faculty that their prior instruction has been primarily in a language other than English. 
  3. Literature: one course from among Classical Studies 203, 204; English literature courses; classical and modern language literature courses at the 300-level and above.

II. Natural Sciences and Mathematics

  1. Natural Sciences: two courses, chosen from different departments, including at least one (with corequisite laboratory) from among Biology 110, Chemistry 110, Astronomy 110, or Physics 131. Note: The Department of Physics and Astronomy is one department; therefore, the Natural Sciences requirement cannot be met by taking a combination of a Physics course and an Astronomy course. 
  2. Mathematics: one course from among Mathematics 111, 121, 130, 140, 141, 142, 231, 242. 
  3. One additional Natural Sciences, Mathematics, or Computer Science course.

III. Social Sciences

One course outside the department of the major from among Economics 101; Government and Foreign Affairs 101, 140; any History 100- or 200-level course; Psychology 101, 102; Sociology 201.

IV. Western Culture

  1. Western Culture 101, 102, and 103.
  2. American Studies: two courses, chosen from different departments, from among United States history courses at the 100- or 200-level, or History 313, 317, 319, 320, 321; English 199, 221, 222, 224, 230, 258; Music 217, Music 218, Visual Arts 210; Government and Foreign Affairs 101, 102, 201; Religion 231, 232, 334, 336. Note: Music 217, Music 218, and Visual Arts 210 are all courses offered by the Fine Arts department; therefore, the American Studies requirement cannot be met by taking a combination of a Music course and a Visual Arts course.

V. International Studies 

An approved study-abroad experience (either during the academic year, in May Term, or in summer school), or one course from among History 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 322, 325, 326; Economics 210; English 228; Theatre 201; Government and Foreign Affairs 224, 225, 226, 227, 228, 322; Religion 103, 202, 203, 204.

VI. Religious and Philosophical Studies 

One religion course at the 100- or 200-level (except Religion 151, 152, or 251); or Philosophy 102, 201, 210, 217, 218.

VII. Fine Arts 

One 3 credit hour course in the Department of Fine Arts.

To ensure that all graduates of the College are able to write and speak clearly, cogently, and grammatically, the faculty in 1978 established the Rhetoric Program. In order to be graduated from the College, a student must satisfy all components of the Rhetoric proficiency requirement. The requirement comprises two components: (1) Successful completion of Rhetoric 101 and 102, and in addition, for students who need intensive training in basic writing and reading skills, Rhetoric 100.

If a student performs exceptionally well in Rhetoric 100, he may be exempted from Rhetoric 101 with the consent of the Director of the Program. Entering students who write particularly well or who have scored four or five on the English Language and Composition examination of the College Board, or six or seven on the appropriate International Baccalaureate Examination may be exempted from Rhetoric 101. Exemption from 102 is granted only to transfer students who have earned six hours of credit in writing courses in another college and who pass the Rhetoric Proficiency Examination upon entering Hampden-Sydney College.

(2) Rhetoric Proficiency Examination: Each student must write the proficiency examination in Rhetoric at the end of his sophomore year. The examination is a three-hour timed essay; the completed essays are evaluated by readers drawn from the faculty at large. Those students whose essays are judged unsatisfactory may retake the examination each semester until they reach the equivalent of their seventh semester at the College (or the first semester of their senior year). At that point, students are enrolled in Rhetoric 200: Proficiency Tutorial.

This requirement applies equally to all students, whether transfer students or not. Transfer students who expect to receive six credit hours for composition courses taken elsewhere must take and pass the proficiency examination at the beginning of their first semester of residence.

The major affords students the opportunity to study a particular subject in depth. It comprises a minimum of 30 credits of work in the discipline and directly supporting coursework; some majors comprise more than 30 credits, as indicated in the departmental sections. The major is intended to complement the broad education provided by core requirements and electives. Students must successfully complete a major in one of Hampden-Sydney's academic departments in order to be graduated from the College. A student selects his major and notifies the Registrar of his choice, ordinarily during the student's fourth semester at the College. He may select multiple majors, normally from different departments. If he does so, he must inform the Registrar which of these majors is his major of record. Only the major of record will be used to determine whether the student has satisfied the requirements of the Core Curriculum. If his interests change, a student may change his major(s) while he is an upperclassman, and he must inform the Registrar of the change.

The College offers majors in the following disciplines or groups of disciplines:

Applied Computational Physics
Applied Mathematics
Chemistry, Biochemistry
Classical Studies
Computer Science
Economics and Business
Foreign Affairs

Greek and Latin
Mathematical Economics
Religion and Philosophy
Visual Arts

The requirements for each of these majors may be found in the section on Course Offerings.

Minors offer an additional opportunity for concentrated study in a discipline outside of the major (a student may not complete a minor in the same discipline as the major).

The College offers minors in the following disciplines or areas of study:

Asian Studies
Classical Studies
Computer Science
Creative Writing
Environmental Studies

International Studies
Latin American Studies
Law and Public Policy
Military Leadership and National Security
Public Service
Visual Arts

The requirements for each of these minors may be found in the section on Course Offerings or other appropriate locations of the Catalogue.

Students meet the credit hours requirement by the successful completion of enough course work to total 120 semester hours of credit. A semester hour of credit is authorized for a class which meets 50 minutes per week for the semester or for a laboratory which meets two and one-half hours per week for the semester.

In order to graduate, students must be in residence at the College a minimum of two academic years, including the last year preceding graduation. A minimum of sixty hours of credit (of the 120 hours required for graduation) must be earned in courses taught at Hampden-Sydney. Following termination of the last semester of residence a student may receive no more than eight semester hours of credit for work done elsewhere.

Note: The residence requirement regulation may be modified in individual cases by action of the Executive Committee of the Faculty.

In order to graduate from the College, a student must have a grade-point average of 2.0 or better on work taken at Hampden-Sydney or in cooperative programs. The grade-point average is calculated by dividing the total quality units earned in Hampden-Sydney and cooperative programs by the total hours attempted therein.

Anyone who has earned a bachelor's degree at Hampden-Sydney or at another accredited institution may seek to earn a second bachelor's degree at Hampden-Sydney. The candidate for the second degree must be cleared by the regular admissions process. Granting of the second degree requires the completion of two semesters of residence at Hampden-Sydney and of at least 30 hours of academic credit during that period. In addition, fulfillment of the present core requirements through courses taken in the original four-year program and/or courses taken in the fifth year, and similarly the fulfillment of the course requirements for an academic major distinct from the major of the original bachelor's degree, are required. The student's proposed fifth-year program must also be approved for overall coherence and quality by the Dean of the Faculty and the Chair of the second major department.