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 degree. Students majoring in one of the disciplines in the natural sciences and mathematics division, in Mathematical Economics, or in Psychology may make a formal request to receive a Bachelor of Science degree, instead. It is solely the responsibility of the student to make sure that he meets all of the stated requirements for his degree.

Core Requirements

Students may use any appropriate courses, unless otherwise stated, to satisfy both core and major requirements. With the exception of core requirement IX (Experiential Learning), 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.

Core requirement IX (Experiential Learning) applies to students who entered the College starting academic year 2019-2020. With the exception of core requirement IX (Experiential Learning), only courses worth at least three semester hours of credit may be used to satisfy the following core requirements:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 115, 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.
  3. 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; Sociology 201.
  4. Core Cultures
    1. Western Culture 101 and 102.
    2. One course from either Global Cultures 103 or 104.
  5. American Studies
    Two courses, chosen from different departments, from among United States history courses at the 100- or 200-level, or History 313, 317, 321, 323, 327; English 191, 199, 221, 222, 224, 230, 258; Music 212, 217, 218, 312; Theatre 210; Visual Arts 210; Government and Foreign Affairs 101, 102, 201; Religion 231, 232, 334, 336. Note: Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts courses are all courses offered by the Fine Arts department; therefore, the American Studies requirement cannot be met by taking a combination of these courses.
  6. 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, 261, 322, 323, 325, 326, 332, 333, 340, 345, 346; Economics 210; English 228; Theatre 201; Government and Foreign Affairs 224, 225, 226, 227, 228, 322; Religion 103, 202, 203, 204, 306; Spanish 310; one course from either Global Cultures 103 or 104, not already used in section IV to satisfy the Core Cultures requirement. International students who are attending Hampden-Sydney College on an F1 Visa will be considered as having fulfilled this requirement.
  7. Religious and Philosophical Studies
    One Religion or Philosophy course at the 100-, 200-, or 300-level (except Religion 151, 152, or 251).
  8. Fine Arts
    One 3 credit hour course in the Department of Fine Arts.
  9. Experiential Learning/Compass (EL)
    Three courses (of at least one credit) designated as experiential learning, at least one of which is not in the division of the major (i.e., Humanities, Social Science, and Natural Sciences & Mathematics), and one of which must be “off the Hill” (i.e., course activities are primarily experienced off of the H-SC campus). For EL courses that can be taken multiple times over a series of semesters, students are allowed to count the course only one time towards the minimum of three EL courses for graduation.

Rhetoric Requirement

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.

At the beginning of the fall semester, new students take diagnostic tests. Rhetoric staff members may then recommend that students who perform exceptionally well on both the editing and essay diagnostics be exempted from Rhetoric 101. The Director of the Program, in consultation with the professor, the student, and the student’s advisor, makes the final decision about exemptions in these cases. Entering students 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 receive credit for Rhetoric 101 and may move directly into Rhetoric 102. 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. Exemption from 102 is granted only to transfer students who have earned six hours of credit in writing courses at 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.

Major Requirement

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 requirements for each major and/or minor may be found in the section on Course Offerings.

Majors & Minors