Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

To earn a bachelor's degree (Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science), a student must:

  • Complete 32 full academic courses (equal to 128 semester hours), plus two physical education credits;
  • Earn one PE credit by the end of the freshman year and an additional one by the end of the sophomore year;
  • Meet the General Education requirements of the college before the beginning of the senior year;
  • Of the 32 academic full courses (128 semester hours) presented for a bachelor’s degree, no more than 13 full courses (52 semester hours) may be presented in any single subject. Students and their advisors are strongly encouraged to develop a program of study for the junior and senior year that reflects breadth of involvement in disciplines beyond their principal academic interest;
  • Complete an academic major, including one writing-intensive course in the major. Note: To be accepted as a major in a particular field of study, a student must have maintained at least a 2.00 GPA in the courses already taken in that field;
  • Attain a grade point average of at least 2.00 on all academic work at Sewanee;
  • Spend at least four semesters in residence, including the final two semesters;
  • Earn a minimum of 64 semester hours of credit at Sewanee;
  • Pass a minimum academic load of three courses per semester (as well as seven during the upperclass years).

During the first two years, many of the student's courses are options listed within prescribed categories of general education.

During the last two years, a student's courses are usually selected from those offered in a major field of study but also include ample electives.

The college offers a broad undergraduate education in the arts and sciences rather than highly specialized training. Toward this end, and to fulfill the aims suggested by the fourth bulleted item above, no major is allowed to require more than 11 courses in the major field. During the final year, each student is required to pass a comprehensive examination in the major field before graduation. A student who at the time of the comprehensive examination does not have at least a 2.0 grade point average is not allowed to take the exam until the grade point average has been raised to that required level.

General Education Program and Requirements — Revised

Students in the classes of 2015 and 2016 are presumed to meet the General Distribution Requirements in the Catalog at the time each matriculated; individual students in these three classes may, however, opt to meet the following requirements by filing the appropriate form with the Registrar's Office.

The overarching goals of Sewanee's General Education Program and the broader curriculum are congruent with the University's mission of encouraging students to grow in character as well as intellect. Sewanee trains students to be citizens prepared for a lifetime of leadership and compassionate service and provide opportunities in their classes and on this campus to take responsibility for their own lives and the lives of peers. Students are challenged to cooperate and collaborate, to engage in civil dialogue, and to analyze complex problems and produce creative solutions. The thoughtful engagement of students in coursework and other learning endeavors, on campus and beyond, builds the foundation for their active citizenship and for lives of personal fulfillment involving commitment to service, achievement, and a reverent concern for the world.

Sewanee's General Education Curriculum encourages intellectual curiosity and exposure to significant traditions and ways of seeing the world that our disciplines and interdisciplinary programs present. The six fundamental learning objectives along with objectives 7a and 8 are typically accomplished in the first two years; objective 7b is ordinarily met during the last two years.

Mentoring of students by faculty, which includes close discussion of available courses and programs, offers solid footing for the student’s choice of major and the longer-term rewards of lifelong learning.

Learning Objective 1. Reading Closely: Literary Analysis and Interpretation.

One course.

The ability to read closely provides a foundation for informed and reflective critical analysis that is fundamental to lifelong learning and literary experiences of lasting value. Instruction in reading closely equips students to pay careful attention to the constitutive details and stylistic concerns of significant works of literature so as to arrive at a meaning that can be defended with confidence. In addition to promoting responsible ways of taking a literary work of consequence on its own terms, courses satisfying this requirement enable students to become proficient at identifying, interpreting, and analyzing new ideas, perennial topics, universal themes, and vivid descriptions of sensory and internal experiences.

Learning Objective 2. Understanding the Arts: Creativity, Performance, and Interpretation.

One course.

The need to create, experience, and comprehend art is a defining human activity. Learning in the arts fosters aesthetic development, self-discipline, imaginative insights, and the ability to make connections between seemingly disparate ideas and issues. Many courses provide insight into the discipline, craft, and creative processes that go into making a work of art, while others focus on analyzing and interpreting the products of that artistic creativity. Developing the ability to think in intuitive, non-verbal, aural, or visual realms enhances creativity, and provides students a way to address problems that do not have conventional solutions.

Learning Objective 3. Seeking Meaning: Wisdom, Truth, and Inquiry.

One course.

The quest to answer fundamental questions of human existence has always been central to living the examined life. Through this learning objective, students examine how people in diverse times and places have addressed basic human questions about the meaning of life, the source of moral value, the nature of reality and possibility of transcendence, and to what or whom persons owe their ultimate allegiance. Courses that explore texts and traditions dedicated to philosophic questions and ethical inquiry, or that examine religious belief and practice as a pervasive expression of human culture, encourage students to develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.

Learning Objective 4. Exploring Past and Present: Perspectives on Societies and Cultures.

Two courses.

Curiosity about society and its institutions is central to the engaged life. In addition, informed citizens should have an understanding of individual and collective behavior in the past and present. To address the challenges facing the world today, citizens must understand how these challenges arise and the roles that individuals, communities, countries, and international organizations play in addressing them. Learning how to pose appropriate questions, how to read and interpret historical documents, and how to use methods of analysis to study social interaction prepares students to comprehend the dynamics within and among societies. These skills enable students to examine the world around them and to make historically, theoretically, and empirically informed judgments about social phenomena.

Learning Objective 5. Observing, Experimenting, and Modeling: The Scientific and Quantitative View.

Three courses. One must include substantial quantitative, algorithmic, or abstract logical reasoning. One must be a science course with a substantial experiential or experimental component.

The study of the natural world through careful observation, construction and testing of hypotheses, and the design and implementation of reproducible experiments is a key aspect of human experience. Scientific literacy and the ability to assess the validity of scientific claims are critical components of an educated and informed life. Scientific and quantitative courses develop students’ ability to use close observation and interpret empirical data to understand processes in the natural world better. As they create models to explain observable phenomena, students develop their abilities to reason both deductively and inductively.

Learning Objective 6. Comprehending Cross-Culturally: Language and Global Studies.

One 300 level or higher foreign language course OR foreign language through the 200 (3rd semester) level together with one course in a related culture.

The cross-cultural comprehension requirement at Sewanee helps to prepare students for full citizenship in our global society. Upon completion of this requirement, students have developed a range of communicative strategies in a foreign language, recognition of another cultural perspective, and the capacity for informed engagement with another culture. These skills lead students to understand a variety of texts: oral, visual, and written. Students practice writing, public speaking, conversing, critical thinking, and textual analysis. Success in a foreign language gives students knowledge that they can apply broadly to academic and non-academic settings. The study of at least a second language is and always has been a hallmark of liberal arts education, providing not just access to the thought and expression of a foreign mentality and culture, but also a useful way to reflect on one’s own mentality, language, and culture.

Objective 7. Students complete at least two Writing-Intensive courses, one by the end of sophomore year and one in the major.

a. Foundational Writing-Intensive Course.

Typically taken during the freshman year, this course aims to provide extensive training and practice in expository writing. Although the course may be offered through any department or program, the craft of writing is its principal purpose. With a steady classroom focus on writing style and techniques for about three weeks of the fourteen-week term, students are expected to write at least six short papers, some of which are revised in consultation with the instructor. This foundational course includes not only training in argumentation, organization, and stylistics, but also a systematic review of technical matters such as grammar, punctuation, and usage.

b. Upper-level Writing-Intensive Course.

Upper-level Writing Intensive courses are offered in the student’s major as part of the major requirement. Such courses aim to sharpen the student’s skills through frequent writing assignments. They may include conferences with the instructor and should include assignments to revise written work and some time spent in classroom, group-engaged attention to the writing process. The second writing-intensive course or its college-approved equivalent (in the major) should also expose students to conventions of writing and research expected in a given discipline. Sewanee graduates are thus trained to express themselves with clarity and precision.

Objective 8. Physical Education and Wellness.

Two courses, not counted among the 32 full academic courses required for graduation, are required. One of these must be completed by the end of the freshman year and the second by the end of the sophomore year.

As the Greeks and Romans understood, healthy bodies and minds are closely connected and need to be cultivated together. Students are expected to take these courses in order to learn about the proper care of the body, the value of regular exercise, or to obtain an appreciation of individual and team sports.


Courses judged to be suitable for General Education are tagged with one or two attributes (G1-G6), each attribute corresponding to one of Learning Objectives 1 through 6. Listing of the relevant attribution(s) for every qualifying courses can be found online, within the full roster of currently-offered courses on the Registrar's webpage, and this list is updated every semester. It should be remembered that, under the new General Education Model, students can continue to fulfill certain of their distribution requirements by taking courses in the Interdisciplinary Humanities Program.

Recognition of Advanced Placement and Internationaal Baccalaureate Studies

Students under the new general education requirement who perform exceptionally well on AP Exams (scores of 4 or 5) or high-level IB Exams (scores of 5, 6, or 7) are considered to have fulfilled appropriate Learning Objectives.

Questions and Answers About the Revised General Education Programs for Current Students

Articulation of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Examinations with General Education Requirements

The General Education Distribution Requirements (prior to revised version initiated in Advent term 2013)

The General Education distribution requirements currently understood to be the "default" standard applicable to students enrolled in the Classes of 2015 and 2016 are as follows:

Language and Literature:
One course in English (English 101) and one course in a foreign language at the 300 level.

The required course in English prepares students to become critical readers of significant literary works, to apply a variety of interpretive approaches, and to learn effective techniques for writing clear, correct, and persuasive English prose. The culminating 300-level course in a foreign language, either ancient or modern, is required so that all students may develop some insight into the way language itself works — which can often be seen best in a language not one’s own – and acquire some understanding of the literature and culture of another people. At the 300 level (the fourth semester, as languages are numbered here), a student should be able to read literary or cultural texts in the target language and, in the case of a modern foreign language, be capable of demonstrating facility in speaking the language in question.

Students who begin foreign-language study below the 300 level must complete each semester course in sequence before attempting a 300-level course (e.g., a student beginning in 104 must also pass 203 before taking a 300-level course). Exceptionally, however, a student could jump a level in the sequence via approval from the department in question, which must notify the Associate Dean of the College.

Mathematics, Computer Science, and the Natural Sciences:
One course in mathematics (or designated course in computer science) and two courses in the natural sciences.

Mathematics is essential to all systematic inquiry in the natural and social sciences and is a study that can return great intellectual and aesthetic satisfaction. The study of computer science likewise offers both practical benefits and ways of envisioning multiple models of reality. Students at Sewanee pursue mathematics and the natural sciences to gain an understanding of the methods involved in scientific work and an enhanced appreciation of the natural world. At least one of the two science courses must have a full laboratory. Labs meet for approximately the same number of hours as the lecture classes meet each week.

History and the Social Sciences:
One course in history (History 100) and one course in the social sciences.

Studying important historical themes is essential to a liberal arts education. The required history course introduces students to significant developments since classical antiquity. While it focuses primarily on the western tradition, attention is given to others. The course also introduces students to methods of approaching historical study. A course in anthropology, economics, or political science enables students to approach social issues and problems with specific tools and techniques. Their work may also examine ways in which modern social problems can be alleviated.

Philosophy and Religion:
One course in philosophy or religion.

Philosophy and religion are interrelated disciplines that examine the fundamental bases of human experience — the ways human beings think, form values, and conceive of human life and the cosmos. Introductory courses in philosophy and religion examine key ideas and texts from the Judeo-Christian and other traditions. One course at the introductory level in either discipline is required of all students to help them become more critical, more reflective, and more aware of transcendent values. This requirement also provides another perspective on moral and ethical problems discussed in complementary disciplines like English and history.

Art and Performing Arts:
One course in art, art history, music, or theatre.

The aesthetic disciplines offer different options for expression. Students are required to take one course focusing on artistic activities that draw on intellectual, emotional, moral, and spiritual resources. The course provides a framework for understanding how techniques relate to the history and theory of the medium.

Writing-Intensive Courses:
One course designated as writing-intensive as general distribution and a second in a major.

The ability to write clearly and effectively, like the ability to speak well, is a skill that comes through long practice with expert guidance. Each student must take at least one writing-intensive course during the freshman or sophomore year under the General Distribution rubric and must take another writing-intensive course that is offered in the student’s major as part of the major requirement. Such courses aim to sharpen the student’s skills through frequent writing assignments. They may include conferences with the instructor and opportunities to rewrite and revise assignments. The second writing-intensive course (in the major) should also expose students to conventions of writing and research expected in a given discipline. Sewanee graduates are thus trained to express themselves with clarity and precision.

Physical Education:

Two courses (not counted among the 32 full academic courses required for graduation) One of these must be completed by the end of the freshman year and the second by the end of the sophomore year.

Additional Requirements for a Bachelor of Science
(applies to all students)
In addition to satisfying all requirements for the Bachelor of Arts degree, a candidate for the Bachelor of Science degree must:
• Complete a major in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental studies: chemistry, environmental studies: ecology and biodiversity, environmental studies: natural resources and the environment, forestry, geology, mathematics, physics, or psychology;
• Present four courses outside the major field from biology, chemistry, computer science, geology, mathematics, physics, statistics, or those courses in forestry and psychology designated as meeting the general distribution requirement in natural science (see 2.b above).
• At least two of the four courses must be laboratory courses, all four must be taken at Sewanee, and none may be graded on a pass/fail basis.

Additional Requirements for a Second Bachelor's Degree
Students who have already received either the B.A. or the B.S. degree may wish to obtain the other bachelor degree. In order to receive that other degree, the student must successfully complete all requirements for the other degree (including a major) and at least eight additional full courses while enrolled as a regular full-time student in the college for two additional semesters. Students may not receive two B.A. degrees or two B.S. degrees from Sewanee.

Earning an Additional Major, Minor, or Certificate of Curricular Study after Graduation

Students who have already received the B.A. or B.S. degree and wish to earn an additional major, minor, or certificate of curricular study may do so by successfully completing at least eight additional full courses while enrolled as a regular full-time student in the college for two additional semesters and by fulfilling all requirements for the additional major, minor, or certificate of curricular study.

Additional Degree Policies
(applies to all students)
1. The faculty requires a student to have completed all academic general distribution requirements courses before the beginning of the student’s last two semesters. Students must also have earned one PE credit before the end of the freshman year, and a second PE credit before the end of the sophomore year. Exceptions may be made by petition to the College Standards Committee. A student must request and receive College Standards Committee approval to meet any general distribution requirement outside the time frame specified.

2. Without specific approval from the Office of the Dean of the College, a student may not complete a general distribution requirement with an Independent Study (444) course or courses. The only exception is Physical Education in which 444 does count.

3. General distribution courses must be taken and passed in the College of Arts and Sciences by all except transfer students. Only coursework taken by these students prior to admission to the college may be evaluated as possible substitutions for prescribed courses.

4. Effective with the class of 2014, it is expected that all students will, in the course of fulfilling requirements for their academic major, take at least one course within the major (as described under General Distribution Requirements, Writing-Intensive Courses) that exposes students to the conventions of writing and research expected in a given discipline.

Major Fields of Study
To receive a bachelor's degree, a student must declare and complete the requirements for a major field of study. There are thirty-six majors from which to choose:

American Studies
Art History
Asian Studies
Classical Languages
Computer Science
Ecology and Biodiversity (Environmental Studies)
Environmental Arts and Humanities (Environmental Studies)
Environment and Sustainability (Environmental Studies)
French Studies
International and Global Studies
Medieval Studies
Natural Resources and the Environment (Environmental Studies)
Theatre Arts

For information on requirements for specific majors, please refer to "Departments and Academic Programs."

A major consists of more than a collection of courses. Each department or committee offering a major helps students plan a coherent program of study. Having the deadline for declaring a major allows this planning. In addition, before graduation, a student must pass a comprehensive examination in the major, demonstrating critical and creative abilities as well as an understanding of the principles of the subject. Comprehensive examinations are graded either using the usual pattern (A+, A, A-, B+, etc.) or Pass/Fail, as each major department or committee chooses. Those using Pass/Fail grading may also choose the category "Pass with Distinction."

During the second semester of the second year, a student selects a major field of study under the following guidelines.

1. To be accepted as a major in a particular field of study, a student must have maintained at least a 2.00 GPA in the courses already taken in that field. A student who has completed two years of study and is in good academic standing, but who has not achieved a 2.00 GPA in the intended major field of study, may be permitted to register for one additional year. A student who, at the end of an additional year, is still not qualified to declare a major will not be permitted to enroll again.

2. Each candidate for a degree must pass a comprehensive exam in the major field of study. To be eligible to take the comprehensive exam, a student must have a 2.00 GPA in the major field and have been accepted as a major at the beginning of the semester before the semester in which the exam is to be taken.

3. No more than two courses (eight semester hours) used to satisfy requirements for a major may be used to fulfill requirements for another major, minor, or certificate of curricular study.

Minor Fields of Study and Certificates of Curricular Study

A student may choose to complete a Minor Field of Study or, where appropriate, a Certificate of Curricular Study in an academic discipline, but doing so is not required for graduation. A Certificate recognizes a program of coursework that involves a relatively large proportion of practicum training and requires a capstone project. A Certificate is mostly intended to encourage mastery of a particular skill germane to liberal arts study; it is typically more specialized than either a Major or Minor Field of Study.

A minor or certificate is designated on the student's permanent record and transcript in addition to the required major. A student may declare a minor or certificate in the fourth semester, but no later than mid-semester of a student’s last enrolled semester. At the time of declaration, the student must have maintained at least a 2.00 GPA in the courses already taken in that subject. In addition, the student must graduate with at least a 2.00 GPA in the minor or certificate.

Each department or program has the option of requiring or not requiring a comprehensive examination in the minor subject or for the certificate. Should a scheduling conflict between a student's major and minor comprehensive examinations arise, this is resolved by rescheduling the examination in the minor or certificate.

No more than two courses (eight semester hours) used to satisfy requirements for a minor or certificate of curricular study may be used to fulfill requirements for a major or another minor or certificate of curricular study.

Minors [Certificates] are currently offered in:

Art History
Asian Studies
Classical Languages
Computer Science [See Mathematics and Computer Science]
Creative Writing [Certificate] [See English]
Film Studies
French and French Studies
Greek [See Classical Languages]
International and Global Studies
Latin [See Classical Languages]
Physics & Astronomy
Religion and Environment
Shakespeare Studies
Theatre Arts
Watershed Science [Certificate] [See Environmental Studies]
Women's and Gender Studies

For information on requirements for specific minors and certificates, please refer to "Departments and Academic Programs."

Degrees with Honors, Valedictorian, and Salutatorian
A student who fulfills the degree requirements with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.75 graduates summa cum laude. A student with a GPA of at least 3.50 and less than 3.75 graduates magna cum laude. A student with a GPA of at least 3.25 and less than 3.50 graduates cum laude.

In addition, a student deemed worthy of special recognition in the department or program of the academic major graduates "with honors" in that field. (This is generally separate from a "with distinction" evaluation on a comprehensive examination, although departments and programs establish their own criteria for graduation "with honors.")

The College Standards Committee declares class valedictorian and salutatorian. These students must be members of the Order of Gownsmen and must have pursued a full college course at Sewanee. Exceptions may be made for students spending no more than two semesters at an officially sanctioned off-campus program.

Academic Advising
Although each student has ultimate responsibility for becoming familiar with and meeting graduation requirements, the college believes that conscientious and well-informed advising on an individual basis is an important part of the academic program. Each student is assigned an advisor from the faculty or administration whose responsibility it is to help plan and supervise the student's academic program and to be available on other matters. An academic advisor approves the student's schedule of courses at registration and should be consulted with regard to any subsequent changes.

Academic advisors work closely with the dean and associate dean of the college, the dean and associate deans of students, the University counselors, and the registrar. Students are frequently referred to these and other offices for advice and assistance.

Grading System

Student work is evaluated according to the following system: A for excellent, B for good, C for satisfactory, D for passing, F for failing, I for incomplete work (see below), W for withdrawn, WF for withdrawn failing, and P for passing in a pass/fail course. Grades are recorded in the registrar's office, and, with the exception of I, may not be changed except in cases of clerical error. Such extensions can be granted only by that office. Such changes — i.e., those based on a clerical error should be made no later than the semester following the one in which the original grade was given.

The grade I (incomplete) is given only when a professor deems that a student has failed to complete the work of a course for legitimate and unavoidable reasons. The incomplete must be replaced with a grade within one week after final examinations. An extension exceeding one week requires that a student supply very clear evidence of extenuating circumstances to the Associate Dean of the College.

Averages are computed in grade points. Each graded semester hour of academic credit carries with it a corresponding number of grade points as follows:

A+ 4.33     B+ 3.33      C+ 2.33      D+ 1.33      F 0.00

A 4.00        B 3.00        C 2.00        D 1.00

A- 3.67       B- 2.67      C- 1.67       D- 0.67

Class standing and eligibility for graduation are determined by the number of semester hours and cumulative grade point average a student has earned.

Dean's List
To qualify for the Dean's List, a student must have a semester average of 3.625 or higher after completing a semester with credit for at least three and one-half academic courses, at least three of which were taken for a grade. This list is published each semester by the Office of the Dean of the College.

Grade Appeal
A student who believes that he or she has been assigned a course grade which is unfair or inappropriate, and who has been unable to resolve the matter with the faculty member directly, may appeal to the College Standards Committee. Appeals should be initiated no later than the semester following the one in which the grade in question was given. Such appeals are made by letter to the committee via the Associate Dean of the College and are taken up as regular agenda items at the next scheduled meeting. The Associate Dean informs the faculty member involved of the appeal and invites this faculty member to respond to the student's claim.

The concept of academic freedom as practiced at the college prohibits the committee or any administrative officer from forcing a faculty member to change a grade. Therefore, an appeal serves more as a form of peer review than an appeal per se. The committee may suggest a solution to the dispute, may request that both the faculty member and the student justify their positions, and may recommend legislation to the faculty that might prevent conflicts from occurring in the future.

All faculty members should be aware that they may be asked to justify their personal grading procedures, and should keep adequate records of class performance. In addition, faculty should not request grade changes later than the semester following the one in which the grade in question was given.

Exam Rescheduling
With the approval of the teacher or teachers involved and the Associate Dean of the College, students may arrange their exam schedules so that they are not compelled to take three examinations on one calendar day or more than three examinations on any two consecutive calendar days in the examination week. Every such arrangement must be completed by the last day of the semester. Whenever possible, the morning examination will not be changed. Permission will not be granted to schedule an examination outside the regular examination week, except in case of illness. If a student has a course under an instructor who teaches more than one section of the course, the student may take the final examination with another section if the instructor gives permission.

The official record of all grades earned and all courses attempted or completed is the permanent record from which transcripts are made. Upon written request of the student, the registrar will send "official" transcripts to institutional addresses, providing the student's account is paid in full. In addition, the registrar's office has agreed to provide for an upper class student, upon request, an additional sheet indicating basic information about a student along with a cumulative grade point average and rank and percentile within the class.