The founders of Harvey Mudd College envisioned a distinctive educational experience for the College’s students. The curriculum was designed to create scientists and engineers with unusual breadth in their technical education and a firm academic grounding in the humanities, social sciences, and the arts.
The required curriculum is divided into four components: the Common Core, which provides the foundation for advanced study; the program in Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts, which completes the liberal arts nature of a Harvey Mudd College education by providing humanistic and social scientific perspectives; the major, which builds depth and technical competence; and the Physical Education requirement. Unifying all of these is an emphasis on strong oral and written communication, the development of computational skills, and direct experience with a research or design project. The academic programs are demanding, but the College fosters cooperation rather than competition under a successful Honor Code.
In order to be recommended by the faculty for the bachelor of science degree, students are required to complete satisfactorily a minimum of 128 credits (including approved transfer credits for courses taken at other colleges) with a minimum cumulative GPA and major GPA of 2.000. Students must complete all of the requirements of each of the four curricular components.
Incoming first-year students are assigned a first-year advisor. In the Spring semester of their first year, students are assigned an HSA advisor from the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts. When a student declares a major, an advisor from the major department is assigned to the student, replacing the first-year advisor. Advisors must approve students’ schedules each semester before pre-registration, but it is the student’s responsibility to make certain all degree requirements are satisfied. If an advisor goes on sabbatical or extended leave, an updated advisor will be assigned.
HMC Common Core
For information regarding the HMC Common Core please visit the HMC Common Core page in this catalog.
Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts
The program in Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts is one of the distinctive and defining aspects of Harvey Mudd College. From its inception, the College has regarded a strong grounding in these areas to be an essential part of the education of engineers, scientists, and mathematicians, who need to be mindful of the richness and complexities of the human experience as well as the social contexts and consequences of their own endeavors.
In addition to the Common Core course (HSA 010 HM ), students must complete 10 full semester courses (or their equivalent) in a coherent program planned with the approval of their Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts advisor. This program must include two key elements:
- a concentration of courses in a single discipline or in an interdisciplinary field chosen from the distinct areas of liberal arts study offered at The Claremont Colleges
- a distribution of courses in different disciplines that exposes students to the varieties of intellectual approaches that inform the humanities and social sciences.
To foster the growth of an intellectual community, students must take at least four courses (beyond HSA 010 HM ) from departmental faculty members. Students may select their remaining courses from a large number available at Harvey Mudd College and the other Claremont Colleges. In addition to HSA 010 HM , students must complete at least one HSA course that involves significant writing. Both departmental courses and HSA courses offered at the other Claremont Colleges (or outside of Claremont) can satisfy this requirement.
For more information regarding these requirements, see the listing under Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts in this catalog, as well as, the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts Advising Process page on the HMC website.
Majors (In General)
A student must complete the requirements for one of the departmental majors, one of the interdisciplinary majors, an approved individual program of studies (IPS), or an off-campus major (OCM) and technical minor with approval from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. The departmental majors are: biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, and physics. There are currently four interdisciplinary majors: joint chemistry and biology, joint computer science and mathematics, joint mathematics and physics, and mathematical and computational biology. Requirements for each major are listed in the Programs of Study section of this catalog.
Every student should seek early guidance from faculty advisors in order to clarify the preparation required for specific majors. Students must select a major or file an IPS plan by the end of their fourth semester. Students may not declare a major in their first two semesters of enrollment at the College. The earliest they may do so is after the end of their second semester of enrollment. (An exception is made for 3/2 dual-degree transfer students, who are declared engineering majors at the time of matriculation at HMC.)
In the junior and senior years, students typically take two or three courses each semester in their major and related fields. Some of these are requirements while others are electives. All majors culminate in original research and design opportunities and include a capstone experience.
Students cannot be awarded a double major in a joint major and one of its component majors.
For students who wish to double-major, the majors’ department chairs must approve the double counting of courses across their programs. The registrar must be notified of all such approvals.
Physical Education Requirement
The Harvey Mudd College physical education (PE) requirement helps students develop skills for lifelong physical fitness. The requirement can be satisfied with either three physical fitness activity courses, two season-long registered participations in approved team sports, or two physical fitness courses in combination with one season of an approved team sport.
One unit of credit is awarded for each PE course and 1.5 units are awarded for each season-long participation in a team sport, up to a maximum of 3.5 credits. PE courses taken over and above the 3.5-unit maximum will be recorded with zero units of credit. Students should plan to earn no more than 3.0 credits. The maximum of 3.5 credits is reserved for students completing one season of a team sport and two activity courses, in lieu of two seasons of a team sport. All Physical Education courses are graded pass/no credit.
Elective Physical Education Courses (PE)
Specific sport and activity course offerings are announced on the Portal prior to registration each semester.