Jul 15, 2024  
2016-2017 Catalog 
2016-2017 Catalog [ARCHIVED PUBLICATION] Use the dropdown above to select the current catalog.

Academic Program



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, as revised by the College in January 2010, is divided into three 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; and the major, which builds depth and technical competence. 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). Students must complete all of the requirements of each of the three curricular components as well as a physical education requirement.

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 five courses (beyond HSA 010 HM ) from departmental faculty members. This requirement is reduced for students who study abroad or for students whose concentrations are not regularly supported coursework at Harvey Mudd. 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 Handbook.

Physical Education

The physical education requirement helps students develop skills for lifelong physical fitness. In the first year, students must register for a physical fitness course approved specifically for first year students; season-long participation in an approved team sport in the CMS (Claremont McKenna-Harvey Mudd-Scripps) joint athletic program may be used to satisfy the first-year physical education requirement. In addition to the first-year requirement, students must complete either an additional two physical fitness activity courses or an additional season-long participation in an approved CMS team sport.

Courses And Requirements

The Harvey Mudd College physical education (PE) requirement consists of

  1. a physical fitness course taken in the first-year (a “first-year PE”) and
  2. a physical education elective requirement, satisfied either with two semester-long PE elective courses or one season-long participation in an approved intercollegiate or club sports team offered through the Claremont McKenna-Harvey Mudd-Scripps (CMS) PE/Athletic program.

One credit is awarded for each PE course, up to a maximum of 3.0 credits. PE courses taken over and above the 3-credit maximum will be recorded with zero credit. All Physical Education courses are graded pass/no credit.

Fitness training with an associated ROTC program or completion of a physical education course at Pomona College may also fulfill a PE elective requirement.

First-Year Physical Fitness Course

The list of courses that satisfy the first-year physical fitness requirement is published on the portal by the Harvey Mudd College registrar prior to registration each semester. Each approved course includes information about physical fitness; testing of physical strengths and weaknesses; aerobic training; development of the skills for a lifelong physical fitness program; introduction of students to the Claremont McKenna-Harvey Mudd-Scripps (CMS) PE/ Athletic program, faculty, and facilities. These approved Joint PE (JP) first-year physical fitness courses are taught by CMS PE Department full-time faculty. Not all JP courses satisfy the first-year requirement. Physical education courses taken at Pomona College do not satisfy the first-year requirement. Season-long participation in an intercollegiate or club sports team approved by the CMS Athletic Department fulfills the first-year physical fitness course requirement if the season-long participation occurs in the student’s first year.

Elective Physical Education Courses

Specific sport and activity course offerings are announced prior to registration each semester.

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 three interdisciplinary majors: joint chemistry and biology, joint computer science and mathematics, and mathematical and computational biology. Requirements for each major are listed in that major’s section of this catalog.

Every student should seek early guidance from faculty advisors in order to clarify the preparation required for specific majors. Students are expected to select a major or file a tentative IPS plan by the end of the fourth semester.

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.