HMC Common Core
The Common Core presents a coordinated, common foundation essential to the education of all students. It includes two semesters of mathematics, one and one-half semesters of physics and an associated laboratory, one semester of chemistry and an associated laboratory, a half-semester of college writing, a course in critical inquiry offered by the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts, one semester of biology and an associated lab, one course in computer science, and one course in engineering. Additionally, students will complete a 3 credit Core impact course in the spring of their second year.
The Core Curriculum at Harvey Mudd College seeks to nurture students’ intellectual curiosity and joy of learning, provide them with foundational knowledge and skills needed for further study in STEM disciplines, and begin a critical engagement with the humanities, social sciences, and the arts. In keeping with HMC’s liberal-arts approach to STEM education, the Core engages students in thinking critically about consequential problems and complex issues, making connections across disciplinary boundaries, communicating and collaborating effectively, and understanding how their personal and professional actions impact the world around them.
All Core courses must be attempted by the end of the fourth semester, unless students are given explicit permission by the Assistant or Associate Dean of Academic Affairs to defer a requirement to a later semester.
Core requirements are governed by the catalog in effect at the time of a student’s matriculation as a degree-seeking student at the College. As such, Core requirements for students entering HMC prior to Fall 2022 will differ. Prior-year catalogs detail the applicable requirements. Students may petition the Scholarly Standing Committee to complete the graduation requirements stated in a later catalog (that is, fulfilling the set of Core, major, HSA, and overall credit requirements represented by any catalog) in effect after their matriculation at the College, but they may not mix provisions from various catalogs. For example, students who entered the College in the Fall of 2021 would be able to graduate under the 2022–2023 catalog, if they successfully petition the Scholarly Standing Committee with their request to do so. However, the student selecting a later catalog is bound by that catalog’s entire curriculum and may not cherry-pick components of the curriculum.
Because of the central importance of the Core, first-year students are limited to a maximum of 17 credits in their first semester at the College.
Core courses are listed below. Course descriptions are also given in the course listings for the departments.
BIOL023 HM - Biology Laboratory (1 credits)
BIOL046 HM - Introduction to Biology (3 credits)
CHEM024 HM - Chemistry Laboratory (1 credits)
CHEM042 HM - Chemistry in the Modern World (4 credits)
Computer Science (CSCI)
CSCI005 HM - Introduction to Computer Science (3 credits)
Core Impact (CORE)
CORE079 HM - STEM & Social Impact: Climate Change (3 credits)
ENGR079 HM - Introduction to Engineering Systems (4 credits)
Humanities, Social Sciences, And The Arts (HSA)
HSA010 HM - Critical Inquiry (3 credits)
MATH019 HM - Single and Multivariable Calculus (4 credits)
MATH073 HM - Linear Algebra (3 credits)
PHYS023 HM - Special Relativity (1.5 credits)
PHYS024 HM - Mechanics and Wave Motion (4 credits)
PHYS050 HM - Physics Laboratory (1 credits)
WRIT001 HM - Introduction to Academic Writing (2 credits)
Completing The Common Core
Most Core courses are offered once annually. Most students complete the Common Core by the end of the sophomore year. First-year Core courses—BIOL023 HM , BIOL046 HM , CHEM024 HM , CHEM042 HM , CSCI005 HM , HSA 010 HM , MATH019 HM , MATH073 HM , PHYS023 HM , PHYS024 HM , and WRIT001 HM —must be attempted in the first year and passed before the beginning of the junior year. PHYS050 HM must be attempted in the sophomore year. CORE079 HM must be attempted in the Spring of second year. ENGR079 HM must be attempted by the third semester unless deferral to the fifth semester is approved by the ADAA. The Scholarly Standing Committee tracks student progress through the Core and notifies students of Core deficiencies (e.g., courses that are dropped, withdrawn, failed, or not appropriately attempted). Students must register for all deficient Core courses each time they are offered. The instructors in the first-year core program meet regularly with the Associate/Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs to ensure that course material, major assignments, and examinations are coordinated throughout the year.