Like all Mount Holyoke undergraduates, Frances Perkins students must complete 128 credits (thirty-two classes), 64 in residence, and earn a minimum 2.0 average to qualify for the Bachelor of Arts. At least twenty-eight of these credits are earned in courses from seven different disciplines within the humanities, sciences and mathematics, and social sciences. Students also must fulfill requirements in foreign languages, multicultural perspectives, and physical education. Qualifying students may transfer up to sixty-four credits from other institutions.
It is not unusual for Frances Perkins students to approach required courses with hesitation--nor is it unusual for the same students to become vocal proponents of distribution requirements after taking such courses.
All Frances Perkins students concentrate in one area of special interest, declaring a major in one of the departments, an interdisciplinary field, or a special major of her own design. For students with majors in a single department, a minor is also required. Academic advisers and advisers from the major department help each student plan a course of study to meet their goals.
To earn a Mount Holyoke degree, students must become truly literate able to communicate clearly, honestly, and gracefully, orally and in writing; able to read to understand basic meaning, to judge the merits of an argument, and to appreciate complexities of thought and shades of feeling. Most Mount Holyoke students elect to take writing intensive courses, drawn by the limited enrollment, careful reading of assigned texts, and frequent papers.
Equally important, the Mount Holyoke graduate should be able to recognize and isolate various forms of quantitative argument, to reason effectively with numerical information, and to use modern computation skills with ease. It is perhaps in the mathematics or science classroom that the value of single-sex education is best demonstrated. Mount Holyoke emphasizes quantitative understanding backed by over a dozen tenured women in the "hard" sciences and by a guarantee that women are expected to contribute in class.
A normal schedule is four courses per semester, but some students take as few as two. Courses meet one to four times a week. Self scheduled examinations, summer research projects (sometimes for credit), and the increased importance given to independent study also help Frances Perkins students juggle school and the rest of their lives.
January Term fits between semesters and provides an academic change of pace with lectures, films, workshops, and student activities. Special courses are offered for credit, and some students teach courses themselves. A career exploration program off campus offers a three-week glimpse into the future.
Frances Perkins students also regularly participate in the Five College course interchange program with Amherst, Smith, Hampshire Colleges and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.