Special Programs of Study

Some disciplines have a lot of requirements, which necessitate careful planning, starting in the first semester of your first-year. If you are interested in health sciences, engineering, education (teacher licensure), or education abroad, please read the information provided below and click on the links for further details.

Health Sciences

The field of health sciences is broad—including not only the practice of medicine but other areas such as osteopathic medicine, naturopathic medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, pharmacy, optometry, physical therapy, nursing, genetic counseling, and public health, to name a few.

If you're interested in studying any of the health sciences, you will want to plan your course work very carefully, starting in your first year. For example, if you're interested in medicine, dentistry, or veterinary school, you should study math, science, and English in your first year.

We have based a set of guidelines on the prerequisite courses for the study of human medicine (the degree of M.D.), because many incoming students have just that career in mind. But this template is useful if your interests are in veterinary medicine, dentistry, nursing, or any other large number of health professions (genetic counselor, midwife, physician’s assistant, chiropractor, physical therapist). Though the requirements for these careers may diverge as early as sophomore year, they all require a firm background in the sciences, so that’s a good place for you to begin. Note that no health-related career, medicine included, requires a particular major. Thus while it is wise to include up to two courses in your first semester that meet the requirements for a career in the health professions, try to balance your schedule and explore potential areas of interest by signing up for courses that really interest you. There are at least two reasons to do so:  first, no postgraduate degree programs look for cookie-cutter applicants, and second, intellectual exploration and discovery is the basic joy of a liberal arts education. The guidelines cover every premedical course you would need in four years at Mount Holyoke, but you only have to concern yourself now with picking two introductory (100 level) courses. Please note that we recommend against taking more than two lab sciences in the first semester, and we very strongly recommend against taking two lab sciences in combination with calculus.

Some students need not follow this premedical template of courses. Students very interested in health policy, community health, international health or the intersection between culture and disease would be best served by looking into courses in the social sciences (anthropology, sociology, psychology, politics) and humanities (history, languages, literature, philosophy) in addition to the natural and physical sciences. Interdisciplinary interests in health and society could lead to postgraduate study in Public Health, a very broad area spanning careers in international or community health, epidemiology and health policy, among many others. Degree programs in public health accept students from a truly wide variety of undergraduate curricula. If this catches your interest, you also might like to explore the Five College Culture Health and Science program. CHS offers a certificate program which complements a traditional disciplinary major.

During Orientation, there will be a special information session, Preparation for Careers in the Health Sciences, where members of our Committee on the Health Professions can answer your questions. Look for the date and time of this session when you receive your Orientation packet upon your arrival this fall.


Mount Holyoke students can earn a degree in engineering in two different ways, either by earning a master's degree in engineering after graduation from Mount Holyoke or by earning a second bachelor's degree, through what is called a dual degree program.

Education (Teacher Licensure)

If you are thinking about pursuing a career in teaching, you should consult with faculty in the psychology and education department early in your first-year in order to plan a course of study. While at Mount Holyoke, you can meet the requirements of a teaching license within your four years of liberal arts course work, but you should plan your courses carefully. See the Teacher Licensure website for additional information.

Education Abroad

Mount Holyoke strongly encourages every student to build an educational experience abroad into her program.  Education abroad proves to be a transformative experience for many students. Immersion in another country and culture encourages students to understand the world through a different lens and to question their own assumptions and beliefs.

Students in all majors may choose from a wide range of opportunities around the world, including language immersion, traditional classroom-based programs, field study programs, internships, and research.  We encourage students to begin talking with their advisors in their first meeting about how education abroad for a semester, year, or summer might fit into their plans.  Early planning will provide more flexibility and will enhance opportunities for students to integrate their experiences abroad with their academic program at Mount Holyoke.  For more information about learning abroad options visit the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives.