Previous Requirements for the AB Degree

These are not the requirements which apply to most current students. These apply to those who graduated in 2014  or before and will also apply  -- with rare exceptions -- to any who entered the College before Fall 2011 who return to the College after Spring 2014 to try to graduate in 2015 or later.


 By graduation, a student shall have completed successfully at least 128 credits in academic work in courses selected to provide a wide distribution of experience as well as specialization in a major field.

  • Sixty-four of her credits (sixteen courses) must be taken while at Mount Holyoke during the sophomore, junior, and senior years, and she must be registered at Mount Holyoke for four semesters during those years.
  • She will also take six units of physical education by the end of her junior year.
  • To receive the degree, a student must have a 2.00 cumulative average and meet the following requirements.
  • A maximum of 16 credits of independent study and honors work may be applied toward the 128 minimum credit requirement. Also, students who entered the College before September 2008 may apply one non-liberal arts course, for a maximum of four credits, to the 128 credits required for graduation.  Student who entered the College on or after September 2008 may apply a maximum of 12 credits combined that are earned from Mount Holyoke curricular support courses and from any Mount Holyoke, Five College, or transferred non-liberal arts courses, whether taken before or after the student's matriculation at the College.


 All students must complete a major of one of three types:

  1.  Departmental Major
    At least 32 credits must be completed in the major field. At least 8 of those credits must be taken at the advanced (300) level. Specific requirements for each departmental major are listed in the catalog, at the beginning of the course offerings for each department. Ask the department chair if you have questions about those requirements. (Also see below for information on a minor, which is required.)
  2. Interdisciplinary Major
    At least 40 credits must be completed in the major. At least 12 of these credits must be at the advanced (300) level, and must be from at least two different departments. The interdisciplinary programs each have specific requirements for their majors; again, these are at the beginning of each program's course offerings in the catalog. Program chairs will answer questions about those requirements. (No minor is required.)
  3. Special Major
    At least 40 credits are required. At least 20 of these credits must be taken at the advanced (300) level, from at least two different departments. Students apply for special, self-designed majors through the Dean of Studies. A special committee of Faculty members is assigned to oversee the student's work. Specific requirements for the major are worked out with the committee. (No minor is required.)

Each student must declare her major in her sophomore year no later than the end of the eighth week of classes of the second semester.


 Each student must also complete an "outside the major" requirement by electing one of the following options, no later than the end of the eighth week of classes of the second semester of her junior year: 

  1. A minor, consisting of a minimum of 16 credits (generally four courses) beyond the introductory (100) level in a field or related fields outside the student's major. Only one minor will be recorded on a transcript. The minor may take one of three forms:
    1. A minor sponsored by a department or an interdisciplinary program (for example, economics, gender studies, physics).
    2. A freestanding minor or a certificate program, as listed in the Bulletin & Course Catalog.
    3. A special minor devised by a student in consultation with, and approved by, her academic advisor.  Normally the minimum of four courses required are drawn from two or more departments or programs, other than the student's major field.  A special minor may not have a title identical with the name or an existing major.
  2. A second major. 

Special majors and designated interdisciplinary majors by definition fulfill the above "outside the major" requirement.

 All students with single majors must also complete at least 68 academic credits outside the field of their major subject. See more details below.

General Requirements

 Language (This is the current requirements applicable to those who entered the College in fall 2008 or later):
A foreign language, ancient or modern. Ordinarily, a student should satisfy this requirement by the end of the sophomore year. The requirement may be fulfilled in the following ways:

  1. By completing a two-semester elementary course sequence in a foreign language new to the student or for which she has little or inadequate preparation.  (The self-instructional and mentored language courses currently offered by the Five College Center for World Languages offered through the University of Massachusetts cannot be used to meet the Mount Holyoke language requirement)
  2. By completing a designated four credit foreign language or literature (taught in the foreign language) course at the intermediate level or above. In the case of an student whose first language is not English, by exemption through determination by the Director of the Language Resource Center of at least one of the following:
    • Documented attendance at a secondary school for at least one year at which instruction was conducted in a language other than English.
    • Documented attendance at a secondary school outside of the US where the language of instruction was English but she elected a language
      or literature course taught in her native language.
    • An O-Level, A-Level,  or GSCE language result (for students from India this would be a grade of X or XII) or an official record of satisfactory
      completion of a college - level language or literature course in her native language.

Multicultural Perspective

 One approved 4-credit course devoted primarily to the study of some aspect of: a) the peoples of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East; or b) peoples of color in Australia, Europe, or North America; or c) peoples in North America whose primary language is other than English. The course must incorporate a diversity of perspectives. Courses are available in many fields of study; the courses meeting this requirement are designated in the catalog.


 Students must take courses in seven different disciplines, from the groups outlined below. Through spring of 1997, only Mount Holyoke courses marked with a "D" before the course number could meet this requirement. Since fall 1997-98, many courses within most departments and programs have met been approved to meet distribution requirements. Note the following conditions carefully: 

  • Only courses that carry at least four credits in one semester will meet distribution within any division or discipline.
  • Independent study courses do not meet distribution in any division.
  • Any course cross-listed in a single discipline and in an interdisciplinary program will meet distribution in the single discipline. (Examples: a course cross-listed between Politics and International Relations meets distribution in Politics; one cross-listed between Asian Studies and History meets distribution in History.)
  • Interdisciplinary courses not cross-listed will meet distribution in a particular division; each catalog description will include the division in which distribution will be met.
  • Some courses will be noted by an academic department as not meeting distribution, even though they may carry four credits in a discipline. These courses will include a special note in the catalog, stating that they do not meet distribution.
  • Approved language courses may be used to meet either the language requirement or distribution; but the same course(s) may not meet both requirements. If a course has been used to satisfy the language requirement, it may not be used to meet distribution as well. A few courses meet distribution in more than one subdivision; no course may meet more than one requirement, but which one it meets is the student's choice. (However, courses meeting either language or distribution requirements may also meet the Multicultural Perspectives requirement.)
  • The distribution rules that went into effect fall 1997 were not retroactive; old rules applied to all courses taken through spring semester 1997.

The categories in which distribution must be met are:

Division l, Humanities
Three courses from three distinct disciplines. One must be from the subgroup Arts, language, and literature: art; classics; dance; English; French; German Studies; Greek; Italian; Latin; music; Russian; Spanish; theatre arts; interdisciplinary course in arts, language and literature. One course must be from the subgroup containing history; philosophy; and religion or an interdisciplinary course in this area. The third course may be from either subgroup, in any field not already used. 

Division ll, Science and Mathematics
Two courses from two distinct disciplines. One may be from the subgroup including computer science, mathematics, and statistics, or an interdisciplinary course in this area. At least one must be from the subgroup of the natural and physical sciences (and both may be from this subgroup), which includes astronomy; biological sciences; chemistry; geology; physics; interdisciplinary course in the natural or physical sciences. At least one course from natural and physical sciences must include a laboratory component. 

Division lll, Social Sciences
Two courses from two distinct disciplines. This group includes anthropology; economics; geography; politics; psychology; sociology; interdisciplinary course in the social sciences. 

Physical Education
While PE "units" are not counted toward academic credits, those entering as first-year students must complete 6 PE credits before graduation. Students admitted as transfer students or Frances Perkins Scholars who also have 24 or more transfer credits for prior work must complete 4 PE credits. Those admitted as transfers or FPs who have 56 or more transfer credits must complete 2 PE units at Mount Holyoke. 
Note on Ungraded Courses
Students may take up to a total of four courses (16 credits) of work on an ungraded (credit/no-credit) basis. They may never be elected in the field of the student's declared major(s), nor applied to the minor, nor used to meet any general requirement of the College (multicultural, language, or distribution). Only one course may be taken ungraded within any one semester.   If a course is taken ungraded, it may not be changed later to graded, even though a student may want to include it in her minor or towards a general requirement; for this reason, we suggest using the Ungraded Option carefully.  It is intended to allow students to explore fields completely new to them, in which they are not sure how well they will do. The option is definitely not intended to make it possible for students to do less work in a course than if that course were being taken for a regular letter grade. 

Outside the Major
To ensure some depth and coherence of knowledge beyond a single major, each student must elect one of the following options: 

I.  A recorded minor, consisting of a minimum of sixteen credits beyond the 100 level in a field or related fields outside the student's major. Only one minor may be recorded on a transcript. The minor may take one of three forms; 

  1. A minor sponsored by a department or interdisciplinary program (for example: classics, economics, physics, gender studies). This minor:
    • Must include at least four credits at the 300 level, unless this specification is waived or modified by the department or program concerned; and,
    • Must be approved by a designated member or members of that department or program if any work in the minor is done elsewhere, if the minor differs from requirements outlined in the catalog, or if the proposed minor department or program so specifies.
  2. A freestanding minor or a certificate program, as listed in the Course Catalog (for example: Five College Certificate in African Studies, one of the Nexus or thematic minors)
  3. A special minor devised by the student in consultation with, and approved by, her academic advisor (for example, marine studies, Victorian painting and poetry). This minor:
    • May well include one or more 300-level courses among the minimum four courses required, but need not do so in all cases;
    • Must be approved by the student's major adviser, and should involve appropriate consultation with qualified faculty in the proposed fields, but does not require formal department approval; and,
    • Normally draws from courses in two or more departments or programs
    • May not have a title identical with the name of any existing major.

II. A second major; 

Students completing special majors and some interdisciplinary majors by definition fulfill the Outside the Major requirement, so are not required to complete either a recorded minor or a second major.

 All students who elect single departmental majors must complete at least 68 credits of the 128 required for the degree outside the major department. See more details below.

 No course included in a student's major may be included in her minor.

Requirement checklist for graduation: 

  • 128 total credits, within the applicable maximums for independent study/honors work and for non-liberal arts and/or curricular support course work.
  • Distribution requirements
  • 2.00 minimum grade point average
  • 64 Mount Holyoke credits - 4 semesters within sophomore, junior and senior years (residency)
  • 68 credits outside of the major
  • 6 physical education credits
  • Minor
  • Language
  • Major
  • Multicultural perspectives

Questions? Email the Office of the Registrar.