2016-2017 Catalog 
    Jul 24, 2024  
2016-2017 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Graduation Requirements

Course Requirements

For a CMC bachelor of arts degree, students must complete at least 32 semester courses of academic work, in addition to the required work in physical education. This means an average of 4 courses per semester for graduation in 4 years. At least 16 courses must be successfully completed while students are enrolled at Claremont McKenna College (CMC). See Residence Requirement.

A course at CMC is considered the equivalent of 4 semester hours or 6 quarter hours. Each class typically meets for 150 minutes per week, although the number of actual hours spent in class or in a laboratory may vary with the subject matter and the level of the course. Students are expected to study a minimum of two to three hours for every hour in class, but this may be much more depending upon the subject matter and preparation for the course. Transfer credit, summer school credit, study abroad credit, and some other credit may also be counted toward the courses required for graduation, in accordance with established college policies.

General Education Requirements

The general education (GE) requirements of the College are designed to challenge students to explore new fields, and to improve their verbal and written skills under the conditions provided by the CMC environment. A crucial part of CMC’s education is small class settings with interaction between students and highly qualified faculty.

General education requirements, with the exception of the senior thesis, should be completed by the end of the sophomore year. See General Education Requirements  for detailed information.

Normally, general education requirements are completed at Claremont McKenna College. In some cases, courses completed at other colleges may be approved for general education requirements by the appropriate department chair. Students entering CMC as freshmen (first time college degree candidates) may not complete more than 4 general education requirements off-campus (in summer school, through Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate programs, during study abroad, etc.). For more detailed information, see Transfer Credit and Off Campus Programs .

Senior Thesis Requirement

  1. Students must complete a senior thesis in one of their major areas under the supervision of a faculty reader who teaches within that major, unless granted a special exception. The senior thesis must include a serious piece of scholarship in written form and should serve as a capstone experience to a student’s undergraduate education. All CMC students are required to upload the completed senior thesis to CMC’s official repository, or obtain an exemption or embargo, as appropriate. CMC students may register to complete the senior thesis requirement over the summer in consultation with a faculty reader. See Summer Senior Thesis Tuition  for fee information.
  2. The senior thesis readers will have full responsibility for assigning grades: this includes content, formatting, grammar, style, etc.
  3. Students who have an off-campus major may write their senior thesis in that major under the appropriate course at the major’s sponsoring college. CMC students may use this thesis in lieu of the senior thesis at CMC. If the off-campus major does not offer a senior thesis under its own course number, students must register for the senior thesis at CMC. Students who have a CMC major and an off-campus dual or double major may choose to complete the thesis in either major.
  4. Students will receive one (1) course unit of general education credit for the senior thesis. Students will earn that GE credit in the semester that they complete the thesis. Departments that wish to offer a 2-semester, 2-unit thesis option may offer a thesis preparation course or thesis seminar course for students who want to do a 2-semester, 2-unit project. This preparatory course may be of variable credit, from 0 to 1 unit, depending on the department’s preference. Departments may make this course as formal or informal as necessary. Students may not receive more than two (2) course units per senior thesis project.
  5. Students who wish to write a senior thesis outside of the major must compose a 3- to 5-page (double-spaced) proposal outlining the project they wish to complete, their rationale for selecting a topic outside of their major, and an explanation of how the proposed project serves as an appropriate capstone experience to their undergraduate education. This proposal must be approved by the student’s major department chair, senior thesis reader, and the reader’s department chair. Department chairs may approve proposals for theses outside the major if they determine the project to be an appropriate capstone experience for the student. Students must submit the proposal and all signatures to the Registrar at the time they register for thesis. Students who receive approval to complete a thesis outside of the major will be registered for the thesis course under their reader’s department.
  6. Students must submit their senior theses to the Registrar’s Office in accordance with the guidelines published in the Senior Thesis Syllabus. The Registrar’s Office establishes the due date, distributes the senior theses to readers, and applies grade penalties for those who submit their theses after the due date/time according to the following penalty structure:
    • 1 grade point reduction (i.e. from A to A-) for theses turned in up to 24 hours late,
    • 2 grade points reduction (i.e. from A to B+) for theses turned in from 24 to 48 hours late,
    • 3 grade points reduction (i.e. from A to B) for theses turned in from 48-72 hours late,
    • 4 grade points reduction (i.e. from A to B-) for theses turned in from 72-96 hours late.

Theses may not be submitted more than 96 hours late without an approved Incomplete Grade Petition.

  1. Students who have registered for a 1-semester, 1-unit thesis may petition the Academic Standards Committee for permission to change to a 2-semester, 2-unit project if they meet the following conditions:
    1. The special petition to extend the thesis project must be filed no later than the last day to withdraw from classes without academic penalty in the first semester of the senior year. This petition is available from the Registrar’s Office;
    2. The student must submit a working bibliography, a full outline, and a rough draft of at least one chapter of the thesis along with the petition;
    3. The student’s reader(s) must submit a written evaluation of the student’s work including an opinion on whether the student’s request to extend the thesis project is appropriate given the work submitted to date.

Submission of the required materials in no way constitutes a guarantee that the Academic Standards Committee will approve the student’s petition. However, students who cannot or do not submit the required documents by the deadline may not petition for a thesis extension at all.

Waiver of General Education Requirements

Requests for waiver of general education requirements may only be granted by the Academic Standards Committee. Such petitions must be accompanied by a recommendation from the department involved supporting the request.

Major Requirements

All undergraduate CMC students must complete the requirements for a major to graduate. Links to the requirements for CMC majors are found in Majors & Sequences . Many CMC students complete a dual or double major. Regardless of the discipline(s) of the major(s), CMC grants students a bachelor of arts degree. Also, degree progress checklists for each CMC major are available from the Registrar’s Office.


Students should select a major no later than the 2nd semester of their sophomore year.

CMC students may complete single, dual, or double majors for their degree. It is also possible for students to devise their own major (individualized major), or to select a major not offered at CMC but part of the curriculum at one of the other Claremont Colleges (off-campus major). Students may not complete a dual and a double major for inclusion on the transcript. One course may not be counted toward more than one major requirement. No changes in majors (or sequences) can be made after the 10th day of classes of a student’s last semester at the College (usually at the end of January of the senior year) without permission of the registrar.

Single Major

Students with a single major must fulfill all requirements of a particular major as outlined in the appropriate section of this catalog and earn at least a C (6.00) average in that major.

Double Major

Students who elect a double major must complete all requirements for each of two major fields. No double counting of courses is allowed for a double major. If the two disciplines of a double major require the same course, students must complete a substitute course for one of the majors. Students with a double major must earn at least a C (6.00) average in each major.

Dual Major

Dual majors allow students the opportunity to combine two disciplines without being required to complete all requirements for 2 full majors. A dual major combines courses from 2 disciplines in which conventional majors are offered. A dual major requires at least 14 courses, but may require many more because only up to 2 courses may be waived from each discipline. Students must complete at least 6 courses in each discipline. Department chairs usually waive completion of 1 or 2 elective courses for students with a dual major but, depending upon the combination of disciplines, other course requirements may be waived. Some academic programs at CMC, including Film Studies , can only be completed as part of a dual major. These dual majors require completion of at least 8 courses in the other discipline of the major (for a total of at least 14 courses). Students with a dual major must earn at least a C (6.00) average in each of their academic disciplines.

Individualized Major

Students may develop their own major, choosing courses in two or more disciplines in a coherent way, with the approval of three CMC faculty members from at least two disciplines. This option is intended to provide students with academic interests that cannot be met by existing CMC or off-campus majors with the opportunity to pursue their interests. The combination of disciplines should be distinctive and include an appropriate distribution of introductory, intermediate, and advanced courses in the different disciplines. The option is not intended to replace or reduce requirements for existing interdisciplinary or dual majors.

The minimum number of courses required for an individualized major is 10 courses. More courses may be required to ensure quality exploration of the combined disciplines. Students interested in an individualized major must submit the proposed major, including a complete list of courses together with some alternate courses, and its rationale for approval to the Curriculum Committee via the Dean of the Faculty at least 90 days prior to the completion of 24 courses (normally before February 15th of the junior year). All proposals for individualized majors must be presented for review to the Registrar prior to submission to the Dean of the Faculty. CMC does not grant honors in the major for individualized majors.

Off-Campus Major

Students wishing to major in a field not offered at CMC, but offered at one of the other colleges in Claremont, must complete an Off-Campus Major Degree Audit in consultation with their CMC advisor and a department member at the other college and, under their direction, fulfill the requirements for a major at that college. Off-Campus Major Degree Audit forms must be submitted to the CMC Registrar’s Office along with a Major Change form in order to declare an off-campus major. At least a C (6.00) average is required in the major. Dual majors including an off-campus major are not feasible if the other college cannot make appropriate arrangements. Students with off-campus majors may be granted honors by the College where they are completing the major. To be eligible, CMC students must meet the minimum requirements for honors in the major  set by CMC.


In addition to completing requirements for a major, students have the option to complete a sequence, which consists of a series of approved courses related to a subject or theme and offered at CMC or the other Claremont Colleges. The purpose of a sequence is to give students an opportunity to specialize in a particular area within a major, or to branch out into a topic that cuts across disciplines within the liberal arts curriculum. Sequences typically have 5-6 requirements, of which at least 4 should be full-credit academic courses. Sequences are completed in addition to at least one regular major. See Majors & Sequences  for a complete list of available sequences.

It is possible to double count a course for a major and a sequence, or for a sequence and a general education requirement, but not for both. A notation indicating completion of one sequence is listed on a student’s final transcript after graduation. Students can only complete one sequence for inclusion on the transcript.

Waiver of Major Requirements

Department chairpersons have the authority to grant individual substitutions for or exceptions to requirements for the major.

Double Counting of Requirements

Double Counting of Major Requirements and General Education Requirements

General education requirements in the humanities and social sciences must be completed through courses outside of a student’s major. Students may double count courses for general education and major requirements with the following restrictions:

  1. For the general education requirement in the humanities, all students must complete at least one course in 2 of the following fields in the humanities: foreign literature, literature, philosophy, or religious studies. Students majoring in one of these fields must complete courses in 3 of the 4 fields (i.e. 2 general education requirements outside of the major together with courses in the major field). Students majoring in 2 of the 4 fields in the humanities also must complete courses in 3 of the 4 fields. In practice, they are allowed to double count only one course for both a major requirement and a general education requirement.
  2. For the general education requirement in the social sciences, all students must complete at least one course in 3 of the following fields: economics, government, history, and psychology. Students majoring in one of these fields must complete a course in each of the 4 fields (i.e. 3 general education requirements outside of the major together with courses in the major field). Students majoring in 2 of these fields also must complete a course in each of the 4 fields. In practice, they are allowed to double count only one course for both a major and a general education requirement.
  3. Students with individualized or interdisciplinary majors at CMC, except for Management-Engineering and Science & Management majors, must complete at least a total of 6 general education requirements in the humanities and the social sciences fields listed above.
  4. Students with off-campus majors must complete at least 3 CMC social science GE courses and at least 2 CMC humanities GE courses, all of which must be outside the major. A list with recommendations is available from the CMC Registrar.

Double Counting of Courses in the Major

Students may not count one course for more than one major requirement; i.e. a dual major in history and government may not use a course cross-listed as both government and history for both areas of the major. If 2 areas of a double major require the same course, students must complete a substitute course for one of the majors. Students may double count a course for a sequence and a major requirement, or for a sequence and a general education requirement, but not for both.

Double Counting of General Education Requirements

One course may not be used to meet two general education requirements. Students may double count a course for a sequence and a general education requirement, or for a sequence and a major requirement, but not for both.


Courses taken in addition to major and general education requirements are counted as electives toward graduation. Students are encouraged to select elective courses from the wide range of subjects offered at The Claremont Colleges.

Grades and Grade Point Requirements

Students must earn a final, cumulative grade point average of at least C (6.00), based on all grades received in courses taken while enrolled at CMC during the regular academic year (6 x total grade points attempted at The Claremont Colleges). See Summer Courses Offered by the Undergraduate Claremont Colleges  for information on selected summer school courses which may be counted towards the CMC grade point average.

Students must also earn at least a C (6.00) average in all courses taken while enrolled at CMC during their senior year. With permission of the Academic Standards Committee, students may use their last two full-time semesters together with any part-time work at CMC for the calculation of the senior C.

Finally, students must earn at least a C (6.00) average in all courses taken while enrolled at CMC in their major field(s) of study, whether these courses are required for the major or not. If students retake a course in the major which they had previously failed, the original F will not be counted in the calculation of the major grade point average. The original F will be counted in the calculation of the cumulative grade point average, and, if appropriate, the grade point average in the senior year.

Students with a double major must earn a C (6.00) average in each field of their double major. Students with a dual major must earn at least a C (6.00) average in the combined fields of the dual major. For further information on grades, see Grades and Grade Points .

Residence Requirement

Students must spend at least 2 years, including the senior year, and successfully complete at least 16 courses while in residence at CMC in order to earn the bachelor of arts degree. “In residence” is defined as being registered as a full-time student (at least 3 full courses per semester) at CMC or in one of its sanctioned programs. Students pursuing a 3/2 program in partnership with Columbia University must complete 3 years in residence at CMC, as specified by Columbia University. Students who have completed all general education and major requirements and plan to enter graduate, or professional programs early may satisfy the residence requirement in one year. The residency requirement for students in the BA/MA combined degree program is 20 course units, exclusive of internship credit, including all 9 units of the MA curriculum. The residency requirement for MA students is 8 full-unit courses in at least one academic year.

Other Degree Requirements

Additional general, major, or departmental requirements as noted in the catalog or as voted by the faculty must also be met. These may include core and major field courses, physical education courses, and comprehensive examinations.

Meeting Degree Requirements

Students must satisfy the general education, degree, and major requirements in effect in the year they enter the College. If requirements are changed in subsequent years, students may choose to satisfy either the requirements that were in effect when they entered, or all of those in effect after the change. However, students who are not registered at the College for two or more years must satisfy the requirements in effect when they reenter the College.

It is the responsibility of each student to ensure that he or she completes all requirements for graduation. The Registrar issues one complete official degree audit to each student, usually two semesters before anticipated graduation, along with an update at the start of the student’s final semester. It is best for students to complete all general education requirements, except for senior thesis, by the end of the second year at CMC. FWS010 CM - Freshman Writing Seminar , and FHS010 CM - Freshman Humanities Seminar  must be completed by the end of the first year. Students who do not complete their general education requirements by the end of the second year risk failing to graduate on time. Students planning to participate in off-campus study must plan accordingly.

If students need to take a course which is no longer offered or is no longer offered in its prior format, they may petition the appropriate department chair to substitute an equivalent independent study or to indicate an alternate course.

Courses taken off-campus may not be used to meet general education or major requirements unless students have received written approval from the appropriate department chair in advance. Students are responsible for obtaining such approval, and for giving a copy to the Registrar prior to completion of the course.


Claremont McKenna College has one formal graduation ceremony each year, which takes place the Saturday after the end of final examinations in May. It is a degree-granting ceremony in which diplomas are awarded to students who have completed all requirements for their degrees. Students who complete graduation requirements in the middle of an academic year (September and December graduates) are welcome to participate in the commencement exercise the following May.