For students entering the College in the fall of 2013 and preceding years.


The Franklin & Marshall curriculum combines a spirit of innovation with a strong sense of tradition. It encompasses elements that prepare students for the cross-disciplinary nature of knowledge in the twenty-first century while preserving the depth offered by disciplinary majors and the breadth associated with distributional requirements. The graduation requirements provide sufficient structure to ensure that students receive a general education in the liberal arts while offering enough choice to allow the construction of an individualized educational experience.

        Students construct their education by selecting courses in each of the three parts that compose the Franklin & Marshall curriculum: General Education, the Major and Electives.

        General Education composes one part of the curriculum and includes Foundations, a Distribution requirement and a Writing requirement. In Foundations courses, students examine broad questions and encounter ideas that transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries. While completing their Distribution requirement, students become familiar with the traditional areas of the liberal arts; in addition, they develop competence in a foreign language through the Language Studies requirement and complete a course on a Non-Western Culture. Both Foundations courses and the Distribution requirement prepare students to deepen their intellectual experiences through their Majors.

        The Major constitutes an integral element of the College curriculum. During the second semester of the sophomore year, a student decides upon a concentration in an area of strong intellectual interest. Through the Major, the student gains a deep understanding of issues and methods of inquiry characteristic of one specific field.

        All courses used to satisfy any requirement must be taken for a regular grade.

        A significant part of the curriculum consists of Electives, through which students can investigate subjects of interest or disciplines that complement the major. Students are encouraged to elect a First-Year Seminar at the beginning of their education to develop skills in critical reading, critical writing, oral presentation and use of learning resources. During the final two years, students may choose to complete a number of special educational opportunities including off-campus and international study, internships for academic credit and independent study projects.

        The College employs and is committed to a systematic assessment program for its curriculum. This program, under the auspices of the Office of Institutional Research, focuses on early determination of strengths and weaknesses and on planning to create strategies for improvement.

First-Year Seminar

The primary goal of the First-Year Seminar is to develop skills in critical writing, critical reading, oral presentation and the use of learning resources. First-Year Seminars satisfy the First-Year Writing Requirement.

        The First-Year Seminar is designed to provide students with an experience that effectively integrates academic and residential life. Students who enroll in First-Year Seminars live together in one of the College Houses. Residents have the opportunity to share an important first semester academic experience. The program promotes an integration of the residence hall and the classroom that enhances both the academic success and personal growth of the residents.

        The First-Year Seminar can be a special educational experience for its participants. Each class is limited to 16 students. The courses allow students to explore in depth a major theme or concept. Committed to a discussion format, the seminars are writing-intensive courses that emphasize the development of critical thinking, reading and analysis. Additional support and guidance are provided by a Preceptor, an upperclass student who assists the seminar professor in teaching the course, as well as the staff of the associated College House.


Free inquiry provides the foundation for a liberal arts education. Foundations courses seek to foster free inquiry in fundamental areas such as the individual, society and the natural world. These courses focus on questions and ideas that are central to human thought, perception, expression and discovery. In a collaborative process, students and faculty question assumptions and discover new insights in light of enduring intellectual standards.

        In Foundations courses, professors and students pursue topics through a series of perspectives emerging out of several academic disciplines. These courses incorporate a variety of strategies, such as the presentation of conflicting and complementary viewpoints, cross-cultural investigation, laboratory experimentation, problem-solving and artistic performance. Through Foundations courses, students learn about different approaches taught at Franklin & Marshall College in a variety of departments.

        The skills learned in Foundations courses help students to sort through the barrage of claims and competing ideas in a free society. These skills include integrating and synthesizing information from different sources and using analytical reasoning to evaluate competing ideas and arrive at a reasoned position. By their nature, Foundations courses teach students how to gather, evaluate and integrate knowledge in order to confront complex issues. In this way, Foundations courses help students prepare to contribute to their occupations, communities and the world.

        All students, during their first two years, must complete two regularly graded Foundations (FND) courses. 

Distribution Requirement

Traditional Areas of the Liberal Arts

The primary goal of requiring that students distribute their courses among the traditional divisions of intellectual inquiry in the liberal arts is to ensure that they are familiar, at least at an introductory level, with the types of content studied in and methods used by those modes of inquiry. This requirement also helps students explore the natural, social and cultural worlds in which they live.

        All students must satisfactorily complete a Natural Sciences requirement. In addition, they must pass at least one course credit in the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences and Non-Western Cultures. They must also satisfy the Language Studies requirement and the First-Year Writing requirement. Courses that satisfy the Distribution requirement are designated as A (Arts), H (Humanities), S (Social Sciences) or NW (Non-Western Cultures). Courses that may be used toward the Natural Sciences requirement are designated N (Natural Sciences with a laboratory) or NSP (Natural Science in Perspective). All courses meeting the Distribution Requirement must be taken for a regular grade.

Natural Sciences Requirement

The goal of this requirement is to ensure that all students have at least minimal exposure to the natural sciences as part of their academic program. This requirement may be satisfied in either of two ways:

1.  Passing two regularly graded Natural Sciences with lab (N) courses; or

2.  Passing one regularly graded Natural Sciences with lab (N) course plus an additional course carrying the Natural Science in Perspective (NSP) designation.

NSP courses include all three of the following elements:

1.  NSP courses should help students to understand the role played by theory in the Natural Sciences.

2.  NSP courses should help students to understand the role of evidence in developing and testing scientific theories and what constitutes acceptable evidence in the Natural Sciences. The courses should also help students understand how Natural Science deals with uncertainty and increase their ability to reason quantitatively.

3.  NSP courses should help students to understand the goals of Natural Science and the role Natural Science plays in today’s society, including questions Natural Science attempts to answer and questions that are outside the domain of the Natural Sciences. The courses also ask students to grapple with real-world situations in which policy decisions need to be made without complete understanding or complete certainty. The courses should also address ethical conduct and uses of Natural Science.

        Note that a laboratory course may meet the criteria in this three-part definition.

Non-Western Cultures Requirement

The goal of the Non-Western Cultures requirement is to encourage students to develop an understanding of their membership in the world community. Students expand their critical perspectives of their own identities by gaining exposure to the ideas, arts, sciences and social and political institutions of peoples outside European and European-settler societies.

        All students must pass, with a regular grade, one course in this area. Foundations courses and courses satisfying other requirements may also satisfy the Non-Western Cultures requirement. Students seeking to satisfy this requirement through an experience other than a Franklin & Marshall course may present a written proposal to the Associate Dean of the Faculty for approval. Students admitted to Franklin & Marshall as international students from a Non-Western country or culture may request a waiver for this requirement from the Committee on Academic Status.

        Courses that satisfy the Non-Western Cultures requirement are designated (NW) in the course listings for departments or programs.

Language Studies Requirement

The Language Studies requirement strives to ensure that students achieve a meaningful level of proficiency in a foreign language and develop an understanding of another culture. Competency in a foreign language helps students to develop an informed and thoughtful awareness of language as a system and facilitates their exploration of other cultural worlds.

        We encourage students to begin language study in their first year and complete the sequence of classes promptly; lengthy gaps between levels may disadvantage students in the next level course. Students are encouraged to complete the language studies requirement by the end of their junior year (Please note that most departments only offer the 101 introductory level course in the fall semester.)

Placement Exams

On-campus placement tests are available throughout the year and will determine the student’s appropriate level. However, placement results will not be considered valid after two semesters; after that a student must retake the placement test. Students enrolled in a language class may not take the placement test in the same language after the first two weeks of class.

Fulfilling the Requirement

Students must pass, with a regular grade, the third course in a foreign language sequence or demonstrate equivalent proficiency through testing. They may satisfy their requirement in any of the following ways:

1.  Passing, with a regular grade, at least one course at the 200 level or above taught in the student’s non-native language;

2.  Studying in a non-English speaking country and completing a course at the 200 level or above in a foreign language;

3.  Scoring 4 or 5 in the Advanced Placement Exam in a Foreign or Classical Language;

4.  Scoring 5 or higher in a Foreign Language Course via the International Baccalaureate;

5.  Placing into the fourth semester course or higher in the language sequence as taught at Franklin & Marshall through a placement exam administered by the appropriate Franklin & Marshall academic department.

        By completing and submitting a petition to the Committee on Academic Status, international students from non-English speaking countries may receive a waiver of this requirement. International students should contact the Office of the Dean of the College to begin this process. Note that a student who tests out of this requirement for a particular language and then decides to enroll in the 101, 102 or 201 level (the first three semesters) of that language forfeits the waiver and must complete a foreign language through the 201 (third semester) level.

        Courses that satisfy the Language Studies requirement are designated (LS).

Writing Requirement

The goal of the Writing requirement is that graduates of Franklin & Marshall College should be capable and confident writers. To that end, instruction in writing progresses across the curriculum and throughout a student’s career.

1.  First-year students must, by the end of their second semester, pass a course in which writing skills are stressed. Passing one of the following courses with a regular grade satisfies the First-Year Writing requirement.

•    English 105, College Rhetoric

•    A First-Year Seminar

•    A course designated in the “Master Schedule of Classes” as fulfilling the Writing requirement.

     The First-Year Writing requirement may also be satisfied with a score of 4 or 5 on the AP English Language and Composition test.

     Transfer students who enter with sophomore status or higher are exempted from this part of the Writing requirement.

2. Students continue their development as writers through completion of Foundations courses.

3.  Students complete the final phase of the Writing requirement through a course or courses specified by their major department. (See departmental or program listings for more information.)

4.  The First-Year Writing Requirement cannot be satisfied with a directed reading or tutorial.

Courses designated as (W) in the “Department and Program Offerings” section of the Catalog fulfill the First-Year Writing requirement.

The Major


The goal of the major is that students acquire skills and investigate intellectual questions, methods and issues in considerable breadth and increasing depth in a specific field or area.

        To qualify for the Bachelor of Arts degree, a student must complete a prescribed concentration of courses, referred to as the major. A major program must consist of at least eight required course credits and may not exceed 16 required course credits. All courses meeting major requirements must be taken for a regular grade; a student must earn a minimum of a 2.0 grade point average in those courses used by the major department to compute the major grade point average.

        A student may declare more than one major. A student who wishes to declare more than two majors must have the approval of the Associate Dean of the Faculty.

        Students may also satisfy the major requirement by designing a Special Studies major or a Joint major.

1. Special Studies Major Program

Students design a Special Studies major in consultation with the Special Studies adviser and a primary and secondary adviser. The design must be intellectually coherent and include courses from three different departments. The major must be a genuine liberal arts major that could legitimately be offered at the College and must progress through higher levels of courses; an assemblage of introductory courses from three departments is not acceptable.

2. Joint Major

A Joint major is a concentration of courses from two departments/programs (at least one of which offers a major) and requires a rationale and the approval of both departments and the Associate Dean of the Faculty. Each of the component majors must be represented by eight distinct course credits.

        The regulations for admission to, and the maintenance of, an academic major at Franklin & Marshall College can be found in the Majors and Minors section of the Catalog.


The Minor


Students may choose to complete a minor. Minors, either disciplinary or cross-disciplinary, consist of six course credits. A student may officially declare one minor. Departments and programs which offer minors are: Africana Studies; Anthropology; Art; Astronomy; Chemistry; Classics; Comparative Literary Studies; Computer Science; Dance; Economics; English; Environmental Studies; Film and Media Studies; French; Italian; Geosciences; German; Greek; History; International Studies (includes Area Studies); Judaic Studies; Latin; Mathematics; Music; Philosophy; Physics; Psychology; Religious Studies; Russian; Science, Technology and Society; Sociology; Spanish; Theatre; and Women’s and Gender Studies. Specific requirements for a minor are listed with each department’s offerings. All courses meeting the requirements for a minor must be taken for a regular grade.

        The regulations for admission to, and maintenance of, a minor can be found in the Majors and Minors section of the Catalog.


Electives enable a student to pursue interests outside the major, to gain additional depth of knowledge in the major or a related field and to explore unfamiliar areas of learning. During the final two years, students may choose to complete a number of special educational opportunities including collaborations, off-campus study, internships for academic credit and independent study projects. 



A goal of the Curriculum is to promote special educational opportunities for student involvement in fruitful collaborative efforts with some specific time commitment and outcome. These opportunities, which are encouraged but not required, help prepare students for a professional and civic environment that increasingly demands an ability to explore one’s own contributions in relationship to other ideas, criticisms and concerns. Furthermore, they often serve to link students’ intellectual interests to opportunities and challenges that exist outside of conventional coursework. See Additional Educational Opportunities.