Academic Bulletin 2024-2025 
    Jul 19, 2024  
Academic Bulletin 2024-2025

Graduation Requirements

The Graduation Requirements are designed to provide all students with diverse learning opportunities, as well as with depth in more than one area. Each academic program is grouped into one of six areas of study. To receive a degree from Allegheny, students must complete the following requirements:

  1. The First-Year Advising Requirement
  2. The Speaking & Writing Requirement
  3. The Major-Minor Combination Requirement
  4. The Distribution Requirements
  5. The Junior Seminar Requirement
  6. The Senior Project Requirement
  7. The Credit Requirement
  8. The Grade Requirement
  9. The Residency Requirement

The First-Year Advising Requirement

 All first-year students will take LS 120 in the fall semester and LS 121 in the spring semester. These courses empower students to build habits of success through guided exploration of Allegheny’s curriculum and resources and through reflection on the intersection of academic skills and professional and career outcomes. Transfer students may, depending on prior college experience, be required to take one or both courses, or may have different advising requirements.

The Speaking & Writing Seminar Requirement

All students are required to successfully complete two SWS courses. Students will take SWS 105 in their first year, and typically will take SWS 205 in their second year. These two courses prepare students for the writing, speaking, reading, and listening skills necessary for college-level work and, in particular, prepare students to succeed in the Junior Seminar and Senior Project. All together, the SWS courses, Junior Seminar, and the Senior Project equip graduates with the strong communication and critical thinking skills necessary in postgraduate education and careers. 

Both SWS 105 and 205 must be taken for a letter grade; neither course may count towards a major or minor, nor towards Distribution Requirements. Transfer students may, depending on prior credit earned, be required to take one or both courses, or may have different requirements.

The Major-Minor Combination Requirement

All Allegheny students must complete a major (the “graduation major”) in one area of study and a minor (the “graduation minor”) in a different area of study. The major consists of a minimum of 40 semester credit hours of coursework in the major program, including the Junior Seminar and Senior Project. Students must achieve a minimum grade point average of 2.0 in the major. The minor consists of at least 20 credits of coursework. Students must achieve a minimum grade point average of 2.0 in the minor. The minor requirement can also be satisfied by a second major. A second major that is used to fulfill the College minor Requirement must be in a different area of study from the graduation major.

Students may elect at most two majors and two minors. Students must fulfill all of the requirements for each program in which they elect a major (see “Double majors” below) or minor. For every minor completed, students must complete at least 8 credits towards that minor in academic residence at Allegheny College. Programs reserve the right to determine the eligibility for inclusion in their requirements of all transfer credits, including those earned during study away experiences, and may require students to take some advanced work on campus.

If the graduation major or minor is interdisciplinary, then in most cases the requirement that the major and minor be in a different area of study is satisfied by taking any other minor/major. Students should consult specific descriptions of interdisciplinary majors and minors to identify specific major/minor combinations that do not satisfy the College minor Requirement.

Major Programs

A major is generally defined as a coherent program of study of between 40 and 48 credits. A major may require up to 64 credits (including all prerequisites and cognate courses), so long as a compelling case is made to the Curriculum Committee that the additional credits are necessary for the education of a typical student in that major. A major should include substantial work at an advanced level (courses numbered 300 or higher). At least 12 credits, including a junior seminar, should be at the advanced level.  A senior project is required but is not generally counted towards the advanced work credit total. Internships and independent study courses are not always counted towards the advanced work credit total. Breadth and depth within the major should be at the discretion of disciplinary faculty, but a major should generally include the opportunity for in-depth study of a particular area or areas and clear progression from introductory (100- or 200-level courses) to advanced work (300- or 400-level courses) to a seminar (numbered between 550 and 589) and a senior project (numbered between 600 and 630).

Minor Programs

A minor is defined as a coherent program of study of between 20 and 28 credits. Breadth and depth within the minor should be at the discretion of disciplinary faculty, but a minor should generally include either breadth in 100- or 200-level courses sufficient to the discipline or depth beyond the introductory level. For example, a minor in a program with a suite of introductory courses covering different areas or topics may find requiring a range of such introductory courses to be of sufficient depth. Or a program might require substantial work at an advanced level (courses numbered 300 or higher), perhaps including a junior seminar. Internships and independent study courses are not always counted towards the advanced work credit total.

Declaring a Major and Minor
Declaring a major and minor connects the student to their programs more coherently, allows them to get advising from specialists in their area, and ensures that their Degree Audit is current as to their degree requirements. First year students may declare as soon as the start of their second semester and are encouraged to declare their major(s) and minor(s) as soon as they are ready to do so. Transfer students who are certain of their path may declare during their first semester. After consulting with their current advisor(s), students should select a major advisor and declare a major and minor by the end of the sophomore year. Students who have completed at least 48 semester credit hours and who have also completed at least two semesters at Allegheny College will not be permitted to register for the next semester until they have declared a major and a minor. Appropriate forms may be obtained on-line from the Office of the Registrar.

Double Majors

Students may elect one or two majors. Students must fulfill all of the requirements for each program in which they elect a major and must receive approval from both major advisors to register for classes. A student electing to complete two majors may choose to complete a single senior project that integrates both disciplines or two separate senior projects, one in each discipline. In the former case, the Senior Project must be evaluated by faculty from both programs. The degree awarded (B.S. or B.A.) corresponds to the major listed first on the student’s major declaration.

A second major that is used to fulfill the College Minor Requirement must be in a different area of study from the graduation major. If the graduation major or second major is interdisciplinary, then in most cases the College Minor Requirement is satisfied. Students should consult specific descriptions of interdisciplinary majors to identify specific double major combinations that do not satisfy the College Minor Requirement.

The appropriate program chairpersons and a faculty advisor from each program must approve the double major. A decision regarding the type of Senior Project should be noted on the approval form when it is returned, even though changes may be made later with the approval of the programs and the individuals involved.

Student-Designed Majors or Minors

Students at Allegheny may design their own majors or minors in cases where their academic, personal, and professional interests are not met by the combinations of majors and minors available in the standard curricula. The Self-Designed major or minor must embody the educational objectives of Allegheny College, match the rigor and scope of existing major or minor programs, and be true to the vision of the Liberal Arts as intellectual, academic, and civic preparation for life. In conjunction with their advisors, students create a plan of study that reflects compelling intellectual connections among courses offered, allowing for the student to synthesize multiple bodies of knowledge. Students pursuing a Self-Designed Major must complete a Senior Project that functions as a culmination of the student’s interdisciplinary study. The Senior Project must directly contribute to the student’s expressed academic goals and must be evaluated by faculty from more than one program

The Proposal:

A self-designed major or minor requires a great deal of care in its design. The primary responsibility for the proposal rests with the student. Faculty are critical to the student’s success, however, particularly in the planning and development stages. All proposals for Self-Designed majors or minors must be accompanied by a faculty evaluation letter from the advisors for the proposed major or minor that assesses the intellectual and academic cohesiveness of the proposed plan of study as well as its commensurability with the goals of a Liberal Arts education.

The student’s proposal for a Self-Designed major or minor must clearly articulate the intellectual goals for the plan of study and must provide a compelling case for how the proposed major or minor fulfills those goals in ways not otherwise available through either double majors or other major/minor combinations. The proposal must briefly address how each course (including potential study abroad, internship, or independent study opportunities if appropriate) is integrated to create a coherent and viable program of study.

Self-Designed Major:

A Self-Designed major must include a minimum of 50 semester credit hours. The proposal must address how each course (including the Junior Seminar and potential study abroad, internship, or independent study opportunities) is integrated to create a coherent and viable program of study. The proposal must specifically address a prospective Senior Project in sufficient detail to demonstrate its viability as a capstone project for the major, though the College recognizes that the eventual Senior Project may differ from that described in the proposal as the student’s understanding of the major field develops. The program must show a progression to higher-level courses and include significant work at the 300- and 400-level. A self-designed major may not count more than 4 credits of internship or independent study, or more than 16 credits of transfer credit (e.g. from a study abroad program) towards the 50 credit requirement.

Self-Designed Minor:

A Self-Designed minor must include a minimum of 24 semester credit hours. A minor must include coursework at or above the 300-level not including independent study or internship credit. No more than 4 credits of transfer and independent study credit can be applied to the minor. The minor cannot be a subset of an existing minor.

Approval of Proposals:

The complete proposal will be evaluated by the Curriculum Committee, which will ultimately grant or deny permission based on the quality of the proposal and the academic viability of the plan of study. Any subsequent changes to the program must be approved by the Curriculum Committee.

Submitting a proposal:

Qualifying students who wish to propose a Self-Designed major or minor should do so using the forms available from the Registrar’s Office. The proposal must be approved by 1) two faculty members with expertise in the proposed major or minor field, who will serve as the advisors for the major or minor, and 2) the Curriculum Committee

Qualifications for a Self-Designed Major:

  • Sudent has achieved at least a 3.0 semester GPA for the two semesters prior to the proposal submission.
  • Proposal submitted by the end of the 7th week of their 5th semester at Allegheny College.

Qualifications for a Self-Designed Minor:

  • Proposal submitted no later than the end of their 6th semester at Allegheny.

The Distribution Requirements

All Allegheny students must successfully complete at least one course (four semester credit hours) in each of the areas of inquiry covered by the eight Distribution Requirements listed below. The Distribution Requirements fulfilled by a specific course are indicated in the course description using the two-letter codes shown below. An individual course may fulfill zero, one, or two of the Distribution Requirements, i.e., a single course may satisfy at most two of the Distribution Requirements. Courses presented in fulfillment of the Distribution Requirements must be taken for a letter grade. Courses that meet these requirements may also be counted toward major or minor requirements. However, SWS courses (SWS 105, 200, 205), Junior Seminars, and Senior Projects may not be used to fulfill the Distribution Requirements. 

Distribution Requirements (Instituted Fall, 2016)

  1. Civic Learning (CL): Civic Learning develops the political, ethical, and social capacities citizens need to address the challenges facing local, regional, national, and international communities through community engagement and/or through the cultivation of civic knowledge, skills, motivations, and behaviors.
    • Learning Outcome: Students who successfully complete this requirement will demonstrate an understanding of economic, political, legal, cultural, natural, historical, or social forces that affect public problems or civic issues.
  2. Human Experience (HE): The study of Human Experience explores human physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual experiences as conveyed in texts broadly defined. Through engagement with such texts, students develop an appreciation for human experiences and their representations.
    • Learning Outcome: Students who successfully complete this requirement will demonstrate an understanding of how to interpret human experiences as conveyed in texts (including works of visual and performance art, rituals, cultural artifacts and traditions, and/or the written and spoken word).
  3. International and Intercultural Perspectives (IP): An understanding of International and Intercultural Perspectives means awareness that culture provides the interpretive lens for action in the world, and that one’s particular culture is itself one of many cultures of the world. It includes the ability to recognize and understand the results of cultural difference wherever they are found, as well as an awareness of the norms of one’s own culture or those of other cultures.
    • Learning Outcome: Students who successfully complete this requirement will demonstrate an understanding of cultural complexity and difference.
  4. Modes of Expression (ME): The study of Modes of Expression explores individual and/or collective modes of expression, focusing upon the ways in which these modes create meaning and communicate thoughts, emotions, or beliefs to others. By engaging in hands-on experience, students interrogate the act of communication itself.
    • Learning Outcome: Students who successfully complete this requirement will demonstrate an understanding of the production of meaning through active engagement with language, visual arts, and/or performance.
  5. Power, Privilege, and Difference (PD): Understanding Power, Privilege, and Difference means understanding the role of power, privilege, prejudice, discrimination, stereotypes, inequity, and oppression in human society, in both historical and contemporary contexts, and recognizing these dynamics in the learner’s own life and communities.
    • Learning Outcome: Students who successfully complete this requirement will demonstrate an understanding of the historical and/or contemporary roles of power, privilege, and difference in human society.
  6. Quantitative Reasoning (QR): Quantitative Reasoning is the ability to understand, investigate, communicate, and contextualize numerical, symbolic, and graphical information towards the exploration of natural, physical, behavioral, or social phenomena.
    • Learning Outcome: Students who successfully complete this requirement will demonstrate an understanding of how to interpret numeric data and/or their graphical or symbolic representations.
  7. Scientific Process and Knowledge (SP): Courses involving Scientific Process and Knowledge aim to convey an understanding of what is known or can be known about the natural world; apply scientific reasoning towards the analysis and synthesis of scientific information; and create scientifically literate citizens who can engage productively in problem solving.
    • Learning Outcome: Students who successfully complete this requirement will demonstrate an understanding of the nature, approaches, and domain of scientific inquiry.
  8. Social Behavior and Institutions (SB): The study of Social Behavior and Institutions encompasses a broad range of disciplines that use a variety of methodologies to describe, explain, or predict human behavior, social processes, and institutional structures as they interact with their environments.
    • Learning Outcome: Students who successfully complete this requirement will demonstrate an understanding of at least one methodology used to describe, explain, or predict human behavior at the level of the individual, small group, institution, organization, community, or population.

The Junior Seminar Requirement

All students must complete a Junior Seminar, which forms a bridge between the FS sequence and the Senior Project. These seminars develop the student’s ability to engage in advanced scholarship and communication in a discipline and are typically taken in the junior year or first semester of the senior year. Although the structure and timing of the Junior Seminar vary among programs, the course typically emphasizes methods of scholarship, the process of independent inquiry, and oral, written, and/or other (e.g., visual) communication skills.

The Senior Project Requirement

All students must complete a Senior Project in their majors. A student completing two majors may submit one Senior Project that integrates both disciplines and is evaluated jointly by faculty from both programs, or two separate Senior Projects, one in each program. In all cases, the Senior Project must satisfy the standards of evaluation in each department. Students completing integrated Senior Projects should work closely with faculty from both programs.

Since the College’s first commencement in 1821, Allegheny students have showcased their exceptional academic achievements through a senior capstone experience of one kind or another. At times it involved an oral defense, at others a written thesis. The notion of a written Senior Project coupled with a comprehensive oral examination first appeared in the 1942 College Catalogue. In the 1970s, oral examinations shifted from a general defense of disciplinary expertise to a more focused verbal presentation of the Senior Project findings.

In keeping with Allegheny’s commitment to provide students with a liberal arts education of high standards, the Senior Project is not a mere report or semester paper, but a significant piece of independent study, research or creative work conducted under the supervision of one or more faculty members. The outcome of a Senior Project is more than a grade or a written document; for the student it often results in a new way of looking at complex problems and inspires an appreciation for the power of ideas that might previously have seemed like abstract concepts in a textbook. Often it can be a pivotal moment where a student realizes his or her own abilities and potential.

The Senior Project provides students with an opportunity to integrate discipline-specific scholarship with the communication and research skills necessary for professionals in the 21st century. During their first year at Allegheny, students write, speak, and research frequently in their first-year seminars. By the sophomore year, they are ready to undertake the complexities of writing and speaking in a specific discipline. They further hone these disciplinary communication skills in a junior seminar, the final preparatory phase for the Senior Project. By the senior year they are sufficiently prepared to undertake a scholarly endeavor approximating those experiences they will face as professionals in their field.

The culminating experiences of the Senior Project are as varied as the disciplines that produce them, from recitals, performances, and exhibits to written and oral presentations on laboratory research. Many departments provide open forums for seniors to present their projects, allowing students to refine their skills in presenting discipline-specific information to a broad audience and providing a model for the communication skills required of informed professionals in a global society.

Principles Regarding Research

All regular academic courses, all independent study courses including senior projects, and all internships involving research with human participants will be conducted in an ethical manner. Proposals for study will be reviewed in advance by appropriate departmental and/or College review boards to ensure that this will be the case. In all instances the health, safety, and welfare of the individuals involved will be protected. Participation in such research or classroom projects will be by informed and voluntary consent, in accordance with accepted and appropriate general and disciplinary research guidelines. All research subjects will be given full clarification of the nature of the study. The laws of the nation, state, and community will be respected, and care will be taken that interpersonal relationships within the College community are not abused.

The Credit Requirement

Each student must successfully complete 128 semester credit hours. These shall include courses taken to meet the first-year/sophomore requirement, the major requirement, the minor requirement, the distribution requirement, and the Senior Project requirement, as well as elective courses.

The Grade Requirement

A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 is required for graduation from the College. Descriptions of the grading system and the academic standing requirements can be found in the sections “Academic Regulations and Policies ” and “Academic Standing .”

The Academic Residency Requirement

The residency requirement is satisfied upon completion of 64 semester credit hours “in academic residence.” Of these, a student’s final 16 semester credit hours before graduation must be taken in academic residence. Work in academic residence is undertaken through registration at Allegheny and supervision by Allegheny faculty, who evaluate the student’s performance. Students are not required to live on campus or in Meadville to satisfy the academic residency requirement.

Graduation Requirements Policy

Students are subject to all graduation requirements in place at the time they first matriculated, including all major, minor, distribution, and any other requirements for the degree.

With some exceptions, students who matriculated after the Fall 2016 semester have the option of graduating either under the requirements in effect when they first matriculated at Allegheny or those specified in a subsequent Academic Bulletin. Students may not select an Academic Bulletin previous to the term in which they first matriculated.

Students who wish to adopt a new set of graduation requirements will be subject to all major, minor, distribution, and any other requirements of their new Bulletin and must complete a form in the Office of the Registrar at least one semester prior to graduation. These changes may not be made during the Spring semester for an August or September graduate, but may be made during the summer for a January graduate. In no case may a student qualify for graduation by meeting various requirements set forth in two different Academic Bulletins. In particular, students may not use self-designed majors or minors to circumvent this rule.

Exceptions to the graduation requirements change option include changes made by faculty vote that may limit the ability to change due to the adoption of new, college-wide requirements, or if changes are made to 2 accommodate changes in college resources. Generally, students who matriculated prior to Fall 2016 may not opt to follow a later Academic Bulletin.

However, students who interrupt their attendance for more than four consecutive terms (excluding summer terms) may be subject to all requirements in effect when they re-enroll. These students also may be required to complete additional coursework in their major or minor if the department or program chair determines that previously completed work does not fulfill a current requirement. The Office of the Registrar will work with these students to determine if they are best served by continuing under their existing Bulletin or moving to the current Bulletin. The final decision is subject to the approval of the Registrar.

Changes in graduation requirements are effective for the new Academic Bulletin on the first day of classes in the fall term after the faculty adopts them. The graduation requirements change option may not be exercised until after the Bulletin to be changed to comes into effect. Degree audits for recently revised programs may not be immediately available.

Exceptions to College requirements are made by the Dean’s Exemption Committee or the Curriculum Committee, per their specific responsibilities as outlined in the Faculty Handbook, when circumstances warrant. Students who wish to file a petition with either committee may obtain counsel and the proper form from the Office of the Registrar.

Students who have already completed the requirements of a major prior to changing graduation requirements will need to consult with the Office of Financial Aid before they make the change.

NOTE: While the degree audit, academic advising, and academic support resources are all available to every student, these resources are provided for use in planning only. It is the responsibility of the student to report any printed error to the Office of the Registrar within three terms. The responsibility for understanding and meeting graduation requirements rests entirely with the student.

This policy is under the purview of the Academic Standards Committee. Changes are subject to a vote of the Faculty.

(March 2019)

Commencement Policy

Students are permitted only one opportunity to participate in the annual Commencement exercise in May, that being the year in which their name appears on the Commencement program. Students should be aware that participation in the Commencement exercise is not equivalent to graduation from the College and that, if they “walk” before their graduation requirements have been completed, they will not be permitted to walk again when they do graduate. The Commencement program will state that all degrees are awarded “subject to the completion of all requirements.” Latin Honors will be announced at the ceremony only for graduates and for co-op students who have completed their Allegheny coursework; other students who graduate afterwards and are eligible to receive Latin Honors at that time will have the appropriate honor noted on the diploma and transcript.


Students who meet all of the following criteria are eligible to participate in the annual May Commencement exercise:

1. Students must not have participated in a previous Commencement ceremony nor had their names published in a previous Commencement program.

2. Only current students and graduates may participate in Commencement. Students must not have voluntarily withdrawn nor been dismissed or suspended from the College at the time of the Commencement ceremony.

3. Students must belong to one of the categories below:

  • Graduates. This includes students who have graduated since the previous Commencement as well as students who complete their graduation requirements during the Spring semester immediately preceding Commencement.
  • Anticipated graduates. Students whose anticipated graduation date falls within the nine months following the Commencement date may elect to participate in the ceremony, though their degrees and Latin Honors (if applicable) will not be conferred until all graduation requirements have been met, nor will Latin Honors be announced at Commencement for anticipated graduates.
  • Co-op students. Students participating in approved cooperative (3-1; 3-2; 3-3) programs who are making satisfactory progress in their post-Allegheny programs are permitted to participate in Commencement exercises with the rest of their entering class. Appropriate documentation (transcripts and/or proof of enrollment) must be submitted to the Allegheny Registrar’s Office to verify that the student is making satisfactory progress. The Allegheny degree will not be conferred until the terms of agreement for the cooperative program have been completed satisfactorily.

4. Students must comply with all published procedures and deadlines related to participation in the Commencement exercise.

Petitions to “Walk”

Students who do not meet the above criteria for participation in Commencement in a given year may petition to be allowed to participate. Such requests must be submitted in writing to the Academic Standards and Awards Committee and must include the written endorsement of the student’s academic advisor. The responsibility lies with the student to make a compelling case for why an exception to the College policy should be made. The decision of the Academic Standards Committee in these matters is final. In its periodic reports to the Faculty, the Academic Standards Committee will include data on the number of petitions and their disposition.

This policy is under the purview of the Academic Standards Committee. Changes are subject to a vote of the Faculty.

(February 2015)