HSA Requirements for Graduation


While at Harvey Mudd, students take at least 11 HSA courses, though many students choose to take more. In the spring of the first year, all students take HSA 010, “Critical Inquiry,” a seminar introducing college-level writing, research and creative work in the HSA disciplines. In addition to HSA 010, at least 10 more full HSA courses are needed for graduation. Students have considerable flexibility in choosing these additional courses, provided that all of the further requirements described below are satisfied. A “full” course refers to a course carrying three or four units of credit, although half- courses and one-unit courses may be combined to form a full course.

HSA 010 is the department’s core course. HSA faculty members also participate in teaching Harvey Mudd’s two cross-departmental core courses, WRIT 001 and CORE 079. These courses are not part of the HSA program and do not satisfy the HSA requirements described below; they are required elements of Harvey Mudd’s common core.

Further Requirements

A. Concentration

To achieve depth and intellectual development in some area of the humanities, social sciences or arts, each student must complete a concentration of at least four courses in a single HSA discipline or recognized interdisciplinary area, chosen from the distinct areas of study offered at The Claremont Colleges (see the list of approved concentrations). Students must decide on a concentration area by their sixth semester. The concentration represents progress in a field of study, and even though that field might be interdisciplinary, the concentration should typically advance beyond introductory-level courses. Students who intend to concentrate in areas not covered by the Department’s faculty should plan their HSA program carefully to ensure they fulfill all requirements. Courses that form the concentration may also satisfy other HSA program requirements.

Students should work with their advisors to ensure that their concentrations include an appropriate balance of intellectual approaches to the subject. For example, advisors will generally expect that a music concentration includes at least two courses that are not performance based. A concentration in foreign languages should normally represent study of a single language and not include courses of literature in English translation. Concentrations in linguistics, ethnic studies or other interdisciplinary areas may, with the advisor’s approval, include a maximum of two foreign language courses.

B. Distribution

To achieve breadth within the humanities, social sciences, and arts—and an understanding of the varieties of intellectual and creative approaches that inform these disciplines—each student must complete at least one full course (or the equivalent) in each of five different HSA disciplines (such as literature, economics, history, and so forth).

The appropriate distribution credit for a course depends on its discipline, as specified in the relevant college catalog or on the Harvey Mudd Portal. Disciplinary history courses typically count within the parent discipline – that is, art history counts as art, music history as music and so on.

It is the department’s intention that every course it offers and every course it will accept from the other Claremont Colleges can count toward satisfying the distribution requirement. Courses taken to meet the distribution requirement may also be used to satisfy other HSA program requirements.

C. Writing Requirement

So that students can continue to enhance their writing skills, at least one HSA of the courses taken in addition to HSA 10 must involve significant writing. Both departmental courses and HSA courses offered at the other Claremont Colleges (or outside of Claremont) can satisfy this requirement. The department’s website contains a list of the departmental courses with significant writing, as well as an approval form (PDF) that can be used to satisfy the writing requirement with a non-departmental HSA course. In general, a course satisfies this requirement if it assigns at least 5,000 words (or eighteen pages) of formal, graded writing, excluding exams, short response papers, email or online discussion contributions, and in-class writing.

D. Departmental Requirement

The HSA department is responsible for ensuring that exploration of the humanities, the social sciences, and the arts constitutes an integral component of the life of the Harvey Mudd community. This means that Harvey Mudd students and Harvey Mudd HSA faculty should explore these disciplines together to some significant extent.

Accordingly, at least four of the courses required in addition to HSA 10 must be taken with HSA department faculty. Remaining coursework may be done at the other Claremont Colleges, and the department encourages students to take advantage of this opportunity.

Other Considerations

In addition, the department encourages students to include course work in their HSA programs that represents an exposure to cultural diversity, and it is committed to offering courses that meet this goal.

Students should plan their programs and strategies for satisfying all of the HSA requirements as early as possible. Students are strongly encouraged to take at least one HSA course each semester to fulfill these requirements and in recognition of the fact that humanities, social sciences, and the arts forms a central and on-going part of the Harvey Mudd College curriculum. The department tries to offer a balanced mix of introductory-level and upper-division courses each semester. Students may also arrange for independent study with individual faculty members, subject to their permission, to pursue particular interests that are not covered by regular courses.

Half or Partial Courses

Courses of fewer than three units may be aggregated to count as the equivalent of a full, three-unit course, with certain restrictions. For distribution or concentration credit, the courses aggregated must be the same or substantially similar. For example, units from Concert Choir and from Chamber Choir may be combined to form a single course. However, Concert Choir and piano lessons generally cannot be combined for distribution or concentration credit, as they represent substantially different experiences. For courses counting as elective credit, courses may aggregate from different disciplines. In cases where a departmental course is combined with a non- departmental course, the course will count as departmental if half or more of the units represent work with a member of this department.

Courses Not Accepted by the Department

Courses not in traditional liberal arts disciplines and courses in technology, the natural sciences, mathematics, and pre-professional fields may not be counted toward the HSA curriculum, even if they are offered within traditional HSA departments. Courses that do not count as HSA include those in accounting, aerospace, business administration, critical thinking, econometrics, journalism, logic, management, military science, neurosciences (when the content is primarily within the natural sciences) and statistics. After the student’s first year, the HSA advisor may waive this restriction to allow a single course on this list to count towards the student’s concentration when appropriate. (For example, a course in logic may be allowed to count towards a philosophy concentration.)

Special Circumstances and the Petition Process

While the department has given a great deal of thought and consideration to the design of its curriculum, we also recognize that, in certain cases, students may have difficulty meeting the graduation requirements for reasons beyond their control. With this in mind, the department will entertain petitions from students who seek an exception to or a waiver of particular requirements. Petitions from students who have made a good faith and long-term effort to complete the department’s requirements but are prevented from doing so for reasons beyond their control will usually be considered favorably by the committee. Petitions can be submitted by using the HSA petition form.

The department does not normally waive its graduation requirements for students completing a major or a second major in an HSA field at the other Claremont Colleges.