Whitman College is a small liberal arts school, but our students think big.
At Whitman, you will be challenged and rewarded, intellectually stimulated and inspired. No matter what you choose to focus on academically, you will graduate with a broad education in the liberal arts and sciences and a deep understanding of your chosen field.
With majors offered across 45 departments and programs—as well as the opportunity to craft new interdisciplinary areas of study—Whitman students are able to pursue their academic passions, wherever they may lead. This is due in large part to the atmosphere of collaboration—not competition—that the college fosters between and among students and faculty members.
Nearly all our students cite their close working relationships with professors as paramount to their success at Whitman. Our faculty members are passionate teacher-scholars known for their research and writing. You will learn from them in a small classroom setting, work with them in the field, and—in many cases—even collaborate with them on academic research and publications.
Hallmarks of a Whitman liberal arts education
Whitman students work theoretically and across disciplines, but they also get to put their knowledge to use in the field. It's a challenging and rewarding combination that blurs the lines between the classroom and the workplace, as well as between different areas of study.
- Whitman's Encounters program—taken by all first years—is a unique introduction to how a liberal arts education works. All students read the same texts across the year, talk about them in small class discussions, and lay the groundwork for the intellectual experience to come.
- The annual Whitman Undergraduate Conference is one of only two such conferences in the entire nation. A celebration of undergraduate scholarship, the WUC features students nearly 200 students presenting to the campus community the results of research projects and creative endeavors usually undertaken in conjunction with faculty members.
- There is also an abundance of opportunities for cutting-edge research with faculty outside the classroom, such as the State of the State for Washington Latinos project. Community-based service learning opportunities are also characteristic of the Whitman experience: about 350 students take on a volunteer, internship or other service role in the greater community every week.
- Around 40 percent of Whitman juniors study abroad each year. Far-flung locales are a great setting for understanding of new cultures or regions—an important part of a liberal arts education and a key to developing future global citizens.
- There are also opportunities closer to home: the nine-day U.S.-Mexico Border Program, for example, takes 12 Whitman students into communities on the border to give them firsthand insight into the implications and consequences of issues such as globalization, immigration and border security.
- An innovative and acclaimed program, Semester in the West sends 20 students on an odyssey through the American West to study environmental, biological and political issues. Offered every other fall semester, it is a workout in interdisciplinary critical thinking.
With the help of the Student Engagement Center and the Office of Fellowships and Grants, Whitman prepares its students for life after graduation. Whitman Internship Grants fund more than 120 unpaid internships each summer, and the Community Fellow Initiative puts juniors and seniors to work in Walla Walla non-profits all year long; as far as prestigious fellowships and scholarships go, Whitman students regularly take home honors ranging from Fulbright U.S. Student program awards to German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) positions.
Service learning projects
Integrating academic work with community service allows Whitman students to make a real difference to the lives of others in our community: the Student Engagement Center helps locate volunteer opportunities while the residential Community Service House serves as a hub for service-oriented programming and discussions. As an incoming student, you can go on a Summer Community OutReach Excursion (SCORE); you could also spend a spring break on a service trip. About 70% of the student body engages in community service every year.