Graduation Requirements

The information in the following two sections is intended to provide a general review. Because of the volume and the technicality of the questions that arise, students should refer to the Whitman College catalog, which is the official document on matters of academic requirements and standards. Click here to view the catalog.

A minimum of 124 credits is required for a bachelor’s degree with at least 54 of those credits being earned in residence in the on-campus programs of the college. A minimum cumulative grade-point average of 2.0 (on a 4.0 scale) is required for all work attempted at Whitman College.

Students normally take 12 to 18 credits each semester. Students participating in programs such as varsity athletics or speech and debate are often subject to additional enrollment requirements. Students who wish to complete a degree in eight semesters take an average of 15.5 credits per semester. Students may take more than 18 academic credits per semester if they petition the Board of Review.

General Studies Requirements

The goal of the General Studies Program is to provide the student’s undergraduate education with a structure and consistency that complement and broaden the major study programs. Whitman recognizes that flexibility is necessary in order to accommodate differences in background, interest, and aptitude. General Studies is Whitman’s method of ensuring that student programs have overall coherence and that the wide range of the college’s intellectual resources are utilized without enforcing lockstep requirements.

Specifically, the General Studies Program is intended to provide: 1) breadth and perspective to allow exposure to the diversity of knowledge, 2) integration to demonstrate the interrelatedness of knowledge, 3) a community of shared experience to encourage informal continuation of education beyond the classroom, and 4) a context for further study in the many areas appropriate for a well-educated person. To achieve these goals, the faculty has devised the following curriculum:

  • The First-Year Experience: Encounters: two four-credit courses to be completed by all students during their first year of study.
  • Distribution Requirements for new students
    • Minimum of six credits in each of the following areas
      • Social Sciences
      • Humanities
      • Fine Arts
      • Science (including at least one course with a laboratory)
    • One course of three or more credits in quantitative analysis
    • Two courses, totaling at least six credits, in Cultural Pluralism

Declaring a Major

The choice of a major can be made at any time after a student has been admitted to the college, but must be made prior to registration for the student’s fifth semester. Some students declare a major early in their academic career as they know their interests and intentions early on. Others are intrigued by the many disciplines found in the college curriculum and want to do a little exploring before they decide which major field of study to pursue. Finding a good academic fit takes time and effort, and it is not uncommon for Whitman students to change their minds at least once.

In addition to established departmental majors, students can design a major to incorporate work in two or more fields of study. Some established interdepartmental majors include mathematics-physics and biology-environmental studies. Students also have the option of indicating minor fields of study. It is important to remember that undergraduate majors might not have the link to career pursuits that graduate studies typically do. Critical thinking, academic performance, experience, transferable knowledge and skills — beyond the choice of a major — are the keys to a productive life beyond Whitman. Students are more likely to perform well in an area that interests them.

There are many resources available to assist students in the major selection process. The selection of a major should be made in consultation with the student’s premajor adviser and with the adviser or advisers of the proposed major study. Other faculty, staff in the Academic Resource Center, staff in the Student Engagement Center, SAs and RAs can be helpful in the decision making process.

Major Studies Requirements

A major study program is a coherent array of courses designed to develop mastery of the basic ideas and skills in a particular field or area. Every candidate for a Bachelor’s Degree must complete such a program. Approximately one-third of a student’s coursework will be in major requirements. The major study may be an established departmental program, an established combined program, or an individually planned program.

Regardless of whether the student declares a standard, combined, or individually planned major, a minimum of two-thirds of the specific course and credit requirements for the major must be completed in the on-campus program of the college, and a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 2.000 must be earned by a student in all of the courses taken within the department or departments of his or her major study. A program of study is prepared with the advice and consent of the student’s major adviser or advisory committee to ensure that all major and degree requirements are completed.

Comprehensive Examination in Major Study

Whitman was the first institution of higher education in the United States to require an oral defense of the comprehensive examination in a student’s field of major study, and that tradition continues today. Every candidate for a Bachelor’s Degree must complete a senior assessment in the field of their major study with a passing grade.

The examination might be entirely oral, or it might be part written and part oral. Major examinations when passed are graded “passed’’ or “passed with distinction.’’ A student who fails to pass the major examination may, at the discretion of his or her examining committee, be given a second examination, but not before two weeks after the first examination. A candidate who fails to pass the second examination is not eligible to take another until three months have elapsed.

Academic Standards

To maintain good academic standing a student must meet the following requirements:

  • Earn a grade-point average of at least 1.700 each semester.
  • Earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.000 during the second semester of the first year, and subsequently.
  • Subsequent to the first year earn a minimum of 24 credits in the two immediately preceding semesters.
  • Complete successfully the First-Year Experience: Encounters in the first full academic year after entrance. Any deficiency must be removed not later than the end of the fourth semester of college-level work or by the time that student has accumulated 57 degree credits, whichever occurs first.
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.000 beginning with the end of the fifth semester of college-level work.
  • Transfer students, to be in good standing, must meet the minimum GPA requirements appropriate to their class standing as determined by the number of transfer credits accepted.

If a student does not achieve these minimum academic standards, his or her case is referred to the Board of Review. The student will be placed on academic probation or be recommended for suspension or dismissal from the college for low scholarship. All cases of academic suspension and dismissal are formally reviewed and voted on by the Academic Standards committee.

A student placed on academic probation is no longer in good academic standing and may be suspended or dismissed from the college if his or her performance in the next semester in residence fails to meet the minimum requirements for good standing, or fails to demonstrate sufficient progress toward that goal. Normally, a student will not be continued on probation for more than two consecutive semesters. A student on probation is restored to good standing when he or she completes the semester of probation with accomplishments that meet the minimum standards listed above.

The Board of Review also will warn students who fail to make satisfactory progress toward their degree. A progress deficiency may result from earning fewer than 24 credits in the previous two semesters, a major grade-point average of less than a 2.0, a semester GPA of less than 1.7, or failure to complete the Encounters course sequence. Failure to correct the deficiency during the next semester in residence might result in his or her being suspended from the college.

Students who have failed to achieve good academic standing will be contacted by the Academic Resource Center. The Academic Resource Center staff will work closely with the student, utilizing various campus resources to assist him or her in getting back on track academically.

The Right to Privacy

The transition from high school to college poses many challenges for the student. Research tells us that at this stage in the life of a young person, one of the primary tasks to be accomplished is that of achieving self-mastery and personal autonomy. We accept this concept at Whitman and recognize that one of our primary goals is to provide support so that students can develop personal responsibility and independence. This objective is in harmony with the total liberal arts experience, outside of, as well as within, the classroom. Just as students must learn to think, write, research, analyze, and synthesize complex notions and ideas on their own, so too must they be able to make personal life decisions that help them achieve their own goals and for which they are solely accountable.

Upon reaching the age of majority (18 years), people (including students) obtain the rights and responsibilities afforded by the law, with few exceptions. Among those rights is that of the right to privacy granted by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). This right extends to all students in post-secondary institutions whether or not they have reached the age of 18. While not requiring total student confidentiality of all student records in all situations, the law does provide a framework within which the college has developed attitudes and policies concerning student information. Briefly, the act requires that the college not release education records without the written consent of the student. In general, this also is the college’s policy, and we apply these standards to all students and not just those 18 years of age and over. This means that parental requests for confidential student information will be denied on most occasions unless the student has given permission to release it. Of course, it is ideal for the college if the student voluntarily shares confidential information openly with his or her parents. Thus, the best and quickest source of such information should be your son or daughter.

The college is always riding a fine line between being helpful and caring to concerned parents, and simultaneously encouraging student autonomy and self-reliance. We assure you, however, in special situations where a student is a threat to others, themselves, or where other conditions warrant, parents will be notified. Sometimes consultation between the family and the college is beneficial in determining what course of action to take, or what type of help is indicated. This might include the decision of whether or not the student should remain in school.

We strive to develop a trusting and cooperative relationship with you, the parents of Whitman students. We trust that parents understand that our primary goal is education, and that this means our primary focus is on the young adult. On most occasions we will deal directly with the student. If at any time parents have a concern about their student or a question about this issue, they should feel free to call the Dean of Students Office.

Parents of incoming students each receive a hard copy of this year’s handbook. For future years please refer to the online version of the Parents Handbook or the Student Handbook for policy updates.

College Expenses

Charges for the 2014-15 academic year are listed below. Figures for books and personal expenses are approximate and vary widely depending on the classes taken and the lifestyle of the individual student.

Tuition and Fees $ 44,440
ASWC (student association) $ 360
Room and Board $ 11,228
Estimated books and supplies $ 1,400

Some courses (such as art, music instruction, dance, and some physical activity classes) require a special course fee. The approximate budget of $57,428 includes all of the expenses detailed above but does not include any course fees or incidentals.

The charges made by Whitman College are due and payable prior to registration for each semester. Students must pay all semester costs or set up a payment plan with the Business Office before they are allowed to oficially enroll for classes.

Financial Aid

A college education should be a priceless experience for all qualified students. Every year the college budgets aid funds to meet the expected need of a great number of students. Today more than 80 percent of our students receive some form of financial assistance (scholarships, grants, loans, and part-time employment).

To be eligible for need-based financial assistance, parents of continuing students must submit a Financial Aid PROFILE form to the College Scholarship Service and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to the federal processor by April 15. These forms may be completed online at (PROFILE) and (FAFSA). Whitman’s CSS PROFILE code is 4951, and our FAFSA code is 003803. In addition to the PROFILE and the FAFSA, you must forward a complete signed copy of your current tax return directly to the Office of Financial Aid Services by May 15.

In order to retain financial aid funding, students must maintain good academic standing (cumulative GPA of 2.0 and a minimum of 24 credits in the two immediately preceding semesters). For further details, please refer to the financial add section of the catalog. If you would like additional information, please don’t hesitate to contact us at (509) 527-5178 or financial

Refund Policy

If a student withdraws during the semester, the refund policy schedule below applies to tuition and fee charges and special course fees. A student who moves from a residence hall after the semester begins, or fails to move into a room reserved for second semester, will be refunded room charges for the smaller of 40 percent or as determined by the refund schedule below. Board charges will be prorated on a weekly basis as of the date of withdrawal, except for a minimum charge of $100 per semester.

Date of WithdrawalPercentage of
Charges Refunded
Up through the first day of classes 100%
From day two through day 11 80%
From day 12 through day 16 60%
From day 17 through day 21 40%
From day 22 through day 26 20%
After day 26 No refund