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General Studies


Be an intellectual explorer.

When you get your degree from Whitman College, your academic experience won’t be limited to your major. You’ll think broadly about the world you live in, make connections between wildly different subjects, learn to listen to diverse perspectives—and gain valuable skills that will help you change the world

Whitman’s General Studies Program is designed to introduce you to a wide range of subjects and skills

Why Do General Studies Matter?

At Whitman, we believe curiosity makes us better learners and better members of our communities—and that diverse perspectives are essential for solving complex problems. 

Through Whitman’s General Studies, you’ll: 

  • Get a head-start on skills you’ll need for upper-level courses. 
  • Learn to analyze and evaluate information effectively.
  • Develop your voice while listening generously to others.
  • Explore complex relationships between subjects.
  • Deepen your imagination as you create your own original work.

Whitman’s First-Year Seminars

Semester 1: Exploring Complex Questions
Your first Whitman classroom experience will challenge and support you in a learning community led by a team of professors from different disciplines. You’ll join your fellow students in thinking about interesting topics and big questions in innovative ways.

Semester 2: Making Powerful Arguments
In the spring of your first year, you’ll join a new group of classmates in an in-depth collaborative investigation of a topic that matters to you. You’ll learn to write and speak persuasively, with the support of rigorous, research-based evidence.

Learn More

New! General Studies Program Beginning 2024–2025



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How It Works

Every Whitman student must complete two First Year Seminars in the fall and spring of their first year:

  • Exploring Complex Questions
  • Making Powerful Arguments

Before graduation, students must complete at least three credits in each of seven categories: 

  1. Textual Analysis
  2. The Individual and Society
  3. Scientific Inquiry
  4. Quantitative Analysis
  5. Creative Production
  6. Global Cultures and Languages
  7. Power and Equity

At least three of the credits above (or three additional credits) must count toward each of the following categories: 

  • Writing Across Contexts
  • Studying the Past

Some courses are designed to fulfill more than one of these categories, but students may apply each course only toward one area. Exception: Courses that fulfill Writing Across Contexts and Studying the Past may be double-counted toward categories 1–7.

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