Jump the navigation

Senior Handbook

The Senior Handbook, now updated for the 2023-2024 school year, contains information of interest to current seniors at Whitman College. Please direct questions to Jennifer McNeil, mcneiljl@whitman.edu, or 509-527-5910.

Key information regarding Degree/Commencement completionPDF icon

Table of Contents

The Senior Year

Graduation Application

The Bachelor of Arts Degree


Please review the following sections to ensure you have completed everything necessary for you to receive your diploma during Commencement. If you have any questions about the status of your college requirements for graduation, please contact Jennifer McNeil in the Registrar's Office at 509-527-5910. If you have concerns about completing requirements for your major(s), speak with your faculty adviser.

* You are ultimately responsible for completion of degree requirements. *

Graduation Date

Is the Anticipated Completion Date listed on the top of your current Academic Evaluation accurate? Another way to check is the student listserv. Is the listserv correct for you? If not, please contact Jennifer McNeil to have your record evaluated and graduation date updated. This date is when you are to complete all degree requirements for graduation and the year in which you are expected to participate in Commencement.

Graduation Application

The Graduation Application is for you to verify that you will complete all graduation requirements by your anticipated graduation date. May and September graduates will receive applications in their Whitman email in mid-late October. December graduates will receive their applications in the Spring in early February.

View full information


Graduation Application deadline for May/September 2024 Candidates 11/15/23
Honors application to Depts for Spring 2024 thesis candidates 10/09/23
Graduation Application deadline for December 2024 Candidates 02/23/24
Honors application to Depts for Fall 2024 thesis candidates 02/23/24
Commencement 05/19/24


You must complete a minimum of 124 credits for a degree. You may transfer work from other accredited colleges, but a minimum of 54 credits must be earned on the Whitman campus, 44 of which must be in regularly-graded courses (not Cr/NC or P-D-F). Note that there are limitations on activity and applied music credit (see the “Academics” section of the online catalog). Also note that any activity or applied music credit in excess of the maximums allowed will not count toward the 124 credit minimum needed.  Lastly, to participate in Commencement, a minimum of 116 credits must be completed by the end of the Spring term, though a diploma will not be conferred until all degree requirements have been successfully completed.


Graduating seniors, who need four or fewer credits to complete their degree requirements at the beginning of their final semester, should submit the Pay-Per-Credit form to the Registrar's Office to request regular student status on a pay-per-credit basis. Students approved for pay-per-credit may then enroll in up to eight credits and pay the per-credit tuition rate (See Charges/Special Tuition in the online catalog). Students may not be concurrently enrolled at another college in order to meet the credit requirements for pay-by-credit status. Full tuition will be charged for students enrolled in more than four credits. All requests for this status must be submitted to the Registrar's Office by the last day to add classes each semester.

Students who add additional credits after the last day to add classes must stay within four credits to keep their pay-by-credit status. Graduating seniors who drop classes after the deadline for requesting pay-by-credit status will remain at full tuition even if they drop below four credits.

Transfer Credit

If you wish transfer credit to be considered toward your graduation requirements, but it is not already a part of your record, you must request of the registrar of the institution attended that an official transcript be sent directly to the Whitman Registrar's Office. In addition, you must submit a completed Request for Approval of Transfer Credit form to the Registrar. We must receive all notification of transfer credit on or before Reading Day for spring graduation.

Note: Whitman is on the semester system, thus approved courses will transfer on a credit-to-credit basis from other semester-based institutions. If, however, the other institution is on the quarter system, for every three quarter credits of an approved transfer course, you may receive two Whitman credits. In addition, remember that grades from other colleges will not be included in your Whitman GPA.

Testing Information

If your major requires the GRE, MFT, or LSAT, you need to plan accordingly to have that completed prior to Commencement.

If you plan to take the GRE General Test for admission to graduate school visit www.ets.org for locations, schedules, and other resources.

Distribution Requirements

Five of the six Distribution Requirements should be completed by the end of the sixth semester of college work. The total requirements must be fulfilled not later than the seventh semester or at the time 110 degree credits have been earned if this occurs prior to the seventh semester.

See the “General Studies Program” section of the online catalog for further information.

Major Requirements

For a list of the course work needed to complete the major(s), refer to the catalog that was current during the second semester of your sophomore year when you submitted your Declaration of Major. Your catalog year is printed at the top left on your Academic Evaluation. If any deviation from the required course work has been approved by your major department and is not already shown on your academic evaluation, a written request, email is preferred, to the Registrar's Office from the department chair is needed. Please discuss completion of your major requirements with your faculty adviser. Note that a maximum of one-third of the credits required for your major may come from transfer work, and that several departments and programs have lower transfer credit limits. In any case, the remainder of the work must be completed at Whitman. If you are pursuing a double major, courses applying to one major may not apply to the other major unless specifically approved.

Minor Requirements

If you have not submitted a ‘Declaration of Minor’ form already and plan to pursue a minor, please submit the form at your earliest convenience. Check this year’s catalog for requirements for any minor you choose to pursue and complete a form for each. You must obtain the signed approval of the chair of the appropriate department for each minor you plan to complete. As with the major, any course substitutions will require an accompanying written request with the department chair's signature on the minor form. Courses applied to your major cannot be also applied to your minor.  Likewise, courses used for one minor cannot apply to another minor.

Honors in Major Study

Check the guidelines for the Application for Honors in a Major Study by clicking  here.

The approval for candidacy begins with the major department's receipt of the Honors in Major Study Application. In the case of Individually Planned Majors, this form is submitted to the major committee. Students must declare candidacy within the first six weeks of the semester prior to the semester of enrollment in thesis. That is, for students expecting to enroll for Honors in the Spring semester, petitions should be submitted by the Fall deadline (see calendar). No student will be permitted to enroll in Honors Thesis unless her or his application has been approved and the department has in turn submitted the candidacy form to the Registrar's Office before the end of the term in which candidacy is declared.

For Application for Honors in Major, the following criteria must be met:

  • at the time of announcing candidacy, completed at least 87 credits and two semesters in residence at Whitman College

Honors in Major Study will be awarded if the following criteria are met upon completion of the thesis:

  • A cumulative minimum GPA of 3.300 for credits earned at Whitman
  • A major GPA of 3.500 or better
  • Submission of the thesis or report to the library by the deadline
  • Earn a grad of “Pass with Distinction” for the Senior Assessment
  • A grade of at least A- in the Honors thesis course or project

See the Penrose Library web site for more information.

Please note: Honors Thesis is a course and must be added and dropped in accordance with rules governing regular course work. If the criteria for Honors is not met, registration will be adjusted to either Senior Thesis or Independent Study, depending on your major department.


Consult the Academic Evaluation via the Portal, my-new.whitman.edu, for much of the information needed to complete this online form. Please make sure that the expected graduation date at the top of your Academic Evaluation reflects the end of your final semester at Whitman.

  • Completion Date Check the correct box in the top section indicating when you expect to complete all degree requirements.
  • Commencement Indicate in which year you plan to participate in Commencement.
  • Completion Plan Indicate which courses, and when, you plan to complete for your major, distribution, minor, and degree credit requirements. Carefully review your Academic Evaluation with your faculty adviser to ensure a plan to complete requirements. Check your distribution requirements to ensure completion of all six areas (see the “General Studies Program” section of the online catalog).
  • Majors Indicate your area of major study.
  • Minors Check if you will, or will not, declare a minor. If you are declaring, see instructions above.
  • Honors in Major Study Check if you are to be a candidate for Honors in Major Study or if your department does not require an application.
  • Certification  Before submitting, carefully review your application with your major adviser(s) to ensure that all of the information is accurate. The application and Commencement Information Form (currently a google form that is specific and a link is emailed directly to the student to complete online) must be submitted to the Registrar's Office by the deadline.


Honors in Course

Honors in Course are based on your cumulative (combined) GPA. Honors in Course may be awarded to those students who have been in residence at Whitman College during the past four semesters, or for a total of six semesters. Do not confuse this with Honors in Major Study for which certificates are issued.

summa cum laude   Whitman GPA of 3.900 or greater with no course grades of F
magna cum laude    Whitman GPA of 3.800 or greater with no course grades of F
cum laude               Whitman GPA of 3.650 or greater

Final Grades

If you have an expected graduation date of the current year, your final semester grades will be made available to you on the Thursday prior to Commencement, if not sooner. Other senior grades are not due until after Commencement, and will be available on the web when grades are available to continuing students. Please note if you are a December graduate, faculty often do not have your grades ready before Commencement.


A Commencement Information Form will be emailed to you at the same time as your Whitman Graduation Application during the first semester of your senior year. Please complete both forms in their entirety. You may choose to select your full name as it appears on your Whitman record, or substitute or eliminate a middle initial for the Commencement program. Your full legal name will be printed, as it is on this form, on your diploma and it will be listed with your major and hometown in the Commencement Program. If you plan to go abroad, we've had students run into issues with their diploma not matching their passport and/or driver's license. Foreign countries use the diploma versus a transcript. 

The Program will also list any Honors in Major Study and/or Honors in Course. 

  • You are required to participate in Commencement ceremonies at Whitman. If you are unable to do so, you must Petition the Board of Review for a waiver.
  • If you have outstanding requirements, you are still expected to participate in Commencement but you will not receive your diploma during the ceremony.
    • Those students completing requirements prior to the September deadline will receive their diploma in the September.
    • Those students returning/completing during the fall, will receive their diploma in December.

Commencement information will be sent out prior to Commencement. This will include information about graduation announcements, gowns, etc. Please retain these mailings for reference.


Final transcripts will not be available after grade processing begins at the end of the Spring semester and for about three weeks following Commencement. You may order transcripts online and select ‘Send transcript after grades for this term have been recorded.’ These will then be mailed out at the earliest possible opportunity.

Winter break is a busy time for transcripts, so please be sure you order well ahead of time for graduate school or other applications. Again, transcripts cannot be issued until all grade processing for Fall courses has been completed.

Transcript order forms can be found in the Registrar's Office and online. It usually takes one to three business days to process a request.

December Graduates

If you expect to complete your degree requirements at the end of the Fall semester, you will have had to participate in a Commencement ceremony in order to receive your diploma in December. You can choose which ceremony you wish to participate in but depending on when you do, your graduation could be delayed if you choose to participate the following year. See calendar for deadlines on necessary paperwork.


The diploma that you receive during the Commencement ceremony or following your graduation for those graduating in September or December is unique. There are no copies on file at Whitman. Verification of your degree in a foreign country, e.g. Japan, may require your original diploma, in place of or in combination with a transcript, so keep it in a secure location.

A new diploma may be ordered if you can verify that the original has been destroyed. However, replacements are generally produced only when diplomas are ordered for May and September graduates.  See the ‘ Replacement Diplomas’ section of our website for more information.

beaker duck hiker icon-a-to-z icon-arrow-circle-down icon-arrow-circle-up icon-arrow-down icon-arrow-left icon-arrow-right icon-arrow-up icon-calendar-no-circle icon-calendar icon-camera icon-clock icon-cv icon-dot icon-down-triangle icon-email-circle icon-email icon-external-link icon-facebook icon-flickr icon-generic-blog icon-google-plus icon-home icon-instagram icon-library icon-link-circle icon-link-inverted icon-linkedin icon-lock icon-magazine icon-map-pin icon-map2 icon-menu-hamburger icon-menu-mobile-a icon-menu-mobile-b icon-menu-x icon-mywhitman-cog icon-news icon-phone icon-pinterest icon-play icon-quote icon-search-a icon-search-b icon-search-mobile-a icon-search-mobile-b icon-share icon-snail-mail icon-tumblr icon-twitter icon-vimeo icon-youtube logo-whitman-nc-flat logo-whitman-nc-stacked logo-whitman-no-clocktower slider-category-arrow-2px slider-category-arrow-no-line slider-category-arrow-solid slider-category-arrow slider-category-line-2px slider-category-line-solid slider-category-line tc_icon-filmstrip-fl tc_icon-filmstrip-ln tc_icon-play-fl-closed tc_icon-play-fl-open tc_icon-play-ln-closed tc_icon-play-ln-open wifi