Academic FAQs

The Class Deans encourage students to meet with them during drop-in hours or to set up appointments to discuss any issue large or small, that may be on their minds.

There are questions, however, that many students share. Below are responses to frequently asked questions. If you are still confused, by all means see your dean.

 What are Wellesley's degree requirements?
What is the "18-units-outside" rule?
What is the 300-level requirement?
Do 350s, 360s and 370s count toward the 300-level requirement?
Is there a limit to the number of 350s a student can take?
Can 350s count toward distribution requirements?
Can First Year Writing courses count toward distribution requirements or the multicultural requirement?
Do AP and IB units count toward the degree? toward distribution? toward the major? the minor?
What is considered a full course load?
Is it possible to be granted an exception to academic legislation? If so, how?
What is the Academic Review Board and how do I present a petition?
What are the requirements for honors?
If I'm not here junior year, is there a change in what grades will be counted for Latin honors?
What are the requirements for Phi Beta Kappa?
What is the difference between "excused" and "unexcused" incompletes.  What is a permanent incomplete?

 

What are Wellesley's degree requirements?

In order to earn a Wellesley degree, you must earn 32 units, at least 16 of which must be taken at Wellesley and at least 18 of which must be outside a single department (see below). You must complete distribution requirements, the writing requirement, the multicultural requirement, the foreign language requirement, the quantitative reasoning requirement, four units of 300-level work and the requirements of a major. All students must also complete the P.E. requirement. For a detailed discussion of these requirements, see Degree Requirements.

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What is the "18-units-outside" rule?

This rule, along with the distribution requirements, is intended to insure that a student has substantial breadth in her program of study.

Basically, the rule is that you need at least 18 units outside any single department. Any units on your Wellesley record count in this rule. This means that you do count AP and IB units, units from abroad, units from other US institutions, etc. as either "inside" or "outside" the department in which you've earned the most units.

Notice that the rule stipulates department rather than major, so that if you are doing an interdepartmental major, you are unlikely to run into trouble with the rule since you will be taking courses in more than one department. Similarly, you are not likely to have difficulty if you are completing two majors. You should also be fine if you are doing the combined Art History/Studio Art major, since the two sections of the Art Department are considered separate for the purpose of this rule. You may run into difficulty if 1) you attend a program abroad (often at Oxford or Cambridge) that requires you to take all your courses within a single department or 2) if you are so enthusiastic about a particular field that you want to take more than fourteen courses within one department. If you anticipate that you may have trouble earning eighteen units outside one department, you should consult your dean as early as possible.

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What is the 300-level requirement?

You need four 300-level units for the degree. At least two must be in your major; some majors may require more. There is no limit to the number of 300-level courses you can take in one department. There is no requirement that you take any 300-level courses outside your major. At least two units of 300-level work must be completed in your last two years at Wellesley.

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Do 350s, 360s and 370s count toward the 300-level requirement?

Yes, they do count toward the four units of 300-level work required for the degree, but some departments do not count them toward the minimal major. That is, some departments require their majors to take 300-level courses whether or not the students are writing theses or doing independent studies.

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Is there a limit to the number of 350s a student can take?

There is no limit to the number of 350s you can count toward the degree, but you may not take more than two 350s in one department.

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Can 350s count toward distribution requirements?

No. It is possible to propose a 350 to satisfy the multicultural requirement.

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Can First Year Writing courses count toward distribution requirements or the multicultural requirement?

Generally, no. The exception would be First Year Writing courses that are cross-listed with a department (for example WRIT 105/ENG 120).

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Do AP and IB units count toward the degree? toward distribution? toward the major? the minor?

AP and IB units that are posted on your Wellesley record count towards the 32 units required for the degree but not for distribution. Most departments do not count AP or IB units towards the major or minor; check with your department to be certain.

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What is considered a full course load?

A full course load is ordinarily three to five units, and four courses a semester is the norm. If you have a student loan, taking fewer than three units may place your loan at risk since federal law requires that the College report students who aren't enrolled full-time. Though there are times when it may make sense to take either less or more than a full load, a student who is considering doing so, for whatever reason, should consult her dean.

There is no minimum course-load for non-resident Davis Scholars, but they must take at least two units per semester to be eligible for financial aid.

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Is it possible to be granted an exception to academic legislation? If so, how?

Yes, it is possible in some circumstances. There are some rules for which no exceptions are ever made; for example, you cannot earn the Wellesley degree without completing a full 32 units. In other cases (for example, the 18-units-outside rule), the Academic Review Board may grant a petition for an exception to legislation. Your Class Dean can give you a good sense of whether the Board is likely to allow any flexibility around a particular piece of legislation.

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What is the Academic Review Board and how do I present a petition?

The Board is made up of the Dean of Students, the Class Deans, six faculty members and four students. It meets once a month primarily to review student records and to consider petitions for exceptions to academic legislation; its meetings are confidential. To petition, a student, in consultation with her dean and with the support of a faculty member (if relevant), writes a letter to the Board explaining her situation and making her request. Her dean presents the petition for her.

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What are the requirements for honors?

Wellesley has two kinds of honors: (1)Latin honors, which reflect the overall degree; and (2)departmental honors, which reflect work in the major.

(1) For students entering before September 2009, qualification for Latin honors depends on your grades in all Wellesley and MIT courses taken after your first year. For Davis Scholars entering before September 2009, the first year is defined as the first six units of the student's college career, at least some of which are likely to have been completed at other institutions. Cum laude requires at least 3.60, magna cum laude 3.75, and summa cum laude 3.90.

There is a limit to the number of courses you may take credit/non and still be eligible for Latin honors. Since first-year grades do not count toward Latin honors, it does not matter how many credit/non courses you take as a first-year student. For all subsequent years, you may take an average of no more than 1/4 of your Wellesley units credit/non. (This limit includes any courses that you took credit/non but for which you did not receive credit, whether because you withdrew from the course or because you earned less than a C.)

There is also a limit to how many incompletes you may have on your record and still qualify for Latin honors. No more than three "I/grade" or "INC" notations may appear after the first year. Finally, you may not have any F's in your final semester.

For students entering in September 2009 or later, qualification for Latin honors depends on your grades in all Wellesley and MIT courses taken after your first semester.  For Davis Scholars and transfer students entering in September 2009 or later, Latin honors will be based on grades in all Wellesley and MIT courses taken. Cum laude requires at least 3.60, magna cum laude 3.75, and summa cum laude 3.90.

To be eligible for these distinctions, a student may take no more than one-quarter of potentially graded units (i.e., mandatory credit/noncredit courses are not included) on a credit/noncredit basis. A minimum of 12 graded courses (adding up to at least 12 units) must be included in the calculation for Latin honors.

There is also a limit to how many incompletes you may have on your record and still qualify for Latin honors. No more than three "I/grade" or "INC" notations may appear after the first year. Finally, you may not have any F's in your final semester.

 (2)You generally earn honors in the major by doing a senior honors thesis (360/370) and passing an oral exam. Some departments also offer the option of a comprehensive exam. See the Requirements for the Major for your department or program in the College Bulletin.

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If I'm not here junior year, is there a change in what grades will be counted for Latin honors?

No.  Courses taken elsewhere, whether during a semester or year away or at some other time, are not included in the calculation of the grade point average for honors.  As noted above, certain Wellesley grades are always excluded from the calculation, depending on the student’s status and the time of entering Wellesley.  Under the most recent formulation of the rules for Latin honors, applying to students entering in September 2009 or later, there must always be at least 12 units of graded coursework at Wellesley to be eligible for honors, and this allows any student to take up to ¼ of their courses credit/non and still be eligible for Latin honors. 

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What are the requirements for Phi Beta Kappa?

Consult http://academics.wellesley.edu/Economics/skeath/pbk/#Requirements

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What is the difference between "excused" and "unexcused" incompletes?  What is a  permanent incomplete?

Unexcused incompletes are essentially extensions beyond the end of finals period; they may or may not be granted by your instructor. You cannot just take an incomplete but need to ask your instructor if s/he is willing to give you one. If so, once you have submitted the completed work and the instructor has turned in a grade, your record will show "I/grade."

If you are unable to finish a course on time because of illness or family emergency, you may petition the Academic Review Board to excuse your incomplete. First, you must ask your professor for an incomplete and consult with your dean for information about the petitioning process. If the Board grants you an excused incomplete, you will have a temporary notation of "XI" on your record; this will be removed once the work is completed and the grade entered.

Work for incompletes (both excused and unexcused) must be finished by the beginning of the following semester. If you have not finished the work, the incomplete will ordinarily become permanent and a notation of "INC" will be entered on your record.

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Meet the Deans

Susan Cohen
Susan Cohen


John O'Keefe
John O'Keefe


Jennifer Stephan
Jennifer Stephan


Lori Tenser
Lori Tenser
 

 

Contact Us

Class Deans Office
Schneider Center, 2d Floor
781.283.2325

 

John O'Keefe
Director of Advising and Academic Support Services
781.283.2326
jokeefe@wellesley.edu