All requirements, including physical education, are listed in the student’s Program Evaluation on Self-Service (faculty version)/Student Planning (student version).

Hamilton’s open curriculum has no “distribution requirements” but we do require a few courses that focus on developing specific skills. You are expected to complete those requirements (WI, QSR and PE, listed below) by the end of your sophomore year. Our core graduation requirements that you must fulfill are:

  • 32 Hamilton units
  • Writing-intensive (WI) requirement
  • Quantitative and symbolic reasoning (QSR) requirement
  • Physical education (PE) requirement
  • Concentration

Hamilton Units

  • Almost all academic courses are 1 unit
  • The standard student course load is therefore four courses per semester (x eight semesters = 32 units)
  • Students must take at least three courses per semester and can take 5 if they wish, though that is an “overload” and relatively rare
  • We also have some partial credit courses (0.25 or 0.50 units), such as orchestra, choir, and music lessons

Writing-Intensive (WI) Requirement

  • Each student must complete three writing-intensive (WI) courses taken in three separate semesters, in at least two departments
  • You must take at least one WI course your first year
  • For a more detailed description of the WI program, see: standards for written work in the catalogue

Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning (QSR) Requirement

  • Each student must complete one quantitative and symbolic reasoning (QSR) course. As you will see in the link to the course list, this is NOT a math requirement (though math courses certainly are included)
  • For a more detailed description of the QSR requirement, see: standards for quantitative work in the catalogue

Physical Education (PE) Requirement

Hamilton offers a wide variety of non-credit bearing PE courses. While they are not included in the 32 units needed for graduation and will not appear on your transcript, you are required to complete a fitness assessment and 3 of the following in any combination: lifetime activities, wellness seminars, intercollegiate athletics (one semester minimum). It is expected that this requirement is completed in the first three semesters of a student's residency.


  • Each student must complete a concentration (also known as a “major”)
  • All concentrations include a Senior Project, and a Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies (SSIH) requirement.
  • Students declare their concentration in the spring of their sophomore year, at which time they must be enrolled in at least their second course in the concentration 
  • There is no need to take more than one course in a possible concentration each semester of your first year
  • Many Hamilton students do not start with a clear idea of which concentration they want, and many others change their proposed concentration over their first two years
  • Guide to getting started in a concentration

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