Understanding Dartmouth’s Graduation Requirements

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Baker Clock Tower at Dartmouth College

Understanding Dartmouth’s Graduation Requirements

Navigating the complex world of college graduation requirements can often feel overwhelming. However, understanding your requirements is a fundamental step in planning your academic career at Dartmouth. This article will break down Dartmouth’s Graduation Requirements, shedding light on the credit system, mandatory courses, major-specific requirements, distribution requirements, the role of the advising system, and lastly, Dartmouth’s unique, modified major system.

The Basics of Dartmouth’s Graduation Requirements

Before we delve deeper into specific requirements, it’s important to grasp the basic structure of Dartmouth’s graduation requirements.

Dartmouth College, founded in 1769, is a prestigious Ivy League institution in Hanover, New Hampshire. Known for its strong liberal arts curriculum and emphasis on undergraduate education, Dartmouth offers comprehensive graduation requirements that ensure students receive a well-rounded education.

Overview of the Credit System

Dartmouth operates on a quarter system, dividing the academic year into four terms: fall, winter, spring, and summer. This unique system allows for flexibility in course selection and allows students to explore a wide range of subjects.

Diverse group of young people chatting in college library

To graduate from Dartmouth, students must complete a minimum of 35 courses (credits) over four years. These courses are distributed across various disciplines and departments, allowing students to develop a broad-based understanding of the world.

In addition to the credit requirement, students must maintain a certain grade point average (GPA) to be in good academic standing. This ensures that students are actively engaged in their coursework and meet the college’s rigorous academic standards.

Mandatory Courses for All Students

Regardless of their chosen major, all Dartmouth students are required to complete certain courses that form the foundation of their undergraduate education.

One of these mandatory courses is a first-year seminar specifically designed to acclimate students to college-level writing and thinking. This seminar allows students to engage in critical analysis, develop effective communication skills, and explore complex ideas.

In addition to the first-year seminar, students must complete writing, foreign language, and quantitative & deductive sciences courses. These courses are designed to enhance students’ written and verbal communication skills, broaden their cultural understanding, and develop their analytical and problem-solving abilities.

By requiring these courses, Dartmouth ensures that all students receive a well-rounded education that prepares them for success in their chosen fields and beyond.

Major-Specific Graduation Requirements

Dartmouth offers a vast array of majors, each with its specific graduation requirements. Understanding these requirements can help students strategically select courses that will simultaneously satisfy both general and major-specific requirements.

Humanities Majors

For humanities majors, in addition to the consistent mandatory courses, students are expected to dive deep into their chosen field by completing major-needs courses. Within the realm of humanities, students have the opportunity to explore the rich tapestry of human expression through literature, philosophy, history, and more.

Science and Engineering Majors

Science and engineering majors have demanding laboratory and numerical requirements. Majoring in these fields necessitates a robust understanding of mathematics and substantial lab time.

In the realm of science and engineering, students embark on a journey of discovery and innovation. They delve into the fundamental laws of nature, unravel the mysteries of the universe, and apply their knowledge to solve real-world problems. The rigorous laboratory and numerical requirements provide students with hands-on experience, allowing them to develop practical skills and a deep understanding of scientific principles.

A researcher working on a object

Through countless hours spent in labs, students gain invaluable insights into experimental design, data analysis, and the scientific method. The mathematical foundation acquired in these majors equips students with the tools necessary to tackle complex problems and make groundbreaking advancements in their respective fields.

Social Sciences Majors

For social sciences majors, there might be courses required in statistics or research methods. Many social science departments emphasize understanding and conducting research, thus requiring students to complete relevant coursework in these areas.

Social sciences majors delve into the intricate workings of human society, exploring the complexities of human behavior, social structures, and cultural dynamics. Students gain the tools to critically analyze data, conduct meaningful research, and draw evidence-based conclusions by studying statistics and research methods.

These skills are essential for understanding the social, political, and economic forces that shape our world. Through their coursework, social sciences majors develop a deep appreciation for human experiences’ diversity, and global societies’ interconnectedness.

Understanding the Distribution Requirements

All Dartmouth students are expected to meet distribution requirements. This is to ensure that students gain a rounded education that includes exposure to a diversity of intellectual approaches and domains of knowledge.

Meeting the distribution requirements at Dartmouth College is an essential part of the undergraduate experience. These requirements are designed to broaden students’ perspectives and encourage them to explore various academic disciplines. By completing these requirements, students are able to develop a well-rounded education that goes beyond their major field of study.

World Culture Requirement

One of the distribution requirements is the World Culture Requirement. Herein, students are expected to delve into courses that acquaint them with cultures, traditions, and ways of thinking outside of their own.

The World Culture Requirement is an exciting opportunity for students to expand their knowledge and understanding of different cultures around the world. Through a variety of courses, students can explore the rich diversity of human experiences and gain a deeper appreciation for the complexities of global societies. From studying ancient civilizations to analyzing contemporary cultural phenomena, students have the chance to engage with a wide range of perspectives and broaden their cultural horizons.

By fulfilling the World Culture Requirement, students develop a greater understanding of the world and enhance their ability to navigate and appreciate diverse cultural contexts. This requirement encourages students to challenge their own assumptions and biases, fostering a more inclusive and globally-minded community at Dartmouth College.

Distributive Requirement

In addition to the World Culture Requirement, students must also fulfill distributive requirements. These require students to take courses across a broad range of disciplines in order to ensure a diversified exposure.

The Distributive Requirement is a key component of Dartmouth’s commitment to providing a comprehensive liberal arts education. The college aims to foster intellectual curiosity and encourage interdisciplinary thinking by requiring students to take courses in different disciplines. Through this requirement, students have the opportunity to explore subjects outside of their comfort zone and gain a broader perspective on the world.

By engaging with diverse academic disciplines, students can develop critical thinking skills and make connections between different areas of knowledge. This requirement encourages students to embrace intellectual exploration and discover new passions and interests. Whether it’s studying the principles of economics, analyzing historical events, or exploring the intricacies of the natural world, the Distributive Requirement allows students to engage with a wide range of subjects and develop a well-rounded education.

Furthermore, fulfilling the Distributive Requirement prepares students for the complex challenges of the modern world. In an increasingly interconnected and rapidly changing society, thinking critically and drawing upon knowledge from various disciplines is essential. By completing this requirement, students are equipped with the tools to approach problems from multiple perspectives and make informed decisions considering various factors.

In conclusion, the distribution requirements at Dartmouth College play a vital role in shaping students’ educational experiences. Students are exposed to diverse ideas, cultures, and disciplines through the World Culture Requirement and the Distributive Requirement. These requirements broaden students’ perspectives and prepare them for a lifetime of learning and engagement with the world around them.

The Role of the Advising System in Meeting Graduation Requirements

Given the complexity of the graduation requirements, Dartmouth’s advising system plays an integral role in guiding students to navigate through these requirements.

The advising system at Dartmouth College is designed to provide students with the necessary support and guidance to successfully navigate the complex web of graduation requirements. From the moment students step on campus, they are assigned a dedicated advisor who will serve as their academic mentor throughout their college journey.

mentor explaining new online project to newly graduate students

One of the key ways in which advisors assist students is in interpreting the graduation requirements. These requirements can often be confusing and overwhelming, especially for first-year students beginning to navigate the college experience. Advisors help students understand the specific courses and credit hours they must complete to fulfill their major requirements and graduate on time.

How Advisors Help in Course Selection

Advisors play a crucial role in helping students select the right courses each semester. They not only provide insight on course selection but also offer advice on how to balance academic workload. By taking into consideration a student’s interests, strengths, and long-term goals, advisors can help students create a well-rounded course schedule that aligns with their academic and personal aspirations.

Furthermore, advisors are knowledgeable about the various course offerings and can provide valuable recommendations based on a student’s intended major or areas of interest. They can suggest courses that may be particularly relevant or beneficial to a student’s academic and career goals, helping them make informed decisions about their course selection.

The Importance of Regular Check-ins with Advisors

Regular check-ins with advisors can significantly impact a student’s academic journey. These check-ins provide an opportunity for students to discuss their progress, seek guidance, and address any concerns or challenges they may be facing. By regularly meeting with their advisors, students can stay on track with their graduation requirements and ensure they are making the most of their college experience.

Moreover, the advising system serves as an invaluable support system throughout a student’s Dartmouth journey. Advisors provide academic guidance and serve as mentors who can offer advice on a wide range of topics, including extracurricular involvement, internships, research opportunities, and post-graduation plans. They can help students explore their interests, discover new opportunities, and make informed decisions that will shape their future.

In all, the advising system at Dartmouth College plays a crucial role in helping students meet their graduation requirements. Advisors assist students in interpreting these requirements, provide guidance on course selection, and offer support throughout their college journey. By actively engaging with their advisors and taking advantage of the resources and expertise available, students can confidently navigate the complexities of graduation requirements and set themselves up for success in their academic and professional endeavors.

Navigating the Modified Major

Dartmouth offers students the unique opportunity to create a modified major. This option allows students to design a course of study that caters to their personal interests beyond traditional department boundaries.

When it comes to exploring academic interests, Dartmouth College stands out among its peers. The modified major program is a testament to the institution’s commitment to providing students with a well-rounded education beyond traditional departmental boundaries. With this program, students have the freedom to combine two areas of interest into one major, fostering a unique interdisciplinary approach to their studies.

What is a Modified Major?

A Modified Major at Dartmouth allows students to combine two areas of interest into one major, offering a unique interdisciplinary approach to their studies. This program encourages students to think outside the box and explore the connections between different academic disciplines.

Imagine being able to combine your passion for psychology with your love for art history. With a modified major, you can delve into the intricacies of how the human mind perceives and interprets art or perhaps explore the psychological impact of different artistic movements throughout history. The possibilities are endless.

How to Choose a Suitable Modified Major

Ideally, choosing a suitable modified major means pinpointing intersecting interests that align with your career goals. It involves understanding which departments can best support your academic pursuits, and working with faculty advisors to design your modified major.

At Dartmouth, the process of selecting a modified major is an exciting journey of self-discovery. It begins with self-reflection, where you explore your passions, strengths, and long-term aspirations. By identifying areas of interest that intersect, you can start to envision how a modified major can bring together different fields of study to create a unique academic experience.

Once you have a general idea of the areas you want to combine, it’s time to consult with faculty advisors who specialize in those disciplines. These advisors can provide valuable insights into the feasibility of your proposed modified major and help you navigate the requirements of each department involved.

Collaboration is key when designing a modified major. You’ll work closely with your advisors to create a cohesive plan of study that integrates coursework from multiple departments. This process requires careful consideration of prerequisites, credit requirements, and any additional coursework or projects that may be necessary to fulfill the modified major’s requirements.

While the journey of choosing a suitable modified major may seem daunting, Dartmouth’s supportive academic community is there to guide you every step of the way. Faculty advisors, fellow students, and alumni are all available resources that can provide valuable advice and share their experiences with the modified major program.

Ultimately, a suitably modified major is one that aligns with your passions, challenges you intellectually, and prepares you for your future career. It’s an opportunity to create a personalized academic path that reflects your unique interests and goals.


Understanding Dartmouth’s graduation requirements is crucial for any student aspiring to successfully navigate and complete their academic journey at the institution.

PHD graduate wearing his graduation gown and whose back is on the camera

These requirements reflect the college’s commitment to a holistic education, ensuring that students receive a well-rounded foundation in their chosen field and other diverse disciplines. By familiarizing oneself with these expectations, students can strategically plan their academic path, optimizing their Dartmouth experience.

If you need help putting the finishing touches on your college applications,  at AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.



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