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Curriculum Overview

Photo of Pomona College students in a classroom

Pomona values small, engaging classes with dynamic professors and involved students.

Pomona’s curriculum provides a balance between the breadth of a traditional liberal arts education and the depth necessary for advancement in a specific field. At Pomona, students find great educational rigor, but also the freedom to pursue their individual interests.

Classes are demanding, ensuring that students’ intellectual capabilities are stretched. Readings are intensive; projects often require new ways of thinking and innovative methods of analysis. Part of the intellectual experience in this community involves listening to others and considering different points of view. Journalist Walter Lippman said, “Where all men think alike, no one thinks very much.” At Pomona, bright, intellectually active students learn from one another in an environment that deliberately encourages collegiality, not competition. At Pomona, no specific course or department is prescribed for graduation. Even the first-year seminars called Critical Inquiry courses offer first-year students a wide array of choices among classes with such titles as War and Art; Penguins, Polar Bears, People and Politics; The TV Novel; Stages of Conscience; and Living with Our Genes.

Likewise, in place of specific course requirements, Pomona’s Breadth of Study Requirements are designed to encourage exploration while providing significant freedom of choice. Students take at least one course in each of five areas: Creative Expression; Social Institutions and Human Behavior; History, Values, Ethics and Cultural Studies; Physical and Biological Sciences; and Mathematical Reasoning. Whatever their fields of concentration, Pomona students explore widely among a variety of disciplines, not only to help them make informed choices about special areas of interest, but also to see their own disciplines in the broadest academic context.

In spring 2006, the faculty of the College endorsed a new component to its General Education Program dealing with the study of the Dynamics of Difference and Power. Enrollment in a DDP course is not a requirement but an aspiration that all students are urged to fulfill. A DDP course is one that uses class, ethnicity, gender, race, religion and/or sexuality as categories of analysis and that examines power at the interpersonal, local, national and/or international levels.

If the principal purpose of General Education is to broaden the focus of a Pomona education, the purpose of the major, by contrast, is to require students to delve deeply into a chosen field. With 47 majors to choose from, some Pomona students opt for traditional disciplines—biology, English, history, economics—while others elect one of an expansive array of interdisciplinary majors, including regional and cultural studies as well as such emerging fields as environmental analysis, neuroscience and media studies. Whatever their major, students work closely with the faculty in their chosen field and ultimately complete a senior capstone exercise, usually including a seminar and a thesis or other senior project.

Broad, deep and rich, Pomona’s curriculum is complemented by the curricula of the four other undergraduate and two graduate institutions of The Claremont Colleges. Students may register for courses at any one of these other schools, expanding their options and the faculty expertise available to them.

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