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Course Selection

Enrolling in your first semester’s courses is one of the most important and exciting aspects of your first week at Pomona.  Together with your faculty advisor, you’ll choose classes that integrate your interests and enable exploration of new areas.

Your first year is for exploring the offerings of the College while also fulfilling General Education requirements and sharpening basic skills (i.e., writing, mathematics, foreign language, etc.).  This guide provides the background you will need for your important first conversation with your advisor.

First, a few general points:

About half of our first-year students are undecided about their majors when they arrive on campus; half of the others change their minds during the first two years. Therefore, it’s important to be flexible when choosing your classes. Keep your options open while also being mindful of special requirements in disciplines that you think you might choose to pursue.  The requirements for most majors can be completed in three years or fewer and there is no urgency about this decision during your first year at Pomona. The exceptions to this are in some of the natural sciences (e.g., Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geology) and Music, and because they require many semesters of language preparation, International Relations and foreign languages and literatures. In these fields, an early start on required courses may be strongly recommended by your faculty advisor.

It is usually recommended to start the sequence of courses to fulfill the foreign language requirement in the first semester since three semesters are required for graduation, and also because many study abroad programs require 3-4 semesters of a foreign language.  Also, first-semester language courses are only offered in the fall semesters. Students who place into an upper-division course because of prior knowledge of a foreign language must take an upper-division (literature) course to satisfy the requirement.  Placement exams do not satisfy the requirement.

In Summary, plan to complete your foreign language requirements and all your Breadth requirements in your first two years - before courses for your major take precedence in your course schedule.

Law schools and business schools are interested in students with a variety of undergraduate majors, so students interested in these options need not be concerned with meeting special requirements during the first year. Medical schools also encourage students to consider a variety of majors, but they do have specific requirements which require starting Chemistry and Math as early as possible.  It is possible to be pre-health sciences and postpone these courses; however, this may require course overloads or summer school work later on.

Pomona does not have a major in pre-business, pre-engineering, pre-law or pre-medicine/health sciences; i.e., one cannot be a “pre-med major,” but it is possible to satisfy all of the requirements for admission to professional schools while pursuing a Pomona College major.  In some departments, e.g., Chemistry and Economics, first-year students are limited to the standard introductory courses like General Chemistry (CHEM001A/B) or Accelerated First Year Chemistry (CHEM051) or Principles of Macroeconomics (ECON051). In other departments you are free to choose from all of the offerings unless specific prerequisites are listed in the Pomona College Online Catalog. You should be aware, however, that upper-division courses assume a more experienced audience than those courses typically elected by first-year students.

Because the College believes that small classes make for the best learning outcomes, you will find that some courses you want to take will be closed when you register; and you may need to wait a semester or two to take some courses.  It is also not uncommon for specific sections of courses to close in areas such as Math and Economics, where many sections of the same course are offered at different hours. Flexibility in planning your program is the key to coping with these situations.  Select several alternates for courses in your planned schedule.


Make sure you’re familiar with the College’s academic requirements as you plan your first-year program, although there is no need to let these requirements dictate your entire program during the first semester or year. Students are encouraged to complete all of the College’s General Education requirements by the end of the second year and especially before selecting a major. Most of your choices can be determined as much by your own preferences as by College regulation. When thinking about your tentative program, have in mind the College’s academic requirements, which are presented in an abbreviated manner below.  Study the Degree Requirements & Academic Regulations section of the online Pomona College Catalog ( so you are very familiar with the requirements.

1. General Education Requirements

  • The Critical Inquiry Seminar for First-Year Students (ID 001), taken in the first semester
  • The Breadth of Study Requirements
  • The Foreign Language Requirement
  • The Physical Education Requirement

2. Credit Requirement

32 courses are required to graduate, 30 of which must be completed with post-college-admission/matriculation coursework, and 16 of which must be completed at Pomona College, in a minimum of 4 semesters, with the final semester in residence at Pomona College.

3. Grade Point Average Requirement

A grade point average of 6.00 (C) is required to graduate.  However, students whose first semester or first year GPA falls below 7.0 are subject to being placed on academic probation.

4. Major Requirements

Students must complete a major, including any required senior exercises.  Students may opt to complete a second major and one or more minors.  Students completing two majors must complete all requirements for both majors, including unique senior theses or projects. These options are described at the end of this section.