Before You Consult the Catalog...

You should always consult the Pomona College Catalog for information on requirements. Currently, the 2015-16 Catalog is online. The Catalog that applies to matriculating students in Fall 2016 (2016-17) will be released mid-summer 2016.

Use the current Catalog as just a sample guideline; requirements and course offerings change from year to year.

Enrolling in your first semester’s courses is one of the most important and exciting aspects of your first week at Pomona.

Unlike many large schools, new students at Pomona College don’t register for classes until after they have participated in the Orientation program just before the fall semester begins. 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 Pomona while also fulfilling General Education requirements while also sharpening basic skills (i.e., writing, mathematics, foreign language, etc.). This guide provides background you will need for your important first conversation with your advisor. 

Choosing a Major

Not yet! About half of our first-year students are undecided about their majors when they arrive on campus; half of the remaining students change their minds during the first two years. For that reason, it’s very important to be broad and flexible when choosing your classes. Keep your options open while also being aware of gateway courses in disciplines that you think you might choose to pursue. 

The requirements for most majors can be completed in three years or fewer, thus there is no urgency to choose a major during your first year at Pomona. Exceptions to this are music, some of the natural sciences (e.g., biology, chemistry, physics, geology), foreign languages and literatures, and international relations. In these fields, an early start on required courses may be strongly recommended by your faculty advisor.

General Education Requirements

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.

All students must complete the following requirements:

Critical Inquiry Seminar

The Critical Inquiry Seminar (commonly referred to as “ID1”) is a writing-intensive seminar required for all first-year students in their first semester. It is not required for transfer students. Learn more about the Critical Inquiry Seminar.

Breadth of Study Requirements

The College’s Breadth of Study requirements provide a window to the vast extent and variety of our accumulated experience and knowledge in the liberal arts. For students entering fall 2016 and later, the number of Breadth of Study requirements have been increased from five to six; this will be detailed in the 2016-17 Pomona College Catalog when it is released in July 2016.

The courses are drawn from broad curricular areas (criticism, analysis and contextual study of works of the human imagination; social institutions and human behavior; history, values, ethics and cultural studies; physical and biological sciences; mathematical reasoning; and creation and performance of works of art and literature). No two Breadth areas can be fulfilled with courses from the same discipline, so this is really your chance to explore a variety of disciplines in your studies.

Breadth of Study requirements must be taken at Pomona College or one of the other four undergraduate Claremont Colleges. The only exception is for transfer students whose coursework taken prior to matriculation may be applied to breadth requirements.

The Language Requirement

The Language Requirement is satisfied by taking three semesters of college-level instruction in the same non-English language, or by demonstrating proficiency in a non-English language by one of a number of other means including submission of eligible AP, IB, SAT-II, and A-Level scores; foreign (non-English) school instruction under certain circumstances; and proficiency exams in languages not offered at The Claremont Colleges, with the exception of Asian Languages, for which proficiency exams are allowed. Pomona College offers Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish; students may also take Arabic and Korean at Claremont McKenna College; Italian at Scripps College; and Portuguese at Pitzer College. More detailed information about the options will be detailed in the 2016/17 Pomona College Catalog.

Overlay Requirements

Overlay requirements are those that can be fulfilled with courses that also satisfy a Breadth of Study area requirement.

The Writing Intensive Requirement

Students must take and pass at least one writing-intensive course after the completion of the Critical Inquiry seminar for first-year students, and are expected to do so before their seventh semester. No single course can be designated as both Writing Intensive and Speaking Intensive.

The Speaking Intensive Requirement

Students must take and pass at least one speaking intensive course. Speaking Intensive courses require that 20 percent or more of a student’s final grade be from graded oral communication, with at least three instances of individual feedback over the semester. (In the case of a half-credit course, 40 percent or more of the student’s final grade must be from oral communication.) Examples of oral communication can include, but are not limited to, debates, formal presentations, leadership of discussions, oral critiques, and participation in class or laboratory discussions. No single course can be designated as both Writing Intensive and Speaking Intensive.

The Analyzing Difference Requirement

Students must take and pass at least one Analyzing Difference course to graduate. Analyzing Difference courses are primarily focused on a sustained analysis of the causes and effects of structured inequality and discrimination, and their relation to U.S. society. Such courses will make use of analyses that emphasize intersecting categories of difference. Examples include, but are not limited to: race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, citizenship, linguistic heritage, class, religion, and physical ability.

The Physical Education Requirement

Completion of two Physical Education (PE) courses is required to graduate, with the first of the two to be taken during your first year. Students generally receive .25 credits toward graduation for each course, with some exceptions as noted in the Pomona College Catalog.

Students playing on intercollegiate athletic teams register in specific sections as listed in the Claremont Colleges Undergraduate Course Schedule.

In addition to the dozens of PE courses offered by the Pomona College PE Department, Claremont McKenna College offers a Joint PE (JP) program through which Pomona students may also take courses to fulfill the requirement.

JP courses are listed in the course schedule with zero credit because not all of the Claremont Colleges award credit for PE; however, Pomona does award .25 credit for JP courses. There is one exception: Club sports offered by the JP program neither receive credit nor satisfy the PE requirement. If you have a question about which PE courses both receive credit and satisfy the requirement, use the Course Area search to find “PO Phys Ed Requirement” courses on the Claremont Colleges Undergraduate Course Schedule.

Placement Examinations/Advisories

Several disciplines, including chemistry, economics, foreign languages, mathematics and music, have placement examinations or special introductory sequences of courses. For students who plan to take introductory science and/or calculus, we also offer an online quantitative skills assessment and tutorial service called ALEKS.

Please visit our Placements and Advisory Exams page for more information.

Further Requirements for Graduation

Also keep in mind the College’s total academic requirements, which are presented in an abbreviated manner below. Study the Degree Requirements & Academic Regulations section of the Pomona College Catalog so you are very familiar with the requirements.

  • 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 four semesters, with the final semester in residence at Pomona College.
  • A grade point average of 6.00 (C) is required to graduate. Students whose first semester or first year GPA falls below 7.0 are subject to being placed on academic probation.
  • Students must complete a major, including any required senior exercises. Students may opt to complete a second major with permission of the Academic Procedures Committee (APC) and one or more minors. Students completing two majors must complete all requirements for both majors, including unique senior theses or projects. 

Course Selection

In some department curricula, 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 there are course prerequisites (listed in the Pomona College Catalog). Upper-division courses (typically numbered 100 or above) usually assume greater preparation than those courses typically elected by first-year students, and will have prerequisites or restrictions based on class year or major.

In all cases, you will register after considerable investigation into the offerings of the College — above all, after discussing options with your advisor, but also after availing yourself of information from the Catalog, the Claremont Undergraduate Course Schedule, and department and faculty websites; from the Department Fair during Orientation; after placement tests; and after many conversations with sponsors and other students.

  • Closed Courses. Because the College believes 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 (sometimes more) to take them. Flexibility in planning your program is the key to coping with these situations. Select several alternates for courses in your planned schedule. There is a way to submit a request for permission (a “PERM”) to enroll in a closed course through the portal, when you view the schedule after logging into the portal.
  • Cross-Enrollment. First-year students may take one course at the other Claremont Colleges in each semester of the first year, subject to the approval of their advisor. It’s generally a good idea to take introductory courses at Pomona, especially if the course is foundational to a potential major.

There are occasions when first year students are approved by their advisor to take more than one course away from Pomona; an example would be a student who wants to take Italian at Scripps, and when an introductory courses for a “joint major” (one offered collectively by all or several of the Colleges) is offered on a different campus. There are many jointly coordinated curricular areas at the Colleges, such as foreign languages, linguistics, and mathematics, where you might find an open section of a course you want to take that has already closed at Pomona. More information is available in the Pomona College Catalog section on cross-enrollment.

  • Course Load. First year students are limited to 4.75 courses in each semester of your first year. This means that you can take four full-credit courses, as well as several partial-credit courses such as choir, orchestra, music lessons, theater production, language conversation, physical education, and so forth.

Pre-Professional Planning

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 and other health science 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 pursue a curriculum to prepare for health science and postpone these courses until after the first year; 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. Our Career Development Office can offer assistance in preparing for graduate study in professional or other fields.