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Requirements for Graduation

All requirements, including P.E., are listed in the student’s Program Evaluation on WebAdvisor.

Hamilton’s open curriculum has no “distribution requirements” but we do require you to take 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 two PE tests (a fitness and swimming test, which you will have the opportunity to take during your first semester) and 3 PE classes. Each class is for only half of the semester. Varsity athletes may count their sport as 1 of these 3 courses. This requirement must be completed or in progress by the spring semester of the 2nd year.


  • Each student must complete a concentration (also known as a “major”).
  • All concentrations include a Senior Project.
  • 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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