What I Didn’t Know About Academics at Smith
Majors, Minors and Concentrations
Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 20:04
Last semester, the SGA Curriculum Committee asked students what their frustrations are about academics at Smith. In response, Curriculum Committee members are writing articles to address some of the most common concerns, to provide clarification and to increase transparency between the students and the faculty and administration. As student representatives concerning academic matters, we value your continued thoughts and concerns, which can be sent to Bridget Rhinehart at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Majors and minors – a source of great stress and intense conversation at any college – can become even more complicated at Smith, where we go beyond double majors to even more specified areas of study, including concentrations and Five College Certificates. With so many options comes a good deal of confusion, and we’d like to try to clear some of that up.
A Smith diploma can have only two areas of study listed on it (with one exception). This means either a double major, a major and a minor, a major and a concentration or a major and a Five College Certificate. However, three areas of study may be listed if the student in question has completed a double major and a concentration.
In the info campaign the Curriculum Committee did last semester, many students expressed a desire for the ability to complete two minors. Unfortunately, this will not be possibile in the future. But all is not lost. Students are welcome to complete the requirements for a second minor and may list such extra work in their résumés. A list of majors and Five College Certificates available may be found on the Smith Web site under “Academic Programs.”
Concentrations are designed to be a hybrid of academic and practical work, culminating in a capstone experience. The current concentrations available are in archives, biomathematical sciences, book studies, Buddhist studies, museums, poetry, South Asia and an environmental concentration in sustainable food. Information about all current concentrations is available on the Smith Web site as well.
Students must first apply for a concentration since spots are limited. The application consists of practical experience or courses taken in the selected field, a statement of interest and a transcript. Additionally, several new concentrations are coming our way. This includes concentrations in global financial institutions, community engagements and social change (working with the Center for Community Collaborations), women’s education and Europe. More information will be released about these shortly.
Should students be interested in proposing other concentrations, the best plan of action is finding faculty members to support it and to agree to work on developing it, since concentrations have been a largely faculty-driven initiative.