The heart of your college experience will, of course, be academics. While you’re a student at Lewis & Clark, your courses may take place in the classroom, lab, or field—on our campus or on another continent. You’ll have ample opportunities and encouragement to follow your interests, and develop to develop new ones.
To get you started on thinking about your time as an L&C student, we’ve compiled this primer on your options for academic exploration and some of the resources available to help you as you work toward graduation. If you have any questions that aren’t answered here, contact your admissions counselor.
What will I be studying? ▸
Our curriculum offers students a rich spectrum of courses from the traditional disciplines of the liberal arts—including hundreds of courses in the fine arts, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences—as well as courses in distinctive interdisciplinary programs. Your Lewis & Clark curriculum is divided roughly into thirds in the following categories:
General Education Requirements
These classes include a two-semester First Year Seminar as well as courses in international studies, foreign languages, scientific and quantitative reasoning, creative arts, and physical education/activity.
- Major Requirements
You’ll be able to choose from 29 academic majors. Double majors, student-designed majors,and major/minor combinations (choose from 30 minors) are also possible.
- Elective Credits
Use these to explore any of the more than 40 academic areas available.
What’s the First Year Seminar like? ▸
Over two intensive semesters, students experience the vital affinity between shared intellectual exploration and individual pathways of discovery, while also sharpening their skills in writing, reading, reasoning, and speaking. Within each section of Words and Numbers, a faculty member joins a small group of students in critically exploring a topic about which they share a passion. These courses honor individual student backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences while asking students to challenge themselves to think in new ways and expose themselves to new ideas. All sections engage meaningfully with diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Words teaches students to explore the meaning and significance of texts via close reading and analysis, and to express that analysis in formal writing.
Numbers teaches students to interpret quantitative information presented in various forms and contexts; to understand the logical structure of quantitative arguments; and to use quantitative models, theories, and data to simplify, explain, and make predictions.
Who will my academic advisor be? Why do I need one? ▸
Based on information you provide the registrar and advising coordinator, we will match you with a Lewis & Clark faculty member as your premajor advisor. Once you have chosen a major, you will work with a faculty advisor from your major department. You may change advisors at any time. If you’re a transfer student, typically the chair of your intended major department will be your first advisor.
Faculty advisors will help you navigate your way through our curriculum and are invaluable as you explore new disciplines, plan for overseas study, plot out your academic choices at the college, and prepare for postgraduate opportunities.
When do I register for courses? ▸
After enrolling, over the summer you will receive registration information. Usually registration begins in late July.
What is a typical student schedule? ▸
Most students enroll in four academic courses per semester, with each course worth four semester credits. It is common for students to also enroll in one or two partial-credit courses, bringing the total number of credits to 17 or 18. A total of 128 semester credits are required for graduation.
When do I take the General Education courses? ▸
Our curriculum gives you a lot of latitude in fulfilling your requirements. General Education courses can be taken throughout your time at the college. Typically, students take a range of courses during their first two years, getting introduced to possible major fields of study and, at the same time, fulfilling some General Education requirements. You do not have to complete all of your General Education requirements before starting on major requirements.
Transfer students will receive a transcript evaluation from the registrar’s office indicating which General Education requirements they have met through coursework at previous institution(s).
Can I waive any requirements through AP or IB exams? ▸
This varies from department to department. For a detailed explanation of our policy on advanced credit, please consult the college catalog under the section Advanced Standing. An official score report must be received by our registrar’s office for credit to be granted.
Can I waive any requirements through college coursework taken during high school? ▸
Possibly. College credit earned during high school may be evaluated for transfer credit if the credit earned is not needed to fulfill high school graduation requirements. Policy details are available on the Policies and Procedures page.
When do I declare my major? Can I change it later? ▸
Students are required to declare their major by the end of the sophomore year. However, you should probably declare earlier for some majors, particularly in the natural sciences, because they require careful planning in the first two years. Once you’ve officially chosen a major, you can still change it if you find an area of study that fits your goals better. Issues of timing, credit, and requirements will all be important in your decision, and should be discussed thoroughly with your advisor.
Can I have a double major? What about a minor? ▸
Yes, you can. Typically about 11 percent of each graduating class has chosen a double major, and 25 percent of students choose a single major and a minor. With careful planning by you and your academic advisor, a variety of academic scenarios are possible. Lewis & Clark offers 29 majors and 30 minors plus preparation in several preprofessional subjects.
Can I design my own major? ▸
Yes. Each year a handful of students choose to focus on a body of knowledge that has a definable character but extends beyond the bounds of existing majors or minors. The range of student-designed majors is as unique as those who create them. Recent examples include arts administration, third world development studies, ethnomusicology, ecological management, and cognitive studies.
How does overseas or off-campus study fit in? ▸
Fifty-five percent of our students spend time studying off campus before they graduate. We offer roughly 25 programs annually, taking students all over the world, as well as to the Arizona/Mexico border, New York City, and Washington, D.C. Early planning with your advisor is important. You will receive full academic credit for your participation in one of our programs. Depending on the program, that credit could be applied toward general and/or major requirements, or it will help fill your electives. You are eligible for these programs beginning as early as your sophomore year, and the application process can begin during your first fall on campus.
What about preprofessional preparation: pre-law, pre-med, business, education, engineering? ▸
While you will choose an academic discipline on which to focus, you will also have the opportunity to work with faculty members who serve as advisors for students who wish to pursue careers in business, law, health care (including medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine), education, and engineering. Since there is no single ideal path to these professions, you will be encouraged to take a wide variety of courses.
How big will my classes be? ▸
Our average class size is 19 students. Eighty-five percent of our classes have 29 or fewer students.
What support is available for students with disabilities or learning differences? ▸
Professional staff in the office of Student Support Services are available to ensure that students receive all of the benefits of a comprehensive selection of services. The office also provides advising and advocacy for students with disabilities and support for students who seek advice on academic strategies. Services, advising, and accommodations are always the result of an active partnership between students and Student Support Services staff.