Core Curriculum

The sound liberal arts education includes study in the humanities, the natural sciences and the social sciences. To prepare its students adequately in the liberal arts, then, Hillsdale College asks that they fulfill certain academic requirements in these areas.

There are eight specific courses that every Hillsdale student must complete: Physical Science, Biological Science, Great Books in the Western Tradition, Great Books in the British and American Traditions, The Western Heritage to 1600, The American Heritage, The U.S. Constitution, and Physical Wellness Dynamics.

In addition, a student will complete at least one course from each group in the humanities, one in the social sciences, and one Center for Constructive Alternatives seminar. Within these broad requirements, however, students are free to choose courses that correspond to their interests and abilities.

Also during the first two years, the student pursuing the Bachelor of Arts degree (BA) will meet a requirement in foreign language. The Bachelor of Science (BS) degree candidate will place a heavy emphasis on laboratory science and mathematics courses.

Students who do not fulfill these requirements before the senior year should not expect departments to make special arrangements if scheduling conflicts occur in their last year.

Each student is assigned an academic advisor. During the freshman-sophomore years, the advisor assists the student in understanding and integrating the liberal arts core curriculum, assimilating the College experience, course scheduling, and general academic counseling. Once a student has declared a major field of concentration, usually near the end of the sophomore year, he or she will typically change to an advisor within that discipline. The major advisor offers guidance related to the upper-level curriculum in the discipline, as well as graduate school and vocational planning. To change academic advisors, a student completes the process as directed by the Registrar’s Office.

Students are responsible for understanding their academic requirements and for tracking their own progress toward completing those requirements.

Freshman and Sophomore Program

The Humanities


  • English 104: Great Books in the Western Tradition: Ancient to Medieval (Spring semester, freshman year)
  • English 105: Great Books in the British and American Traditions (Fall semester, sophomore year)

Students choose three courses, one from each of the following three groups.

Group I: Western Literature in Context

  • English 201: Great Books in Continental Literature: Renaissance to Modern
  • Classical Studies 200: Greco-Roman Literature & Culture
  • Theatre 215: Literature of the Theatre
  • Literature courses (numbered 400) taught in the Departments of French, German and Spanish

Group II: Fine Arts (Art, Music, Theatre & Speech)

  • Art 203: History of Art: Prehistoric through Medieval
  • Art 204: History of Art: Renaissance through Modern
  • Music 204: The Understanding of Music
  • Music 206: Advanced Understanding Music
  • Music 322/323: History & Literature of Music I & II (Music majors & minors)
  • Theatre 200: Understanding Theatre

Group III: Philosophy & Religion

  • Philosophy 105: Introduction to Philosophy
  • Religion 105: Introduction to Western Religion

The Natural Sciences and Mathematics


  • ACT mathematics score of 27 or higher or equivalent SAT mathematics score, or
  • MTH 105 (Mathematics and Deductive Reasoning) or higher 3-4 credit mathematics course

Chemistry & Physics

  • Chemistry/Physics 101: Physical Science

Students may substitute an upper-level chemistry or physics course to satisfy the Chemistry/ Physics requirement.


  • Biology 102: Biological Science

The Social Sciences


  • History 104: The Western Heritage to 1600 (Required, fall semester, freshman year)
  • History 105: The American Heritage (Must be completed by the end of the sophomore year)


  • Politics 101: The U.S. Constitution

Students choose one course from the following:


  • Economics 105: Introduction to Political Economy
  • Economics 202: Principles of Microeconomics


  • Psychology 101: Introduction to Psychology

Sociology & Social Thought

  • Sociology 101: Understanding Society and Culture

Modern & Classical Languages

For native speakers of English, a 12-semester-hour competency (through third-semester 201) level in French, German, Spanish, Latin or Greek is required for the bachelor of arts degree and for certain pre-professional programs. This requirement may be satisfied only by successful completion of 201, or a higher level course, on the Hillsdale campus.

Students who arrive with a 12-semester-hour competency in any of the above languages, as determined exclusively by the Hillsdale College placement test in that language, must take at least one course at Hillsdale College above the 201 level in the language of said demonstrated competency in order to satisfy the requirement.

Sport Studies

Completion of Physical Wellness Dynamics (SSD 180) is required of all students. No more than four of the 124 hours required for graduation are to be taken in physical education activity courses. SSD 180 is not counted toward this limit.

Center for Constructive Alternatives Seminars (CCA)

Students enrolled in coursework prior to Fall 2013 are required to take two CCA seminars at any point during their undergraduate years. Students enrolling Fall 2013 and after are required to enroll in one CCA seminar during their undergraduate years. Additional CCA seminars may be taken for credit.