Academic FAQs

Academic FAQs

Academic FAQs

Why should I go to a liberal arts college?

The tradition of the liberal arts involves training the mind. At Smith, this ideal involves both breadth and depth in a student's course of study as well as obtaining critical skills such as writing, public speaking, quantitative reasoning and problem solving.

Well-trained students who know how to think are what employers are looking for. The Lazarus Center for Career Development can help students get their foot in the door with companies and organizations around the world. In addition to other resources, the Lazarus Center can introduce students to Smith alumnae who can offer real-world advice and connections for current students beginning their career path. 

What’s the normal course load at Smith?

In order to graduate from Smith with a bachelor of arts degree, a student has to earn 128 credits. Thirty-six to 48 of these credits must be chosen to satisfy the requirements of the major field; 64 credits must be chosen from outside the major department. First-year students must take a writing intensive course, chosen from a number of options. In order to graduate with Latin Honors a student must elect at least one course in each of the seven fields of knowledge: literature, historical studies, social science, natural science, mathematics and analytical philosophy, the arts and foreign language.

For those who choose to seek a bachelor of science in engineering at Smith, the requirements are 52 engineering core and elective credits, 36 math and science credits, a minimum of 24 credits in the humanities, the social sciences and history divisions, and 16 elective credits in any discipline. All engineering students are required to take the Latin Honors distribution.

When do I declare a major?

A major must be declared during the fall or spring of sophomore year, or before a student begins her junior year.

How many majors are offered?

Smith offers 37 departmental major fields and 10 interdepartmental majors, 42 departmental minors and 24 interdepartmental minors. While not an easy process, if a student wants to design her own major she may do so. She must obtain the approval of the Subcommittee on Honors and Independent Programs of the Committee on Academic Policy. Student-designed majors must differ significantly from existing majors.

What is the average class size?

The average class size is 19.

What is the student/faculty ratio?

The student/faculty ratio is 9 to 1. Students interact with their faculty both in and out of the classroom. Faculty hold office hours during which students visit with questions about class. Faculty are also available by individual appointment. Many students and faculty interact in non-academic arenas including over meals and tea in student houses.

When do I select my classes?

New students select their classes during orientation, which takes place the week before school begins. Every first-year student is assigned a Liberal Arts Adviser. Your adviser will have from eight to 10 advisees and will remain your adviser until you declare your major and ask a faculty member in your major department to be your adviser. During orientation your Liberal Arts Adviser will talk with you about your interests and goals and help you select a workable course load from the more than 1,000 courses we offer.

What are the most popular majors at Smith?

Government, psychology, art, English, economics and biology.

Will I be able to study abroad?

Smith offers a wide range of study abroad programs, from the Smith-run programs in western Europe to Smith-affiliated and Smith-approved programs all over the world. Smith faculty direct programs in Florence, Hamburg, Geneva and Paris. Each of these programs is for a full academic year. Smith also has a formal affiliation with programs in Japan, China, Rome, Spain, South India and Russia. Students may also arrange to study abroad on one of over 100 additional programs that have been approved by Smith.

Students participating in Smith-approved international study programs are billed and financial aid is available to them as if they are on campus. Smith will pay the study abroad program tuition and fees directly to the program. Students are responsible for all expenses and all travel during vacations.