Jun 22, 2024  
2019-2020 Academic Catalog 
2019-2020 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Program of Study

Undergraduate students at Saint Mary’s College face the challenge of choosing a suitable program of study from the various sets of undergraduate courses offered by the College. The choices made can be deeply personal, and have profound consequences for the life of each individual student. Students can be confident that every course of study offered by the College is guided by, and is consistent with the College mission statement.

All undergraduates pursue an educational experience comprised of two integrated components: the core curriculum, required of all students, and a major field of study, selected by the individual student. To graduate from Saint Mary’s College, a student must complete 36 Saint Mary’s course credits or approved equivalencies, of which at least 17 are upper division, and must satisfy the following Core Curriculum and Major requirements.

The Core Curriculum

Through the Core Curriculum, graduates of Saint Mary’s College will share a common experience of integrated, rigorous intellectual development. The Core consists of three major areas of student learning, each containing four learning goals:

  • HABITS OF MIND. Considered fundamental to a liberal education, habits of mind foster each person’s development as one who seeks to know the truth and is preparing for a lifelong pursuit of knowledge.
  • PATHWAYS TO KNOWLEDGE. Knowledge takes many forms and arises from a variety of methods. Training in diverse pathways to knowledge provides a cross-disciplinary approach to learning.
  • ENGAGING THE WORLD. Students explore justice, civic responsibility, and social, economic, and cultural differences, examining and reflecting on what it means to be a citizen in local and global communities.

The Core Curriculum embodies the spirit of the liberal arts, especially through its emphasis on genuine inquiry. The Core initiates students into the examined life, provides a solid foundation of integrated and developmental learning, and enables them to contribute meaningfully to community life. Each major program of study builds upon this foundation by engaging the student in particular methods of inquiry, allowing the student to access the results of inquiry, and strengthening the student’s own powers of inquiry.

Courses approved to satisfy Habits of Mind, Pathways to Knowledge, and Engaging the World requirements can be found here: Core-Designated Courses .

Major Field of Study

Defined as a group of coordinated courses within a particular discipline, ordinarily including at least two preparatory courses at the lower-division level, and at least eight courses at the upper-division level. Certain majors may require additional background course work in related fields. The regular major groups available to students in the various curricula of the College are listed in the Majors and Minors  section this catalog. A student may declare or change majors on the appropriate petition form available in the Registrar’s Office. A student graduating with a double major will receive only one degree even if the majors are in two different schools.

Students choose a major field of study, an in-depth concentration in a specific academic area, and elective courses according to their interests. (Those who have not determined a program or major field of study at entry are encouraged to take introductory courses in various fields, and to settle on a major field of study only as their interests develop a sharper focus. Ordinarily, students must declare their major field of study by the end of their first year.)

Alternative Majors

The College offers the option of an alternative major program of study, including a Split Major, an Interdisciplinary Major, an Individualized Major, or completion of comprehensive alternative programs. Information on the alternative comprehensive programs can be found in the Curriculum Section of this Catalog under these headings: Integral Program, Justice, Community and Leadership, Pre-Professional Curricula, and 3 + 2 Engineering Program.

  • SPLIT MAJORS. Combines work in two departments, must be approved by the chairs of the departments concerned, and by the Registrar. Such majors ordinarily comprise nine upper-division courses (six courses in one field and three in another), in addition to the lower-division prerequisites of both departments.
  • INTERDISCIPLINARY MAJOR. Includes the following: Global and Regional studies major, e.g., European studies; Latin American studies, student-directed studies (see director of Global and Regional Studies); allied health science major (see Allied Health Science advisor, School of Science); health and human performance major (see chair, Department of Kinesiology); cross-cultural studies major (see dean, School of Liberal Arts).
  • INDIVIDUALIZED MAJOR. A student who believes that their academic needs and purposes would be better served by a distinctive program of studies may present an individualized major plan. Besides fulfilling requirements for a major, this plan must satisfactorily lead the student toward the goal of liberal education, which the College sees as essential for all of its graduates. Students wishing to pursue an individualized major must submit their proposal to the Vice Provost for Student Academics, who will forward it to the Chair of the Undergraduate Educational Policies Committee for consideration. The guidelines for the proposal can be found online through the Registrar’s Office.

Double Major

A student is allowed to complete two separate major fields of study. A student must fulfill all the requirements of each major as specified by each program or department, including those regarding senior projects and courses that overlap between majors, vary by major and are included in each program or department’s curriculum description.

Split majors may not double major with either of the disciplines that make up the split major, and must consult with both major advisors when considering an additional major. Individualized majors may complete another major field, upon UEPC approval. Interdisciplinary majors must consult with the department or dean in charge of the interdisciplinary program when considering another major field.

A student who double majors receives only one degree in one school, even if the second major is in another school. The diploma will carry the name of the degree chosen by the student from the two completed; the transcript will indicate two majors were completed.

Minor Field of Study

The College offers the option of a minor field of study, defined as a combination of at least five courses from a discipline other than that of the major field, at least three of which must be upper division. Requirements for the minor, including policies on courses that overlap with the major, vary by department and are included in each program or department’s curriculum description.

Core Curriculum Goals and Requirements

The Core Curriculum requires that graduates of Saint Mary’s accomplish a common set of twelve learning goals, independent of their school or major. These goals are organized into three broad categories: Habits of Mind, Pathways to Knowledge, and Engaging the World. Within each category, students may choose from among a variety of courses across disciplines to fulfill the learning goals.

The current list of courses that satisfy each of these goals may be found at Core-Designated Courses .

Students in the Integral Program are responsible for meeting all Core Curriculum learning goals, but many of these will be achieved through the Integral Program’s regular course of study. Students should contact the Director of the Integral Program for details.

Habits of Mind

The cornerstone of a liberal education, the Habits of Mind course consists of the following learning goals:

  • CRITICAL THINKING. Students will recognize, formulate, and pursue meaningful questions about their own and others’ ideas.
  • SHARED INQUIRY. Students will reason together about common texts, questions, and problems.
  • WRITTEN AND ORAL COMMUNICATION. Students will develop strong written and oral communication skills.
  • INFORMATION EVALUATION AND RESEARCH PRACTICES. Students will learn how information is gathered and evaluated in society.

These goals are accomplished through the following required course of study:

4 Collegiate Seminars (one taken in each year of residence, beginning in the spring of the student’s first year);

3 writing classes, in developmental sequence (ENGL 004 , generally to be taken in the fall of the student’s first year; ENGL 005 , generally to be taken in the spring of the first year; and an advanced writing course taken in the major). Refer to English Composition placement for further information.

Pathways to Knowledge

Students will be exposed to a variety of methodologies and subject matters by completing courses that fulfill the learning goals below. Note that courses that meet major and minor course requirements, and/or those that are designated as meeting learning goals in Engaging the World, may concurrently be used to achieve these learning goals:

  • MATHEMATICAL AND SCIENTIFIC UNDERSTANDING. Students will apply abstract and logical reasoning to solve mathematical problems, and communicate mathematical ideas. Students will also learn about the natural and physical world from an empirical perspective, and engage in scientific inquiry.

This goal will be accomplished through the following required course of study:

Math: 1 course designated as meeting the MU - Mathematical Understanding  learning outcomes.

Science: 1 course and associated laboratory designated as meeting the SU - Scientific Understanding (with Lab)   learning outcomes.

  • THEOLOGICAL UNDERSTANDING. Students will study religious texts and traditions, and engage in an exploration of God, humankind, and the world as expressed in Catholic and other religious traditions.

This goal will be accomplished through the following required course of study:

2 courses: 1 course designated as meeting CF - Christian Foundations   learning outcomes (to be taken on campus), and 1 course designated as meeting TE - Theological Explorations   learning outcomes. To fulfill the core requirement, the Theological Explorations course must be taken after the Christian Foundations course.

  • SOCIAL, HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING. Students will learn how to place today’s world in a meaningful context, and develop sufficiently complex explanations for current social arrangements.

This goal will be accomplished through the following required course of study:

2 courses designated as meeting the SHCU - Social, Historical, and Cultural Understanding  learning outcomes.

  • ARTISTIC UNDERSTANDING. Students will analyze, interpret, and critique the products of human creative expression.

This goal will be accomplished through the following required course of study:

2 courses designated as meeting the AA - Artistic Understanding (Analysis)  learning outcomes, and at least .25 credits in a course designated as meeting the CP - Artistic Understanding (Creative Practice)  learning outcome.

Engaging the World

Students will explore issues of social justice, civic responsibility, and socio-cultural differences. These broad areas of concern flow directly from the Saint Mary’s College mission. Courses that meet major and minor course requirements, and/or those that are designated as meeting learning goals in Pathways to Knowledge, may simultaneously be used to meet these learning goals:

  • THE COMMON GOOD. Students will explore the common good and how it might be pursued.

This goal will be accomplished through the following required course of study:

1 course or experience designated as meeting the TCG - The Common Good  learning goal.

  • AMERICAN DIVERSITY. Students will intellectually engage with the social, cultural, economic or political diversity in the United States.

This goal will be accomplished through the following required course of study:

1 course or experience designated as meeting the AD - American Diversity  learning goal.

  • GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE. Students will study the social, economic, religious or political structures in different global communities and cultures.

This goal will be accomplished through the following required course of study:

1 course or experience that is designated as meeting the GP - Global Perspectives  learning goal.

  • COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT. Students will apply intellectual experiences to activities beyond the academy.

This goal will be accomplished through the following required course of study:

1 course or experience that is designated as meeting the CE - Community Engagement  learning goal.

January Term

Students must complete one full-credit January Term course for each year of full-time attendance.

Students may only enroll in one full-credit course and one .25 credit course during the January Term. (Part-time students are encouraged to take January Term courses. Any part-time student who wishes to be excused from this requirement must petition the Vice Provost for Student Academics to do so.)

Language Proficiency Requirement

Studying languages and cultures helps us recognize the universal aspects of the human condition, and embrace the diverse backgrounds of people at home and around the world. All students must demonstrate an intermediate level of foreign language proficiency. The College offers courses in French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Latin, and Greek. Students may also demonstrate proficiency in a language different from the above, including American Sign Language, by arranging a proficiency examination directly with the Placement and Proficiency Coordinator in the Department of World Languages and Cultures.

The language requirement may be satisfied in one of the following ways:

  1. Successfully completing level 003 of any foreign or classical language taught at Saint Mary’s;
  2. Completing three years of the same language in high school with a GPA of 3.0 (B) or higher each term;
  3. Scoring at least a 3 on the College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Exam in a second language;
  4. or Achieving a TOEFL score of 527 on the paper-based test or 71 on the internet-based test (for International Students who are non-native speakers of English).

It is strongly recommended that students complete the language requirement by the end of the sophomore year.

The Department of World Languages and Cultures does not accept online courses to count towards lower division coursework or as a way to satisfy the proficiency requirement.

Students take a placement exam to determine the most suitable language course. The Department of World Languages and Cultures offers online placement exams for Spanish and French. For placement in all other languages, students must contact the Placement and Proficiency Coordinator. Students may only take the online placement exam once during each academic year. Results are valid for one year. For any questions regarding placement, please contact the Placement and Proficiency Coordinator.

Achieving a high score on the placement exam does not satisfy the language requirement. Students who place in level 004 or higher are required to take a proficiency exam to verify oral and written proficiency.

Students who have taken the AP exam in language, and scored a 3 receive course credit for level 3. With a score of 4 on the AP exam, students receive credit for courses level 3 and level 4. With a score of 5 on the AP exam, students receive credit for courses level 4 and 9 or 10. Students who have taken the AP exam in literature, should consult the Placement and Proficiency Coordinator in the Department of World Languages and Cultures for appropriate placement.

English Composition Placement

Two courses: ENGL 004 , Composition, and ENGL 005 , Argument and Research, usually taken consecutively in the first year of attendance, constitute the English composition requirement. ENGL 004  is prerequisite to ENGL 005 . For some students, ENGL 003 , Practice in Writing, will be prerequisite to ENGL 004 .

Placement in ENGL 003 , ENGL 004  or ENGL 005  is determined by the following chart. Students who do not have scores for either the SAT Essay, AP Language or Literature, or IB English exams will be asked to take the program’s Writing Placement Exam that is administered online. The results of the Writing Placement Exam are used solely for placement purposes.

Placement SAT Essay Exam AP Language OR Literature IB English 1A Exam (higher level)
English 3, Practice in Writing Total score 6-7 n/a n/a
English 4, Composition Total score 8-22 3 Below 5
English 5, Argument and Research (exempt from 4) Total score 23-24 4 or 5 5 or above (on Higher Level)

Students who wish to challenge their automatic placement may take the online Writing Placement Exam by arrangement with the Director of Composition. Please write to the Director at composition@stmarys-ca.edu for more information.

The English composition requirement for non-native speakers of English is the same as that for native English speakers with the additional requirement of the SMS (Studies for International and Multilingual Students) Writing Lab, a quarter credit lab to be taken in conjunction with each standard composition course.

All non-native English-speaking students, both first-year and transfer, regardless of visa status, must take the online Writing Placement exam (offered before their first semester begins). The results of this exam will determine a student’s placement in Composition and if appropriate, the corresponding SMS Writing Lab. Students placed in the SMS Writing Lab must complete the full series of corresponding labs as part of their composition requirement.