The Foundations Curriculum


In the Fall of 2007, the Foundations Curriculum, an academic curriculum that establishes a new approach to the study of the liberal arts and sciences at the College, was fully implemented. The Foundations Curriculum was adopted by the Faculty in order to achieve several goals:

1. To assist students to understand the goals of a liberal arts education and to take greater responsibility for their education. The curriculum gives students greater freedom to follow their academic interests and aspirations within a framework of Foundation requirements that are fundamental to the study of the liberal arts;
2. To provide a more transparent and streamlined curriculum by framing the degree requirements in terms of skills and content areas;
3. To bring greater focus to the courses students take and to recognize that their activities inside and outside the classroom should be mutually informative and energizing;
4. To create the opportunity to offer more courses reflective of the scholarly interests of the faculty and to develop innovative courses that respond to the developing currents in contemporary thought; and,
5. To establish four courses as the standard load per semester in order to allow for a more focused educational experience for all of our students.

The Foundations curriculum enhances the way in which the four components of the Rhodes education work together: the Foundation requirements (commonly referred to as “F1”, “F2”, etc.), the concentration in a Major, the choice of elective courses, and participation in co-curricular activities.


The Foundation requirements establish a framework for liberal education and life-long learning. Unless mentioned otherwise in the description, Foundation requirements will be met by taking one course specified as meeting that requirement, and most requirements will have courses in several different departments that do so.

Upon completion of the requirements and the attainment of a Bachelor’s degree from Rhodes, each graduate of the College should be able to:

  1. Critically examine questions of meaning and value. Questions about the meaning and purpose of life are central to human existence. Every area of the Rhodes curriculum touches in some way upon such problems and questions, whether directly as in moral philosophy, epic poetry, and political thought, or indirectly as in studies of the history of medieval Europe, economic theory, and the physical structure of the universe. This requirement is to be satisfied with three courses, either the Search sequence or the Life sequence.
  2. Develop excellence in written communication. The ability to express concise and methodical arguments in clear and precise prose is essential to success in most courses at Rhodes and in most of the vocations Rhodes graduates pursue. This requirement will be satisfied by one writing seminar (taken in the first year) and two writing intensive courses, one of which will be in Search or Life.
  3. Understand how historical forces have shaped human cultures. Investigating the responses of individuals and societies to forces of change helps us understand the processes of transformation that affect all human cultures. It also provides new perspectives on the present.
  4. Read and interpret literary texts.Literary texts provide challenging and influential representations of human experience in its individual, social, and cultural dimensions. Critical and sensitive reading of significant works refines analytical skills and develops an awareness of the power of language.
  5. Participate in the analysis of artistic expression or in the performance or production of art.Humans powerfully express their observations, questions, and emotions in artistic ways. These expressions take various aural, visual, and literary forms including art, theater, music, and film. Creation and analysis are the most effective method of learning to understand and interpret art.
  6. Gain facility with mathematical reasoning and expression. Some human experiences are most effectively expressed in mathematical language, and important areas of intellectual inquiry rely on mathematics as a tool of analysis and as a means of conveying information.
  7. Explore and understand scientific approaches to the natural world.Our world is profoundly influenced by a scientific understanding of the physical realm of our existence. From every day matters to major questions of public policy, students have a personal and social responsibility to make informed decisions involving science. The ability to make such decisions hinges not simply on knowledge of scientific facts, but also on understanding the powerful methods by which this knowledge is obtained. The courses that satisfy this requirement must include a laboratory.
  8. Explore and understand the systematic analysis of human interaction and contemporary institutions. Human development, thought, and aspiration occur within societies, and those societies are shaped by various social and political institutions. Familiarity with the systematic analysis of contemporary institutions is an important component of a sound understanding of the world and is a foundation for responsible citizenship.
  9. View the world from more than one cultural perspective. In order to live and work effectively in a culturally diverse world, liberally educated individuals cultivate the ability to view and understand issues and events from cultural perspectives that differ from their own. This ability requires in-depth analysis of issues that bring to the forefront similarities and differences in cultural values, beliefs, world views and/ or identities.
  10. Develop intermediate proficiency in a second language. The study of a second language opens the possibility of engagement with people and texts of other cultures. This requirement may be met by passing a proficiency test at Rhodes that certifies proficiency above the 201 level in one of the languages offered by the Departments of Modern Languages and Literatures and Greek and Roman Studies. The proficiency requirement may also be fulfilled by taking the appropriate language courses at Rhodes through the third semester (201). Students for whom English is a second language may have this requirement waived.
  11. Participate in activities that broaden connections between the classroom and the world. Rhodes students are asked to become engaged citizens, participating in the local community - its politics, its culture, its problems, its aspirations – and in the world community. Students gain skill in connecting knowledge to its uses through educational experience that takes them off campus.
  12. Participate in activities that encourage lifelong physical fitness. It is important that students have the opportunity for recreation and physical activity, both during and after college. These involvements include learning about and participating in activities that promote lifelong physical fitness. Participation in athletics provides opportunities for leadership and for setting, understanding, and achieving team and personal goals. This requirement may be satisfied by taking three halfsemesters of no-credit physical education courses or participation in intercollegiate athletics, club sports, or ROTC.


Students’ majors may be directly related to an anticipated vocation, but that is not their primary purpose in a liberal arts curriculum. The qualities of mind and abilities that will serve students best in their careers are developed within the curriculum as a whole. The major is a refinement of intellectual discipline and a deepening of understanding of an area of study. The academic enrichment gained through a major affords access to other disciplines as well as an appreciation of the complexity of other fields of study. Students should consider carefully how all of the courses they select can enrich and complement work done in the major.


The Rhodes curriculum is designed specifically to offer students opportunities to combine a carefully structured and intense study of at least one subject with the broad and diverse understanding that is characteristic of an education in the liberal arts and sciences. Although required to meet certain objectives, the Foundation courses may be selected from a wide range of course offerings. These are only the beginning of a student’s exploration of the fields of human knowledge and creativity. In selecting courses beyond these requirements and outside the major discipline, students should consider the ways in which their education can be broadened, complemented, and enriched.


A comprehensive liberal arts education includes regular engagement with cultural activities and diverse perspectives not only in the classroom, but also in the college community and in communities beyond the college. Students become full participants in the campus community as they join others in a variety of extra-curricular and co-curricular activities. These include student government, music ensembles, athletics, campus publications, theatre productions, and many others. Service-learning opportunities, international education opportunities, and undergraduate research provide students and faculty with ways to integrate classroom and laboratory work with out-of-class experiences, and a student’s experience in a course can be enriched in significant ways by the selection of complementary co-curricular activities.


A student must complete any one of the department-based majors, one of the interdisciplinary majors listed elsewhere in this catalogue or an approved interdisciplinary major formulated in consultation with faculty members.

Detailed descriptions of the department-based majors are given under the departmental descriptions in the section entitled “Courses of Instruction.” The Interdisciplinary majors are described in the section “Interdisciplinary Study.”

No major may require more than fifty percent of the total credits required for the degree. At least fifty percent of the course requirements for a major or minor must be Rhodes credit. All majors require a capstone experience that gives the students an opportunity to demonstrate their progress towards the educational goals established for their majors. This capstone experience usually includes demonstrations of proficiency in wiriting and speaking and a familiarity with the foundations and contemporary concerns of the major discipline.

A 2.000 (C) grade point average in the major is required for graduation. The major grade point average is determined by computing the grade point average of all courses required for the major as described in this catalog and any other courses taken in the declared major. The computation of a major grade point average for an interdisciplinary major shall include all courses described as required and as elective courses.>

A student pursuing a double major or a second Bachelor’s degree may use no more than four (4) of the same courses to satisfy requirements in both majors unless specified as required by one or both of the majors.

In the case of changes in the requirement for a major, students may follow the requirements stated in the catalogue that defines their general degree requirements or in any later catalogue except in cases where changes in departmental course offerings makes the original major requirements impossible to meet.

Declaration of a Major. Students must declare an intended major or majors no later than mid-term of the spring semester of their sophomore year. Students in good standing will be accepted as majors by any department they may choose but must first discuss their suitability for work in the department with the department’s chairperson. At the same time the prospective major should make a tentative plan of course work to be completed in the student’s remaining semesters. A faculty adviser from the major department is assigned or selected by each new major to aid in this planning. Forms for declaring a major are available online at Students declaring two majors will have an adviser in each major department, but one adviser will be designated as the primary adviser. Students who are delinquent in filing a declaration of major will not be allowed to register for classes until the appropriate form is received by the Registrar. While students may change majors, changes made after the sophomore year may be difficult to accommodate in the remaining semesters.

Interdisciplinary Major. Some students prefer to study in an area that can best be covered by combining the work in two or even three academic departments. Interdisciplinary majors are important ways in which the faculty can meet the special academic needs of these students.

The section listing titled “Interdisciplinary Study” summarizes existing interdisciplinary major requirements for pre-approved curriculum structures. Students who wish to declare any of the established interdisciplinary majors may do so by filing the normal Declaration of Major form with the Office of the Registrar. Any deviation from the program of study outlined in the description must be approved by the chairpersons of the departments involved.

Students who wish to declare an interdisciplinary major that does not have a program of study already defined should follow the appropriate steps in order to secure the necessary approvals within a reasonable time and to ensure an adequate review of the proposed program of study. Those steps are detailed in the “Interdisciplinary Studies” section of this catalogue. The proposed program of study must include specific provisions for a senior seminar or integrating senior experience. The “Declaration of Interdisciplinary Major” form, available online, is used to record the approvals and to advise the Registrar of the College.


All candidates for degrees must submit to the Registrar an “Intent to Graduate” form at least two semesters prior to the intended date of graduation.


Rhodes requires attendance at the May commencement exercises by all candidates for a degree including candidates whose work was completed in December and candidates whose work will be completed in August. Students who complete degree work in December are included in the graduating class in May of the next calendar year. Rhodes will recognize students who complete degree work in August as members of the preceding May’s graduating class. In order to participate in commencement exercises, August candidates must be within near-expectation of completing the requirements for a degree and have the approval of the Faculty Standards and Standings Committee or the Dean of the Faculty, if the Standards and Standings Committee cannot be convened in a timely manner. The College confers degrees (signified by the date of the degree of the diploma and in official records) at the end of each regular semester (December and May) and in August, but diplomas are awarded only at the May commencement.


Academic minors are available to students who wish to supplement their major field of study with another academic area, giving both more depth and breadth to their course work. In addition to departmental minors, interdisciplinary minors are available within the established interdisciplinary programs in the curriculum.

Normally, a student is required to complete at least five specified courses in the department in which the minor is selected. At least four of the courses in the minor must be outside the major department or interdisciplinary major requirements, and the same course cannot be used to satisfy the requirements in two different minors. Forms for declaring a minor are available online and should be completed no later than the beginning of the fall semester of the senior year.

A student must earn a grade point average of 2.000 in the courses required for an academic minor in order for the minor to be posted to the final academic record.


A student may earn a second Bachelor’s degree upon earning at least 32 credits beyond the total credits required for the first degree and completion of all requirements for a second major. A student may not earn two Bachelor of Arts degrees or two Bachelor of Science degrees. A student planning to earn a second degree must declare that intention no later than the beginning of the last semester of enrollment. All academic work for both degrees is included in the cumulative grade point average of the double degree recipient.

A Rhodes graduate who wishes to return to the College to earn a second undergraduate degree must earn an additional 32 credits beyond the number of hours earned for the first degree as well as complete the second major. For a returning student, a second cumulative grade point average will be computed using only the additional hours earned for the second degree.


A student may satisfy the requirements for a Rhodes degree as described in any catalogue that has been in effect during the student’s enrollment. Students readmitted to Rhodes may graduate under requirements in effect during the original period of enrollment or by following a program incorporating features of the current catalog, including the number of credits required for graduation, and the earlier degree requirements and approved by the Standards and Standing Committee. Students may not declare a major if it has been dropped from the College’s curriculum, even if the major was available at the time of enrollment. In addition, degree and/or major requirements may have to be modified in order to fit current curricular offerings.


The candidate for the degree who attains a cumulative average of 3.9500 in all academic work at the College and a grade point average of 3.9500 in all Rhodes work and all attempted transfer credit combined will be recommended for the degree summa cum laude.

The candidate for the degree who attains a cumulative average of 3.8500 in all academic work at the College and a grade point average of 3.8500 in all Rhodes work and all attempted transfer credit combined will be recommended for the degree magna cum laude.

The candidate for the degree who attains a cumulative average of 3.5000 in all academic work at the College and a grade point average of 3.5000 in all Rhodes work and all attempted transfer credit combined will be recommended for the degree cum laude.

If a student with transfer credit is a candidate for academic achievement recognition, the student must have the grade point average required for academic achievement on all Rhodes work and must have a grade point average for all accepted transfer work and Rhodes work combined which meets the standard for academic achievement.

The major with honors requires special independent study work in the major field during the senior year. The Honors Program is described under Opportunities for Individualized Study.

Rhodes does not rank its graduates.


A posthumous degree may be awarded to a deceased undergraduate student who was within 16 credits of the completion of the requirements for graduation or to a deceased graduate student who was within 6 credits of the completion of the requirements for graduation. The student must have been enrolled during the past two regular semesters. The remaining credits would have completed all degree requirements, and the cumulative and major GPA requirements must be met. The appropriate degree may be awarded posthumously on the recommendation of the Dean of the Faculty with the approval of the Faculty Standards and Standing Committee and the President. The student’s transcript will show a notation that the degree was awarded posthumously.


Students who transfer to Rhodes have their previous college work evaluated for transfer credit upon their acceptance for admission. Credit will be awarded following the guidelines outlined below for the evaluation of academic work for transfer credit. Transfer students are responsible for having final copies of transcripts sent from each institution attended. Official evaluation of transfer credit will not be completed until these final transcripts have been received in the Office of the Registrar.

As degree candidates, transfer students must satisfy all of the degree requirements outlined in this catalogue. Of the total credits required for a Rhodes degree, a minimum fifty percent must be earned at Rhodes and a maximum of fifty percent may be accepted as transfer and Advanced Placement credit.

Transfer credit for students who transfer to Rhodes will be evaluated following these guidelines according to the Foundation requirements:

  1. Courses presented with two or three semester hours or less than six quarter hours will be given the appropriate and corresponding number of credits of transfer credit.
  2. Credit from several courses may be combined to total four or more credits and therefore satisfy a foundation requirement.
  3. A three-credit course may be used to satisfy a foundation requirement if the corresponding course in the department meets that same requirement.
  4. A three-credit course may be used to satisfy a major requirement if the corresponding course in the department meets that same requirement unless specifically disallowed by the department chair.


Credit from Other Institutions. Rhodes students may enroll in courses at other colleges and universities and transfer credits to Rhodes. A student who desires to have academic work transferred from another institution must have the work approved in advance by the appropriate academic department chairperson at Rhodes and by the Registrar, acting on behalf of the Education Program Committee. Courses not receiving prior approval may not be accepted for transfer credit at the discretion of the department chair and the Registrar.

Students seeking concurrent enrollment at another institution during a regular semester must have permission from the Standards and Standing Committee prior to registering at the other institution. Concurrent enrollment credits are included in the computation of the total credits permitted in one semester but are not included in the determination of full-time status. Course credit earned at another institution during non-approved concurrent enrollment may not be accepted for transfer credit.

It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that an official transcript from the other institution is forwarded to the Registrar at Rhodes. Final evaluation of transfer work must be completed within twelve (12) weeks of the completion of the course(s) in question. In some departments, a proficiency examination must be passed in order for the transfer credit to be accepted.

Transfer credit may not be used to satisfy a Foundation Requirement. Rhodes students who study abroad in a long-term program that has been pre-approved through the Buckman Center for International Education will normally satisfy the F11 requirement, unless the program has been noted by the Center’s Director as particularly unsuitable for this purpose.

In addition, students may, through appropriate course work, satisfy up to two additional Foundation requirements while abroad (or up to three additional Foundation requirements for a year-long-program). The Director of the Buckman Center will recommend to the Foundations Curriculum Committee, in consultation with the Registrar, and other faculty members as necessary, the appropriateness of the course(s) taken abroad for Foundations credit. This recommendation will be done in accordance with guidelines as provided by the Foundations Curriculum Committee.

Credit from Special Programs.Students wishing to participate in special programs at other collegiate institutions are required to obtain permission and approval in advance from the appropriate academic officer acting on behalf of the Faculty Education Program Committee. In most cases, this approval will come from the Director of the Buckman Center, the Registrar, and the chair of the department at Rhodes in which the coursework will be pursued. The Registrar, in consultation with department chairpersons and the Dean of the Faculty, must approve all work at other institutions in advance of beginning the work. In some cases it may be necessary to postpone approval until course syllabi, papers, and tests are examined.

All credit earned on study abroad programs, exchange programs, and cooperative programs such as Washington Semester is evaluated as transfer credit.

Transfer Credit Guidelines. The following guidelines are used in evaluating academic work from other institutions for transfer credit:

• To be accepted for credit, each course must be judged comparable in terms of content and quality to a course in the curriculum at Rhodes or it must be judged to be consistent with the liberal arts and science curriculum and of a quality comparable to that expected of courses at Rhodes. Departmental chairpersons make these judgments; in many cases the Registrar of the College can act with the authority of departmental chairpersons. In some departments, a proficiency examination must be passed in order for the transfer credit to be accepted. The chairpersons and the Registrar assign credit toward a degree in such a way as to match comparable work at Rhodes.

• The course work must be taken on the campus of an accredited college or university or while on a study abroad program approved through the Buckman Center for International Education. Online courses, distance education courses, and dual credit courses taught in a high school are not accepted for transfer credit.

• Transfer credit may not be used to satisfy a Foundation Requirement with the following exception: Rhodes students who study abroad in a longterm program that has been pre-approved through the Buckman Center for International Education will normally satisfy the F11 requirement, unless the program has been noted by the Center’s Director as particularly unsuitable for this purpose.

In addition, students may satisfy up to two additional Foundation requirements while abroad (or up to three additional Foundation requirements for a year-long program). The Director of the Buckman Center will recommend to the Foundations Curriculum Committee, in consultation with the Registrar, and other faculty members as necessary, the appropriateness of the course(s) taken abroad for Foundations credit. This recommendation will be done in accordance with guidelines as provided by the Foundations Curriculum Committee.

• No more than twelve transfer credits may be earned in any one summer.

• All course work taken at other institutions for which Rhodes receives a transcript will be evaluated for transfer credit, and if pre-approved for transfer credit, will be posted to the student’s record.

• A maximum of 64 credits or fifty percent of the total credit required for a degree may be accepted towards a Rhodes degree. No student may earn additional transfer credit once that credit limit has been reached.

• Transfer credits based on a quarter system are converted to the Rhodes credit basis using the formula that one quarter-hour equals two-thirds credit. Fractional transfer credits will be credited.

• Students earning both transfer credits and Advanced Placement and/or International Baccalaureate credits may apply a maximum combined total of fifty percent of the total credit required for a degree to the Rhodes degree. A student with such credit must earn at least fifty percent of the total credit required for a degree in residence at Rhodes.

• Of the 32 credits earned to qualify for the senior year in residence, a maximum of eight credits may be transfer credit.

• Transfer credits are not accepted if the grade is D+ or below. Transfer courses taken on a Pass/Fail basis must be passed with a grade of C or better. Confirmation of such a grade must be received by the Registrar before the course will be accepted for transfer credit. Transfer credits are credited to the Rhodes transcript as credits only; they are not computed in or used to determine the grade point average.

• Courses taken on a college campus prior to matriculation by accepted students, including those which are taken in conjunction with a dual enrollment program at the secondary school level, will be accepted for credit under the same guidelines as stated above, including review by the appropriate department at Rhodes, only if such coursework does not satisfy high school graduation requirements or requirements for admission to Rhodes. Such courses must be taken on a college campus, not in a high school even if taught by collegiate faculty. Credit for such courses must be requested during the summer prior to enrollment at Rhodes. Students who have not graduated from high school who present such courses for transfer credit are not considered transfer students.

PLEASE NOTE: This document reflects information as it was published in the 2013-14 Rhodes Catalogue. You may find more current information elsewhere on