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General Academic Requirements for Graduation

First-Year Requirements

Writing 2-3 or 5

For the classes of 2016 and later, every first-year student is required to complete Writing 5 or its equivalents, Writing 2-3 or Humanities 1. These courses are offered in the fall and winter terms only. Enrollment limits are strictly enforced. Writing 2-3 or 5 courses do not serve in partial satisfaction of the General Education requirements such as distributive requirements or the world culture requirement.

Writing 5 focuses on the writing process, emphasizing careful analysis, thoughtful questions, and strategies for effective argument.  Students taking Writing 5 are assigned to take it in either fall or winter term. This assignment cannot be changed. The online student placement record in Banner student indicates which term students are assigned to take Writing 5. Enrollment in Writing 5 is strictly limited to 16 students per section.  Open slots are first-come, first-served. No waiting lists are maintained.

Writing 2-3 is a two-term course that provides more intensive guidance through the reading, writing, and research processes, including individual support from teaching assistants and a culminating research project. Students likely to benefit from more support in these areas are asked to complete an online writing placement process during the summer.  Students who are placed in Writing 2-3 and accept that placement are pre-enrolled in Writing 2 when they arrive for orientation.  Writing 2-3 is limited to 15 students per section to allow for individualized attention. Writing 2-3 is taken in place of Writing 5. Students must complete both terms of Writing 2-3 and then a first-year seminar to fulfill the first-year writing requirement.

First-Year Seminar

First-year seminars are small writing-intensive courses taught on particular topics. They are taught in various departments, but always under the course number "007." First-year seminars offer every first-year student an opportunity to participate in a course structured around intensive writing, independent research, small group discussion, and reading across the disciplines.

First-year seminars are only taught in winter or spring terms. Enrollment in a first-year seminar is strictly limited to 16 students. Open slots are first-come, first-served. No waiting lists are maintained.

First-year seminars may serve in partial satisfaction of General Education Requirements such as Distributive requirements or the World Culture Requirement.

The first-year seminar is taken in the term immediately following  completion of Writing 2-3 or Writing 5.

Students are not eligible to participate in off-campus programs until they have satisfied the first-year seminar requirement

Note that first-year students are allowed to enroll in a second seminar if seats are available after all students assigned to take first-year seminar that term have been accommodated.

Humanities 1-2

All first-year students are required to fulfill Dartmouth's first-year writing requirement. Most first-year students take Writing 5 (or its two-term equivalent Writing 2-3) and a first-year seminar to fulfill this writing requirement.  As of Fall 2012, another way of fulfilling the first-year writing requirement is to take both terms of Humanities 1-2, a special interdisciplinary two-term course for first-year students offered only in fall and winter terms. Students interested in applying to take Humanities 1-2 must contact the Humanities 1-2 program during the summer prior to registering for fall term. For details, see

First-Year Residency Requirement

Although it is not an academic requirement, it is helpful to know that first-year students are required to complete their first three terms in residence at Dartmouth. Students are not eligible for Off-Campus Programs, exchange terms or leave terms until this requirement is completed. In rare instances a first-year student may take a medical or personal withdrawal during the first three terms.

College Requirements

35 Courses
All students are required to earn 35 credits before graduation. The 35 credits can consist of pre-matriculation credits, credits earned at Dartmouth, and a maximum of 4 credits from an exchange term. Typically, Dartmouth students take 3 classes per term for twelve terms.

Distributive Course Requirements

World Culture Requirement

Language Study Requirement

Physical Education Requirement
By graduation students must have completed three terms of physical education and pass a 50-yard swim test. Students who participate in an intercollegiate or club sport may receive credit for that activity during the term in which they participate. A maximum of two credits may be earned in this manner. Satisfactory completion of courses in physical education is based on skill improvement and participation. Please be aware that registration for PE courses is separate from the regular course registration process.
PE courses do not count toward the 35 credits needed to graduate.

Last Updated: 9/4/13