First-Year Seminar Program
The First-Year Seminar Program is a special opportunity for newly enrolled students to begin their Oberlin studies in a small setting. The topics and academic approaches of seminars vary, but each is designed to encourage critical thinking, develop discussion and writing skills, and provide a venue for intellectual exchange between students and faculty. First-year seminars also provide important opportunities for you to reflect upon the personal value and social relevance of a liberal arts education. College of Arts and Sciences faculty offer first-year seminars on subjects that will stir your curiosity and inspire you to question and understand how society and the larger community function.
Oberlin has a winter term of four weeks in January to allow you to discover the value of self-education. Regular course offerings are suspended, and in their place, you will complete an educational project of your choosing, either individually or as part of a group. Winter term encourages experimentation and creativity, with an emphasis on intellectual independence and personal responsibility. Complete a project on or off campus, in the United States, or abroad. Whatever you decide, winter term allows a full-time, self-directed commitment to pursue educational goals through internships, community service, applied research, or career-related experiences. You must complete three winter-term projects to graduate from Oberlin. The Office of Winter Term coordinates this program.
Ever travel or study abroad? Oberlin offers all interested students, regardless of major, the opportunity to experience different cultures, languages, and perspectives through Oberlin’s own study away programs or through more than 85 affiliated programs. Spend a semester or a year away from campus. Study away programs cover a wide range of geographic areas of the world, curricular or academic interests, and program types. Not all study away sites are overseas. No matter where you choose to study, our Office of Study Away assists in program selection and completion of all requirements for travel and study.
It’s OK to think outside the box; at Oberlin, it is expected. If you have an idea for a trade, venture, or service, you don’t have to wait until you receive your degree to launch it. Oberlin supports an approach to entrepreneurship that is firmly rooted in the liberal arts. Through our Creativity and Leadership Project and LaunchU, students in any major may pursue the challenges and demands of implementing their ideas through select semester or module courses, concept development funding, mentored experiential opportunities, workshops, and other resources. Altogether, these programs provide vital hands-on experiences that can help you begin building a foundation of the practical skills essential to planning and launching a venture.
Research and Collaborations
Learning at Oberlin doesn’t stop when you exit the classroom. One way to continue your education is by working alongside faculty members on important research. Oberlin professors maintain active research interests and believe that mentoring undergraduate students through research is an important part of the teaching and learning process. Undergraduate research at Oberlin has allowed students to transfer their curiosity from the classroom to the library, the laboratory, and field sites across the globe. With excellent research facilities and equipment at your fingertips, your work might lead to coauthoring an article for a scholarly journal, or to discovering a pulsar. The Office of Undergraduate Research coordinates many of these endeavors.
Oberlin students have a robust advising system. As an incoming student, you will be assigned an advisor based on your academic interests. An academic advisor will help you plan an educational program consonant with your interests and goals. Before you register for courses each semester, you will meet with your advisor to ensure that your courses, projects, and related assignments are consistent with your major requirements and goals. To help you achieve your overall goals and enhance your Oberlin experience, seek out select services and non-academic advising through our Career Center and Division of Student Life.
Students with proven independence and high academic ability may achieve an Honors designation at graduation by completing an Honors project within their major during their senior year. Honors projects vary, but always involve independent work supervised by a faculty advisor. Projects may be completed in seminars or private readings, in research, or in the preparation of a thesis, exhibition, or performance. Every honors candidate must also pass an examination at the end of the senior year—oral or written or both. If your work in the Honors Program demonstrates the requisite degree of excellence, you’ll earn the BA with departmental honors, high honors, or highest honors.
Our Honor Code provides the foundation for the intellectual freedom that is encouraged and shared by all members of the academic community. It embodies the belief that true academic freedom and discourse can only exist within a framework of honesty, integrity, and responsibility. With the privilege of attending Oberlin comes the responsibility of supporting both the expectations and the spirit of the Honor Code, which calls for submitting work of your own creation and giving proper credit to the ideas and work of others. This requires each individual to respect all members of the Oberlin College community and to vigorously support the protected nature of intellectual property. We emphasize personal responsibility and expect everyone will adopt, uphold, and adhere to the Honor Code’s core values. We encourage you to be accountable to other students and pledge to not cheat, plagiarize, fabricate, or falsify information, nor assist others in these actions.
A Bachelor of Arts degree from Oberlin’s College of Arts and Sciences recognizes that the graduate has spent four years pursuing a rich and balanced curriculum in the liberal arts. Our curriculum provides many opportunities for you to pursue fields of interest in ways reflecting the characteristics of breadth and depth typical of a liberal arts education. By selecting a major, you engage in the study of a particular discipline, or field, in depth. Breadth comes from exploring a number of different fields of inquiry. We do not have a core curriculum, but we ensure that breadth is achieved by requiring students to complete courses in each of the three curricular areas: arts and humanities, social and behavioral sciences, and natural sciences and mathematics. We also require students to complete courses that attend to the processes of quantitative reasoning and writing in multiple contexts, as well as courses that focus on cultures and languages other than their own.