Academic Life at Harvey Mudd
Harvey Mudd offers a challenging and invigorating academic environment, where undergraduates learn to think across disciplines, participate in collaborative, professional research with high-profile sponsors, understand the social implications of science and learn to communicate their ideas.
Discover what makes a Harvey Mudd College education special.
The academic program supports the College’s mission by providing students with a broad-based curriculum that takes a liberal arts approach to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The major components of the curriculum include an intense yet comprehensive group of core courses; a significant number of courses in the humanities, social sciences and the arts; major coursework that provides a solid theoretical foundation; and plenty of hands-on experiences and applied work.
Majors at Harvey Mudd College
- Computer Science
- Joint Major in Chemistry and Biology
- Joint Major in Computer Science and Mathematics
- Joint Major in Mathematical and Computational Biology
- Joint Major in Mathematics and Physics
The Common Core is a series of courses that all Harvey Mudd students must take during their first three semesters. The Core is comprised of courses from every academic department, providing students with a solid foundation in mathematics and science as well as an introduction to college-level academic writing and critical inquiry. Since the Core exposes students to each of the College’s academic departments, it can also assist students in making a more informed decision when selecting a major.
Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts
Students at Harvey Mudd take a fourth of their courses in humanities, social sciences and the arts (HSA). The HSA program gives students the opportunity to continue pursuing their nontechnical academic interests. One requirement of the HSA program is selecting an area of concentration where a student will take at least four courses beyond the introductory level in an HSA-related field. This gives students the opportunity for in-depth study of their favorite HSA-related field.
The HSA department is the second-largest academic department at the College. The department has dynamic faculty members who bring a wide variety of scholarly interests to campus.
Students can also enroll in classes at other colleges in the Claremont Consortium, giving them access to approximately 2,000 courses each year.
Declaring a Major
Students are not required to select a major until the end of their sophomore year. Many students find this refreshing, because they are not required to determine the next four years of their academic career the moment they arrive on campus. Students may select a major from one of the ten choices above.
Majors at Harvey Mudd College emphasize a broad-based, interdisciplinary approach to the fields rather than specialization. This equips students with great problem-solving skills and the ability to adapt to any challenge. The world of technology is constantly evolving, but a bachelor of science degree from Harvey Mudd will always be relevant.
In addition to the required courses, each major offers a selection of elective courses that allow students to pursue their specific interests. Every major also has a senior research requirement, either in the form of an individual thesis project or Clinic project. Senior-year research provides an additional opportunity to pursue a specific area of interest. For a complete listing of courses and senior research options offered for each major, refer to the majors listed above.
The benefit of Harvey Mudd’s Core Curriculum is that it gives students a solid introduction to fields outside of their major. Plus, the curriculum is flexible enough to allow students to follow a major in one field and choose several electives in a different field without having to double major. Still, there are students who find that a double major best suits their interests, and they are willing to devote the extra time and effort needed to meet the necessary requirements. Those who double major usually do so in two of the STEM fields or in one STEM field and in a humanities field.
A double major is not recommended. However, if considering a double major, students are advised to consult their major advisor.
Additional Major Options
Harvey Mudd offers two additional major options: the Off-Campus Major (OCM) and the Individual Program of Studies (IPS).
With the OCM, students are able to satisfy the “major” component of the curriculum at one of the other Claremont Colleges. Students are not allowed to seek off-campus majors that are offered as on-campus Harvey Mudd majors. The OCM is overseen by the associate dean for academic affairs. All students taking an OCM are required to write a senior thesis or to engage in an approved capstone experience as well as complete a technical minor with one of Harvey Mudd College’s major departments. This is the only instance in which the College will grant a minor.
Students may design an IPS if they find that the concentration of majors offered at Harvey Mudd does not completely meet their educational goals or serve their academic interests. An IPS program is initiated by the student and must have the approval of a faculty member and the dean of the faculty. The IPS can be interdisciplinary, but must be constructed predominantly from STEM disciplines and must differ from the majors offered at Harvey Mudd in a significant way.
The Harvey Mudd faculty is committed to student learning and makes this a high priority. Harvey Mudd College boasts a 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and all faculty members have earned the highest degree offered in their field.
Students and faculty often collaborate on projects that are presented jointly at professional conferences and in peer-reviewed journals. Many faculty members have been honored with distinguished national awards.
With approximately $3 million in annual funding set aside for research, the College offers unparalleled hands-on opportunities in the laboratory and in the field. There is no competition from graduate students. Mudders partner with faculty in the lab and are major contributors. It is not unusual for students to co-author papers with faculty members and present alongside them at academic and professional conferences.
Every student must complete a capstone research project during senior year, so every student is guaranteed one full year of research. However, most students graduate having done more than a year of research. Students can begin doing research in their junior, sophomore or even their first year. They can collaborate with faculty during the academic year as well as during the Harvey Mudd College Summer Research Program. Given our size—800 students with a 9:1 student-teacher ratio—there is no shortage of research opportunities available to Harvey Mudd students.
Harvey Mudd College started its first Clinic—a yearlong investigation of a research problem conducted on behalf of a nonprofit or corporate client—in 1963. Our students have worked for more than 400 clients—many of them Fortune 1000 companies—in nearly 1,500 Clinics, and the program has become a model for engineering, mathematics and science schools around the country.
Past Clinic sponsors include Los Alamos National Laboratory, Warner Bros, The Aerospace Corporation, DirecTV, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Intel Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, Oregon Biomedical Engineering Institute, Paramount Pictures, Amazon and Sandia National Laboratories.
The Harvey Mudd College Study Abroad Program provides students the opportunity to develop an international perspective and broaden their education in ways not possible in Claremont. Students may spend a semester or a year at a university abroad, or they may choose to participate in a domestic exchange program.
Harvey Mudd offers a variety of programs, allowing students to travel to countries such as Botswana, South Africa, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Nepal, India, Italy, Spain, Great Britain, Germany, Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Turkey, New Zealand and many more destinations.
Harvey Mudd College also participates in exchange programs in France and Australia.
Numerous academic resources, advising and support programs are available to help students navigate the Harvey Mudd curriculum. These include the Writing Center; the first-semester Pass/Fail grading system; Academic Excellence, a student-led tutoring program; proctors (seniors who serve as personal and academic counselors for dorm residents); and the Academic Advising program.
Additionally, Mudd students support one another through the collaborative nature of the College’s academic program. Much of the work can be done in teams or groups. Most Harvey Mudd students rarely do homework by themselves or work on problem sets alone. Thanks to a noncompetitive academic environment, group assignments at Mudd are pleasant experiences where peers encourage one another and everyone is motivated to put forth their best effort.