Planning Your Major

One of the distinctive features of the common core curriculum at Harvey Mudd College is the possibility to defer the choice of major to the middle of the spring semester, sophomore year. Choosing electives is not tantamount to choosing a major. Nonetheless, there are some considerations that do impact major programs.

Biology

Students intending to major in biology may defer taking other electives in favor of enrolling in Biology 52 – Introduction to Biology, which is a prerequisite for many advanced biology courses. Chemistry 56, offered spring semester, is required for Biology majors; hence, it is advisable for potential Biology majors to take Chemistry 56 in the fourth semester.

Chemistry

Chemistry majors should take Chemistry 51 – Physical Chemistry and Chemistry 53 – Physical Chemistry Laboratory in the third semester. Students wishing to keep Chemistry open as a possible major should preferably take both Chemistry 51 and 53 in the third semester, but may take only Chemistry 51, deferring Chemistry 53 to a later semester. Selecting Chemistry as a major later on without Chemistry 51 would result in a very difficult scheduling problem.

Joint Chemistry and Biology

Students intending to major in joint chemistry and biology may defer taking other electives in favor of enrolling in Biology 52 – Introduction to Biology, which is a prerequisite for many advanced biology courses. Chemistry 56, offered spring semester, is required for the major; hence, it is advisable for potential majors to take Chemistry 56 in the fourth semester.

Computer Science

Computer Science 60, 65, or 42, Mathematics 55 and Computer Science 70 are required for all computer science majors and should be taken in approximately that order, ideally during the first four semesters, it being possible to take CS 70 prior to Math 55 if scheduling problems necessitate.

Joint Computer Science and Mathematics

Computer Science 60, 65, or 42, Mathematics 55, and Computer Science 70 are required for all joint computer science and mathematics majors, and should be taken in approximately that order, ideally during the first four semesters, it being possible to take CS 70 prior to Math 55 if scheduling problems necessitate.

Engineering

Engineering 4 is required of engineering majors and should be taken in the second or third semester. Engineering 59 is a core requirement and should be taken in the third semester, if possible.

Humanities and Social Sciences

First year students have been assigned humanities and social sciences advisors. Consult with your advisor for further information about humanities and social sciences requirements.

Mathematical and Computational Biology

Students intending to major in Mathematical and Computational Biology may defer taking other electives in favor of enrolling in Biology 52 – Introduction to Biology, which is a prerequisite for many advanced biology courses. Math 55 is also required for this major.

Mathematics

Mathematics 55 is offered both semesters. It is a prerequisite for advanced courses in several programs in mathematics. It is also a required course for computer science, joint computer science and mathematics, and mathematical biology majors. Taking Mathematics 55 before Mathematics 131 is desirable.

Physics

Physics 52 is required for physics majors and is ordinarily taken in the fourth semester by physics majors and other students. This presents no problem for prospective physics majors, but students in other majors should plan carefully to make sure that Physics 52 can be fit into their programs.