Jul 21, 2024  
2023-2024 Catalog 
2023-2024 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

To be eligible to receive the bachelor of arts degree from Reed College, students must fulfill eight basic requirements:

  1. sufficient units of academic work (credit requirements),
  2. college distribution requirements including Humanities 110
  3. the physical education/community engagement/experiential learning requirement,
  4. major departmental requirements,
  5. divisional requirements (except for the Arts, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, and Philosophy, Religion, Psychology, and Linguistics divisions),
  6. junior qualifying examination,
  7. senior thesis, and
  8. senior oral examination.

Credit Requirements

Academic credit at Reed is defined in terms of units. One Reed unit of credit is the equivalent of four semester hours or six quarter hours. The normal yearly program for students is from seven to nine academic units (excluding credit for physical education), in order to fulfill the 30 units required for graduation. The minimum program in a semester for full-time enrollment is three units. 

The minimum credit required for graduation following a four- or five-year program of study is 30 units of academic work plus six quarters of physical education/community engagement/experiential learning. 

To be eligible for graduation, students must complete two full years of study at Reed (a minimum of 15 academic units), including the senior or thesis year, in which a student must complete a minimum of six academic units. At least two of these units, one of which must be in a course other than thesis, must be earned in each of the two thesis semesters. These six units, however arranged, constitute a full program for the senior year and require payment of full tuition each semester, even if the number of units being taken in one of the two semesters falls below three. The work of the thesis year is to be done while attending Reed, except in special programs such as the Dual Degree and Special Programs . Such programs typically require three years of study at Reed and an additional two at the cooperating institution. Residence in Reed-approved study abroad programs will not count toward the college’s two- year residence requirement. 

Group Distribution Requirements

Group Distribution Requirement Guidelines 

  1. No course can count towards more than one of the categories below.

  2. “Subject” is defined as the subject designator for the course. Exceptions include (1) Humanities 411, which does not count toward group requirements, (2) all literature courses, which are considered one subject, and (3) all language courses, which are also considered one subject.

  3. No more than two units from any subject can be used towards the distribution requirements. The one exception is humanities, where the cap of two units excludes Humanities 110 or, in the case of transfer students, other humanities courses being used to satisfy the Humanities 110 requirement. A given group cannot be satisfied by a combination of three courses that, due to one or more cross-listed courses, could be listed under the same subject.

  4. No distribution requirement can be taken as credit/no credit.

  5. No distribution requirement can be satisfied by waiver or by examination (e.g., AP, IB, or other examination).

  6. No thesis course or independent study course can be used to satisfy a distribution requirement.

  7. A course that is cross-listed between a department and a program will count for the group for which the departmental course counts.


Required of all first-year students and of all transfer students.

Sophomore or junior transfers may substitute either HUM 220  or two units from HUM 211 , HUM 212 , HUM 231  and HUM 232 , and one additional unit from Group I or Group II for the Humanities 110 requirement.

Group Distribution Requirement I

Three units from one of the following subjects, of which two must come from the same subject:

  • art,
  • comparative race and ethnicity studies,
  • dance,
  • humanities,
  • language courses (Chinese, French, German, Greek, Latin, Russian, Spanish),
  • literature courses and creative writing (ancient Mediterranean studies, English, Chinese, comparative literature, creative writing, French, German, Russian, Spanish, or literature),
  • music,
  • philosophy,
  • theatre.

If two units are being taken in language classes, the two units must be in the same language.

See Group Distribution Requirement Guidelines 

Group Distribution Requirement II

Three units from the following subjects, of which two must come from the same subject:

  • ancient Mediterranean studies (only archaeology and ancient history classes),
  • anthropology,
  • comparative race and ethnicity studies,
  • economics,
  • history,
  • humanities,
  • international and comparative policy studies,
  • linguistics,
  • political science,
  • religion,
  • sociology.

See Group Distribution Requirement Guidelines

Group Distribution Requirement III

Three units from the following subjects, of which two must come from the same subject:

  • biology,
  • chemistry,
  • computer science,
  • mathematics,
  • physics,
  • psychology.

A substantial portion of at least one unit used to satisfy the Group III requirement must be devoted to primary data collection and the analysis of that data.

See Group Distribution Requirement Guidelines 

Physical Education / Community Engagement / Experiential Learning

Satisfactory completion of three semesters of approved activities is required before graduation. The program is administered as a minimal requirement in order to introduce students to physical education, community engagement, and experiential learning activities and to encourage them to participate. Each semester is divided into two quarters for such activities; six quarters of approved activities must be completed to meet the requirement. Students are encouraged to complete this requirement in their first two years.

Only one PE, community engagement, or experiential learning credit may be earned during any quarter. Students may apply no more than two of the six credits from self-directed classes (numbered 201-204, e.g., independent climbing, meditation, off-campus PE, running club, or swim fitness), by completing community engagement activities (numbered 301-304), or by experiential learning credit (numbered 400-404). Students must register after securing permission from the SEEDS staff to enroll in community engagement. The remaining four credits must be completed in an instructional PE class (numbered 101-104). This requirement must be completed while enrolled at Reed.

Non-English Language

Proficiency in a non-English language as a requirement for graduation is a matter left to the discretion of the departments and divisions. Some stipulate a language requirement, and most departments or divisions that do not require language study do recommend that such study be included in the student’s program whenever possible. Check the departmental and divisional listings for specific information.