Degree Program


Hope College offers curricular programs that lead to the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees. Degrees may be pursued either on a full-time or part-time basis.


The philosophy of education at Hope College is summarized by the phrase "Liberal Education within the Christian Tradition." Liberal education seeks to create an appreciative awareness of human achievements and potentialities and to evaluate conceptions of human existence. It strives to provide, in the words of the Covenant of Mutual Responsibilities between the Reformed Church of America and its colleges, "an atmosphere of search and confrontation that will liberate the minds, enhance the discernment, enlarge the sympathies, and encourage the commitments of all students entrusted to (it)."  It also provides those intellectual skills which will prepare students for their responsibilities as informed, sensitive, competent members of the global community.

As an academic community, the liberal arts college fosters free, sustained, disciplined inquiry with informed, critical understanding as its goal. This type of education provides the foundation for deeper inquiry into any given field. Depth of knowledge in a specialty, however, should be pursued, not as an end in itself, but as an expression of one's intellectual and moral aims.

A liberal education within the Christian tradition also seeks to develop the whole person by infusing education with purpose and direction. Hope's Christian heritage provides a foundation for defining moral values and making moral judgments. Reverent obedience to God, as revealed in Christ and through Scripture, provides one with a theological framework for self-understanding and social concern. Having an ultimate allegiance to the Creator of all truth frees and motivates scholarly pursuits.

A Hope College education challenges students to develop an understanding of the Christian faith as a basis for academic excellence and the fulfillment of human potential. The goal of this education, therefore, is to provide students with the intellectual and ethical foundations for lifelong learning and a life of service to others.


Hope has a strong commitment to those students that are admitted to its degree programs. This is demonstrated in the fact that its retention rates are excellent and its graduation rates are very high. In a study done to demonstrate compliance with the Student Right-to-Know and Campus Security Act of 1992, the registrar reported that by 2017 Hope had graduated 80.0 percent of those students admitted as first-year students in the fall of 2011. This figure does not include those students admitted as transfers to Hope. Hope compares favorably with other high selective institutions in the degree-completion rates of its first-year students.


This philosophy of education is expressed through the curriculum. The curriculum, therefore, has been designed to fulfill four major objectives for any students who graduate from Hope College:


  1. The Ability To Understand, Communicate and Critically Appraise Differing Ways of Knowing

    In addition to demonstrating a mastery of a fundamental body of information, all Hope graduates should possess the ability to examine, evaluate, understand, use effectively and communicate knowledge. Knowledge, in this case, encompasses discursive thought, sensory experience and such symbolic languages as mathematics and the perceptual image. These modes of knowing constitute tools or processes which teach students how to learn. The student should be able to make critical judgments: to discern assumptions and premises; to examine and evaluate arguments, generalizations, hypotheses and methods; to identify biases and contradictions; to assess the validity of conclusions drawn from information and assumptions; and to recognize and make appropriate distinctions among aesthetic experiences and responses. The achievement of this objective requires that the students demonstrate fundamental skills in clear and persuasive written and oral communication; sensitive and critical reading, listening and viewing; precise perception; application of mathematical principles and procedures; and use of research facilities and library resources.

  2. A Broadened Awareness and Heightened Sensitivity

    Through direct experience with a variety of aesthetic, historical, theoretical, technological, cultural and religious perspectives, the students’ awareness and sensitivity should become increasingly broader and deeper as well as coherent. Experiences with various forms of artistic exploration and expression should heighten their aesthetic awareness and appreciation for symbolic modes of communication. An understanding of the achievements and failures of the past should deepen their critical appreciation of contemporary society. Exposure to scientific modes of inquiry should enhance their understanding of the natural world and the role of human beings in that world. Knowledge of various disciplinary methodologies should sharpen their understanding of the relationship between means of inquiry and the nature of the results obtained. An understanding of modern technologies should provide them with a practical appreciation of their usefulness and the ability to distinguish between their appropriate use and their potential misuse. Experience in the varied means of human communication – linguistic and artistic, denotative and symbolic – should further their understanding of both the human individual and human culture. Cross-cultural experiences and acquaintance with current affairs should lead to their heightened awareness of and sensitivity to gender issues, American minority and world cultures, international viewpoints and the variety of issues calling for social justice. Experience with and knowledge of systems of belief should provide them with an understanding of historical Christianity and with the roles of religion in the world.

  3. The Ability to Engage in Intensive Study

    Sustained, orderly exploration of an academic discipline or within an interdisciplinary program, commonly referred to as a "major," should contribute not only to the development of the students’ power of understanding, but also to a broadening of their intellectual concerns. Through intensive study, the students are exposed to the major discoveries and the most significant thought in the field, to sound methodological and technical procedures and to the contributions of the discipline to humankind's fund of knowledge. Through internship or other forms of experiential learning, the students become familiar with current practices and challenges in the field. In these ways, the students should experience what it means to be active and creative members of their discipline.

  4. A Sense of Interrelatedness of Knowledge, Experience and Responsibility

    An understanding of different value systems and an awareness of interpretive pluralism in all disciplines should characterize the students’ educational growth. At the same time, as the students become increasingly aware of the interdependent aspects of human experience and knowledge, they are encouraged to develop and to articulate a personal philosophy of life which will provide meaning and coherence in their learning, experiencing and decision-making. In particular, the students should understand how such a philosophy of life can be informed by a Christian world-view and its implications regarding the nature and use of thought, knowledge, skills, work and leisure. From within the context of their own discipline and personal philosophy of life, the students should remain open to the totality of human experience, seeking always an integration that leads to a responsible, purposeful and fulfilling life.



Requirements for the bachelor's degree briefly stated are:

  1. Completion of at least 126 semester credits with a minimum 2.0 cumulative grade point average (courses with numbers below 100 do not count toward the 126 credits)
  2. Completion of the general education requirements
  3. Completion of a major program with a 2.0 cumulative grade point average in the major

NOTE: All programs may be completed within four years.

NOTE: Some programs require higher cumulative and major/minor grade point averages for graduation. Check departmental listings for these requirements.

NOTE: An additional bachelor's degree can be awarded only under special circumstances. For a degree-seeking Hope College student, two degrees will be awarded only if the student has completed 30 additional credits beyond the first bachelor's degree and has two major concentrations in different degree programs --e.g., a B.A. degree and a B.S. degree. Completing two majors does not merit the awarding of two degrees, unless the above criteria are first met. If a student has already earned a bachelor's degree from a college or university and applies to earn a second degree at Hope College, the student will be required to meet all major and general education requirements of Hope College and have a total of 156 credits earned in combination. The senior residency requirement must also be met by these transfer students. The general education reductions for Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees do not apply to students who are completing two degrees, one of which is a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science.


Requirements for the degree may change while students are in their course of study. Students may elect to be governed by the requirements which were stated in the catalog upon entrance to the college or any later catalog requirements for a departmental major, minor or general education requirement.


To be eligible for graduation, students must pass all college required courses and must earn a minimum of 126 credits of college work. The cumulative grade point average of all course work must be at least 2.0. Some programs require a grade point average higher than 2.0.  Check departmental listings for these requirements.


Under normal circumstances, the final 30 semester credits of the Hope College degree program must be completed at Hope College or in an off-campus program approved by Hope College. In certain individual cases, an exception may be granted through the following procedure:

  1. The Registrar, in consultation with the student's department chairperson, may approve the taking of a maximum of 15 semester credits of the final 30 at another educational institution.
  2. If a student seeks permission to complete the entire senior year at another educational institution, approval must be given by both the Student Standing and Appeals Committee and the Registrar. Such requests should be submitted to the Registrar who will forward each request to the appropriate persons.
  3. In both of the above exceptions, approval must be granted in advance of the student's enrollment in the other institution and all Hope College academic requirements must be completed by the graduation date. No student will be graduated from Hope College who has not spent a minimum of one full academic year as a full-time student on the Hope College home campus during the period in which the student has junior or senior standing.



The General Education Program and Curriculum furthers the mission of Hope College by equipping students to engage in informed critical reflection concerning themselves and the world, preparing them for further study and for a life of learning, service and productive activity. 


The general education curriculum offers students clearly-defined criteria for success, information about their progress toward meeting these criteria and multiple opportunities to attain them. The criteria for the general education curriculum at Hope College are divided into two categories: knowing how and knowing about. 


The Knowing How criteria will emphasize and teach Skills of Learning and Habits of Learning.

Skills of Learning: Hope College students will demonstrate college-level proficiency in:

  • Critical thinking
  • Mathematical thinking
  • Reading, listening and viewing with understanding, sensitivity and critical acumen
  • Use of computer technology and library research facilities
  • Written and oral communication

Habits of Learning:  Hope College students will be encouraged and taught to develop an approach to learning in the tradition of the liberal arts, emphasizing:

  • Analytic, synthetic and systematic thinking
  • Appreciation for tradition
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity and openness to new ideas
  • Intellectual courage and honesty
  • Moral and spiritual discernment and responsibility

The Knowing About criteria relate directly to the mission of the college: to educate students for lives of leadership and service in a global society through academic and co-curricular programs of recognized excellence in the liberal arts and in the context of the historic Christian faith. Because of this mission, the general education curriculum:

    1. Enables students to explore and understand the central questions of human identity.

      Fundamental questions allow insight into the influences of the past on the present, the perennial issues of human experience and the discrepancy between human aspiration and human accomplishment. In addition, a liberal arts education should equip students to understand both how these questions challenge us and how the presuppositions behind these questions have been challenged. Central questions of human identity include the following: What does it mean to be:

      • Creators and users of language, technology and the arts?
      • Creatures of God, made for relationship with God?
      • Human beings who experience both suffering and joy?
      • Physical beings in a physical world?
      • Seekers of knowledge and meaning?
      • Social beings who shape and are shaped by each other and by cultures?
    2. Prepares students to live in a changing world, enabling them to understand and constructively engage:

      • Their heritage, community, nation and world 
      • Technology, social complexity and cultural diversity
    3. Educates students for a life of service, enabling them to

      • Balance individual autonomy and responsibility for others, society and the physical environment
      • Apply their knowledge effectively in service
    4. Increases students' capacity for delighting and participating in creative processes and the world around them.


The following characteristics are woven through the general education curriculum, so that students will encounter them more than once and in different contexts. Cross-curricular themes will be introduced in general education courses by promoting

      • Active learning: focus on the involvement of students in their own learning with the goal of preparing students for life-long learning
      • Critical thinking: focus on educating persons to be critical thinkers in a Christian liberal arts context with emphasis on 1) the techniques of analysis; 2) the ethical implications of social interaction; 3) the development of intellectual virtues
      • Global learning, including cultural diversity as well as international education and global perspective; focus on the need to understand and learn to live well in a world characterized by high levels of cultural diversity
      • Integration of faith and learning: focus on the following goals for students: 1) an understanding of the Christian tradition, including familiarity with biblical materials and a basic understanding of Christian convictions and practices; 2) the ability to articulate defining convictions; 3) the desire and ability to engage fruitfully in conversations about spiritual matters; 4) the desire and ability to engage constructively traditions and communities whose defining convictions differ from one's own; 5) the development of habits of mind appropriate to the continuing efforts of faith seeking understanding of all things, including self-intellectual virtues appropriate to such "spiritual inquiry" include courage, humility, patience, respect, honesty, reverence, awe, care, love of truth, and hope; 6) the ability to articulate a personal sense of relevance of one's own defining convictions to one's discipline and vocation, as these are related to God
      • Library research skills: focus on developing students' learning of effective library research skills and adapting to the increasing emphasis on deriving information through technological means. Emphasis will be placed on helping students develop library research skills that will contribute to their life-long learning
      • Oral communication skills: focus on developing a student's abilities to give effective oral presentations, engage in effective group work, and demonstrate effective interpersonal communication
      • Ways of knowing: focus on introducing students to the methodological approaches taken by the four dominant facets of the academy in early 21st century in North America: the arts, the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The goal of this characteristic is to provide students with a sense of the assumptions, values, approaches, methods, and tools used by scholars in each area
      • Written communication: focus on developing a student's ability to write at an acceptable level



Rationale: The purpose of the First-Year Seminar is to provide students an intellectual transition into Hope College. The seminar will introduce students to college-level ways of learning, requiring all students to take an active role in at least one course at the very beginning of their time at Hope College and encouraging them in more independent ways of learning. Thus the seminar will serve as a critical first step in encouraging students to take initiative for their learning and demonstrate independent activity in subsequent courses. This requirement will focus on the habits of learning and will stress the public speaking aspects of oral communication.

Core Objectives: In their First-Year Seminar, students will:

  1. Explore an intellectually important topic with an instructor and with peers. 
  2. Read primary texts critically and discuss them in a seminar format.
  3. Investigate specific topics and communicate their understanding through an appropriate form of writing or other medium (e.g. oral presentation, digital media). 
  4. Present their ideas for discussion and critical reflection. 
  5. Learn about the purposes of a liberal arts education, including personal and intellectual development as well as vocational discernment and career preparation.

   Recommended Objectives:  In their First-Year Seminar, students will:

  1. Develop an appreciation for cultural similarities and differences and how they affect our interactions with others in our global society.
  2. Where appropriate, engage in problem-solving in a small group context. 
  3. Attend out-of-class events and discuss them in class as part of being introduced to the college as an intellectual community.

Course: IDS 100 - First-Year Seminar

An interdisciplinary introduction to the liberal arts and to college-level ways of learning. This two-credit course will be taught topically, will concern itself with a wide range of general education criteria and will focus on the "Knowing How" objectives of the general education program. Oral communication skills will be stressed. Some sections may focus on Global Learning, in which case the student's Global Learning requirement will be partially satisfied.

The instructor of the First-Year Seminar will also be the student's academic advisor. This will allow the student and advisor an opportunity to get to know each other in an academic setting. Conversations about other courses, grades, adjustment to college, personal interests, career goals and campus involvements will occur more naturally in this setting.

The First-Year Seminar must be taken in the first semester (fall semester) of a first-year student's academic program. The seminar may not be repeated in subsequent semesters. Transfer students are exempted from this course. 


Rationale: The primary purpose of this component of the general education program is to equip Hope College students with essential writing skills and practices for education and life. This course serves as a foundation for additional writing instruction that occurs in Cultural Heritage I and II, Natural Science II, and the 200-level religion requirement. Expository Writing I addresses the "Knowing How" criteria of critical thinking; reading and listening with understanding, sensitivity, and critical acumen; the use of library research facilities; and written communication.

Course Objectives: In Expository Writing I, students will 

      • practice critical reasoning skills
      • demonstrate clarity and concision in prose style
      • write with coherent organization at the sentence, paragraph, and document levels
      • demonstrate knowledge of essential conventions of standard written English
      • demonstrate savvy, discriminating research skills
      • practice writing as a creative, collaborative, and recursive process
      • produce persuasive, evidence-based academic writing, distinctly voiced, and tailored to its audience

Course: English 113 - Expository Writing I
A four-credit course normally completed during the first year of a student's academic program. Emphasis in the course will be on the student's ability to express thoughts clearly in writing. The course also stresses the development of critical thinking skills and use of the library. Generally the course is taught topically, leaving the area of exploration to the discretion to the individual instructor. All sections of the course focus on the writing process, and all instructors shape their courses with writing objectives constantly in mind.

Some sections of this course may emphasize global learning; these sections may also satisfy the global learning component of the general education program. 

HEALTH DYNAMICS - 2 credits 

Rationale: The purpose of Health Dynamics is to help students understand the principles of exercise, proper diet and stress management and to establish habits and skills that will enable them to reach and maintain good health and fitness for life. This requirement addresses the "Knowing About" criterion of what it means to be physical beings in a physical world. 

Objectives: After completing Health Dynamics, students will 

      • Appreciate the importance of maintaining good health behavior 
      • Understand the fundamental principles of a healthy diet 
      • Identify an exercise regimen for lifelong fitness 
      • Understand the relationship between health and stress  

Course: Kinesiology 140 - Health Dynamics
This course will emphasize the importance of good health, a healthy diet, the value of exercise, and the ability to manage stress seeking to develop patterns that will serve each student for life. Health Dynamics should be taken in the first year of a student's academic program. 


: The purpose of the mathematics component is to deepen the student's understanding of mathematical reasoning, address some of the prevalent misconceptions of mathematics and demonstrate both the usefulness and limitations of mathematical models in a variety of applications. This requirement addresses the "Knowing How" criteria of mathematical thinking; written and oral communication; and analytical, synthetic and systematic thinking.

NATURAL SCIENCE: The purpose of the natural science component is to deepen the student's understanding of the processes of science and the way in which science interprets the natural world. The natural science component focuses both on "doing" science and on the influence of science and technology on both society and the environment. Courses will emphasize the hands-on nature of science. This requirement addresses the "Knowing How" criterion of critical thinking and the "Knowing About" criteria of what it means to be physical beings in a physical world and what it entails to prepare students to live in a changing world, enabling them to understand and constructively engage technology. 

Objectives: In GEMS mathematics courses, students will 

      • develop mathematical and other creative forms of problem-solving skills, understanding that these skills are useful in personal and professional contexts 
      • understand both the benefits and limitations of mathematical and/or statistical models, particularly in the use of mathematics as the mode of communicating our understanding of the physical world and for the study of human society
      • In addition to objectives specific to mathematics, GEMS mathematics courses emphasize the practical benefits of effective group work

Objectives: In GEMS science courses, students will

      • Understand that science is a way of knowing based on observation, classification and hypothesis testing and that it has basic presuppositions and limitations
      • Use critical thinking skills to understand scientific arguments
      • Understand that science is an on-going cross-disciplinary exploration of the physical universe rather than just a collection of facts and that this exploration is limited to certain types of questions and to the use of certain methodologies
      • Engage in experimentation in the laboratory and field and/or in the observation of natural phenomena
      • GEMS science courses will provide students with an opportunity to explore the human dimensions of science and technology; for example, the ways in which science and technology impact natural and social environments and the ways in which science and technology are impacted by social, ethical or political change
      • In addition to objectives specific to scientific study, students in GEMS science courses will practice oral and written communication skills in order to convey ideas and to work effectively in groups

Course(s): The total mathematics/natural science requirement is ten credits. There is a variety of ways in which this requirement can be satisfied; the options differ depending on whether the student is a science or non-science major.

For non-science majors: any combination of ten credits in the natural sciences division, with the stipulation that two of the ten credits be in mathematics or GEMS (100-140) courses. The remaining credits may be a combination of GEMS (150-199) laboratory courses, GEMS 200-level courses, mathematics courses or natural science disciplinary courses (biology, chemistry, computer science, geological and environmental sciences, physics).

This general education requirement stresses the interdisciplinary nature of the sciences, therefore there must be represented in this requirement either a GEMS laboratory course or laboratory courses from two different departments.

For science majors: courses already required in the natural sciences and mathematics for natural science division majors will satisfy this requirement. If using departmental courses for Natural Science I and Natural Science II, two disciplines must be represented.

Natural Science I courses will emphasize ways of knowing in the natural sciences and will contain a laboratory component. Critical thinking will be taught. Natural Science II courses will build upon the writing skills taught in English 113 by offering significant instruction in and practice of writing skills. Some sections of Natural Science II courses will focus on issues of global learning. 


Rationale: The purpose of the language component is to achieve a basic conversational ability and a deeper understanding of the culture(s) of countries where the language studied is spoken. Such global learning prepares for study abroad, academic excellence and experiential learning that are all assets in a society with a global economy. Language study addresses the “Knowing About” criteria of what it means to be creators and users of language, technology and the arts and of the preparation of students to live in a global society. 

Objectives: In modern languages, students will

      • Develop competence in listening and reading comprehension, as well as oral and written expression in a second language
      • Develop a deeper appreciation for worldviews different from their own through knowledge of the history, politics, religion, literature and the arts that shape cultures and societies
      • Prepare themselves to participate meaningfully in an overseas study group
      • Gain empathy by learning to respect and understand personal and cultural differences, in particular of minorities as well as peoples and communities of developing nations 

Objectives: In ancient languages, students will

      • Develop competence in reading comprehension in a second language
      • Gain access to another culture that is foundational to the Western cultural heritage
      • Develop a deeper understanding of the structure and function of language
      • Enhance their understanding of their native language

Requirements and objectives for the general student include first-year college level competency, which is the minimum requirement. Successful completion of the second semester of first-year language (courses numbered 102, 122, 172) will therefore satisfy this requirement. All students, however, who have studied a second language in high school will be required to take one course in a second language at the college level into which they are placed by the Department of Modern and Classical Languages’ review of their high school transcripts.

Students with high school experience in a second language are strongly encouraged to continue with their study of the language. The further study will allow them to turn their knowledge of a second language into an asset that will serve them in the global economy. Students placed into third or fourth semester may, however, choose to fulfill the requirements by taking an introductory course in another language.

All courses for majors, minors, the general student and those students in the education program aim at genuine, meaningful communication in the second language and will provide the student with numerous opportunities to engage the culture of the language being studied with the goal of building awareness and appreciation for that culture. Successful scores on AP and CLEP exams may also be used to satisfy the language requirement for the general student.

Placement Policy: Students will be given a recommended placement on the basis of their performance in second language courses in high school. Those who may be ready for the fifth semester or beyond may be invited to take a placement test to confirm that level of competence. Testing into that level can qualify the student for a waiver of the requirement. However, the student is encouraged to consult with a faculty to ensure that the language waiver is in the best interest of the student. Any student who questions their placement will be offered the placement test. Waivers are granted to native speakers of a language other than English.

As incentive for students to enroll at their placement levels, credit, up to a maximum of 16 hours, will be given for the second language courses which precede the course completed (for example: completion of Spanish 221 will also grant credit for Spanish 121 and 122; or completion of French 201 will also grant credit for French 101 and 102, etc.). This special awarding of credit is intended to encourage students to take full advantage of their prior learning of a second language. Students are encouraged to develop fluency and cultural awareness in a second language by taking advantage of this placement policy. 


Rationale: The mission of the college is "to offer, with recognized excellence, academic programs in the liberal the context of the historic Christian faith."  The general education requirement in religion is related to the mission of the college in two ways. First, religion is one of the liberal arts, central to the questions of human identity; therefore, an academic program in religion takes its place among the other academic programs in the liberal arts. Second, the general education requirement in religion provides students with a college-level understanding of "the historic Christian faith," the context for education at Hope College. Among the "skills of learning" emphasized are critical thinking and reading. Among the "habits of learning" emphasized are moral and spiritual discernment. The subject matter includes central questions of human identity and responsibility, questions about the significance of human relationship to God, about the possibilities and limits of human knowledge of God and about the meaning of human responsibility to God. 

For the "Knowing How" criterion, students will

      • Develop greater ability to read religious texts, including but not limited to biblical texts, with understanding and sensitivity; with, in short, sympathetic imagination
      • Acquire increased proficiency in thinking critically with respect to religious texts, traditions and experiences, e.g., greater facility in identifying arguments and ferreting out assumptions and implications
      • Develop greater listening skill and skill in communicating – both orally and in writing – their reflections and their convictions clearly, concisely and persuasively
      • Become better able to interpret contemporary religious experience and events in light of past events, other traditions and their own convictions
      • Increase their capacities for intellectual honesty, respect and humility and, in some measure, further develop certain traits of character, e.g., courage, fortitude, justice, wisdom and compassion

For the "Knowing About" criteria, students will

      • Gain greater understanding of their own basic convictions, whatever they may be, and gain insight into how these convictions inform their world view and everyday practices
      • Acquire a basic familiarity with the biblical story – its main characters, important themes, historical-cultural contexts, literary genres and the like
      • Obtain a rudimentary understanding of how Christian experience shapes and is shaped by historical contexts and some appreciation for both continuity and change within Christianity
      • Acquire an understanding of and an appreciation for religious traditions other than Christianity

Course(s): Two courses totaling six credits are necessary to satisfy this requirement. The first is a two-credit Basic Studies course (REL 100) to be taught topically, but emphasizing the objectives listed above. The second is a four-credit 200-level course in biblical studies, historical studies, theological studies or world religions studies. Religion 100 must be taken before enrolling in a higher-level religion course. 

SOCIAL SCIENCES - 6 credits 

Rationale: The purpose of the social science requirement is to provide students with social scientific perspectives on human, social and institutional behavior. The social sciences provide a unique perspective for enabling students to explore and understand central questions of human identity. This requirement addresses the "Knowing About" criteria concerning what it means to be social beings who shape and are shaped by each other and by cultures; concerning the preparation of students to live in a changing world, enabling them to understand and constructively engage their heritage, community, nation and world and to deal with technology, social complexity and cultural diversity. 

Objectives: After completing their social science component, students will

      • Demonstrate an understanding of empirical and non-empirical approaches to the study of human, social and institutional behavior employed by the social sciences, including:
        • The emergence of the social science disciplines and/or institutions since the 18th century
        • The types of questions that can and cannot be addressed by empiricism and the differences between empirical and non-empirical questions
        •  The assumptions, strengths, limitations, and critiques of empirical and non-empirical methods
        • The major ways by which social scientists observe and describe behavior: experimenting, interviewing, conducting surveys, and analyzing existing sets of data
        • Appropriate interpretations and uses of evidence
      • Demonstrate an understanding of, appreciation for, and ability to apply their knowledge of
        • Differences among people, the personal and social effects of social group membership, and cultural diversity
        • Policy-making processes and outcomes of social (that is, familial and religious) and either political or economic institutions
        • Christian perspectives on one of the following: ethical issues, institutions, public policies, or theoretical assumptions about human nature 

Course(s): The Social Science requirement is met with two courses (a minimum of six credits), from two different social science departments (communication, economics, political science, psychology, sociology).  One must be a four-credit class (Social Science I, SS1).  The second course can be either a SS1 or a SS2 course. Students seeking teacher certification complete the Social Science I requirement by completing Education 220/221 and Education 500.

Social Science I classes emphasize ways of knowing in the social sciences and contain a laboratory component.  Principles of quantitative thinking are taught, especially in the laboratory.  Some sections of Social Science I and II classes focus on issues of global learning and also meet part of the general education requirement in global learning.

THE ARTS - 6 credits 

Rationale: The purpose of this requirement is to develop in students an understanding that the arts enrich and ennoble the human spirit. The arts provide unique ways of knowing, bringing us face to face with ourselves and with what we sense lies beyond. It is also important for human beings to participate in the creative process – to "do" art. This requirement addresses the "Knowing How" criteria of reading, listening and viewing with understanding, sensitivity and critical acumen;  appreciation for tradition; and creativity. It also addresses the "Knowing About" criteria of what it means to be human beings who experience both suffering and joy and of increasing students' capacity for delighting and participating in creative processes and the world around them. 


In Arts I and Arts II courses, students will

      • Attend performances, exhibitions and/or film screenings; read texts; and communicate critically about the arts with increasing sensitivity and depth
      • Understand the artistic value, cultural significance and interconnectedness of the arts
      • Examine art and artists in the context of a variety of diverse cultures, styles and social frameworks
      • Observe the interactive nature of the arts, viewing the arts as an expression of the human experience
      • Understand and participate in the interactive nature of the arts

In Arts II courses, students will

      • Recognize and understand the creative processes essential to the arts
      • Explore and develop aesthetic modes of expression through acts of creating
      • Observe that lifelong participation in the arts is a valuable part of a life fully lived 

Course(s): Two courses are required. The first will be a four-credit introductory Arts I course, the second a two-credit studio or performance course in art, dance, music, theatre or creative writing designated as Arts II courses; or an accumulation of two credits in studio and performance courses.

All sections of Arts I courses will emphasize ways of knowing in the arts. All sections of Arts II courses will emphasize "doing" the arts.


Rationale: Liberally educated people should be able to explore deeply what is involved in living a fully human life and being responsible persons and engage vigorously and honestly with themselves, with their world and with what is other than themselves – culturally, temporally, religiously and ontologically. The Cultural Heritage portion of Hope’s humanities General Education requirements pursues these overarching objectives of liberal arts education by having students reflect on the riches and challenges of their literary, philosophical and historical legacies. These courses will emphasize the “Knowing How” criteria of critical thinking and written communication and the “Knowing About” criterion of enabling students to explore and understand central questions of human identity. 

Objectives: After completing Cultural Heritage courses, students will

      • Use the fundamental tools common to the humanities (reading, writing, asking good questions, constructing arguments) both to enrich their lives and to achieve more practical goals.
      • Read primary historical, literary and philosophical texts critically, imaginatively and reflectively, in order to better understand themselves, others and the world.
      • Understand the Western cultural inheritance, its chronological development, its strengths and weaknesses and (in some cases) its relations to non-Western cultures and their development and strengths and weaknesses. 

Cultural heritage courses will also build upon the writing skills developed in English 113 through instruction and practice.

Courses: Cultural Heritage courses are divided into two categories by time period: Cultural Heritage I (CH1) courses deal with the pre-modern (ancient and/or medieval) period and Cultural Heritage II (CH2) courses deal with the modern period. Coursework for this requirement must include at least one CH1 course and at least one CH2 course for the sake of chronological breadth. Cultural Heritage coursework must also include the three disciplines of history, literature and philosophy for the sake of understanding different ways of knowing in the humanities.

Covering three humanities disciplines in two courses is made possible by interdisciplinary courses that include all three disciplines or various combinations of two of them. The interdisciplinary Cultural Heritage courses (IDS 171 through 178) take various chronological and cultural focuses, with titles announced in the course schedule and descriptions available on the General Education website. 

Interdisciplinary Cultural Heritage Courses (4 credits)

CH1 CH2 Disciplines covered
IDS 171   IDS 172 history, literature and philosophy
IDS 173      IDS 174    history and literature
IDS 175   IDS 176 literature and philosophy
IDS 177 IDS 178 history and philosophy

Single-discipline Cultural Heritage Courses

CH1   CH2    Title
ENGL 231 ENGL 232 Literature of the Western World I and II
ENGL 233    Ancient Global Literature
  ENGL 234 Modern Global Literature
HIST 130   Introduction to Ancient Civilization
  HIST 131 Introduction to Modern European History
HIST 207 HIST 208 World Civilization I and II
PHIL 230   Ancient Philosophy
  PHIL 232 Modern Philosophy
PHIL 237   World Philosophies I


In order to fulfill the requirement with two courses, a student may either take two IDS courses that combine to cover all three disciplines or combine a single-discipline course with an IDS course that includes the other two disciplines. Here are the possibilities according to which course a student takes for Cultural Heritage I or Cultural Heritage II:

CH1 course  Possible CH2 courses to fulfill the requirement
IDS 171     Any CH2 course
IDS 173 IDS 172 or IDS 176 or IDS 178 or PHIL 232
IDS 175 IDS 172 or IDS 174 or IDS 178 or HIST 131 or HIST 208
IDS 177 IDS 172 or IDS 174 or IDS 176 or ENGL 232
ENGL 231,233 IDS 172 or IDS 178
HIST 130 or 207 IDS 172 or IDS 176
PHIL 230 IDS 172 or IDS 174
CH2 Possible CH1 courses to fulfill the requirement
IDS 172  Any CH1 course
IDS 174 IDS 171 or IDS 175 or IDS 177 or PHIL 230
IDS 176 IDS 171 or IDS 173 or IDS 177 or HIST 130 or HIST 207
IDS 178 IDS 171 or IDS 173 or IDS 175 or ENGL 231
ENGL 232,234  IDS 171 or IDS 177
HIST 131 or 208 IDS 171 or IDS 175
PHIL 232 IDS 171 or IDS 173

Alternatively, a student may fulfill the Cultural Heritage requirement with a combination of three single-discipline courses, one from each discipline, totaling at least 10 credits. One course must be a four-credit CH1 course and one must be a four-credit CH2 course and the third may be a two- or four-credit course in the third discipline. Writing courses in the Department of English will not apply to this requirement. 

SENIOR SEMINAR - 4 credits

Senior Seminar is a unique and essential part of a Hope College education. As the milestone of graduation approaches, senior students gather in interdisciplinary seminars and forge communities devoted to the exploration of their beliefs and values, worldviews and life goals. Students consider carefully the ideas they hold and the perspectives they trust. They may reflect on the course of their lives and envision their future plans, dreams and sense of calling. In the Senior Seminar, students ponder questions such as: What is a good life and how do I achieve it? What does it mean to be a lifelong learner? What are my abiding beliefs and convictions and how can I live them out? What is my worldview? How can I make a difference in the world? Professors from across campus design and offer a range of fascinating and diverse seminars. Faculty guide students as they bring together the life of the mind, the resources of faith, the lessons of experience and the critical practices of reading and reflection, discussion and writing.

As the historic Christian faith is central to the mission of Hope College, so Senior Seminar explores how Christianity provides vital beliefs, vibrant virtues and a life-giving worldview. Throughout history and around the globe, believers and admirers, scholars and students have turned to the Christian faith for direction and insight. At the same time, Hope College affirms that faculty and students of the Liberal Arts can find valuable understanding and moral reckoning in all places and among all peoples in this world so loved by God. For this reason, the Senior Seminar often draws on many academic fields, varied forms of artistic expression and insights from daily life. Indeed, every student, regardless of religious background, is an indispensable member of Hope College and the Senior Seminar. Every student brings to the course intellectual expertise and hard won life lessons. In fact, the Senior Seminar only succeeds when each student identifies deep yearnings, asks hard questions and renews personal integrity; when everyone both shares and gains wisdom. The examination and discussion of diverse viewpoints helps students to refine their own convictions even as they learn to comprehend, consider and evaluate perspectives different from their own.

The following objectives animate the Senior Seminar course and experience.

1) Students will articulate and explore…

…Christian ways of knowing and acting, living and learning;

…Their commitments and convictions in conversation with the Christian Faith; and

…Their understanding of the diverse and life-giving purposes and perspectives by which people live.

2) Students will deepen their ability to discuss their differences openly and sensitively, reasonably and honestly.

3) Students will consider, discuss, and develop their own philosophy of life and write about it in a compelling, coherent and disciplined manner.

Senior Seminars are four-credit courses. Students may elect from the following courses – several of which are offered each semester – to fulfill the requirement. (See also the Values and Vocations Seminar under the Chicago Semester Program above.) Courses should be taken no earlier than May, June or July Terms between the junior and senior year, unless by special permission from the Director of Senior Seminar Program. 

Course:  IDS 400-level courses

The specific purpose of the senior seminar is to ensure that before students graduate from Hope College, they have explicitly confronted questions of value and belief in a practical and concrete way and to clarify how the Christian faith can inform a philosophy for living. These courses will emphasize neither a specific methodology nor specific course content, but will deliberately raise fundamental questions about human values and combine those questions with a challenge to students to reflect on their own choices – how they have come to make them and how they might affect the future. This course, taught topically, is intended to be interdisciplinary in nature. Students will, therefore, be able to enroll in any seminar that interests them.

Some sections of the senior seminar will focus on issues of cultural diversity and will therefore fulfill the cultural diversity general education requirement.

Because this course serves as the capstone to a student's liberal arts education, this course should be taken no earlier than the May Term of a student's junior year.


Rationale: A global society is one in which the lives of all people, near and far, interconnect with each other and with the earth. The choices we make as individuals, groups and institutions affect the quality of life of all peoples and the planet we live on, both now and for future generations. Through webs of connection, we will continually encounter people from a broad spectrum of places, identities and world views. In order to develop these connections into partnerships with global representation and reach, students will need the knowledge and skills to interact with and learn from people different from themselves.  

To become effective leaders who serve in a global society, Hope College students are called to value and develop knowledge and skill in their chosen fields as well as self-awareness, curiosity, responsibility and empathy. Throughout their college years, students must expand their habits of inquiry and hone their communication skills. They should build an understanding of the dynamic relationship between knowledge and culture. These qualities and habits of mind will enable students to form productive intercultural partnerships to address the world’s challenges.  

Through our endeavor to educate students for lives in a global society, we must examine, with humility and courage, our own beliefs, assumptions and cultures that have shaped us. We are called to remember the imperative that we strive to love all of our neighbors, a commandment delivered with special force by the historic Christian faith. As global citizens, we will work together to create a campus community and curriculum that nurture self-awareness and compassion. We must acknowledge the responsibility each of us has for the welfare of all human beings and for our environment and utilize our influence, resources and privileges to make a difference in this ever-changing world

General Objectives: In courses with a focus on global learning, students will

      • Develop curiosity by pursuing new knowledge and ideas and openness to new perspectives
      •  Gain knowledge  that broadens and deepens their understanding of the natural and applied sciences, arts, humanities and social sciences, engaging them in the global concerns that touch each of these fields
      •  Develop self-awareness  of how each person is shaped by culture and how one’s values and beliefs inform one’s decision and assumptions about others
      • Develop empathy, sensitivity and compassion towards others
      • Cultivate their sense of responsibility  for the welfare of others and for their own actions, so that they grow as ethical individuals and engaged citizens

In courses with a domestic diversity focus (U.S. diversity), in addition to the above objectives, students will:

      • Examine diverse cultural perspectives of historically marginalized groups in North America, including racial and ethnic minorities and women
      • Examine issues of difference, intolerance, inequality, justice and power and understand the interplay of these complex concepts
      • Use written, oral, visual or artistic sources produced within the cultures being studied

In courses with an international diversity focus (non-U.S. diversity), in addition to the general objectives, students will:

      • Use comparative analysis of cultural perspectives.
      • Analyze the concepts used to study and compare cultures.
      • Address the culture’s self-definition and self-expression.
      • Focus on theoretical perspectives of gender, race, class, ethnicity and other socially constructed categories.

Course: Students are required to complete two global learning (GL)-flagged courses. One of these courses must focus on domestic (U.S.) diversity (GLD), whereas the second course must focus on international (non-U.S.) diversity (GLI). Courses and/or sections of courses satisfying this requirement are offered throughout the curriculum, both in the general education program and within major programs and are flagged as such in the class schedule. 


The bachelor degree requires the successful completion of a major program. The Bachelor of Arts degree may be earned in the following fields of major concentration:  accounting, art, biology, business, chemistry, chinese studies, classical studies, communication, computer science, dance, economics, engineering, English, French, geology, German, global studies, history,  Japanese studies, kinesiology (exercise science, teaching and coaching), language arts, Latin, mathematics, music, neuroscience, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology, religion, science, social studies, social work, sociology, Spanish, special education, theatre and/or women and gender studies.

The Bachelor of Music degree may be earned in performance, jazz performance, vocal music education and/or instrumental music education.

The Bachelor of Science degree may be earned in biochemistry and molecular biology, biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, environmental science, geology, mathematics and physics. The Bachelor of Science degree requires a minimum of 36 credits in the major and a minimum of 60 credits in the natural sciences division.

Nursing majors may earn the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) degree.

Students may formally declare a major any time after the first semester of college work as long as they are in good academic standing. Normally, the choice of a major program is made by the end of the sophomore year. Students must declare and be assigned an academic advisor in the major area before senior status is obtained (90 semester credits).

For all those courses counting and required for a particular major program, an average grade point of 2.00 or better is required for graduation. (Certain governmentally-supervised programs such as teacher certification and social work may require higher grade point averages. Students must be aware of such special criteria.)

      1. The Departmental Major

The departmental major is the most common means by which Hope's students engage in an intensive study in one field of knowledge. Upon the decision of a major and after consultation with the academic advisor, a student makes formal declaration of a major to the department chairperson on the appropriate form from the Registrar's Office. The department chairperson assigns a new advisor. The student should become familiar with all the departmental requirements as presented in the degree evaluation in order to graduate from the college. The degree evaluation will certify to the Registrar that all the criteria for the major have been met, including the GPA required in the major area coursework.

      1. The Composite Major

The composite major is an alternative to the departmental major. While the composite major seeks to fulfill the same objectives as the departmental major, namely, the ability to engage in intensive, in-depth scholarly inquiry, the composite major allows for special alignment of courses from several departments to fulfill a particular academic or vocational objective. The composite major is just as rigorous as a department major, but it allows the tailoring of an academic program to a field or topic of inquiry other than a departmental field. 

Guidelines for the Composite Major – Students interested in pursuing a composite major should consult with the Registrar about the application procedure. The following guidelines are established for those contemplating a composite major and for those responsible for approving such a major: 

      1. Applicants must present a written rationale for their composite major. This must include a definition of the field of inquiry. This field must be more specific than a random collection of courses from several departments in the same division.
      2. The composite major should consist of at least 36 credits of coursework aimed at providing depth in the defined field of inquiry. A list of courses should be included with the rationale.
      3. Of these credits, at least half should be in courses that are not elementary, but upper level courses (normally courses numbered over 300).            

THE MUSICAL THEATRE COMPOSITE MAJOR is designed for the student interested in integrating studies in music, theatre and dance, with a focus on musical theatre. Every proposed composite major will consist of an individualized course of study, as determined in consultation with advisors from the three participating departments and as outlined in the above Guidelines for the Composite Major. However, to assist in this process, the following guidelines for course selection have been developed:

            Dance:  jazz, 4 credits; modern, 2 credits; ballet or dance improvisation, 2 credits; tap, 3 credits; Dance 114, Historical Social Dance; Dance 305, Composition I

            Music:  applied voice, 8-16 credits; applied piano, 4 credits; Music 111 and 112, Theory I and II; Music 113 and 114, Aural Skills I and II

            Theatre:  105, 161, 162, 210, 215, 243, 261, 306, 375, 376

Upper-level electives to fulfill the requirements of composite majors and to enhance and augment an individual student's program of study will be added through further advising. 


While minors are not required for the degree, concentrations of coursework in an area outside the student’s major may qualify students to have this minor listed on their academic transcripts. Consult the departmental listings for approved minor programs. Minor declaration forms are available online or at the Registrar's Office.

Minors are required for some teacher certification programs and students who intend to be certified to teach at the elementary or secondary level should consult with the Department of Education.

For all courses required for a minor program, a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 is required.