First-Year Seminars

All first-year students must enroll in a first-year seminar during their initial semester at Connecticut College. First-year seminars are limited to 16 students and focus on close student-faculty interaction, lively exchange of views, and instruction in writing and critical reading and analysis. Dozens of seminars in a wide array of topics are offered each year. The seminar instructor also serves as a student's pre-major adviser.

World Languages and Cultures

As a foundation for incorporating world languages and cultures into students’ academic programseach student must complete a minimum of two semesters of study of one language at any level, either at Connecticut College or at a comparable institution. (Advanced Placement credit will not satisfy this requirement.) Normally, language courses will be completed by the end of the sophomore year so that students may incorporate and deepen their knowledge in culminating work in the junior and senior years. Transfer students entering Connecticut College with 56 credits or more are required to complete one semester of language study, either at Connecticut College or a comparable institution.

As Connecticut College students actively engage in global communities, both domestically and internationally, it is imperative that they develop an ability to empathize, communicate, and collaborate with others from diverse cultures in their own languages. The study of world languages and cultures, present and past, provides a unique catalyst for fostering a mode of critical thinking that creates true cultural understanding, one that recognizes relationships shaped by power, privilege, identity, and social location. 

In addition, students will work closely with advisers to incorporate their language learning into co-curricular experiences, such as internships, study away, research, student teaching, and volunteer opportunities. Students who achieve advanced-level proficiency in a language, and who apply their language in an international or other practical context, may have this noted on their academic transcript.


During your first two years, students must complete a ConnCourse—an interdisciplinary class where you will discover connections between your studies and real-world issues. Transfer students entering Connecticut College with 56 credits or more are exempt from this requirement.

In ConnCourses, students connect areas of the liberal arts and explore different modes of thinking. ConnCourses cultivates and encourages an integrative approach to learning and problem-solving. In addition, these courses help students develop fundamental skills that can be applied throughout their studies, instilling deep intellectual curiosity and a desire for lifelong learning.

How much can we really know about dinosaurs? How can an ancient religion be lived today? How do people explore, imagine and distinguish themselves as Hispanic? How truly free and independent are we from the influence of the state? How can Twitter feeds reveal public opinion? These are just a few of the questions you might explore in ConnCourses like “Theater of the AIDS epidemic”, “Clones, Cyborgs, Posthuman”, “Decoding Color,” “CoEvolution-Plants and People”, “Lost and Found in Translation”, and “Hispanic Identities”.

Modes of Inquiry

All students must complete one course from each of the five modes. Students in pathways, centers or certificate programs are only required to complete courses in four modes.

The five Modes of Inquiry represent broad ways through which human beings know and experience the world, others, and self. The focus of this system is on the development of critical and imaginative capacities. Achieving intellectual breadth in these areas will develop students’ abilities to address complex problems, to express ideas through well-supported arguments and in creative forms, and to engage in a dynamic world with knowledge of historical context and cultural variation.

The Modes of Inquiry are:

Every Mode of Inquiry course must be taken in a different department, as defined by the course designations.

Writing Across the Curriculum

Each student must complete two designated Writing (W) courses. For most students, one of these courses will be a first-year seminar.

Writing courses are designed to integrate the teaching of writing with the teaching of subject matter, and to foster a deep connection between writing and critical thinking. Courses that fulfill the writing requirement normally include the following elements:

  • A minimum range of 15 to 25 pages of graded writing
  • Writing assignments distributed over the course of the semester
  • Feedback from the instructor on writing, along with opportunities for students to make use of these suggestions
  • Time devoted to discussing skills and strategies for writing

Social Difference and Power Courses

Students must complete two Social Difference and Power designated courses. The courses can be taken at any time during four years of study at Connecticut College. These courses are available as First-Year Seminars, ConnCourses, Pathway Thematic Inquiry courses, Center gateway and core courses, Mode of Inquiry courses, major and minor courses, and/or electives.  Transfer students entering Connecticut College with 56 credits or more and students in dual-degree programs requiring a year or more of off-campus study are only required to complete one such course.

In Social Difference and Power courses, students will develop: deeper analyses of social identity and difference; a more informed understanding of systemic forms of inequality and underlying structures of power; and their disproportionate impact on underrepresented and/or marginalized peoples and communities. Importantly, these courses will provide students with opportunities to put the liberal arts into action and develop the necessary skills for a 21st-century world.

Social Difference and Power courses