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Science Majors

For first-year students thinking about majoring in one of the natural sciences, the Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Geology, and Physics/Astronomy offer the following suggestions:

  1. Considering how often interests change upon encounter with different subjects at the college level, first-year students should strive for variety and exploration both within the science/math area and in the other distribution groups. We strongly encourage students to take no more than two six-credit courses from a single science department, and no more than four science courses overall, during the first year.
  2. Mathematics is an important tool for all the sciences. Students who are interested in the physical sciences should begin the calculus sequence during the first year; those interested in Physics or Chemistry and who have no calculus advanced placement should normally take two terms of calculus during the first year.
  3. Virtually all students wish to probe and explore a variety of academic interests in their first year at Carleton. The recommended number of math-science courses is four, which still allows diversity in a student's program since there is room for five courses in the humanities and social sciences.
  4. All of the natural science majors have considerable flexibility. In each of our departments, it is entirely possible to delay the start of a major to the sophomore year (though this may limit some options within the department--e.g., research participation or certain senior-level courses). With proper advance planning, any science student can also participate in off-campus study.