About Academics

Principia College offers academic programs leading to a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. Each of these degrees has its own requirements, described in the academic programs section of this catalog.

Principia’s faculty members consider teaching their primary purpose. Their research, writing, and professional activities complement and deepen their teaching. Small classes allow students to enjoy a lively interaction with faculty. These stimulating exchanges extend beyond the classroom, laboratory, or studio to informal visits in faculty offices, homes, or by telephone.

Principia is on the semester system. We have two sixteen-week terms per year: fall and spring semesters. Each semester consists of fourteen weeks of classes, one week of in-term break, and an exam week at the end of the semester.

Course credit is measured in semester hours. A semester hour represents three hours of student work per credit per week for 14 weeks. Depending on the method of instruction, the ratio between contact time and student work outside of class varies. No academic credit is given to PE. One PE course is comprised of a minimum of 42 hours of activity (three hours per week for 14 weeks).

To be considered a full-time student, a student must carry a minimum of twelve semester hours per semester. A normal academic load is fifteen semester hours per semester, which allows a student to complete the required 120 semester hours in four years. Students are expected to complete their degrees within eight semesters. In order to remain enrolled beyond eight semesters, a student must petition for extended study.

Each incoming student starts with an “undeclared” major and works closely with a new-student advisor. These advisors help students select courses, explore possible majors, start to connect skills and interests to potential career ideas, and develop an educational plan which may include extracurricular activities.  Students may declare a major at any time after their first term begins. Typically students will declare a major within the first year or two of college, and the sooner they decide on a major and take this important step, the better. Once a major has been declared, the student will be advised by a faculty member in that academic program.

Faculty in the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) support students of all academic levels by offering one-on-one sessions, workshops (including regular WISE write-in workshops and various learning communities), and training in study and time management skills. The Center also offers programming for scholastic enrichment, as well as for-credit courses in writing, and academic literacy/reading for all students. CTL trains and hires writing/research tutors to guide their peers through the paper-writing process. CTL sponsors a student academic peer mentor program. Students who are conditionally admitted for academic reasons and those on academic probation are required to attend CTL sessions and improve their learning skills.

Majors, minors, and courses available at Principia College are described in the Departmental Programs pages of this catalog. Students desiring to go beyond regular curricular offerings should consult the sections in this catalog on independent study and individualized majors.

Principia also offers three types of off-campus programs: Principia Abroads, field programs, and academic internships. See Off-Campus Programs.