Study at Institutions other than Amherst College

The department has a specific distribution of courses that a student must complete in order to graduate with a major in Black Studies.Those requirements are listed in the course catalog and delineated on the "Departmental Major Form." Every Black Studies major is required to complete this form in consultation with her/his advisor who signs off on the form in the major's final semester, indicating that the student has successfully completed the department's requirements.

No more than two courses taken at other institutions, including our sister institutions in the Five College system, may normally be counted in fulfilling the geographical and/or elective requirements of the Black Studies major.In order to have those courses count, the student must adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Prior to enrolling in the course, the major must provide her/his advisor with a hard copy of the course description as provided in the other institution's course catalog and obtain the advisor's permission to take the course for a Black Studies credit.
  2. During the semester in which the course is taken, the major must petition the Department in writing to have the course count toward the major requirements.A hard copy of the course syllabus must be provided with the petition.The Department will vote to accept or not accept the course as meeting the major requirements.If the course is approved, the student must receive a grade of C or higher in order for the course to be counted.Under no circumstances will a petition be accepted after the close of the semester in which the course is taken.

The Registrar also has specific requirements, and a student contemplating a semester or year of study away from the college would be well-advised to consult with the Registrar in order to avoid unpleasant surprises upon her/his return.Those requirements, taken directly from the Registrar's web site, are listed here:

"Students who plan to study abroad or on a domestic educational leave must understand the college's policies on transfer credit. Please use the following guidelines for courses you will want to transfer for credit at Amherst:

  1. The work you take must be in liberal arts courses.
  2. The work should not duplicate or substantially overlap your previous courses.
  3. The work you wish to count towards fulfilling your major should be approved by your department before you leave.
  4. The work is acceptable for transfer only if it has earned a grade of at least C. (A grade of C- will not suffice.)

Amherst College courses are not normally discussed in term of credit hours. Credit for each of them, however, is equivalent to four semester hours. Thus the load per semester is sixteen semester hours. Students must earn at least fifteen semester hours of credit in liberal arts courses creditable at Amherst each semester they are away in order to keep up with others in their class. Students who attend a college on the quarter system will need forty-eight quarter hours of credit for the academic year to earn the equivalent of eight courses at Amherst.


Don't be misled by statements that three or four courses are a full load; it is the credit they carry that is determinant. If you have any questions about credit, contact the registrar."

Students are also advised to refer to "Academic Credit from Other Institutions" under "Degree Requirements" in the Course Catalog. See additional information (posted by the Registrar's Office) about the College's Study Abroad Program.