Academic Requirements

Upon satisfactory completion of the requirements for graduation, Wheaton College confers upon the student one of four degrees—Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Music, or Bachelor of Music Education. A majority of majors within the Arts and Sciences award the Bachelor of Arts. Selected majors (chiefly in the sciences) award the Bachelor of Science, and the Conservatory offers the Bachelor of Music and the Bachelor of Music Education. See the description of each major for the specific degree awarded. A student can earn a second baccalaureate degree provided that the degree (i.e., BA, BS, BM or BME) is a different type from the first, all requirements for each degree are satisfied, and at least 30 hours beyond those required for the first degree (minimum of 154 semester hours) have been completed. Contact the Registrar’s Office for further details.

A student is subject to the requirements listed in the catalog for the year in which the first enrollment occurred or to the requirements of a subsequent catalog under which the student is enrolled. All requirements must be met, however, under the same catalog. The College reserves the right to change academic policies and procedures during a student's time of enrollment.

Students are expected to complete the general education, major, minor, and/or certificate programs with the listed catalog courses. Course substitutions can be made by departmental recommendation (see department); exceptions to policy, procedure, or general academic requirements are handled with the academic petition process (form available in the Registrar's Office).

Graduation Requirements

The following requirements must be met for graduation:

  • Students must satisfactorily complete 124 semester hours. No more than six hours of Applied Health Science Physical Activity courses or Dance courses can be included in the 124 hours. The course requirements for some majors exceed 124 hours.
  • A cumulative grade point average of 2.00 must be maintained. A 2.00 average is also required for a major with a maximum of four hours of D grades allowed toward a major (maximum of eight hours of D grades in major courses for the B.M. and the B.M.E. degrees).
  • A total of 36 semester hours must be earned in upper division courses—those numbered 300 and above.
  • At least 48 semester hours must be satisfactorily completed from Wheaton College. Irrespective of the total number of hours taken from Wheaton College, at least 30 of the last 60 and at least 12 of the last 21 hours earned toward the degree must be taken from Wheaton. Study abroad programs on the Global Programs and Studies (GPS) Office's Approved Semester Programs list may count as residency hours for the 12 of the last 21 rule.
  • The requirements for one major must be satisfactorily completed. Specific requirements for majors are stated in the Arts and Sciences and Conservatory of Music sections of this catalog. The 124 hours required for graduation may contain no more than 52 hours within a student’s major prefix, (e.g. BIOL) and no fewer than 72 hours outside the major prefix. Students must complete a minimum of 15 semester hours plus the capstone course in their major from Wheaton College, except in the case of Foreign Language majors who complete their study-abroad requirement in an accepted non-Wheaton College program; these students must complete a minimum of 12 semester hours plus the capstone course in their major from Wheaton College.
  • Students must satisfactorily meet all Christ at the Core general education requirements.
  • Some departments require that students in their major take comprehensive examinations as a part of their graduation requirements. Other assessment measurements may be required by individual departments or the college administration.
  • An Application for Degree must be filed with the Registrar's Office by the beginning of the student's senior year.
  • Completion of the Bachelor’s degree must be within ten years of initial enrollment.

Participation in Commencement

Commencement is a public event for recognizing and celebrating graduating students. A student who completes degree requirements in December, May, or summer may participate in the annual May commencement. Completion of degree requirements means that a student will have completed all the requirements as noted above.

Students who will be completing degree requirements during the summer must be registered for the appropriate courses prior to the commencement ceremony as confirmed by the Registrar’s Office. In order to walk in commencement, it is assumed that a student will receive, or will be eligible to receive, a diploma no later than August of the academic year of commencement participation.

Some students will be allowed to participate in commencement without having completed all of the above criteria. The exceptions are:

  • Elementary education, secondary education, or music education students who have completed everything except the student teaching semester;
  • Liberal arts engineering students who have completed at least one year at an ABET accredited engineering schools;
  • Liberal arts nursing students who have completed one year of the nursing program from a nursing school; and
  • Students who are registered to complete one graduation requirement during the following fall semester on Wheaton’s campus.

Liberal arts engineering and nursing students are not eligible to participate in commencement after 8 semesters of enrollment if the above criteria for Wheaton requirements are not completely met.

Students who do not meet the stated criteria will not be permitted to participate in commencement. While requests for an exception to the stated criteria may be submitted by a student, such exceptions are rarely approved and only for very unusual and extenuating circumstances. The "Request to Participate in Commencement" (available in the Registrar's Office) must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office by March 1. All requests will be reviewed by the Provost’s Office.

General Education Statement of Purpose

The purpose of our general education program, Christ at the Core, is to introduce men and women to an understanding and appreciation of God, His creation and grace, and to our place of privilege and responsibility in the world He has made. To this end, the curriculum encourages students to ground all aspects of life in the Word of God, leading to a firm commitment to Christ and His Kingdom.

Christ at the Core general education exposes students to the fundamental ideas of their shared theological, cultural, intellectual, and scientific traditions, and also to concepts and issues outside the framework of their own cultural background. It engages students in various disciplines with their means of discovery, helps students grasp relationships between different fields of knowledge, and encourages them to appreciate and experience the unity of God's truth.

The Christ at the Core general education curriculum is designed to develop the student's ability to be creative, to think critically, and to reason analytically and quantitatively. It enables students to develop proficiencies in research methodologies, in oral and written expression, and in aesthetic appreciation. More specifically Christ at the Core prepares a student:

To pursue an integration of faith, life and learning:

  • By employing a Christian world view of God, humanity, nature, and the arts
  • By seeking to obey Christ in personal, professional, occupational, and social activity
  • By understanding and applying biblical perspectives to all areas of knowledge and life
  • By interconnecting knowledge, concepts, and actions through critical analysis of historical, cultural and scientific backgrounds

Christ at the Core encourages independent thought and action, nurturing the desire and capacity for informed moral choices and lifetime learning. It supports the general goal of the College to prepare students—intellectually, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and socially—for life in church and society, for involvement in Christ's redemptive work in creation, and for lives of joy and service to the glory of God.

Christ at the Core General Education Requirements

The general education requirements listed below apply to students in the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degree programs. Requirements for Music degrees are listed in the Conservatory of Music section of the catalog. The credit hours listed for each requirement are based on Wheaton College course offerings. Variations may occur when requirements are met through testing and/or with transfer credit.

Core Competencies - (up to 20 Hours)

Competencies are essential academic skills for advanced study in the Christian liberal arts. Each student must satisfy up to 20 hours of Core Competencies over four different disciplines (First-Year Writing, Oral Communication, Foreign Language, and Wellness). Some students test out of part of the requirements through validation tests administered by the appropriate department or by AP, IB, ACT, or SAT Subject scores. Since these skills are foundational for further study, students should complete them no later than the end of their sophomore year, with the exception of the foreign language requirement, which should be completed by the end of the junior year.

1. First-Year Writing (0-4 Hours)

Students should fulfill this requirement in their first year so that they will be introduced to ideas and skills that will be crucial for their progress through their liberal arts education. All students should complete the writing requirement by the end of their sophomore year. Since writing is a lifelong skill, students are encouraged to take additional writing courses beyond Composition and Research. Successful completion of the First-Year Writing requirement is a prerequisite for enrollment in any upper division writing course.

Meeting the Writing Requirement:

  • You may satisfy the writing requirement by taking ENGW 103 First-Year Writing (4 hours) and earning a grade of C or higher.

Options to Waive the Requirement with Academic Credit:

  • Score a 4 or 5 on the LANGUAGE/Composition Advanced Placement exam.
  • Score a 32 or higher on the ELA result (an average of your English, Reading, and Writing scores) of an ACT exam.
  • Score a minimum of 6 on each of the 3 categories (reading, analysis, and writing) of the SAT Essay Exam. 

2. Oral Communication (0-4 Hours)

The Oral Communication requirement should be completed by the end of the sophomore year. If you have had extensive speech training or experience, take the oral competency exam offered by the Communication Department.

Options to Fulfill the Requirement:

  • Pass oral competency exam offered by the Communication Department (offered every A quad), which consists of presenting a persuasive speech to a jury composed of one or more members of the Communication faculty (fulfills requirement; no credit)
  • Take one of the following courses:
    COMM 101Public Speaking2
    COMM 201Fundamentals of Oral Communication (for COMM majors and minors only)4
    COMM 252Argumentation and Debate4
    COMM 393Intercollegiate Debate (Practicum) (4 semesters, 2 credits)2

3. Language Competency (0-12 Hours)

Students at Wheaton College shall demonstrate linguistic proficiency in either a modern or classical language to fulfill the Core Curriculum Language Competency Requirement. The requirement must be completed by the end of the junior year and can be achieved by one of the following means:

  1. Language Study:  Students completing the language requirement through study at Wheaton College must take and pass with a C- or above a semester-long (four-credit) course in a modern or classical language at Wheaton at the intermediate level (201, 209) to satisfy the requirement. An upper division, 300-level modern or classical language course may satisfy the requirement by petition. 
  2. Transfer Credit: 

    Students may transfer one intermediate-level (or upper division) modern or classical language semester course (completed and passed with a C- or above) from a four-year accredited college or university or two intermediate-level semester courses (both of which must have been completed and passed with a C- or above) from a two-year college1 to satisfy the requirement.

    1. Courses taken abroad may also be considered on a case-by-case basis with prior approval by the Department of Modern and Classical Languages.

    2. Four hours from an intermediate-level dual enrollment course will be accepted if validated by an ACTFL OPI or OPIc rating of “Intermediate-Mid” via LTI testing proctored by the Dept. of Modern and Classical Languages or by an LTI remote proctor assigned by the language department.

    3. Online modern language courses are not accepted.

  3. Test Scores

    1. Modern Languages:

      • Students who received a minimum score of 580 on a College Board SAT Subject Test with a reading component, a 3 or higher on an AP Exam, a 4 or higher on an IB Exam (Higher Level [HL]), or who have been awarded the Illinois State Seal of Biliteracy2 in an approved language, will have satisfied the requirement. 

      • Students whose oral proficiency in a language other than English is assessed at the ACTFLIntermediate-Mid” level based on an official OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview) or OPIc (Oral Proficiency Interview-computer) test administered by Language Testing International (LTI)4 will have fulfilled the language competency requirement. (Note: LTI OPI and OPIc testing must be proctored by a faculty or staff member from the Dept. of Modern and Classical Languages.​

    2. Classical Languages:

      • Students of Latin who received a minimum score of 640 on a College Board SAT Subject Test with a reading component, a 4 or higher on an AP Exam, a 5 or higher on an IB Exam (Higher Level [HL]), or who have been awarded the Illinois State Seal of Biliteracy for Latin, will have satisfied the Language Competency Requirement.

      • Students of Latin, Ancient Greek or Classical Hebrew who pass an MCL Department Language Competency Exam will have satisfied the Language Competency Requirement.

    3. Students who are attempting to fulfill the language competency requirement via an LTI OPI or OPIc test (for modern languages) or by departmental competency exam (for classical languages) must do so before the end of the first year after matriculation at Wheaton. The test may be taken only once to satisfy the requirement.

Exemptions from the Core Language Competency Requirement:

Contact the Department of Modern and Classical Languages for further information.

4.  Wellness (0-2 Hours)

All students should fulfill the Wellness requirement their freshman or sophomore year.

Meeting the Wellness Requirement:

  • Most students will fulfill the Wellness requirement by taking AHS 101 during their freshman or sophomore year.
  • Students demonstrating physical competency through participation in ROTC or Intercollegiate athletics may satisfy the Wellness requirement (fulfills requirement, no credit) by completing all the following:
  1. Complete the Wellness competency exam with a score of 70% or higher (this exam will include an essay of how wellness can be shaped by Christian faith and practice)
  2. Successful completion of one year of ROTC program OR one season of Intercollegiate athletics program
  • Students who are not formal participants in ROTC or Intercollegiate athletics may satisfy the Wellness requirement (fulfills requirement, no credit) by completing all the following:
  1. Complete the Wellness competency exam with a score of 70% or higher (this exam will include an essay of how wellness can be shaped by Christian faith and practice)
  2. An activity log
  3. A dietary analysis
  4. A sleep log

Shared Core - (18-24 Hours)

The Shared Core fosters students’ developmental learning of the integration of faith and learning and liberal arts study. These common courses are required of all students as either prerequisites or as a required course which explore topics and cultivate skills valued in the development of Christian perspectives on all of life and learning. Shared Core courses are expected to be taken at Wheaton College. (Transfer students who have taken in-person courses at a residential Christian college may meet 2 of the BITH requirements with transfer credit.)

1.  First Year Seminar: Enduring Questions (CORE 101, 4 Hours)

All first year students will take CORE 101 First Year Seminar: Enduring Questions in the fall semester. This course is intended to present a framework to help students understand the nature of a Christian liberal arts education and the integration of faith with learning. The First Year Seminar is composed of 2/3 shared content and 1/3 specialized content unique to the faculty member and course section.

Students will be able to….

  • articulate how life in Christ shapes the way one addresses enduring questions (including “What is the good life?”) in conversation with alternative approaches.
  • analyze significant factors that influence the development of character.
  • articulate the value of Christian liberal arts education.
  • explain the Gospel in light of the biblical narrative using basic theological vocabulary.
  • critically engage the ideas of vocation as they concern God’s general calling on all Christians, their calling as students, and the distinctive vocations each of them pursues.

2.  Old Testament (4 Hours)

To meet the requirement in Old Testament:

3.  New Testament (4 Hours)

To meet the requirement in New Testament:

4.  Christian Thought (4 Hours)

To meet the requirement in Christian Thought:

5.  Advanced Integrative Seminar (CORE 3XX, 4 Hours)

Students should take the Advanced Integrative Seminar CORE 3XX after the First Year Seminar and before the Capstone Experience, ideally during their sophomore or junior year. The Advanced Integrative Seminar builds upon the work of the First Year Seminar and fosters advanced skills in Christian liberal arts learning. These courses focus on a complex topic that requires integrative perspectives and may encourage interdisciplinary work while modeling a sophisticated approach to the integration of faith and learning. Students will be expected to read, discuss, and write with rigor and increased maturity. They should demonstrate increasing independence and resourcefulness in the development of informed and committed Christian responses to the content and questions of each seminar’s topic. Students shall not be allowed to take more than one AIS course.

Students will be able to….

  • demonstrate increasing maturity in their ability to show how the Christian faith informs and is informed by their understanding of a complex issue.
  • exhibit research skills involving different forms of inquiry, investigation and analysis in order to address the course topic.

Note: Many AIS courses will also meet at least one theme in the Thematic Core, but they cannot be counted as hours toward a major or a minor. An AIS may count for certificate credit. Certificates may not require an AIS, but they may identify AIS courses eligible for elective credit in fulfilling certificate requirements.

6.  Capstone Experience: Disciplinary Questions and Vocational Challenges (2-4 Hours)

Students will complete a Capstone course in their major, as designated by that department. The Capstone Experience allows students to pursue deep integration of their major and the concepts they have explored throughout the entire Christ at the Core curriculum. The Capstone Experience also considers how the First Year Seminar, the Advanced Integrative Seminar, and coursework in their major prepares them for their vocations after Wheaton.

Students will be able to….

  • integrate their major’s discipline with their Christ at the Core learning.
  • articulate how their understanding of vocation as it concerns God’s general calling on all Christians, their calling as students, and their distinctive vocational callings has developed while at Wheaton College.
  • discuss how studying the Christian liberal arts has shaped their growth in knowledge, wisdom, and Christian character during their time at Wheaton College.

Thematic Core (12-40 Hours)

The Thematic Core offers broad exposure to the liberal arts while allowing for multidisciplinary courses. The Thematic Core courses encourage students to interact with disciplines across the academic spectrum while focusing on the integrative goals of a Christian liberal arts education and helping students develop a distinctly Christian understanding of creation, culture, and the pursuit of truth.

The Thematic Core requirement is fulfilled by taking one course from each theme (aka tag) unless otherwise noted. Courses that fulfill Thematic Core themes will have this designation in their course description. Some courses will have more than one tag.


  • Applied Abstract and Quantitative Reasoning - AAQR
  • Diversity in the United States - DUS
  • Global Perspectives - GP
  • Historical Perspectives - HP
  • Literary Explorations - LE
  • Philosophical Investigations - PI
  • Scientific Issues and Perspectives - SIP
  • Scientific Practice - SP
  • Social Inquiry - SI
  • Visual and Performing Arts - VPA
    Take one 4-hr VPA course or two 2-hr courses with 2 different tags: VPAV (art), VPAM (music), VPAT (theater)

Courses may carry up to 2 Thematic Core tags. A maximum of three themes may be applied to meet both Thematic Core requirements and major requirements.

A maximum of 4 of the themes in the Thematic Core may be met with transfer credit for the general student population. However, transfer students entering with 60 or more credits may meet up to 6 themes with transfer credit.  Each transfer course may only meet one theme as assigned by the Registrar’s Office. Christ at the Core requirements for individual Music degrees are listed in the Conservatory of Music section of the catalog.

Competency, Advanced Placement/Credit

All prospective students are required to submit either ACT or SAT scores as a part of the admissions process. The writing subscores from ACT and SAT may be used to meet part of the competency requirements for writing.

Students commonly use the College Board SAT Subject Tests to waive college requirements although in most cases no college credit is given for them. Normally, students sign up for these examinations through their high school guidance counselors.

SAT II Subject Test scores will be accepted in fulfillment of the general education foreign language competency requirement only for incoming first year students and transfer students; SAT II scores for continuing students will be accepted in fulfillment of the competency requirement only if the exams were taken prior to enrollment at Wheaton.

The Advanced Placement (AP) tests may be used to earn college credit. They are typically taken by students after taking an AP course in high school.

Some courses taken as a part of the International Baccalaureate program can be used for college credit if a grade of 5 or higher was earned.

More specific information concerning the tests accepted and scores that are needed to waive a course or receive credit is available from the Academic Advising Office at Wheaton College.

Transfer Credit

Most credits earned at another accredited college will transfer to Wheaton if the courses are applicable to a liberal arts program. Courses of a vocational or technical nature or courses in which a grade below C- was earned are not transferable. College courses taken prior to high school enrollment are not transferable. Courses taken at an unaccredited college may receive some credit with the approval of the Registrar. The College reserves the right to decide the acceptability and applicability of degrees and credits earned at other institutions. Grades for credits accepted for transfer courses are not included when determining a student's cumulative grade point average at Wheaton.

Transfer student credit is assessed upon acceptance. Continuing students wishing to take courses at another college must complete a Transfer Credit Approval Form prior to taking the course to confirm that the course will transfer to Wheaton College, for the requirement they are seeking to meet. A maximum of 4 of the Thematic Core Themes may be met with transfer credit, and only the primary tag is given for transfer courses. Only Wheaton courses receive multiple tags.

A maximum of 40 credit hours earned prior to high school graduation may be applied to the undergraduate degree. Use of courses taken prior to college matriculation for major requirements will be at the discretion of the Academic Department.

Students who transfer credits from a community college can transfer a maximum of 62 semester hours of credit. Courses taken at two-year colleges may not be used to satisfy Wheaton's upper division course requirement.

Wheaton accepts credits earned by online/distance learning coursework with certain exceptions. Such work should be taken only from well-recognized programs through accredited institutions. Lab science, foreign language and public speaking courses must have in-person lab, speaking/listening, or speech presentations, respectively.

Accepting courses for transfer and applying them toward degree requirements are separate considerations. Courses may transfer as elective credits but not be applicable to specific requirements. Transfer students are expected to meet all graduation requirements and general education requirements as listed in the appropriate sections of the catalog. Students may be requested to supply specific course information for a department in order to receive transfer credit. In some cases, students may be requested to take additional courses if the department determines that the necessary areas of study were not included.

Transfer students seeking Illinois teacher certification are expected to take all required 300- and 400-level education courses at Wheaton. Exceptions may be granted with departmental approval.

Courses that have been taken more than eight years prior to transferring to Wheaton are subject to department approval for transfer if they are to be used to meet any general education, major, minor, or teacher education requirements.