General Academic Requirements for Graduation

First-year writing and Physical Education requirements

First-year Writing Requirement

Every first-year student is required to fulfill the First-year Writing Requirement, and there are two parts to the requirement:

  1. Writing course(s): three options
  • Writing 5 (fall or winter; students are assigned to a particular term – see Banner Student)
  • Writing 2-3 (two term sequence in the fall and winter): students who are asked to complete an online writing placement process in the summer. Based on that assessment, they may be invited to enroll in Writing 2-3 instead of Writing 5.
  • Humanities 1 (fall:
  1. First-year Seminar (or Humanities 2): students enroll in a First-year Seminar the term immediately after completing one of the writing options.  These are small writing-intensive courses taught on particular topics. Seminars are taught in various departments, but always under the course number "007." First-year Seminars offer every first-year student an opportunity to participate in a course structured around intensive writing, independent research, small group discussion, and reading across the disciplines.

Additional information:

  • Writing 2-3 or 5 and Humanities 1 do not count towards Distributive or World Culture requirements.
  • As of AY 21–22, First-year Seminars or Humanities 2 do not count towards Distributive or World Culture requirements.
  • Students are not eligible to participate in off-campus programs until they have satisfied the First-year Seminar requirement.
  • First-year students may enroll in a second seminar if seats are available after all students assigned to a take First-year Seminar that term have been accommodated.
  • For more information about the First-year Writing Requirement and placement and enrollment policies for Writing 2-3, Writing 5 and First-year Seminar, visit:


First-Year Residency Requirement

Although it is not an academic requirement, it is helpful to know that first-year students are required to complete their first three terms in residence at Dartmouth. Students are not eligible for off-campus programs, exchange terms, or leave terms until this requirement is completed. In rare instances a first-year student may take a medical or personal withdrawal during the first three terms.

College Requirements

35 Courses

All students are required to earn 35 credits before graduation. The 35 credits can consist of credits earned at Dartmouth, and a maximum of four credits from an exchange term. Typically, Dartmouth students take three classes per term for 12 terms.

The Registrar's Office determines the applicability of transfer credits. A student can transfer up to four credits towards their Dartmouth degree.

Distributive and World Culture Requirements

Language Requirement

Physical Education Requirement

By graduation students must have completed three terms of physical education and pass a 50-yard swim test. Students who participate in an intercollegiate or club sport may receive credit for that activity during the term in which they participate. A maximum of two credits may be earned in this manner. Satisfactory completion of courses in physical education is based on skill improvement and participation. Please be aware that registration for PE courses is separate from the regular course registration process.

Due to extenuating circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including impacts on students' schedules and ongoing concerns about virus transmission, the College has revised the Physical Education (PE) requirements for students graduating in the 2021-2022, 2022-2023, 2023-2024, and 2024-2025 academic years as follows:

  • 2021-2022 academic year: All PE requirements are waived for students graduating in 2021 summer, 2021 fall, 2022 winter, and 2022 spring. 

  • 2022-2023 academic year: All PE requirements are waived for students graduating in 2022 summer, 2022 fall, 2023 winter, and 2023 spring.

  • 2023-2024 academic year:  The swim test has been waived for students graduating in 2023 summer, 2023 fall, 2024 winter and 2024 spring. The number of required PE courses has been reduced to 1 PE courses for students graduating in these terms.

  • 2024-2025 academic year: The swim test has been waived for students graduating in 2024 summer, 2024 fall, 2025 winter and 2025 spring. Students graduating in these terms are required to complete 2 PE courses.

Note: these adjustments are contingent upon the student's graduation term, not class year. Contact with any questions.

NOTE: PE courses do not count toward the 35 credits need to graduate.