2019-2020 Catalog 
    Jun 24, 2024  
2019-2020 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Academic Programs

The Knight Scholars Program

The Knight Scholars program supports students in their transition to learning at Calvin University.  Admission to become a Knight Scholar is granted by the Committee on Admissions to students who show academic promise to succeed at Calvin and contribute to the community.  Criteria for admission to the program include high school grades, high school coursework, ACT/SAT scores, recommendations, and other admissions materials.


The Knight Scholars Program offers support through proactive advising, personalized coursework, and engaged coaching:


Proactive Advising

  • Knight Scholars meet with a knowledgeable academic advisor at Passport orientation, fall and spring advising days, and as needed to plan classes, discuss progress, and find support during the first year at Calvin.


Personalized Coursework

  • Knight Scholars take a mathematics and written rhetoric placement to determine the best fit for courses in these areas. 
  • Knight Scholars take ASC 112-Strategies for Academic Success  concurrently with a reading-lecture course during their first semester.  These paired courses develop learning skills that help Knight Scholars flourish academically.


Engaged Coaching

  • Knight Scholars work closely with peer academic coaches, ASC instructors, and other practical, academic resources on campus to navigate the transition to Calvin.

The Adult Learner Program

Adults who wish to begin a college program or return to college may enroll under the classification of Adult Learner. This classification includes:

  1. Adults with no prior college experience and at least a four-year interruption in education since high school.
  2. Adults transferring into Calvin who have a combination of course work and work experiences equivalent to four years of activity since high school.
  3. Post baccalaureate students returning for a second degree or a set of course work related to their emerging interests and commitments.

Adult Learners seeking to complete a degree from Calvin must fulfill requirements for a major and for liberal arts core courses. At least 25% of the semester hours required for graduation and a minimum of four courses in the designated major must be completed at Calvin.

Adult Learners who enter or return to Calvin must complete the new Adult Learner core curriculum. Adult Learners will be required to complete one course in each of the following core areas: developing the Christian mind or biblical/theological studies II, global and historical studies or foreign language competency, written rhetoric, rhetoric in culture, history of the west and the world, philosophical foundations, biblical/theological foundations I, persons in community, societal structures in North America, literature, the arts, mathematics, physical or living world, cross cultural engagement, integrative studies, and a capstone course.

Adult learner classification does not apply to continuing Calvin University students, nor to students pursuing graduate level courses. The classification may not be used to avoid fulfilling requirements already begun at Calvin. 

Students seeking classification as an Adult Learner should indicate this when they complete their admission forms. Questions about the Adult Learner classification may be directed to the registrar’s office in the Center for Student Success(SC 360).

NOTE: Certain programs and majors do not allow this modified liberal arts core. For example, Adult Learners in the teacher education program and the nursing program must fulfill the liberal arts requirements specific to those programs. Adult Learners should seek the advice of an academic advisor from their program or major early in their enrollment at Calvin.


Honors Scholars Program

The Honors Scholars Program offers Calvin College students the opportunity for advanced study in both the liberal arts and their selected field of study in a community of engaged, bold, and curious learners.

Incoming students who are interested in exploring the intersections between the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences; desire to learn in a challenging and encouraging environment with engaged peers and faculty; and want to develop the skills of a scholar by working alongside a faculty mentor in their field of study are encouraged to apply to the Calvin Honors Scholars Program. Application materials can be found on Calvin’s Honors and Collegiate Scholars website.

Each year, a cohort of 44 students will be invited to participate in the Honors Scholars Program. Students in the cohort will fulfill 29-32 of their Calvin core curriculum requirements in alternative interdisciplinary, team-taught Honors Core courses:

Year 1

HNRS 101 - Community, Citizenship, and Identity 
HNRS 102 - God, Belief, and Belonging 
HNRS 150 - Learning in Place: Grand Rapids  

Year 2

HNRS 201 - Seeing and Knowing 
HNRS 202 - Scientific Inquiry and the Common Good 
HNRS 250 - Learning in Place: Global  

Students in the Honors Collaborative will also complete the following upper-level requirements during years 3 or 4:

HNRS 380 - Honors Colloquium  (3)


HNRS 380 - Honors Colloquium  (3)
OR additional language coursework (6+)
OR interdisciplinary skill development (6+)

HNRS 399 - Honors Thesis  (3)

To fulfill Honors Scholars Program requirements and to graduate “with Honors,” a student must complete the courses shown above, maintain an overall GPA of 3.65, and complete an approved Honors Thesis/Project under the supervision of a faculty mentor. To be eligible for graduation with Honors, a student must submit an Application to Graduate with Honors to the Honors and Collegiate Scholars Office at the beginning of their final year.

For further information, contact the director (A. Wilstermann) or associate director (C. Hanson) of the Honors and Collegiate Scholars Program.

Collegiate Scholars Program

The Collegiate Scholars program offers academically-talented students the opportunity to augment their major coursework with upper-level interdisciplinary courses and other advanced academic and community engagement activities. First-year students with ACT/SAT scores of 28/3010 are eligible to apply to the Collegiate Scholars program. Current and transfer students that meet program GPA requirements are also encouraged to apply. Application materials can be found on Calvin’s Honors and Collegiate Scholars website.

To fulfill Collegiate Scholars Program requirements and to graduate “with Distinction”, a student must maintain an overall GPA of 3.65 and complete four Advanced Academic or Community Engagement requirements. A single category may not be used more than two times.

  • Completion of a second HNRS 380  course
  • Completion of a minor or second major
  • Completion of two courses, in a single discipline, beyond what is required by a student’s major
  • Participation in a music ensemble or theater production, full season
  • Participation in varsity athletics, full season
  • Participation in undergraduate research or completion of an internship, summer or full academic year
  • Participation in student governance as a student senator, full year
  • Completion of a study abroad program, full semester
  • Leadership position in a student organization, full year
  • Participation in a service-learning activity, full year
  • Participation in other activity approved by the Honors and Collegiate Scholars Program Director and Associate Director

Participants will meet with a Collegiate Scholars advisor annually to discuss academic opportunities and progress toward completion of Collegiate Scholars Program requirements. To be eligible for graduation with distinction, a student must submit an Application to Graduate with Distinction to the Honors and Collegiate Scholars Office at the beginning of their final year.


The Rhetoric Across the Curriculum Program

Minimum Grade in English 101: As the first step in developing competence in written rhetoric, a minimum grade of C is required of all students receiving credit for ENGL 101 .

Departmental Programs: All students will meet the Rhetoric Across the Curriculum (RAC) requirements through a departmental rhetoric program.

Group Majors: Departments with established departmental rhetoric programs will include provisions for their group majors. When students initiate a group major other than those formally approved by the faculty, they must include plans for meeting the RAC requirements. Students should obtain approval for such plans from their major advisor.

Transfer Students: Students who transfer into a major program should work with their major advisor to determine what they must do to satisfy RAC requirements.


Professional-degree programs


Graduate Programs


Pre-professional Programs

The programs in this section prepare students for admission to professional and graduate schools. These courses are taken while students are meeting requirements for a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in a separately designated major.

Pre-Professional: Law


Although law school applicants must have a college degree, there is no prescribed program or major specifically designed for students planning to enter law school. Like most colleges, Calvin does not offer a pre-law major, but rather a pre-law specialization within a student’s chosen disciplinary major. Prospective law school applicants should complete the requirements for a Bachelor of Arts degree in their chosen major as prescribed in the core curriculum, taking advantage of the opportunities provided therein to acquire skills, knowledge, and insights useful for the practice of law. The pre-law advisor, J. Westra of the Political Science department, can help students to plan programs and select courses that provide good preparation for law school. The pre-law advisor also can help to guide students through the processes of identifying law as a calling, preparing for the

Law School Admission Test (LSAT), and applying to law schools. Pre-law students should declare their interest in the pre-law specialization during academic advising and should plan to attend the pre-law information sessions that are held at the beginning of each fall semester. Pre-law students normally take the LSAT In the spring of their junior year and should apply for admission to law school during the fall of their senior year.


Pre-professional: Medicine, Dentistry, and Veterinary

Medicine, Dentistry, and Veterinary

Students planning to apply to medical or dental schools should consult T. Crumb, Pre-health advisor for the pre-medical and pre-dental programs; for veterinary schools, consult R. Bebej of the Biology department. Students should also note the general college core requirements listed under the core curriculum. For basic information regarding timelines, requirements, etc., pre-medical and pre-dental students should consult the pre-med/dental website, using the A-Z index on Calvin’s home page.

A student may select nearly any major concentration and still meet the entrance requirements for all medical and dental schools. However, nationwide the majority of the applicants to medical and dental schools are science majors.

Pre-medical students must balance requirements for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) with the requirements for medical schools. The MCAT requirements changed in 2015, and many medical schools have not yet followed suit, so there is a discrepancy, especially with the organic chemistry requirement. The pre-dental list includes the same courses. We continue to recommend students take CHEM 103 -CHEM 104 CHEM 261 -CHEM 262 CHEM 303  or CHEM 323 ; PHYS 221 - PHYS 222 STAT 143 , STAT 145 , or PSYC 255 PSYC 151 SOC 151 ; BIOL 141  or BIOL 161 ; and BIOL 206  or BIOL 331 . Some schools require a 300-level biology course. One semester of calculus (MATH 132  or MATH 171 ) is recommended, but it is required by very few schools. Some dental schools require microbiology (BIOL 207  or BIOL 336 ).

Because a few schools have unique requirements, students should consult with T. Crumb to determine specific requirements of the schools to which they intend to apply.

Pre-medical and pre-dental students normally take their Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) or Dental Admissions Test (DAT) in the spring of their junior year and should apply for admission to medical or dental schools during the early summer prior to their senior year.

Pre-veterinary students should take the following courses: 2-3 semesters of general biology (BIOL 160  and BIOL 161  for biology majors or BIOL 141 , BIOL 205 , and BIOL 206  for other majors); CHEM 103 -CHEM 104 ; CHEM 261 -CHEM 262 ; CHEM 303  or CHEM 323 ; PHYS 221 -PHYS 222 ; STAT 143  or STAT 145 ; MATH 132  or MATH 171 ; ENGL 101 ; 2 semesters of social science; and 2 semesters of arts/ humanities. Recommended biology electives (that are required by some programs) include microbiology (BIOL 207  or BIOL 336 ), genetics (BIOL 321 ), anatomy (BIOL 205  or BIOL 323 ), and cell physiology (BIOL 335 ). Public speaking (COMM 101 ) and nutrition (HE 254 ) are also required by some veterinary programs. Students should consult with R. Bebej to determine specific requirements for the programs to which they plan to apply. Pre-veterinary students generally take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) during the spring of their junior year and apply to veterinary programs prior to September 15 of their senior year.


Pre-Professional: Ministry


The Department of Congregational and Ministry Studies (CMS) serves as the home of the pre-ministry advising program. A team of advisors connected to this department is committed to guiding students through the process of discerning a call to ministry by means of one-on-one conversations, as well as occasional events and programs held throughout the year. Students interested in ministry should direct any questions to pre-ministry advisors: T. Cioffi, director of the Jubilee Fellows program; L. Barger Elliott, professor of youth ministry; M. Hulst, university chaplain; and J. Witvliet, chair of the CMS department director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.

The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) recommends that pre-seminary students develop the ability to think carefully, communicate clearly, and do independent research. Pre-seminary students should also learn about human culture and society, and may find it useful to develop proficiency in biblical languages, Latin, and modern languages. Due to differing expectations from different seminaries, the university has no formal program of pre-seminary study, but rather presents a series of suggested courses that students can consider in consultation with the university’s pre-seminary advisors. Pre-seminary students should consult the catalogs of the particular seminaries that they are considering attending for the specific admissions expectations of those schools.

Because many Calvin University students choose to attend Calvin Theological Seminary, and because of the close relationship between the two institutions, the admission requirements of the seminary are included here as an example of typical seminary admissions expectations. Students must meet all of the university’s requirements for a bachelor’s degree, as well as the admissions requirements of the seminary, including a minimum GPA of 2.67. Calvin Theological Seminary recommends that pre-seminary students emphasize the following areas of study: classical civilization, English, Greek, history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and theology.

Calvin Seminary’s Master of Divinity (MDiv) program prepares persons for ordained ministry. To enter the MDiv program, pre-seminary students should complete at least two semester length courses each in English (including literature), history, philosophy (preferably history of philosophy), natural science, social science, and speech. Four semesters of Greek are encouraged. In order to fulfill these recommendations, Calvin students should consider including the following courses in their undergraduate programs: GREE 205-GREE 206; PHIL 251 and PHIL 252; and COMM 101 and COMM 200 (COMM 203 and COMM 240 are recommended).

Calvin Seminary’s Master of Arts (MA) degrees (with concentrations in evangelism and mission, educational ministries, worship, pastoral care, youth and family ministries, and Bible & theology) prepare persons for leadership in various areas of church ministry. The seminary recommends that students take one college course each in English, literature, philosophy, and speech, as well as two each in history, natural science, and social science. In addition, for the MA in evangelism and missions, one college course is required in cultural anthropology; and for the MA in worship, two college courses are required in music or the arts.

Calvin Seminary’s Master of Theological Studies (MTS) program provides a theological education that emphasizes vocational objectives for students who are not seeking ordination, as well as preparation for further academic study in Bible and theology. It is recommended that college students take at least two semester length courses each in English (including literature), history, philosophy, natural science, and social science. Four semesters of Greek are also encouraged.


Occupational Therapy

Students wishing to enter the field of occupational therapy (OT) must complete a master’s degree (MSOT) or a doctoral degree (OTD) in occupational therapy, complete a six-month internship, and pass a national board examination. Calvin students have two options, described below, for preparing for admission to a graduate program in occupational therapy. Students should meet with the pre-occupational therapy advisor, A. Wilstermann of the Biology department to discuss these options and design an academic plan.

Completion of Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science Degree

Admission to most graduate MSOT and OTD programs requires a bachelor’s degree. However, a particular major is not required, so long as specified prerequisite courses are taken. Students selecting this option will take courses that fulfill requirements for the completion of a Calvin major of their choice (such as Psychology, Spanish, or Recreation Therapy) in addition to prerequisite courses specified by the graduate occupational therapy programs to which they intend to apply. While requirements vary between graduate schools, prerequisite courses typically include:

3-2 Combined Curriculum Program with Washington University

Calvin offers a combined curriculum with the Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. A student participating in this program will spend three years at Calvin completing the coursework listed below (99-100 credits), gaining work or volunteer experience in occupational therapy and completing the Graduate Record Exam. Students that meet admissions requirements will apply to the MSOT or ODT program at Washington University, and if accepted, transfer to Washington University for two additional years of coursework and clinical training. Upon successful completion of the first year of study at Washington University (32 credits), the student will receive a Bachelor of Science in Letters and Occupational Therapy from Calvin. Upon completion of a second year of study, the student will receive a MSOT from Washington University. Alternatively, a student accepted into the OTD program will spend three years at Washington University. It should be noted that admission to graduate OT programs at Washington University is competitive and that 3-2 students are not given preference in admissions decisions. Students that complete the Calvin (three year) portion of the 3-2 program but are not accepted into the graduate program at Washington University, will complete a bachelor’s degree of their choice at Calvin and will be eligible to apply to a large number of graduate programs in occupational therapy.

The requirements for the Calvin (three year) portion of the 3-2 Combined Curriculum Program are:


Pre-professional: Optometry

Students wishing to become optometrists complete a BA or BS degree at Calvin before entering optometry school to complete four additional years of study culminating in the doctor of optometry (OD) degree.

In addition to the courses listed below, many schools also recommend anatomy and a business or economics course. These requirements may be met within the context of a biology or other science major at Calvin. Students should consult the website of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (www.opted.org) and work with the pre-optometry advisor, R. Bebej, to plan a course of study that meets the requirements of the optometry schools to which they intend to apply. All applicants to optometry school are required to take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), which is given on computer and may be taken at any time. Most students take the OAT after completion of the junior year of college. Application deadlines at the various optometry schools range from January 1 to April 1.


Pre-Professional: Pharmacy


Calvin University does not offer courses in pharmacy; however, students may take courses at Calvin that are prerequisites for acceptance to a pharmacy school. Students interested in a career in pharmacy will complete at least two years at Calvin before transferring to a college of pharmacy to complete four additional years of study culminating in a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree. Many schools now prefer that students complete a BS or BA degree before enrolling in pharmacy school. Pre-pharmacy course requirements of the pharmacy schools vary greatly. Some schools do not accept advanced placement credits. Students should carefully consult the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy website (www.aacp.org) and the websites for the pharmacy schools to which they intend to apply to plan an appropriate course of study. The pre-pharmacy advisor, M. Barbachyn, will assist students in planning a pre-pharmacy curriculum, which most students take in the context of a biochemistry major. Most pharmacy schools require the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT), which should be taken in the summer after their junior year or during  the fall semester of the student’s final year at Calvin.


Pre-Professional: Physical Therapy

Students wishing to enter the field of physical therapy (PT) must complete a doctoral degree (DPT) in physical therapy. Students at Calvin can prepare to complete this degree by completing the prerequisite courses for their programs of interest in conjunction with a degree program in any discipline. Students then attend graduate school. Admission to graduate programs in physical therapy is very competitive.

The prerequisite courses depend on the graduate school to which students wish to apply; therefore, students should obtain a list of requirements for each of the graduate schools in which they are interested. Below is a sample list of prerequisite classes for non-biology majors. Students are encouraged to contact an advisor of the pre-physical therapy program, N Meyer, of the Kinesiology department, (Science majors can contact A. Wilstermann) before they register for classes. Students must also work or volunteer with patients under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. This can be arranged through the Service-Learning Center at Calvin.

First Year Spring Semester

Second Year Fall Semester

Third Year Fall Semester

Third Year Spring Semester


Pre-Professional: Physician Assistant

Physician Assistant

Students who would like to practice medicine under the supervision of a licensed physician should consider becoming a physician assistant (PA). A physician assistant can record medical histories, perform physical examinations, make diagnoses, counsel patients, order and administer laboratory tests, assist in surgery, set fractures, and prescribe drugs. Each graduate program determines their prerequisite courses, and since there is so much variability from one program to another, Calvin does not offer a specific program for students who want to prepare for a career of Christian service as a physician assistant. Rather, students can major in any discipline so long as they complete the prerequisite courses for the graduate program to which they intend to apply. Students who desire to pursue a career as a physician assistant should contact T. Crumb, pre-health advisor, for advice about preparatory courses and hours of direct patient care required by particular clinical training programs.