Whitman encourages the exploration of academic diversity through its distribution requirements, according to students. These allow students to explore interests and discover new ones, consequentially finding their focus. The distribution categories allow for an eclectic mix by requiring the following: six credits in “alternative voices,” six credits in the social sciences, six credits in the humanities, six credits in the fine arts, six credits in the sciences, one lab credit, one quantitative analysis course, and Encounters, the full-year core course required for all first-years. Encounters could be best described as a blend of literature, politics, and philosophy.
Experiences can depend, of course, on what your personal interests are and what classes you take, but most students find their courses interesting and engaging, primarily because of their professors. Across the board, Whitman students name their professors as the greatest strength of Whitman academics and applaud them for their passion, knowledge, and care for the individuals in their classes. Professors are insanely intelligent, too, and 98 percent of tenure track faculty holds a PhD or other appropriate terminal degree in their field. Students consider Whitman to be a comfortable environment in which to discuss all facets of academia, and they generally find their professors to be approachable both in and out of the classroom. The faculty makes a genuine effort to get to know the students, although the small student-faculty ratio (10:1) probably makes it easier to learn names. It’s never uncommon for students to dine in professors’ homes, to watch course-related films together, or to just socialize with other students in their department.