What are the requirements?

  • 5 core courses: EC133 & EC134, GO131, HI276, AY112
  • 3 Culture and Place course
  • 3 Theme courses
  • W2 course (this class will typically also count as a Themes or Cultures & Places)
  • Intermediate fluency in a foreign language (see language FAQs)
  • Study abroad (unless student is international)
  • Senior seminar
  • A concentration (if you do not have a relevant double major or minor

What is the W2 requirement? Why do we have it?

The W2 requirement ensures that you have a stronger preparation for independent research and writing, particularly writing interdisciplinarily. We offer a variety of 200 and 300-level classes that are designated as W2s. These GS classes all also count toward either Themes or Cultures & Places requirements. We will also accept W2s from the government, anthropology, economics, or history departments, though these may not always count toward other GS requirements (it depends on whether or not they are on the list of GS-approved courses).

Do I need to fulfill all of my core courses before doing my culture and places and theme studies?

No. This is all up to personal preference and scheduling. Some majors prefer to complete the core requirements in the first and second year. This strategy allows students to pursue personal interests earlier on in their college career. The other option is to mix core and upper level courses throughout your major. This second strategy gives students the ability to make connections with professors earlier on, as well as find a balance between introductory courses and more intellectually rigorous ones. It is important to keep in mind when planning out your courses that scheduling of certain core courses may vary. Faculty sabbaticals or leaves may change the normal schedule of a course. Remember that it is your responsibility to fit everything in despite these shifts.

What is the difference between Culture & Places and Theme courses?

  • A Theme course focuses on:
    • More than one country or region
    • Relations or flows between nations
    • A specific issue in globalization (i.e., environment, gender, human rights, etc.)
  • A Cultures & Places course focuses on:
    • A specific country or a geographic region with a shared linguistic heritage
    • Deep cultural and historical learning about the specific country or region

***Note: There are courses that may fulfill both the Theme and Culture & Places requirement. However, a single course cannot be counted towards both categories.***

Can courses double count?

  • Cultures & Places vs Theme requirements: There are courses that may fulfill both the Theme and Culture & Places requirement. However, a single course cannot be counted towards both categories (i.e., you must decide if you want the course to count towards the Culture & Places requirement OR the Theme requirement).
  • W2 Requirement: May double count towards the Culture & Places requirement or the Theme requirement.
  • Concentration: Courses taken to fulfill a concentration can (and should) count towards Cultures & Places or Theme requirements. The concentration is designed to encourage a focus.
  • Other majors: Courses can double count toward Global Studies and another major or minor. Check with your advisor in the other major to confirm that they can double count for that major as well.
  • Other minors: You must keep the college rules about minors in mind, which includes the requirement that the minor has at least four freestanding classes, four classes, in other words, that are not being counted toward another major or minor.

What if I get less than a C- in one of my courses?

  • You must get at least a C- for the course to count toward the GS major. If you do not, you must retake the course. You may retake it at Colby or in a summer program if it is approved by the appropriate department chair (e.g., Economics for macro principles.) You can pick up the form for the department chair to sign at the registrar’s office.

S/U Option for Spring 2021


  • GS program has decided to allow majors to take one GS course S/U this 2021 Spring with a few exceptions.
    • W2 courses and senior capstones may not be taken S/U.
    • This temporary policy change may only apply to core and elective courses.
  • We strongly urge you to have a conversation with your GS advisor or your advising dean before choosing the S/U option for a major course.
  • Our expectation is that the S/U will only be used for extenuating circumstances directly related to covid-19, such as difficult family circumstances or personal medical issues significantly impeding your ability to deliver quality work.


Can I fulfill a course requirement in a summer program?

  • Yes, if it is approved by the appropriate department and the current GS director. Talk to your advisor about how to make this happen.

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