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Academic Advising

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Students interested in preparing for medical school or another health profession may select any major offered at Grinnell College while completing the required pre-health courses. Grinnell College does not offer a specific pre-health or pre-med major.

Faculty assist in providing guidance to students interested in medical school (or one of the other health professions) through the Health Professions Advisory Committee (HPAC).

Political Science

Incoming students interested in political science should register for POL101. Advanced placement and IB credits may be counted toward the major but cannot be substituted for POL 101.

Political Science 101 is open to first-year students. Political Science 101 offers a rigorous introduction to the concepts and methods of the discipline.


The physics major is designed so that students following the physics curriculum need not decide between physics and mathematics majors until registration for the fourth semester.

Physical Education

A maximum of 4 credits in Physical Education 100 or 101 can count towards graduation.

There is no major in physical education (P.E.) at Grinnell, but the department offers many ways for students to be involved: in activity classes, content (theory) courses, and on varsity athletic teams.


It is possible to complete a major in Philosophy without taking a course in Philosophy during the first year.

Philosophy 101, 102, 106, 111, and 135 are open to any first-year student. Philosophy 111 (Introduction to Philosophy) is a historically-oriented course which is an excellent general education choice for students in all fields, as well as the prerequisite for most advanced courses in philosophy.


Please note: Students wishing to enroll in MUS 112/111 Harmony should take the brief Music Theory Placement Test offered during New Student Orientation. The placement exam will help the student discern whether s/he should enroll in Harmony or the more preparative Musicianship course (MUS 109). The Music Department does not accept AP credit as a substitute for MUS 112.

Music lessons & ensembles

Mathematics And Statistics

At the beginning of New Student Orientation, the Departments of Computer Science and Mathematics and Statistics send each first-year student a letter containing tentative CS/math/stats placements. Placements are based on transcripts and standardized test scores, but the College may not have received a full transcript before making a tentative placement. The Department of Mathematics and Statistics highly recommends meeting with a faculty member during NSO to determine the best possible starting mathematics and statistics courses for you.


First-semester students interested in taking a history class may choose from different sections of History 100. First-semester students are not eligible for any 200-level course. Second-semester students are eligible for a 200-level course in the spring ONLY if they took History 100 in the fall.


Entering students who have previously studied German for three or more years should take the German Department's Placement Test during New Student Orientation (it is not given at any other time). The department uses the results of the Placement Test to recommend the appropriate starting point for each student. Students with prior German usually place into GRM 221, 310, or 302/303.

Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies

Incoming students interested in Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies should register for GWS 111. We encourage students interested in majoring in Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies to complete GWS 111 within their first three semesters at Grinnell, ideally during their first year, and to meet with a potential faculty adviser to discuss their plan of study.