Advising and Registration

Major-Specific Advising Tips for First-Year Students

  • Africana Studies

    The Africana Studies Program emphasizes the history, culture, politics, intellectual heritage, and social development of people of African descent. It is an interdisciplinary program that offers courses in the social sciences, humanities, and arts. Africana Studies offers a full major, an inter-departmental major and a minor. Students align the current set of Africana Studies course offerings into three tracks: African, African-American and Latin American/Caribbean. Each of the tracks can be utilized to pursue a 12-course full major, an 8-course ID major, or a 6-course minor. First year students with an interest in Africana Studies are strongly encouraged to take AFR 100 Introduction to Africana Studies as soon as possible.

    Africana Studies affiliated mini-terms offer students an opportunity to explore the African and African diasporic experience. This includes mini-terms to South Africa and Senegal; a Community Service mini-term in New Orleans and the Louisiana wetlands; and a Civil Rights Mini-term, which takes students on a tour of the sites of major civil rights actions in the American South. There is also a Cuba mini-term and the Brazil full-term abroad, which address issues related to Africana Studies.

    The Africana Studies page provides a description of major, ID major, and minor requirements, as well as lists of Africana-related courses.

  • Anthropology

    Cultural anthropology courses include detailed studies of the cultures around the world—not only to gain a broad understanding of who we are as human beings, but also to explore how we are both similar to and different from others. All anthropology courses are open to any student—they assume no prior knowledge. There are no prerequisites. Anthropology department professors emphasize their own specialties, focusing especially on societies in Latin America, Asia, and the South Pacific. They cover a broad range of topics including such things as the democratization of Third World countries, the rise of religious fundamentalism, the relation of language and culture, differences in schools and education across cultures, the understanding of local versions of world religions such as Christianity and Islam, the role of the mass media in society, the cultural differences in healing practices.

    The department sponsors two anthropology terms abroad, in Fiji and India, where students are involved in first-hand field research, with guided individual projects of their own design. The anthropology department also requires a two-term senior thesis, again based on individual first-hand fieldwork.

  • Biochemistry

    Before pre-registering for their first term, biochemistry majors MUST take the placement exams in Chemistry and Mathematics. Failure to do this will severely limit a student’s ability to go on terms abroad and to take electives in later years. We suggest that students not take 2 lab courses in their first term as they are making the adjustment to Union.

    We recommend that Biochemistry majors prioritize completing the introductory chemistry courses in their first year. If you are able to complete both the introductory biology and math courses in your first year that is ideal but you should complete at least one of those sequences.

    • The introductory chemistry courses are CHM 101* (taken in the Fall or Winter) and CHM 102 (preferably in the term after CHM 101). Students who do sufficiently well on the chemistry placement exam can place into CHM 110H* (only offered in the fall) which is an accelerated course that covers the content of both CHM 101 and CHM 102.

    • (*Completion of chemistry placement exam required for enrollment in either course.)

    • There are 3 different tracks for starting the calculus requirement depending on your placement after taking the math placement test:
      • MTH 105 (Fall-Winter-Spring) which includes pre-calculus and calculus
      • MTH 110 (Fall or Winter) & MTH 112 (Winter or Spring)
      • MTH 113 (Fall)

    • All biochemistry majors must complete MTH 115. This can be completed in the first year if you place into MTH115H but can also be deferred to a later term. You may want to take it earlier while your math from high school is still fresh in your mind.

    • The biology sequence includes BIO 103 and BIO 104. Both courses are offered in the Fall, Winter, and Spring terms and can be taken in any order.
  • Biology

    Biology students normally complete the following during their first year:

    1. Two courses in Biology (BIO 103 and BIO 104, in either order, offered each term)
    2. Two courses in Chemistry (CHM 101 and CHM 102) or, if qualified, the single course CHM 110H-fall only); note that students must take a placement exam in Chemistry before enrolling.
    3. Two courses in Mathematics (MTH 105/110 and MTH 112) or, if qualified, the single MTH 113-fall only); note that students must take the placement exam in Mathematics before enrolling.
    4. The First-Year Preceptorial course and two electives.

    During fall term, we recommend taking either the first BIO (103 or 104) or the first CHM course (101 or 110), but not both. You may choose to enroll in Mathematics in the fall or begin during winter term—the advanced course MTH 113 is normally only taught in the fall term. Note that AP credit in Biology counts towards BIO 050, but does not substitute for a course in the major.

  • Chemistry

    Before pre-registering for their first term, chemistry majors MUST take the placement exams in Chemistry and Mathematics. Failure to do this will severely limit a student’s ability to go on terms abroad and to take electives in later years.


    Chemistry majors should complete two things during their first year:


    1. The introductory chemistry courses CHM 101* (FWS) / CHM 102 (WS) OR CHM 110 (F only). Students who place into CHM 110* must take it in the fall.
    (*Completion of chemistry placement exam required for enrollment in either course.)


    2. The introductory calculus courses, MTH 110** (FWS)/ MTH 112 (FWS) OR MTH 113** and MTH 115. (**Completion of math placement exam required for enrollment in math courses.)
    This leaves the students with one slot for FP and three slots for free electives. As students are fulfilling all of the math and science components of the Common Curriculum, these electives can truly be free electives.

    A typical first-year schedule is:

    Fall Winter Spring

    CHM 101 (or 110)

    CHM 102 elective

    FP

    elective elective

    MTH 110

    MTH 112 MTH 115

    Students with significant AP credit can start physics during their first year.

    A typical first-year schedule is:

    Fall Winter Spring

    CHM 231

    CHM 232 CHM 240

    PHY 120

    PHY 121 elective

    elective

    elective elective
  • Economics

    The Economics major consists of 12 Economics courses, seven required courses and five electives, and a mathematics course covering differential calculus. This works out to just over one course per term during your time at Union. A complete description of the requirements for the Economics Major is available on the Department Webpage.

    The Core of the Economics Major consists of three required courses, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Econometrics, which are numbered ECO 241, ECO 242 and ECO 243. These courses provide the background in economic theory and empirics you will need to take upper-level courses your Junior and Senior year, and we recommend that majors plan on taking two or three of the Core Economics courses their Sophomore year.

    To prepare to take the Core, you should take ECO 101, Introductory Economics, and a differential calculus course as a First-Year student. ECO 101 is offered every term, but we recommend you take it as early as you can, as it is a prerequisite for all of the 200-level economics courses. You can get credit for Eco 101 for high school work in economics if you received 1) a 4 or 5 on both AP Macro and AP Micro Exams, 2) a 5 or higher at the higher level on the IB Economics Exam, or 3) a C or higher on the A-Level Economics Exam.

    A variety of courses cover differential calculus and fulfill the major’s math requirement, including MTH 105, MTH 110, MTH 113, MTH 115 and MTH 117. MTH 101 also fulfills this requirement but it has been discontinued and replaced by MTH 105. You need credit for one of these courses to enroll in ECO 241 and ECO 242. The Math Department administers a Math Placement Exam, which they use to determine the appropriate mathematics course for entering students. The math requirement may be satisfied by getting 1) a 3 or higher on the AB or BC Advanced Placement Calculus Exam, 2) a 6 or higher on the International Baccalaureate Mathematics Exam, or 3) a C or higher on the British A-Level Mathematics Exam.

    Finally, you should plan on taking one or two lower-level economics electives, these are courses with numbers between ECO 120 and ECO 240. We offer around 8-10 lower-level electives each year, covering a wide variety of topics. In addition to introducing you to a particular area of economics, these courses are designed to deepen your grasp of economic theory and your understanding of the role of data in economic reasoning, both of which help prepare you to take the core. You can count up to three lower-level electives toward completion of the major. Note also that 200-level economics courses are only open to First-Years and Sophomores, so you’ll want to prioritize taking these courses your first two years.

  • Engineering
  • English

    For all incoming students:

    Students begin classes in the English department by taking any 100-level course. Students with a score of 5 on one of the English AP exams may enroll immediately at the 200 level, whereas for others, one 100-level course is a prerequisite for further study.

    Two 200-level courses are required before enrolling in a Junior Seminar.

    Four 200-level courses (or instructor permission) are prerequisite to enrolling in a Senior Seminar

    For potential majors, IDs and minors in English:

    In June 2020, the English department approved a statement in support of Black Lives Matter, which pledged: “We will restructure our curriculum, so as to include and make visible the experiences of underrepresented students. We pledge to do more to center the lives and experiences of those who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color [BIPOC] in our scholarship, teaching, and service both within and beyond the Union College community.”

    In order to put this pledge into practice, we will embed the lives and experiences that are explored in texts by BIPOC authors into the undergraduate study of literature.

    We have developed a new, two-course sequence: a 100-level course, “Confronting the Canon,” as well as a BIPOC-focused requirement. These courses need not be taken in a specific order, but together they will ensure that students engage with critical race theory and BIPOC-authored literary texts at multiple points in their time as English majors or minors.

    As of Fall 2021, those considering English should begin by taking any course between EGL 100 -EGL 189. These courses introduce the basic skills of English study. The student then qualifies to take intermediate coursework or take a second, 100-level course between 190-199, a rubric called “Confronting the Canon.”

    “Confronting the Canon” courses are designed to do as follows: introduce English majors and minors to some of the foundational questions raised when interrogating and reconfiguring what has long been considered the traditional, Western literary canon. They emphasize that English courses, in many different educational settings, have an extensive history of asserting the “greatness” of texts by white, male authors, often at the expense of those works written by, among others, women, writers of color, and queer writers. By confronting those choices and their implications, “Confronting the Canon” courses explore what it means to reimagine the canon intentionally. We will ask questions like the following: Who decided on the canon? What does the canon perpetuate? Who is included and who is excluded from it? What is at stake in our upholding or dismantling of it? What do we value as English students and faculty? What do we envision as our role in the field of English literary and cultural studies?

    Requirements for the Class of 2025

    Full and double majors must take a “Confronting the Canon” course (EGL 190-199) as one of their two 100- level courses, and must take a 200-level BIPOC lit course as one of their 200-level electives.

    ID majors will take one 100-level (100-189) and a “Confronting the Canon” (190-199), then choose between either a pre-1700 (202-215), or Shakespeare (200-201). Like full and double majors, ID majors must take a 200-level BIPOC lit course as one of their 200-level electives.

    Minors will take one 100-level (100-189) course and then choose two out of the following three coverage requirements: a “Confronting the Canon” (190-199), a pre-1700 (202-215), or a Shakespeare (200-201). They may satisfy the BIPOC literature course requirement at either the 200, 300, or 400 level.

    * No student may use an AP English score of 5 to opt out of taking “Confronting the Canon” and/or fulfilling the BIPOC requirement.

  • Environmental Science and Policy

    The ESPE program is focused on students with a strong interest in the science behind the myriad environmental problems that face our world, the political policy mechanisms that may provide solutions to these issues, and the nexus between the environment and the human condition. Students in the ESP program choose either a BS degree in Environmental Science or a BA degree in Environmental Policy.

    The BS degree emphasizes the biological, chemical, geological sciences, and also physics and engineering. The BA degree emphasizes the social sciences and humanities, and there is considerable overlap between these two tracks. All students take a common introductory course, a core of between 8 and 11 required courses, and 4-6 courses that define an area of concentration. During the senior year, students complete 2 terms of independent research, and senior BA students take a seminar on environmental policy.

    CURRICULUM PLANNERS

    Environmental SCIENCE MAJOR (BS degree; all tracks together, Planner)

    Environmental POLICY MAJOR (BA degree; all tracks together, Planner)

  • Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies

    Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies (GSWS) is an interdisciplinary program rich with opportunities for research and critical analysis. It examines and challenges assumptions and constructs about gender that affect the lives of people of all genders around the globe. A central goal of the program is to help students become aware of unexamined assumptions and stereotypes about sexual and gender differences, and how they shape human organizations and institutions. Many courses also introduce students to differences of class, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation in a range of societies and cultures.

    Students considering a major or minor in GSWS may take one of the two introductory course options -- GSW 100: Introduction to GSWS or GSW 101: Introduction to LGBTQ+ Studies), both of which serve as interdisciplinary introduction to the findings of feminist scholarship on gender, women, and sexuality.

    The Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies page provides further information about internships, thesis requirements, and the courses offered in the program.

  • Geology

    The Geology Department offers a BS degree and provides a hands-on education that combines field and laboratory analyses throughout the curriculum to provide students with a strong foundation in a variety of subdisciplines. With faculty expertise in climate change, volcanology, hydrology, tectonics, stable isotopes, and more, students are exposed to a broad array of topics and analytical tools. The major sequence is comprised of a minimum of 11 courses in geology, and includes an introductory course (100 level), seven required courses, and four electives. Students must also complete additional coursework in mathematics, chemistry, biology, and/or physics. During their senior year, most students chose to do original research with a faculty advisor, often doing summer fieldwork in locations from Alaska to the Caribbean to the Andes, as well as more locally in the Mohawk Valley and the Adirondacks. The results of these student research projects have been presented at national and international conferences, and in student-coauthored articles for scientific journals. After graduation, many of our majors pursue advanced degrees in the geosciences and/or employment in environmental consulting, natural resources, and teaching.

    First year students are encouraged to take GEO-110 (Physical Geology) or GEO-112 (Environmental Geology) in the fall term. Both courses serve as an entry into the major and can be followed by any 200-level geology course. First year students are also encouraged to take supporting mathematics and other introductory science courses.

    To learn more about what it’s like to be a student in the Geology Department, check out our annual newsletters.

    For more information about our courses, major/minor/ID, refer to Geology Courses & Requirements (Planner).

  • History

    History is the foundation of the liberal arts, providing the knowledge necessary for global citizenship, and the skills (research, writing, critical analysis and inquiry) so desired in today’s workplaces and graduate programs. The Union College History Department offers courses in global history, along with the history of Africa, East Asia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, South Asia, and the United States. Courses focus on a variety of compelling and relevant themes, including gender, race, culture, science, inequality, sustainability, colonialism and imperialism, and war and conflict.

    First Year Students: Whether students wish to major or minor in History, or just take History courses for enjoyment, all courses are open to students of all levels, although most first year students are encouraged to enroll in 100 or 200 level courses.

    History Majors: History majors will combine courses that explore geographical and chronological breadth with a core geographical or thematic concentration that ensures depth of knowledge in one particular area of history. All majors will take at least two 300-level courses, one 400-level research seminar (usually in their junior year), and complete a two-term senior project.

    History Minors: Minors need to take six History courses, including one at the 300 level, and three of the six courses must be in one core concentration.

    For more on core and distribution requirements, please click here or contact the Chair of the History Department.

  • Latin American and Caribbean Studies

    Distinctively emphasizing plurality, diversity, and inclusiveness, Latin American and Caribbean Studies recognizes the crucial presence of Latin American and Caribbean cultures, peoples, and societies in shaping the world from as far back as pre-recorded history to the 21st century. With an interdisciplinary focus, LACS offers a major, an interdepartmental major, and a minor in the study of the history, culture, language, and politics of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

    First-year students with an interest in the region should consider taking LAS 101, Introduction to Latin American & Caribbean Studies, as well as other LACS courses (check with the instructor for 300 and 400-hundred level courses). In addition, given the importance of language proficiency to succeed in LACS, first-year students should contact the Department of Modern Languages to have their language level assessed and to start taking language courses early. All students are welcome to visit the LACS site, to reach out to LACS faculty, and to attend LACS-sponsored events to learn more about the program.

  • Managerial Economics

    The Managerial Economics major consists of 14 courses in Economics and related disciplines, including courses in computing, mathematics course and accounting. This works out to just over one course per term during your time at Union. A complete description of the requirements for the Managerial Economics Major is available on the Department Webpage.

    The Core of the Managerial Economics major consists of three required courses, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Econometrics, which are numbered ECO 241, ECO 242 and ECO 243. These courses provide the background in economic theory and empirics you will need to take upper-level courses your Junior and Senior year, and we recommend that majors plan on taking two or three of the Core Economics courses their Sophomore year.

    To prepare to take the Core, you should take ECO 101, Introductory Economics, and a differential calculus course as a First-Year student. ECO 101 is offered every term, but we recommend you take it as early as you can, as it is a prerequisite for all of the 200-level economics courses. You can get credit for Eco 101 for high school work in economics if you received 1) a 4 or 5 on both AP Macro and AP Micro Exams, 2) a 5 or higher at the higher level on the IB Economics Exam, or 3) a C or higher on the A-Level Economics Exam.

    A variety of courses cover differential calculus and fulfill the major’s math requirement, including MTH 105, MTH 110, MTH 113, MTH 115 and MTH 117. MTH 101 also fulfills this requirement but it has been discontinued and replaced by MTH 105. You need credit for one of these courses to enroll in ECO 241 and ECO 242. The Math Department administers a Math Placement Exam, which they use to determine the appropriate mathematics course for entering students. The math requirement may be satisfied by getting 1) a 3 or higher on the AB or BC Advanced Placement Calculus Exam, 2) a 6 or higher on the International Baccalaureate Mathematics Exam, or 3) a C or higher on the British A-Level Mathematics Exam.

    First Year Managerial Economics majors should also consider fulfilling their accounting and computing requirements. The accounting requirement may be met by taking ACC 100, which is generally offered Fall and Spring terms. First-Year students may fulfill the computing requirement may by taking CSC 103, Taming Big Data. Juniors and Seniors may also take Eco 364, Data Analytics.

    Finally, you should plan on taking one or two lower-level economics electives, these are courses with numbers between ECO 120 and ECO 240. We offer around 8-10 lower-level electives each year, covering a wide variety of topics. These courses are designed to deepen your grasp of economic theory and your understanding of the role of data in economic reasoning, both of which help prepare you to take the Core. You can count up to three lower-level electives toward completion of the major. Note also that 200-level economics courses are only open to First-Years and Sophomores, so you’ll want to prioritize taking these courses your first two years.

  • Mathematics

    Students considering a mathematics major should usually begin their studies at Union by taking a calculus course at the appropriate level (determined by the mandatory mathematics placement exam). Once MTH 112 or MTH 113 is completed, a student will be eligible to enroll in MTH 199 (Introduction to Logic and Set Theory). This course is our entry point for the math major (and minor) and the higher level mathematics courses. Most math majors will have completed this course by the end of their sophomore year winter term and some math majors will take the course already during their first year at Union. For most students we recommend that they complete MTH 115 before taking MTH 199.

    For more information about the math major and our department, please see https://www.union.edu/mathematics

  • Modern Languages

    We would like to stress the nationwide interest in and demand for courses in foreign languages and cultures as a response to shifting patterns in professional fields, in global markets and economies, and in our national demographics. These trends are leading students to combine the study of languages and cultures with other academic fields. Students in the medical professions and the sciences, the social sciences, engineering, and the humanities are increasingly opting for the study of languages to solidify their academic formation, and to diversify their future career options. As academic studies and feature newspaper articles point out clearly to teachers, parents, and employers, students with a background in language and/or cultural studies do better and have higher acceptance rates at graduate and professional schools (medicine, law, MBA, education, international relations, media, among other academic fields).

    Students who select languages and cultures as their academic major are pursuing diverse paths at the graduate and professional levels.

    It is strongly recommended that students begin to take a language in their first year at Union College because language courses are sequential and most beginning sequences are only offered in the fall (Chinese, French, German, Russian, Spanish). Beginning sequences offered in the winter include Chinese, French, and Japanese.

    Please note that all of our language courses satisfy LCC and HUM Gen Ed requirements, and that many of our courses satisfy HUL and WAC requirements. (To satisfy the LCC requirement, you must complete a sequence of two language courses at the 101 level or higher).

  • Music

    Ensembles and Lessons

    All students are welcome to participate in any one of our five faculty-led ensembles:

    Choir (AMU014 – MW 5-6:15 pm, see Prof. Liu),
    Early Music (AMU018 – F times TBA, see Prof. McMullen),
    Japanese Drumming (AMU012 – Th 7-9 pm, see Prof. Matsue),
    Jazz Ensemble (AMU015 – W 7-9 pm, see Prof. Olsen),
    Orchestra (AMU017 – T 7-9:15 pm, see Prof. Liu).

    Private lessons are available in voice and on almost every instrument at an additional cost (10 x 50 minute lessons = $500 per term). See Director of Performance, Shou Ping Liu, TMC 222.

    Academic credit is available for participation in ensembles and for lessons with approved studio teachers at a rate of one course credit for the successful completion of three terms (for up to two full credits). Transcript recognition is always available.

    Music Majors, ID majors, and Minors

    The following courses are required for all music majors and minors: Theory 1: Diatonic Harmony (AMU101); Theory 2: Chromatic Harmony (AMU102); either Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven (AMU213) or Romanticism (AMU214); a world music course (AMU202 Musical Thinking: World and Pop or AMU220 Music and Culture); and at least one full credit of faculty-run ensemble participation (see list of five faculty-led ensembles above).

    Since music theory courses are sequential, entering students are advised to begin the sequence as soon as possible. In addition, first-year students are encouraged to take advantage of required Music History or World Music courses when they are offered since these courses are cycled and may not be offered again the following year.

    World Music Minor

    Entering courses can be chosen from Theory 1: Diatonic Harmony (AMU101); Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (ANT110); or Introduction to World Music (AMU120). The ensemble requirement must be chosen from Japanese Drumming (AMU012) or Jazz Ensemble (AMU015).

    For additional information about the 12-course music major, 8-course interdepartmental major, 6-course music minor, and 6-course world music minor, please see the Academic Register and/or visit the Taylor Music Center to speak with a member of the music faculty.

  • Neuroscience

    Neuroscience Advising Tips

    • It is recommended that students in this major start with BIO 110, BIO 112, and PSY 210 as these courses are prerequisites for Neuroscience students for subsequent neuroscience-related courses. PSY 100 (Introduction to Psychology), normally a prerequisite for PSY210, is waived, and will not count toward the neuroscience major. This exception only applies to Neuroscience majors.

    • Students are strongly encouraged to take BIO 242, BIO 205, PSY 200, PSY 220, CSC 106 (or CSC103) as early as possible, preferably in the sophomore year.

    • BIO 242 is a prerequisite for BIO362 & 363.

    • CSC 106 is preferred over CSC 103, but both satisfy the same requirement.

    • Students are strongly encouraged to take CHM 101 prior to taking BIO 205.

    • Cognitive Track majors should take senior seminars in the Psychology department, and Bioscience Track majors should take senior seminars in the Biology department.

    • Courses taken outside of Union College will not be counted toward the major. However, exceptions can be made under extenuating circumstances on an ad-hoc basis. To receive Neuroscience credit for courses taken elsewhere, students must contact the program director(s) to request permission, and the courses must match a Union course or have similar neuroscience content to Union courses that do receive credit.
    • Due to significant curricular overlap, students cannot double major in Biology and Neuroscience, or Psychology and Neuroscience.

    • Similarly, Biology or Psychology majors are not allowed to minor in Neuroscience. Neuroscience majors cannot minor in Biology.
  • Philosophy

    Course Selection Guidelines

    While our course numbers reveal levels of difficulty (so that 100-level courses are introductory, 200-level and 300-level courses are intermediate, and 400-level courses are advanced), philosophy courses afford great flexibility. In other words, students, including non-majors, can sometimes take courses at the 200 and 300 level, even if they have not taken an introductory in philosophy. Please contact the professor offering any given course for further information and advice.

    Introductory Courses

    Introductory Courses, whether issues-oriented or historically-oriented, do not presuppose any prior acquaintance with philosophy. They may be taken in any order. For more advising information, consult the Philosophy Department website.

    Intermediate Courses

    Intermediate Courses do not presuppose any prior acquaintance with philosophy. They may be taken in any order; and are pitched at a level that is more appropriate for second and higher year students than for first year students. However, in some cases an order for taking intermediate courses is recommended (for this and other advising information, consult the Philosophy Department website).

    Advanced Courses

    Advanced courses may be taken in any order, although in some cases certain orders will be recommended. Unlike Introductory and Intermediate courses, most advanced courses presuppose that the student has already taken at least two philosophy courses. Although first and second year students will be allowed to take advanced courses, these courses are pitched at a level that is more appropriate for third and fourth year students.

    Senior Writing Requirement

    Students who take Departmental Honors and ID majors who are required to write a senior thesis by their other major Department will satisfy this requirement by writing a senior thesis. All other students will in PHL 408/PHL 418 significantly develop a paper that they have written.

    All students are strongly advised to consult the advising information on the Philosophy Department’s Website.

  • Physics

    The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics as well as a Physics minor. The major sequence has ten courses, plus two courses in mathematics, and two other science courses. The minor program requires six courses. First year students with an interest in physics are strongly encouraged to take Physics 100: First Year Physics Seminar in the fall term.

    The Department of Physics & Astronomy Program page provides Sample Schedules for Physics Majors with some examples of how the required courses fit into four years. For an introduction to the courses offered within the department, select one of the following links

    A Guide to the Physics Major

    A Guide to the Astronomy Major

    A Guide to Non-Major Courses

    A complete listing of courses and requirements can be found in Union’s online course catalog.

    Some of the best education a young scientist can obtain occurs outside the classroom, and the department provides a variety of extracurricular opportunities with this in mind. Independent research with a faculty colleague is encouraged for the degree in physics, and many of our majors go well beyond the minimum requirements, spending summers at Union or at national laboratories doing research. The results of these student research projects have been presented at national and international conferences, and in student-coauthored articles for scientific journals. The department also maintains an active colloquium series to help keep students and faculty in touch with exciting developments.

  • Political Science

    Students contemplating majoring in Political Science normally should begin with our introductory courses: PSC 111, Introduction to American Politics; PSC 112, Introduction to Global Politics; and PSC 113, Introduction to Political Theory. Majors must take two of these courses, one of which must be PSC 113. These courses also serve as prerequisites to upper-level PSC electives for students who do not yet have Sophomore Standing.

    Prospective Political Science majors also should familiarize themselves with our Foreign Experience Requirement, which is normally fulfilled either by completing a three-course language sequence or by participating on a full-length term abroad. More details are available in the FAQ section of the PSC website. As students cannot count on acceptance into a term abroad program, it may make sense to begin language study earlier rather than later.

  • Psychology

    In your first year, start with PSY100, our introductory course. This course will offer you a sampling of a variety of topic areas within the field. Once you've taken PSY100, you can take any course at the 200 level. If you decide to declare psychology as a major or as a minor, you'll want to discuss future course options with your advisor within the psychology department.

    Also, be sure to visit our "How-To Page." There you'll find a checklist of required courses for the major, ID major, and minor; a list of course offerings for the entire academic year; requirements for Honors; opportunities for research, and so much more. And of course if you'd like to talk, please reach out to me at psychair@union.edu -- I'll be delighted to answer any questions you might have.

  • Religious Studies

    Religion – Western, Eastern and otherwise – is a vast cluster of cultural phenomena (including sacred texts, mythologies and theologies, moral codes, and every conceivable kind of ritual) that is best explored from the perspective of more than one discipline. Union College's program in religious studies is designed to help students gather insights from anthropology, art, philosophy, history, literature, political science, psychology, sociology and other disciplines as they seek to understand this complicated area of human behavior. This academic inquiry lies outside the framework of any particular belief system.

    Areas of concentration are offered in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Asian Religions, Ancient Mediterranean Religions, and Religion, Culture and Society.

    While our course numbers reveal levels of difficulty (so that 100-level courses are introductory, 200-level and 300-level courses are intermediate, and 400-level courses are advanced), Religious Studies courses afford great flexibility in that students, including non-majors, can take courses at the 200 and 300 level, even if they have not taken an introductory course in Religious Studies. Please contact the professor offering any given course for further information and advice.

    The Religious Studies page provides a description of major, ID major, and minor requirements, as well as lists of Religious Studies-related courses.

  • Russian and East European Studies

    The Russian and East European Studies program provides students with a broad education focusing on the languages, cultures, literatures, history and politics of this vast region. It draws from a number of disciplines, including history, modern languages, political science and economics.

    First year students with an interest in the region should consider taking RUS 100, Beginning Russian language, as well as other REES courses such as PSC 112 (Introduction to Global Politics). Extra-curricular activities in the program include weekly Russian Tables, Russian and East European Culture Club events, a summer min-term and full term to Siberia. Please visit the REES site or reach out to REES faculty to learn more about the program.

  • Sociology

    Students considering a major in Sociology should begin with our introductory course (SOC 100: Introduction to Sociology). This course serves as a prerequisite for other courses in the department.

    In addition to opportunities for internships, fieldwork and research, we offer a range of courses in areas such as community, family, education, health and medicine, mass media, the environment, crime and justice, social work, public policy, diversity and change.

    Course numbers do not correspond to class standing or workload; rather, the 300-level courses generally assume a greater working knowledge of sociological methods and theory. Most majors take the required courses in methods and theory during their junior year (SOC 300 and 305).

    For more information on the major, please see our CURRICULUM PLANNER.