Coursebook & Plan Guide Navigation

The Basics

Credit Load

You need an average of 15 credits per semester. The minimum allowed for a full-time student is 12 credits and the maximum is 18. You will need 120 credits for degree completion, 50 of which must be designated as Plan credits. If you are a first-year student, you are advised not to take the limit of 18 credits in your first semester. We want you to be challenged but not overwhelmed. It is wise to learn the expectations of your faculty—as well as your own limits. Solicit advice from your advisor and the director of academic advising. You’ll know by the end of your first semester or year whether or not 18 credits is an appropriate load for you.

Recommended Courses

Although Marlboro does not have any course requirements, per se, all areas of the curriculum necessitate a certain foundation of courses in preparation for Plan-level work. The information in each degree field will inform you of these guidelines. Courses are offered at the introductory, intermediate and advanced level. If you are in the World Studies Program, you will need to take the required courses at the appropriate time (see the World Studies Handbook).


Good writing is the foundation of a successful Plan; with this in mind, all students are required to pass the Clear Writing Requirement within their first three semesters. Successfully completing the Clear Writing Requirement is an achievement that lets you and the faculty know that you’re ready to continue with more advanced research and writing. It’s an important stepping-stone, and an incredibly helpful one. Therefore, all entering students should take either a writing seminar or a designated writing course during their first semester. The writing course you choose will depend on the results of your writing assessment and your advisor’s recommendation. Even once you have met the Clear Writing Requirement, you should continue to take at least one course each semester that will give you regular opportunities to write.


Knowledge of mathematical concepts is necessary for any field that requires quantitative research. This includes work in psychology, sociology, economics, environmental studies and political science, as well as the natural sciences. Furthermore, knowledge of mathematics is essential for musical composition and is handy for technical work in theater.

Language study

The study of languages is highly recommended, not only for broadening your perspective of the world but in the interest of cross-cultural communication. In addition, if graduate school is a goal, you will probably need to demonstrate competence in at least one foreign language, if not two.

Foundation Work

It is important to establish a foundation in the area(s) you are especially interested in. You may reach your first semester on Plan and realize you should have taken a course in anthropology or music history: You’ll spend part of your junior year on Plan playing catch-up. The better informed you are about needed course work, the better off you’ll be when it comes time to submit your Preliminary Plan Application at the end of your sophomore year.


Tutorials are a key component of Marlboro College curriculum reserved for junior and seniors undertaking advanced work on a subject outside the standard course offerings. They are offered for variable credit, determined by the faculty member and student in consultation. The substance and form of tutorials vary widely. The basis of tutorial work depends on students taking charge of a subject, preparing for and leading a weekly meeting with the faculty member and completing a piece of research or production. Success in tutorial work is a key step toward the completion of the Plan of Concentration.

It’s worth saying again: Tutorials are necessarily advanced and are designed for juniors and seniors on Plan. Tutorials include: one-on-one tutorials in a student’s specific field in preparation for Plan work, group tutorials with several students who have similar interests and Plan-writing tutorials in the senior year focusing on analyzing information and completing Plan papers. In addition, satellite tutorials are centered around a listed course offering and allow students to both participate in the course and do research on a related subject. In all cases, meetings are usually weekly and depend on students leading the development of inquiry as well as demonstrating regular progress on their work.


(a mostly random selection of Marlboro microdestinations)