Converting Williams Units to Semester Hours


Prior to 1967-68, Williams College followed the traditional two semester calendar.

Beginning with the year 1967-68, the 4-1-4 plan has been followed.

Williams has no summer session.


The semester course is the unit of credit.

Prior to 1967-68, 40 semester courses were required for the degree. Each course was considered the equivalent of three semester hours. The 401-402 course and certain other courses carried double credit.

Starting with 1967-68, 32 semester courses, four Winter Study projects, and four quarters of physical education were required for the degree. Fall and spring semester courses typically meet for a minimum of three hours a week, with the expectation that at least an additional ten hours of academic engagement be spent in class, lab, discussion, studio, film viewing, reading, research, writing, and/or other forms of intellectual and creative work related to their class.

The Winter Study term enhances the breadth of our traditional liberal arts curriculum. The four project requirement encourages students to explore topics both within and outside the traditional liberal arts curriculum, provides opportunities for domestic and international travel, and allows students to participate in research and fieldwork that will enrich their education and that may lead to possible careers.

If it is necessary to convert semester courses to credit hours, we suggest the following:

  • Each semester course be considered the equivalent of 3.75 semester hours.
  • Science course weekly labs should have an additional .25 semester hours added to the semester hour equivalent for each hour of lab; e.g., a science course with a 3 hour weekly lab would add an additional .75 semester hours for a total of 4.50 (labs are generally three or four hours per week).
  • Winter Study projects, although a requirement for the degree, do not carry credit hours.

Course Numbers

In general, 100 level courses are introductory or elementary courses, 200 level are intermediate and of a general nature, 300 level are intermediate usually requiring a prerequisite or are of a special nature, and 400 level are intended primarily for majors. Courses at the 500 level are graduate level courses.


A 12 point grade system was used from 1953-54 to 1979-80 with A+ equal to12 and E (failing) equal to a -1.

From 1980-81 to 1983-84, the 12 point system was used with an A+ equal to 12 points, but the E (failing) equal to 0 points.

Since the 1984-85 academic year, the college grading system has been on a 4 point system.


Awarded by the major department at the end of the senior year, if, in its judgment, its criteria of excellence have been met.