Course Catalog

The Simmons PLAN (Purpose Leadership ActioN)

While taking courses in the Simmons PLAN (Purpose Leadership ActioN), our core curriculum, students will substantively engage with the city of Boston, develop their own understanding of leadership, engage in integrative learning across academic disciplines, and design key components of their course of study. PLAN brings the Simmons’s principles and values into the present day. Students will complete the Simmons PLAN over the entire four years of their college experience.

The Simmons PLAN: Majors and Minors
Students may elect a major after completion of 32 semester hours. A major must be declared upon completion of five semesters (80 semester hours) of full-time study. Students take a minimum of 28 semester hours in a major field, as determined by each department. Please note that some majors require prerequisite courses. The programs also offer fieldwork or internships through which students may apply their knowledge and explore opportunities in a career field related to their area(s) of study. Students may elect a single department major or a combination of majors.
The curriculum offers the following options:
single major A coherent sequence of courses administered by a single department.
double major Student fulfills two complete majors.
joint major A sequence of courses drawn from two departments and advised and administered with the cooperation of both.
interdepartmental major An interdisciplinary program involving two or more departments or programs
Option for Personalized Education (OPEN) Offers an opportunity to design a major with the assistance of a faculty advisor. Enables a student to work out an individualized major in accordance with their own educational needs and goals. Contact the Office of the Undergraduate Dean for more information.
minor An integrated group of courses designed to give a student significant exposure to a subject area other than his or her major. This is different than the 3D Cluster part of the Simmons PLAN. All minors are 20 credits (five courses). Not required for graduation, but can be elected by those students who wish to indicate an area of interest that complements and refines their major, suggests a distinct area of concentration, or expresses a particular passion or avocation.

The Simmons PLAN Requirements

Year One

The Boston Course

Fall Semester, 4 credits

In this writing-intensive first year seminar, students will engage with the City of Boston. Based on faculty passions and expertise, these courses run the gamut of disciplinary focus. They share a focus on the development of writing skills, information literacy, and critical analysis.

The Simmons Course: Explore

Fall Semester, 2 credits

This course supports Simmons students in their transition to college. The primary goals of the course are to introduce students: to Simmons, to navigating cultural differences, to self-management, and to what it means to engage with your community.

The Leadership Course

Spring Semester, 4 credits

This course challenges students to think about themselves as leaders from a leadership model based on engaging others in the quest for positive social outcomes. This course will include skill development in building relationships across differences; communicating a compelling narrative in writing and public speaking; ethical decision making; speaking up in the face of injustice; and creating team leadership and followership.

Year Two

The Learning Community

Fall or Spring Semester, 8 credits

The Learning Community will provide students with an opportunity to understand a topic from multiple disciplinary perspectives. This approach to integrative learning will allow students to grasp the habits of mind and intellectual methods of two disciplines (via two 3-credit courses) and how they may be brought to bear on a topic, issue, or problem (via a 2-credit integrative seminar jointly taught by the two course instructors).

The Simmons Course: Experience

Fall or Spring Semester, 1 credit

The second year Simmons Course focuses on academic and career planning, further development of self-management skills, and developing competencies in diversity, equity, and inclusion. The course also prepares students to design their 3D cluster, and to engage in directed course planning in order to fulfill this requirement.

Year Three

3D–Design Across Diverse Disciplines

Years 3 and 4, 12 credits

Before spring registration of their second year, students will design and propose a cluster of three courses that address a topic, problem, or issue from various disciplinary perspectives. Students will explain the rationale for their selection of these courses, focusing on the intellectual coherence of the courses they have chosen.

The Simmons Course: Excel

Fall or Spring Semester, 1 credit (online)

In the final segment of The Simmons Course, students finalize their 3D plans. The course also includes a focus on career and life planning, and students engage in a series of self-directed learning assignments designed to help them navigate their professional, financial, academic, and personal futures.

Year Four

The Capstone

Fall or Spring Semester

All students will take a Capstone experience in their major, which will be designed by individual departments. Regardless of discipline, Capstone experiences will address career and graduate school preparation. (One Capstone in a student’s major is required to fulfill PLAN requirements; students with multiple majors may be required to fulfill Capstones in each major, depending on major requirements.)

Graduation Requirements


The language requirement applies to all students regardless of background. Learning another language develops cognitive skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and flexibility. Furthermore, as students become familiar with a particular language and its literature and culture, they develop knowledge of the intellectual and social history of the people who speak that language. Additionally, the knowledge and experience gained in the critical reading of foreign literature broadens students’ perspectives and provides a foundation for further study and travel. In so doing, they become aware of their own cultural assumptions and preconceptions. Finally, fluency in another language provides a significant advantage in the marketplace for students who want to advance in their careers.

Two semesters of coursework in the same foreign language taken sequentially is required of all students, regardless of incoming language proficiency. Students may pursue a previously studied language or start a new one.

Table 1: PLAN Requirements, Purpose, and Double Counting

Year 1 The Boston Course fall semester, 4 credits

The Simmons Course:
Explore fall semester, 2 credits

The Leadership Course spring semester, 4 credits
Engagement with Boston; communication essential capability
Engagement with Simmons Communities; academic skill-building

Leadership, teamwork
Year 2 Learning Community
• 2 courses, 3 credits each
• 1 integrated seminar, 2 credits

The Simmons Course: Experience
Fall or spring semester, 1 credit
Interdisciplinary and integrated learning

Academic skill-building; 3D planning
• Learning Community courses may count as a KCA
• One Learning Community course may count in major/minor. For students with multiple majors/minors, one LC course may count in each.
• One 3-credit course from the LC may be included in a student’s 3D cluster
Years 3 and 4 3D–Design Across Diverse Disciplines 3 courses that are topically connected; interdisciplinary and integrated learning • Each 3D course may count as a KCA
• One 3D course may count in each major/minor course of study
• 3D courses must be drawn from different disciplines
• One 3D course may have been taken during first or second year
Capstone Expertise in student’s field of study • The Capstone is in the major
The Simmons Course: Excel 1 credit
Fall or spring semester
Post-graduation support/ planning; careers, graduate school • The Simmons Course: Excel is in the major
Any year Key Content Areas (4 courses)
• Social/Historical
• Artistic, Literary Aesthetic
• Global/Cultural
• Scientific
Exposure to content across disciplines • Each KCA may be fulfilled through the Learning Community; 3D; in a major/ minor course of study (if applicable)
Quantitative Literacy (1 course) Critical thinking and problem solving; literacy in numeric systems • The QL requirement may be fulfilled through a course in student’s major/minor course of study (if applicable)
Language Requirement (2 courses in the same language) Linguistic and cultural skill development • Language courses may fulfill a KCA

Exemptions/Alternate Requirement

  • Dix Scholars are exempted from the language requirement.
  • Students with a documented learning disability, or other disability, affecting their ability to acquire a foreign language will fulfill the language requirement through the completion of two courses related to global perspectives and cross-cultural understanding. Such students should contact the Disabilities Services Office and consult their academic advisor for the list of approved courses.

Starting a New Language

  • Students who want to start a language which they have not previously studied can register for the 101 level in the following languages at Simmons: Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.
  • Typically, Arabic and American Sign Language are offered through the Colleges of the Fenway. Please visit the Registrar’s Office for details.


  • Students are strongly encouraged to finish the language requirement within their first two years of study.
Table 2a: Placement for Language Courses
For students who want to continue their studies of Chinese, French, Japanese, or Spanish, the following methods will be used for placement:
French AP, IB or SAT exam
or Online placement exam administered by the Office of Academic Advising
Spanish AP, IB or SAT exam
or Online placement exam administered by the Office of Academic Advising
Chinese Online placement exam administered by the Office of Academic Advising
Japanese Must consult with Professor Zhigang Liu, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures
Students register for the level indicated based on their test score. Students cannot register for a different level without approval from the Modern Languages and Literatures Department.

Students who have studied three or more years of the language will be automatically be placed into the 102 level, regardless of placement exam results.

American Sign Language may be taken to fulfill the Language Requirement.
  • Courses taken to fulfill the language requirement
    • may not be taken pass/fail;
    • may not be taken online;
    • may fulfill a Key Content Area requirement;
    • may be part of a student’s 3D cluster;
    • may count towards the major or minor in French or Spanish if they are at the 245 level or above; in order to count towards the major or minor, French 245 and Spanish 245 must be taken at Simmons.
  • Language courses taken abroad can be used to fulfill the language requirement. Pre-approval must be obtained from the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. Please contact the Chair of the Modern Languages and Literatures Department for approval.
  • Language courses transferred from other institutions may fulfill the language requirement pending pre-approval from the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. Please contact the Chair of the Modern Languages and Literatures Department for approval. This applies also to languages not offered at either Simmons or the Colleges of the Fenway consortium. In that instance, placement will be decided by the host institutions if needed.
Table 2b: Placement/Credit by Language Exam Score
Score of 3:
No credit; student is placed into 202
Score of 5:
No credit; student is placed into 202
Score of 560 or higher:
No credit; student is placed into 202
Score of 4 or 5:
4 general credits; student is placed into 245
Score of 6 or 7:
4 general credits; student is placed into 245
No credit or placement for the “ab initio” exam: students are required to take the placement exam
Score of 650 or higher:
No credit; student is placed into 245


Students will be required to demonstrate competency in mathematics in one of the following ways before they are able to take a Quantitative Literacy course:

  • Pass the mathematics competency exam administered by the Office of Undergraduate Advising numerous times during the year
  • Successfully complete MATH 101 or a higher level mathematics course at Simmons
  • Present evidence of satisfactory completion at another accredited college of a mathematics course at the level of MATH 101, or above, to the Registrar’s office
  • Students must satisfy the math competency requirement during their first year at Simmons. Students who do not pass the mathematics competency exam during orientation, or who do not meet the math competency requirement in one of the other ways described above, may choose to take MATH 101 in their first year or to retake the test in November. If they do not pass the November test, they will enroll in MATH 101 in the spring semester. Students who matriculate in January who do not pass the mathematics competency exam, or do not meet the requirements in one of the ways described above, may take MATH 101 during their first semester or retake the exam in March. If they fail the test in March, they will enroll in Math 101 in the following spring semester.


Quantitative Literacy (QL) is a “habit of mind,” competency, and comfort in working with numerical data. Courses in this area will develop a student’s ability to reason and solve quantitative problems from a wide array of authentic contexts and everyday life situations. QL courses will develop the skills necessary to understand and create sophisticated arguments supported by quantitative evidence, and to clearly communicate those arguments in a variety of formats (using words, tables, graphs, mathematical equations, etc.., as appropriate).


The key content areas pertain to phenomena as objects of study across the disciplines, rather than modes of inquiry defined by a particular discipline or set of disciplines.

Indeed, these categories describe areas of knowledge from multidisciplinary perspectives. The phenomena included under each of the four areas listed below thus admit of a wide variety of ways of knowing or disciplinary approaches. Students must complete one course from each of the following areas:

1] Scientific Inquiry (SCI)

Courses in this area focus on phenomena in the natural and physical world and on ways of knowing these phenomena, particularly through experimental approaches. This requirement is primarily met by courses in the sciences and psychology; the requirement may also be met by courses in other disciplines providing perspectives on scientific phenomena. All courses meeting this requirement include a “hands on” component providing students the opportunity to understand and appreciate the scientific method.

2] Global Cultural (GC)

The term “global cultural” is broadly construed; it includes all cultures, past and present, within and beyond the U. S., and in their multiple forms of manifestation. Courses in this area offer our students the opportunity to understand and learn to appreciate cultural differences as they have made themselves manifest in humankind. This requirement can be met by courses in any discipline—from the liberal arts, to the sciences, and the professions–that provide a multicultural perspective of the world. For example, courses that focus on cross-cultural practices, or on minority cultures in the U. S., or on non-European cultures, or that provide world surveys of cultures would all meet this requirement.

3] Social and Historical (SH)

Courses in this area focus on phenomena in society and history as well as ways of knowing these phenomena. This requirement can be met by courses in the social sciences, including economics, political science, sociology, social psychology, social work, and history. Courses in other disciplines that provide perspectives of social and historical phenomena as defined above also meet this requirement. For example, a course that focuses on the social applications of management principles would provide such perspectives.

4] Aesthetic, Literary, and Artistic (ALA)

Courses in this area focus on phenomena in art and literature as well as ways of knowing or creating original works or aesthetic approaches to these phenomena. This requirement can be met by courses in any of the creative and performing arts as well as in any courses in the study of literature, art, and music. Courses in other disciplines that provide perspectives of aesthetic, literary, and artistic phenomena as defined above also meet this requirement. For example, a course that studies the digital or computational aspects of artistic creation would meet this requirement.