Understanding Academics at Kalamazoo College

Liberal Arts and the K-Plan

Kalamazoo College is the birthplace and home of the K-Plan, a valuable learning experience unlike any other in higher education. It combines challenging undergraduate liberal arts coursework and opportunities for experiential education. During their four years at the College, students will develop skills for lifelong learning, undertake explorations that challenge and extend their understanding of themselves and the world, and establish connections between their learning experiences.

The Academic Catalog contains more information about the Kalamazoo curriculum and Degree Requirements

The Calendar and the K-Plan

Kalamazoo College provides opportunities for experiential education on and off campus, domestically and internationally, through its distinctive K-Plan. During their four years at the College, students develop foundations skills to prepare for lifelong learning. They are encouraged to undertake explorations that challenge, deepen, and extend their understanding of themselves and the world they inhabit. They are guided in establishing connections among their educational experiences, thereby enabling them to function successfully within a complex world. This holistic perspective on education, broadened by a multicultural curriculum and work experiences in several settings, equips Kalamazoo College graduates to fulfill their greatest potential in a diverse and rapidly changing world.

For the first year, students are enrolled for fall, winter and spring classes and have a vacation during the summer. In the second year, students are enrolled in classes fall, winter and spring quarters, but may participate in a one-quarter study abroad program during the spring quarter. We encourage second year students to work with the Center for Career and Professional Development staff to develop a career exploration internship or job during the summer after the second year. Typically, juniors participate in the study abroad program during the fall and winter quarters, returning to campus for classes during the spring. However, some students extend their study abroad to nine months. Many seniors will start their senior integrated project during the summer between the junior and senior year and complete it during fall, winter or spring.

Quarterly Events Calendar

An online Calendar of Events is updated quarterly with information on college programs open to the public.

Enrollment and Residency Requirements

The academic year consists of three periods of ten-week classes plus four days for final exams. Students are not enrolled in classes during the summer quarter, but a range of opportunities for special programs and internships is available to them, should they wish to participate.

All students must be enrolled for a minimum of six full-time quarters on campus. The final three quarters must be in the senior year. A minimum of 18 units (exclusive of PE) must be earned at K. Many students confuse this with the residency requirement, which requires all students except seniors to reside in the College residential system when they are enrolled for an on-campus quarter. Please note that these are two different College policies. Learn more about the residential system here.

Course Load

Each student normally takes three courses during each quarter of on-campus enrollment. An overload of four units or an underload of 2 units must be approved. Freshmen are not allowed to overload (more than 3 units). Tuition remains the same for 2, 3, or 4 units. Students may change courses (drop or add) within the first week of a quarter. A student may request withdrawal from a course during the second though the eighth weeks and receive a grade of “W.” Any underload or course withdrawal during a quarter may affect visa status, financial aid, insurance coverage and athletic eligibility.

Academic Advisors

Advisors are academic mentors who notice what is happening to their advisees, pay attention to their academic progress, and help them work towards completing their degrees and identifying and fulfilling their academic goals.

Advisors help students to develop academic plans compatible with their interests, abilities, and goals; design a course of on- and off-campus study; meet degree requirements; grow intellectually and personally; and make the most of their “K” education. New students are assigned to an advisor linked to their First-Year Seminar.

For detailed advising information, please visit the Advising website.

First-Term Choosing Courses

What a new student needs to know about choosing courses.


Grade reports are available to students online through the Student Portal. Parents do not receive copies of their student’s grades unless their student files a written release with the Registrar’s office.

The GPA is determined by adding quality points and dividing by the number of units earned.

At the end of each quarter, the Committee on Academic Standards reviews grade reports. A student may be warned for below average achievement, placed on academic probation for poor performance, or dismissed from the College for failure to meet academic standards. In general, a student must have a GPA above a 2.0 to be in good academic standing. We encourage you and your son or daughter to talk together about courses as the quarter proceeds. If you are worried, please encourage your student to schedule a visit to work with the professor and academic advisor. Sometimes, we can help a student change study habits, focus more on academic work, or get tutorial help.

Confidentiality of Records

We are required by the Family Rights and Privacy Act to protect student information in files from unauthorized persons. Only under extenuating circumstances will the College include parents as “authorized persons” and only if students are financially dependent on them. We do, however, still assume that our primary interaction will be with the student and that the student will share appropriate information with you. If you wish to receive copies of grade reports and copies of letters of academic actions, you must have your student send a written request to the Registrar’s office. We encourage you to develop good communication strategies with your student.