Pitzer College

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Pitzer College
Pitzer College is a small, private liberal arts college located in Claremont, California, USA. Pitzer College is the fifth of seven schools of higher learning known as the Claremont Colleges and coordinated through the Claremont University Consortium.

Ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country, Pitzer is selective -- the college is one of roughly 40 liberal arts institutions to admit fewer that 50% of applicants. Pitzer College is expensive. In 2003, a year of tuition, room, board and textbooks cost about $37,500. As of 2004, 48% of Pitzer students received financial assistance of some type. 100% of a student's financial need is covered by the college in the form of loans, work-study, scholarships, and grants.



Pitzer was founded in 1963 as a women's college by Russell K. Pitzer (1878-1978), a California citrus magnate and philanthropist, and its first President was John W. Atherton. The College became co-educational in 1970.


Pitzer College has the third smallest enrollment of the Claremont Colleges with a student body of about 950. Student body diversity is emphasized at Pitzer College; U.S. News and World Reports in 2004 named Pitzer the fifth most diverse private, secular, co-ed, liberal arts college in the United States.

Residential life

The vast majority of Pitzer students live on campus. Pitzer has three residence halls: Mead, Holden, and Sanborn. Holden and Sanborn halls are identical: two floors with four different wings (A, B, C, and D for Sanborn and J, K, L, and M for Holden). Rooms in these dorms are primarily double-occupancy and each is connected to another double-occupancy room by way of a shared bathroom. In contrast, Mead Hall is designed to have six separate towers interconnected by walkways. The six towers are W, X, Little X (LX), Y, Little Y (LY), and Z. Each tower has three levels and is organized into suites which typically accommodate eight occupants divided into four single-occupancy and two double-occupancy rooms, two bathrooms, a common living room, and (in most cases) a small patio or balcony. Additionally, suites in Z tower include a small kitchenette in each living room. LX and LY also include half-suites which accommodate only four occupants and are divided into 2 single-occupancy and one double-occupancy rooms, a living room, a bathroom, and a patio or balcony. There are no large community bathrooms at Pitzer College; the rate of on-campus student per bathroom is 4:1. Each residence hall is equipped with shared laundry rooms, common rooms, study rooms, and kitchens.

Typically, most of Sanborn Hall is reserved for first-years with the remaining first-years placed into Holden Hall. In order to help first-years adjust to college life, first-years are assigned to a mentor, each mentor having about twelve to fifteen mentees. Mentees are typically assigned to live in the same wing of the same floor. Mead Hall, which has an older resident population than Holden and Sanborn, is known by some as the "party hall" and is often very lively, especially on weekends. Holden is considered by some to be a "hybrid" between Mead and Sanborn, having some freshmen, some upper classmen. For every wing in Holden and Sanborn or every tower of Mead, there is a resident assistant who are responsible for the well being of the residents. Every hall also has a live-in hall director.

There are also several thematic residence halls available at Pitzer. For example, M2 is called "HUSH", which stands for Holden Ultimate Study Hall and is designed as a quiet hall, although some residents believe that this policy is often unenforced. J1 is called the "Joint Science Hall", most if not all of the residents concentrate their studies on the sciences, some in preparation for medical school. K2 and LX are both Substance Free and residents of each must sign an agreement promising not to use drugs or alcohol before they are granted residency. LY is the "Involvement Tower", a self-governing tower which selects its residents on the basis of their social involvement and engages in tower activities to encourage social and civic involvement on campus.

When a Pitzer student who lives in either Holden or Sanborn is asked where he/she lives (on campus), the student would usually refer to their wing assignment followed by the floor, as it is common knowledge among the students which letter assignments are in which dorms (i.e.: "M1" for Holden, M Wing, first floor or "D2" for Sanborn, D Wing, second floor). Mead residents however will refer to the tower name and the floor or tower and suite number (i.e.: "X300" or "Little Y first floor").


Pitzer describes its academic approach as linking, "intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility and community connectivity". Pitzer prides itself upon being the most "flexible" of the Claremont College, most notably in its policy of allowing self-created majors.

Pitzer offers 40 majors and 15 minors, the requirements of which are determined by a field group rather than a department.

Majors include:

  • American Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Art
  • Asian-American Studies
  • Biology-Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Black Studies
  • Chemistry
  • Chicano Studies
  • Classics
  • Creative Writing
  • Economics
  • English and World Literature
  • Environmental Science
  • Environmental Studies
  • French
  • Gender & Feminist Studies
  • History
  • History of Ideas
  • Human Biology
  • International and Intercultural Studies
    • Asian Studies
    • European Studies
    • Latin American and Caribbean Studies
    • Third World Studies
  • Linguistics
  • Mathematical Economics
  • Mathematics
  • Media Studies
  • Modern Language, Literature, and Culture
  • Music
  • Neuroscience
  • Organizational Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political Economy
  • Political Studies
  • Psychology
  • Religious Studies
  • Science and Management
  • Science, Technology, and Society
  • Sociology
  • Spanish
  • Theater and Dance

Example Self-Designed Majors:

  • Ethnic Psychology
  • Queer Studies
  • Fashion Design

Pitzer has five primary guidelines for graduation:

  1. Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Exploration
    • Each student must take three classes which address a particular topic of interest. The classes must represent at least two disciplines and more than one cultural perspective.
  2. Social Responsibility and the Ethical Implications of Knowledge and Action
    • Credit Options include participation in an External Studies program or completion of a class with a community service component.
    • Non-credit options include 45 hours of community service in a single semester or participation in certain school programs such as school governance, as a Resident Assistant, at the Ecology Center, at the literary magazine.
  3. Breadth of Knowledge
    • Two courses in the humanities and fine arts
    • Two courses in the social and behavioral sciences
    • One course in the natural sciences
    • One course in mathematics/formal reasoning
  4. Written Expression
    • The completion of a first-year seminar fulfills this requirement.
    • Alternately, transfer students may take a writing intensive course to fulfill this requirement.
  5. Completion of a Major

Pitzer, Claremont McKenna College, and Scripps College share a science program known as the Joint Science Department that is located at the Keck Science Center.

Pitzer College also shares an athletic program with Pomona College called the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens.

Notable alumni

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Debra Wong Yang

Points of interest

External links



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