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Colleges that don't have a core curriculum?

clarkieclarkie Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
edited August 2008 in College Search & Selection
I'm trying to find colleges in the USA (preferably on the eastern shore) that don't have core curriculum requirements. By core curriculum, I mean required courses in science, math, language, etc. I know that Brown is one, but I'm looking for others. Particurally one's with english majors, and strong english programs. Any suggestions?
Post edited by clarkie on

Replies to: Colleges that don't have a core curriculum?

  • poubellepoubelle Registered User Posts: 364 Member
    Found this: College Lists wiki / Open Curriculum - schools with more flexible curricula Don't know how accurate it is, and it doesn't distinguish between open and flexible curricula (though I'm assuming that any school on this list won't have a core - maybe just a few requirements). I know that Smith, for example, almost has the same curriculum as Brown except that you are required to take one writing-intensive course during your first year (and I think it's the same at Bryn Mawr and Grinnell, too?).
  • Hippo724Hippo724 Registered User Posts: 897 Member
    Vassar college is a good one.
  • KeilexandraKeilexandra Registered User Posts: 5,492 Senior Member
    There have been tons of threads on CC about this. Search for "open curriculum."
  • littleathiestlittleathiest Registered User Posts: 1,143 Senior Member
    Several of the top LACs in the northeast have no real distribution requirements: Amherst College (MA), Wesleyan University (CT), Hamilton College (NY), and Vassar College (NY).
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 11,670 Super Moderator
    My question is always *why* do you want to avoid a core curriculum? A lot of students want the freedom to take as many electives in areas you want, but a core curriculum often brings together students, giving them a common educational experience, and can be very enriching. We had general education requirements and a core required course (African Diaspora & the World) and they were some of my favorite classes, classes I would not have otherwise taken, like Biology of Women, Women in Japanese Society and Honors Philosophy Seminar. They were all very interesting and helped bring me into a well-rounded, liberal arts education.

    Not knocking the choice of a school with no core curriculum, but I hope that you are not looking at only schools with no core. The school I'm at now makes their undergrads take a strong, time-honored core, and while most of the students hate one or two classes in the core (Frontiers of Science is notoriously hated) they typically like the other ones and a lot of the alumni wax poetic about Contemporary Civilizations and Lit Hum.
  • catramircatramir Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    hamilton has a really strong english program and no core. it's located in clinton, ny
  • integrity09integrity09 Registered User Posts: 258 Junior Member
    Smith College has an open curriculum, and is known for academic excellence and small classes. Smith also has a strong English department and a number of famous alumni authors / writers / poets.
  • clarkieclarkie Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    I don't want a core because I have learning differences and foreign languages are difficult for me, and I don't exactly love science classes, so to avoid those two would be a blessing.
  • littleathiestlittleathiest Registered User Posts: 1,143 Senior Member
    If you're trying to avoid taking a foreign language all together, you might have a more challenging time in finding good schools to look at. I don't know about Hamilton, Amherst, and Wesleyan, but do know that Vassar requires students to show competency in a language other than English either through AP study (a 4 or 5 is acceptable), a high score on a language exemption test, a score on a language SAT II above 600, or a unit of study in the language (one class).
  • WeskidWeskid Registered User Posts: 1,288 Senior Member
    A few more specifics:

    Amherst, last I heard, has a completely open curriculum, al la Brown. I believe the University of Rochester also has a completely open curriculum.

    Wesleyan has distribution "suggestions" (not required to gradate, but are required for honors in most majors and Phi Beta Kappa), which are: 3 classes in a humanities/art; 3 classes in a social science; 3 classes in a natural science or math. Within each discipline (humanities, social science, natural science/math) at least two departments must be represented.

    This seems pretty good for you. You definitely don’t have to take a foreign language, which falls under humanities—two English classes plus one other humanities or art (including a lit in translation class) would cover that. If you like math, you don’t have to take a traditional science class (bio, chem., etc)—you could take say, two math classes and a math based astro class. Even if you don’t like math either, the science requirement isn’t so bad — some psyc classes count, plus there are lots of sciences unlike those normally taken in high school that are fun to explore (astronomy, geology, environmental science, computer science). I’ve even seen a logic-based philopshy classes that was an NSM :D
  • jerzgrlmomjerzgrlmom Registered User Posts: 1,245 Senior Member
    "Not knocking the choice of a school with no core curriculum, but I hope that you are not looking at only schools with no core."

    Julliet, it sure sounds like you're knocking schools without a core curriculum... It also sounds like you don't understand the advantages, the freedom to explore multiple areas or to delve deeply into one's interests (which may differ from one's major). Just because YOU like a strong core, doesn't mean it's best for everyone else to have one.
  • joelangfordjoelangford Registered User Posts: 42 Junior Member
    Addressing #'s 10 and 11 above, Hamilton has no foreign language requirement or expectation at all, evidently unlike Vassar. It is one of the "completely open" curricula schools, apparently like Brown and Amherst. Unlike Juillet, if I were applying to college today, that's exactly what I'd be looking for. Why wouldn't college men and women be mature enough to make their own decisions about what they want to learn?
  • KeilexandraKeilexandra Registered User Posts: 5,492 Senior Member
    University of Rochester doesn't have a completely open curriculum--I would characterize it as very loose distribution requirements. There are three basic divisions, and you have to take a cluster (3-4 linked courses) in each of your two non-major divisions.
  • momrathmomrath Registered User Posts: 5,677 Senior Member
    clarkie, I think you're confusing several different things: core, distribution requirements and language proficiency requirements.

    Core curriculum means a fixed sequence of classes that everyone takes. Very few colleges have core curriculums; Chicago, Columbia, St. Johns are examples.

    Distribution requirements are very common. The way this generally works is that the college requires that you choose three classes from each of three general groupings, like science/math, social studies, humanitities. So for science/math you could choose calculus, you could choose geology, you could choose environmental science. For humanities you could choose Shakespeare, you could choose French, you could choose art history.

    Then there are the colleges that have open curriculums, which means that there are no general distribution requirements, except for those required for your individual major. Brown and Amherst are two examples and it seems that more colleges are going in this direction.

    Now, overarching all three systems are specific course requirements which vary widely from college to college. Even colleges with open curriculums may have specific area requirements.

    Some have writing requirements, some have diversity requirements, some have quantitative thinking requirements. And many have language requirements.
    Often the colleges with language requirements allow you to place out if you can demonstrate proficiency, either by your SAT score or a test administered by the college. If you don't place out, you will have to study one or two years of college level language.

    My son -- for complicaed reasons -- looked for colleges that did not have a language proficiency requirements. He found there were quite a few. If this is what's bothering you, then you need to do some specific research. To get you started, Williams is one. Williams also has an excellent English department, but it does have distribution requirements which means that you'd have to take three classes in the science/math category.
  • integrity09integrity09 Registered User Posts: 258 Junior Member
    I don't want a core because I have learning differences and foreign languages are difficult for me, and I don't exactly love science classes, so to avoid those two would be a blessing.
    Smith College requires one writing-intensive course, and there are no other courses required other than those for your chosen major.
    From the Smith College website: "Each student has the freedom and responsibility to choose, with the help of academic advisers, a course of studies to fit her individual needs and interests. The curricular expectations and requirements for the degree therefore allow great flexibility in the design of a course of study leading to the degree."

    Smith also has a lot of good services and support for students with learning differences. It no longer requires SAT or ACT scores for US applicants.
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