Major Based Classes Only?

Even though gen ed and liberal art classes (outside of our majors) are required to graduate, do you think that colleges should offer a choice for students to only complete classes within their major?

Now, I understand that we all need to complete certain classes outside of our major in order to graduate, but by giving students a choice, then they can graduate early, along with not accumulating any extra student loan debt as well.

However, they can still take gen ed/liberal art classes if they want to.

There are some colleges that do this.

If you can get into Amherst or Brown…

Or you can go to Evergreen State, although they do not have majors either.

We could argue there are too many gen ed requirements and/or that they should be tailored to different majors (ex., humanities for engineers or literature classes that focus on specific topics), but I still believe students benefit from a broad spectrum of courses.


Except they will still need roughly 120 credits for a degree.

Alternatively, they can also study in England.


How about Grinnell?

Look for schools with an “open curriculum”.

In addition to Gen Ed distribution requirements, some colleges have a core curriculum. Personally, I think that is the way to go. It creates an intellectual foundation among all students and faculty as well as showing how knowledge rarely fits solely into defined academic disciplines.

If a student wants to only study one thing, then perhaps a trade program or specialized associates degree would be the way to go. Learn one set of skills and get out certainly eliminates extra time and expense.

First, why are you in college? If you are so deeply un-curious as to want to avoid out-of-major courses, why are you in college? If the answer is “to get a good job”, do you really think out-of-major courses provide no value?

Second, I went to the best university in my field and ended up a professional in that field. Some of the most useful things I learned in college came from sociology. Music. Philosophy. And, believe it or not, Phys. Ed.

My daughter who recently graduated with an honors bachelor’s degree from a university in Canada had more classes in her major and fewer classes outside of her major compared to what is typical in the US. There were still some required “outside of major” classes. Some however were in things like how to write a good research paper which might have been billed as an English class but which is still very useful for a STEM major.

The total number of units was however the same as would be typical in the US. It therefore still took the same amount of time. The difference was that she had more classes in her major or closely related fields. The total cost was lower than in the US but that was not due to the number of courses taken (and it was only a bit less than our in-state public university would have been).

In general when deciding upon which university to attend, I think that it is a good idea for students to pay attention to what courses are going to be required to graduate. This includes both general education requirements and major requirements. Things like how many electrical engineering courses are required for a computer science major may vary between universities.

I agree with other posters…if this is your desire, the US College system is not the place for you in general. Our philosophy is that you will be a better person and even a better engineer if you have taken other types of classes.
For example: Yes, you could build a nuclear bomb based on what you have learned…but should you? Do you know the history of what happened? Have you ever taken a foreign language to learn that there are other cultures and those people are also people? The idea is that you expand your horizons and are not limited to what you came into college with.
Now many people tailor their gen ed classes to what they are comfortable with…I as an engineer had to take a “humanities” course…Logic 101 was a Philosophy course but also something I had already studied in Math and DIgital Electronics. For social sciences many took Economics.
I have also seen what happens when Engineers are not good at writing their documentation or giving presentations. Or if they are not aware that different cultures work different ways.

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