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Curricular Flexibility

For all of the effort expended by teens during the college search and admissions process, very few actually take the time to dig into the nuts and bolts of the actual learning that takes place at a given school. For example, many students don’t discover the core and distributional curricular requirements until they actually step foot one campus to meet with an advisor for the first time. Mandated coursework can vary from zero classes to almost two full years of study. Some schools require no work in foreign language, while others require the equivalent of four or five classes. The number of courses you must take in the areas of writing, math, and science are similarly variable from school to school. One reason students don’t often pay attention to this aspect of future academic life is because information is difficult to find and much of what is on the web or outdated or even contradictory.

To assist you in determining the level of curricular flexibility at the top institutions in the country, we awarded schools one of three grades: Very Flexible, Somewhat Flexible, or Less Flexible, depending on the extent and specificity of their curricular mandates. Further, we cited the number of writing, math, science, and foreign language courses required by each school. For universities housing multiple colleges, the requirements cited are for the School of Arts & Sciences (or equivalent program) unless otherwise noted.

To view additional data columns, click the + icon to the left of the institution's name

InstitutionCurricular Flexibility# Writing Courses# of Math Courses# of Science CoursesForeign Lanugage RequirementNotes
American UniversitySomewhat Flexible 211None
Amherst CollegeVery Flexible None
Arizona State UniversitySomewhat Flexible 122None
Babson CollegeLess Flexible 21None
Barnard CollegeSomewhat Flexible 1122 courses
Baruch College (CUNY)Less Flexible 2112 coursesStudents must complete a three-course concentration outside of their major
Bates CollegeSomewhat Flexible 311NoneForeign language is required for study abroad; students must complete coursework in a secondary area of study (in addition to their major)
Bentley UniversityLess Flexible 221None
Binghamton UniversitySomewhat Flexible 111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Boston CollegeLess Flexible 112Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Boston UniversitySomewhat Flexible 221Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Bowdoin CollegeVery Flexible 11None
Brandeis UniversitySomewhat Flexible 111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Brigham Young UniversityLess Flexible 212None
Brown UniversityVery Flexible None
Bryn Mawr CollegeSomewhat Flexible 112 courses
Bucknell UniversitySomewhat Flexible 1111 course
California Institute of TechnologySomewhat Flexible 128NoneFreshman Math and Physics are yearlong courses
California Polytechnic Institute, San Luis ObispoLess Flexible 124None
Carleton CollegeSomewhat Flexible 222Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Carnegie Mellon UniversitySomewhat Flexible 19 (Math/Science) 9 (Math/Science) None27 total units for "Modeling" in Arts & Sciences
Case Western Reserve UniversitySomewhat Flexible 12NoneFigures are for Arts & Sciences
Claremont McKenna CollegeVery Flexible 111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Computer Science can be subsituted for Math
Clarkson UniversitySomewhat Flexible 22None
Clemson UniversitySomewhat Flexible 3 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)None10 total combined credits of math/science required
Colby CollegeSomewhat Flexible 112Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Colgate UniversityLess Flexible 11Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)There are also four required first-year courses
College of the Holy CrossSomewhat Flexible 112 courses
College of William & MarySomewhat Flexible 111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Studens may satisfy FL requirement by taking four years of (the same) foreign language in high school
Colorado CollegeVery Flexible 1112
Colorado School of MinesLess Flexible 45All majors must meet requirements
Columbia UniversityLess Flexible 13 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Connecticut CollegeSomewhat Flexible 2112
Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and ArtLess Flexible 67Prescribed freshman and sophomore schdules
Cornell UniversitySomewhat Flexible 222Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Dartmouth CollegeSomewhat Flexible 112Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Gen Ed requirements can be filled in a variety of ways
Davidson CollegeSomewhat Flexible 111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Dickinson CollegeSomewhat Flexible 111Intermediate Proficiency
Drexel UniversitySomewhat Flexible 9 (Math/Science) 9 (Math/Science) All requirements by major (engineering listed)
Duke UniversitySomewhat Flexible 122Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Elon UniversityLess Flexible 11-21-2Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)First-year foundations includes a stat class
Emory UniversitySomewhat Flexible 1122
Fairfield UniversityLess Flexible 1121-2Magis Core Curriculum is extensive
Florida State UniversitySomewhat Flexible 111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Fordham UniversitySomewhat Flexible 112Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Franklin & Marshall CollegeSomewhat Flexible 2Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Franklin W. Olin College of EngineeringSomewhat Flexible 6330 total credits of math/science required
George Mason UniversityLess Flexible 112Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
George Washington UniversitySomewhat Flexible 123Can take "Cultural" courses in lieu of language
Georgetown UniversitySomewhat Flexible 111Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)CS can be substituted for Math
Georgia Institute of TechnologyLess Flexible 23 (for most majors)2
Grinnell CollegeVery Flexible Only one required first-year tutorial
Hamilton CollegeVery Flexible 11Math course can be substituted for a logic or CS class
Harvard UniversitySomewhat Flexible 1112
Harvey Mudd CollegeSomewhat Flexible 169Some science "courses" are 1-credit labs
Haverford CollegeVery Flexible 1-21-21-22Foundations/Domains courses total 32 credits
Hofstra UniversitySomewhat Flexible 23 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Must take at least one of math & science
Illinois Institute of TechnologySomewhat Flexible 122
Indiana University – BloomingtonSomewhat Flexible 121Can study abroad or take World Culture class in lieu of language
Johns Hopkins UniversitySomewhat Flexible 43 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)
Kenyon CollegeVery Flexible 1Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
Lafayette CollegeSomewhat Flexible 111Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
Lawrence UniversitySomewhat Flexible 22Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Lehigh UniversitySomewhat Flexible 212Requirements listed arts for the CAS
Loyola University MarylandLess Flexible 111Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)Multiple theology courses also required
Macalester CollegeSomewhat Flexible 32 (Math/Science)2 (Math/Science)Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Marist CollegeSomewhat Flexible 111
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologySomewhat Flexible 6 (Math/Science)6 (Math/Science)
Middlebury CollegeSomewhat Flexible 1111
Mount Holyoke CollegeSomewhat Flexible 1 (Math/Science)1 (Math/Science)1
New York UniversitySomewhat Flexible 212Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
North Carolina State UniversityLess Flexible 122Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)Studens may satisfy FL requirement by taking two years of (the same) foreign language in high school
Northeastern UniversitySomewhat Flexible 111Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)The NUPath has 11 competencies that must be met
Northwestern UniversitySomewhat Flexible 22Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Linguistics courses can replace math courses
Oberlin CollegeSomewhat Flexible 222
Occidental CollegeSomewhat Flexible 3 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
Ohio State University – ColumbusSomewhat Flexible 213Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Requirements listed for BA candidates
Pennsylvania State University – University ParkLess Flexible 111Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Pepperdine UniversityLess Flexible 111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Pitzer CollegeSomewhat Flexible 111
Pomona CollegeSomewhat Flexible 111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Princeton UniversitySomewhat Flexible 112Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Purdue University – West LafayetteSomewhat Flexible 222Language reqirement can be filled by Diversity courses
Reed CollegeSomewhat Flexible 3 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)varies by deparment Psychology courses categorized with sciences
Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteSomewhat Flexible 6 (Math/Science)6 (Math/Science)
Rhodes CollegeSomewhat Flexible 111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Rice UniversitySomewhat Flexible 13 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)
Rochester Institute of TechnologyLess Flexible 112
Rose-Hulman Institute of TechnologyLess Flexible VariesVariesVaries by department. No "core curriculum"
Rutgers UniversitySomewhat Flexible 122Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
San Diego State UniversityLess Flexible Varies VariesProficiency (Second Elementary Course)A writing assessment is required of all undergraduates
Santa Clara UniversityLess Flexible 221Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Scripps CollegeSomewhat Flexible 11Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Sewanee – The University of the SouthSomewhat Flexible 13 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Skidmore CollegeSomewhat Flexible 1211
Smith CollegeVery Flexible 1All 7 "Fields of Knowledge" are recommended
Southern Methodist UniversitySomewhat Flexible 112Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
St. Olaf CollegeLess Flexible 112Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Stanford UniversitySomewhat Flexible 312Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)11 total "Ways" courses
Stevens Institute of TechnologySomewhat Flexible 1VariesVariesVaries by department. No "core curriculum"
Stony Brook UniversityLess Flexible 111Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)Stony Brook Curriculum has 11 objectives
Swarthmore CollegeSomewhat Flexible 32 (Math/Science)2 (Math/Science)Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)Studens may satisfy FL requirement by taking three years of (the same) foreign language in high school
Syracuse UniversitySomewhat Flexible 34 (Math/Science)4 (Math/Science)Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Can sub out language courses for additional math
Texas A&M University – College StationSomewhat Flexible 12Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)Studens may satisfy FL requirement by taking two years of (the same) foreign language in high school
The College of New JerseySomewhat Flexible 3 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency
The University of Texas at AustinSomewhat Flexible 212Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Trinity College (CT)Very Flexible 11Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Trinity UniversityLess Flexible 211Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Must complete 6 Pathways including "Clusters"
Tufts UniversitySomewhat Flexible 222Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Flexible because the requirements are very broad
Tulane UniversitySomewhat Flexible 21-21-2Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)3 total combined math and natural sciences courses
Union CollegeLess Flexible 12Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
University at Buffalo (SUNY)Less Flexible 112Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
University of California, BerkeleySomewhat Flexible 112Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)Studens may satisfy FL requirement by taking three years of (the same) foreign language in high school
University of California, DavisLess Flexible 211Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Core Literacies accont for 35 total units; Topical Breadth is 52 units.
University of California, IrvineSomewhat Flexible 333Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
University of California, Los AngelesSomewhat Flexible 21 (or proficiency)4Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
University of California, San DiegoLess Flexible 11-22-50-4 (depending on proficiency)GE requirements vary greatly by college
University of California, Santa BarbaraSomewhat Flexible 23 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
University of ChicagoLess Flexible 1-24-5Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Requires 6 total math/science courses
University of ConnecticutSomewhat Flexible 122Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)Studens may satisfy FL requirement by taking three years of (the same) foreign language in high school
University of FloridaSomewhat Flexible 221Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
University of GeorgiaSomewhat Flexible 2123
University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignLess Flexible 122Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)Studens may satisfy FL requirement by taking four years of (the same) foreign language in high school
University of Maryland, College ParkSomewhat Flexible 23 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)
University of Massachusetts AmherstSomewhat Flexible 21-22Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)Studens may satisfy FL requirement by taking four years of (the same) foreign language in high school
University of MiamiVery Flexible 11Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Though students must take 4 writing-intensive courses are required, no specific writing class is required.
University of MichiganSomewhat Flexible 232Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
University of Minnesota – Twin CitiesLess Flexible 112Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)Must complete Diversified Core + Designated Themes
University of North Carolina at Chapel HillSomewhat Flexible 112Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
University of Notre DameSomewhat Flexible 21-21-2Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)3 total math/science courses, multiple theology and philosophy courses
University of PennsylvaniaSomewhat Flexible 11-21-2Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)Natural Sciences and Mathematics Sector is flexible
University of Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh CampusSomewhat Flexible 123Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
University of RichmondSomewhat Flexible 11Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
University of RochesterVery Flexible 1Students compelte two thematic "Clusters"
University of Southern CaliforniaSomewhat Flexible 22Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
University of VirginiaSomewhat Flexible 222Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
University of Washington – SeattleSomewhat Flexible 111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Studens may satisfy FL requirement by taking three years of (the same) foreign language in high school
University of Wisconsin – MadisonSomewhat Flexible 1-21-2Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Vanderbilt UniversityLess Flexible 33 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)13 courses are part of the Liberal Arts Requirement
Vassar CollegeVery Flexible 111Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
Villanova UniversitySomewhat Flexible 112Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)Core Currculum totals 39 hours
Wake Forest UniversitySomewhat Flexible 11-21-2Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Washington & Lee UniversityLess Flexible 11-21-2Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Washington University in St. LouisSomewhat Flexible 12-31-2Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)"Culture Path" courses can replace foreign language
Wellesley CollegeSomewhat Flexible 13 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Wesleyan UniversityVery Flexible Must complete 2 Math/Science courses for University Honors eligibility
Whitman CollegeSomewhat Flexible 12Study abroad options rerquire language coursework
Williams CollegeVery Flexible 3 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Varies by department. There is a Humanities & Arts requirement and several projects/seminars.
Worcester Polytechnic InstituteSomewhat Flexible VariesVaries
Yale UniversitySomewhat Flexible 22Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Students placing into a higher level of foreign language may be have take courses beyond the "first intermediate" level.
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