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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to this aspect of future academic life is because information is difficult to find and much of what is on the web or outdated or even contradictory.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
Babson CollegeLess Flexible201None
Baruch College (CUNY)Less Flexible2112 coursesStudents must complete a three-course concentration outside of their major
Bentley UniversityLess Flexible221None
Boston CollegeLess Flexible112Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Brigham Young UniversityLess Flexible212None
California Polytechnic Institute, San Luis ObispoLess Flexible124None
Colgate UniversityLess Flexible011Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)There are also four required first-year courses
Colorado School of MinesLess Flexible0450All majors must meet requirements
Columbia UniversityLess Flexible13 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and ArtLess Flexible0670Prescribed freshman and sophomore schdules
Elon UniversityLess Flexible11-21-2Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)First-year foundations includes a stat class
Fairfield UniversityLess Flexible1121-2Magis Core Curriculum is extensive
George Mason UniversityLess Flexible112Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Georgia Institute of TechnologyLess Flexible23 (for most majors)20
Loyola University MarylandLess Flexible111Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)Multiple theology courses also required
North Carolina State UniversityLess Flexible122Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)Studens may satisfy FL requirement by taking two years of (the same) foreign language in high school
Northeastern UniversityLess Flexible111Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)The NUPath has 11 competencies that must be met
Pennsylvania State University – University ParkLess Flexible111Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Pepperdine UniversityLess Flexible111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Rochester Institute of TechnologyLess Flexible1120
Rose-Hulman Institute of TechnologyLess Flexible0VariesVaries0Varies by department. No "core curriculum"
San Diego State UniversityLess Flexible0VariesVariesProficiency (Second Elementary Course)A writing assessment is required of all undergraduates
Santa Clara UniversityLess Flexible221Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
St. Olaf CollegeLess Flexible112Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Stony Brook UniversityLess Flexible111Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)Stony Brook Curriculum has 11 objectives
Trinity UniversityLess Flexible211Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Must complete 6 Pathways including "Clusters"
Union CollegeLess Flexible012Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
University at Buffalo (SUNY)Less Flexible112Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
University of California, DavisLess Flexible211Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Core Literacies accont for 35 total units; Topical Breadth is 52 units.
University of California, San DiegoLess Flexible11-22-50-4 (depending on proficiency)GE requirements vary greatly by college
University of ChicagoLess Flexible01-24-5Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Requires 6 total math/science courses
University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignLess Flexible122Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)Studens may satisfy FL requirement by taking four years of (the same) foreign language in high school
University of Minnesota – Twin CitiesLess Flexible112Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)Must complete Diversified Core + Designated Themes
Vanderbilt UniversityLess Flexible33 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)13 courses are part of the Liberal Arts Requirement
Washington & Lee UniversityLess Flexible11-21-2Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
American UniversitySomewhat Flexible211None
Arizona State UniversitySomewhat Flexible122None
Barnard CollegeSomewhat Flexible1122 courses
Bates CollegeSomewhat Flexible311NoneForeign language is required for study abroad; students must complete coursework in a secondary area of study (in addition to their major)
Binghamton UniversitySomewhat Flexible111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Boston UniversitySomewhat Flexible221Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Brandeis UniversitySomewhat Flexible111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Bryn Mawr CollegeSomewhat Flexible0112 courses
Bucknell UniversitySomewhat Flexible1111 course
California Institute of TechnologySomewhat Flexible128NoneFreshman Math and Physics are yearlong courses
Carleton CollegeSomewhat Flexible222Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Carnegie Mellon UniversitySomewhat Flexible19 (Math/Science)9 (Math/Science)None27 total units for "Modeling" in Arts & Sciences
Case Western Reserve UniversitySomewhat Flexible012NoneFigures are for Arts & Sciences
Clarkson UniversitySomewhat Flexible022None
Clemson UniversitySomewhat Flexible03 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)None10 total combined credits of math/science required
The College of New JerseySomewhat Flexible03 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency
College of the Holy CrossSomewhat Flexible0112 courses
College of William & MarySomewhat Flexible111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Studens may satisfy FL requirement by taking four years of (the same) foreign language in high school
Connecticut CollegeSomewhat Flexible2112
Cornell UniversitySomewhat Flexible222Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Dartmouth CollegeSomewhat Flexible112Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Gen Ed requirements can be filled in a variety of ways
Davidson CollegeSomewhat Flexible111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Dickinson CollegeSomewhat Flexible111Intermediate Proficiency
Drexel UniversitySomewhat Flexible09 (Math/Science)9 (Math/Science)0All requirements by major (engineering listed)
Duke UniversitySomewhat Flexible122Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Emory UniversitySomewhat Flexible1122
Florida State UniversitySomewhat Flexible111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Fordham UniversitySomewhat Flexible112Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Franklin & Marshall CollegeSomewhat Flexible002Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Franklin W. Olin College of EngineeringSomewhat Flexible063030 total credits of math/science required
George Washington UniversitySomewhat Flexible1230Can take "Cultural" courses in lieu of language
Georgetown UniversitySomewhat Flexible111Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)CS can be substituted for Math
Harvard UniversitySomewhat Flexible1112
Harvey Mudd CollegeSomewhat Flexible1690Some science "courses" are 1-credit labs
Hofstra UniversitySomewhat Flexible23 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Must take at least one of math & science
Illinois Institute of TechnologySomewhat Flexible1220
Indiana University – BloomingtonSomewhat Flexible1210Can study abroad or take World Culture class in lieu of language
Johns Hopkins UniversitySomewhat Flexible43 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)0
Lafayette CollegeSomewhat Flexible111Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
Lawrence UniversitySomewhat Flexible022Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Lehigh UniversitySomewhat Flexible2120Requirements listed arts for the CAS
Macalester CollegeSomewhat Flexible32 (Math/Science)2 (Math/Science)Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Marist CollegeSomewhat Flexible1110
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologySomewhat Flexible06 (Math/Science)6 (Math/Science)0
Middlebury CollegeSomewhat Flexible1111
Mount Holyoke CollegeSomewhat Flexible01 (Math/Science)1 (Math/Science)1
New York UniversitySomewhat Flexible212Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Northwestern UniversitySomewhat Flexible022Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Linguistics courses can replace math courses
Oberlin CollegeSomewhat Flexible2220
Occidental CollegeSomewhat Flexible03 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
Ohio State University – ColumbusSomewhat Flexible213Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Requirements listed for BA candidates
Pitzer CollegeSomewhat Flexible1110
Pomona CollegeSomewhat Flexible111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Princeton UniversitySomewhat Flexible112Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Purdue University – West LafayetteSomewhat Flexible2220Language reqirement can be filled by Diversity courses
Reed CollegeSomewhat Flexible03 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)varies by deparmentPsychology courses categorized with sciences
Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteSomewhat Flexible06 (Math/Science)6 (Math/Science)0
Rhodes CollegeSomewhat Flexible111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Rice UniversitySomewhat Flexible13 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)0
Rutgers UniversitySomewhat Flexible122Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
Scripps CollegeSomewhat Flexible011Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Sewanee – The University of the SouthSomewhat Flexible13 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Skidmore CollegeSomewhat Flexible1211
Southern Methodist UniversitySomewhat Flexible112Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
Stanford UniversitySomewhat Flexible312Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)11 total "Ways" courses
Stevens Institute of TechnologySomewhat Flexible1VariesVaries0Varies by department. No "core curriculum"
Swarthmore CollegeSomewhat Flexible32 (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 Flexible34 (Math/Science)4 (Math/Science)Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Can sub out language courses for additional math
Texas A&M University – College StationSomewhat Flexible012Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)Studens may satisfy FL requirement by taking two years of (the same) foreign language in high school
The University of Texas at AustinSomewhat Flexible212Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Tufts UniversitySomewhat Flexible222Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Flexible because the requirements are very broad
Tulane UniversitySomewhat Flexible21-21-2Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)3 total combined math and natural sciences courses
University of California, BerkeleySomewhat Flexible112Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)Studens may satisfy FL requirement by taking three years of (the same) foreign language in high school
University of California, IrvineSomewhat Flexible333Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
University of California, Los AngelesSomewhat Flexible21 (or proficiency)4Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
University of California, Santa BarbaraSomewhat Flexible23 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
University of ConnecticutSomewhat Flexible122Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)Studens may satisfy FL requirement by taking three years of (the same) foreign language in high school
University of FloridaSomewhat Flexible221Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
University of GeorgiaSomewhat Flexible2123
University of Maryland, College ParkSomewhat Flexible23 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)0
University of Massachusetts AmherstSomewhat Flexible21-22Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)Studens may satisfy FL requirement by taking four years of (the same) foreign language in high school
University of MichiganSomewhat Flexible232Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
University of North Carolina at Chapel HillSomewhat Flexible112Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
University of Notre DameSomewhat Flexible21-21-2Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)3 total math/science courses, multiple theology and philosophy courses
University of PennsylvaniaSomewhat Flexible11-21-2Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)Natural Sciences and Mathematics Sector is flexible
University of Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh CampusSomewhat Flexible123Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
University of RichmondSomewhat Flexible011Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
University of Southern CaliforniaSomewhat Flexible202Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
University of VirginiaSomewhat Flexible222Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
University of Washington – SeattleSomewhat Flexible111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Studens may satisfy FL requirement by taking three years of (the same) foreign language in high school
University of Wisconsin – MadisonSomewhat Flexible01-21-2Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Villanova UniversitySomewhat Flexible112Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)Core Currculum totals 39 hours
Wake Forest UniversitySomewhat Flexible11-21-2Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Washington University in St. LouisSomewhat Flexible12-31-2Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)"Culture Path" courses can replace foreign language
Wellesley CollegeSomewhat Flexible13 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Whitman CollegeSomewhat Flexible0120Study abroad options rerquire language coursework
Worcester Polytechnic InstituteSomewhat Flexible0VariesVaries0
Yale UniversitySomewhat Flexible022Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Students placing into a higher level of foreign language may be have take courses beyond the "first intermediate" level.
Amherst CollegeVery Flexible000None
Bowdoin CollegeVery Flexible011None
Brown UniversityVery Flexible000None
Claremont McKenna CollegeVery Flexible111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Computer Science can be subsituted for Math
Colby CollegeVery Flexible112Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Colorado CollegeVery Flexible1112
Grinnell CollegeVery Flexible0000Only one required first-year tutorial
Hamilton CollegeVery Flexible1100Math course can be substituted for a logic or CS class
Haverford CollegeVery Flexible1-21-21-22Foundations/Domains courses total 32 credits
Kenyon CollegeVery Flexible010Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
Smith CollegeVery Flexible1000All 7 "Fields of Knowledge" are recommended
Trinity College (CT)Very Flexible011Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
University of MiamiVery Flexible011Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Though students must take 4 writing-intensive courses are required, no specific writing class is required.
University of RochesterVery Flexible1000Students compelte two thematic "Clusters"
Vassar CollegeVery Flexible111Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
Wesleyan UniversityVery Flexible0000Must complete 2 Math/Science courses for University Honors eligibility
Williams CollegeVery Flexible03 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)0Varies by department. There is a Humanities & Arts requirement and several projects/seminars.
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