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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to this aspect of future academic life is because information is difficult to find and much of what is on the web or outdated or even contradictory.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 Flexible 201None
Baruch College (CUNY)Less Flexible 2112 coursesStudents must complete a three-course concentration outside of their major
Bentley UniversityLess Flexible 221None
Boston CollegeLess Flexible 112Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Brigham Young UniversityLess Flexible 212None
California Polytechnic Institute, San Luis ObispoLess Flexible 124None
Colgate UniversityLess Flexible 011Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)There are also four required first-year courses
Colorado School of MinesLess Flexible 0450All majors must meet requirements
Columbia UniversityLess Flexible 13 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and ArtLess Flexible 0670Prescribed freshman and sophomore schdules
Elon UniversityLess Flexible 11-21-2Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)First-year foundations includes a stat class
Fairfield UniversityLess Flexible 1121-2Magis Core Curriculum is extensive
George Mason UniversityLess Flexible 112Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Georgia Institute of TechnologyLess Flexible 23 (for most majors)20
Loyola University MarylandLess Flexible 111Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)Multiple theology courses also required
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
Pennsylvania State University – University ParkLess Flexible 111Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Pepperdine UniversityLess Flexible 111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Rochester Institute of TechnologyLess Flexible 1120
Rose-Hulman Institute of TechnologyLess Flexible 0VariesVaries0Varies by department. No "core curriculum"
San Diego State UniversityLess Flexible 0Varies VariesProficiency (Second Elementary Course)A writing assessment is required of all undergraduates
Santa Clara UniversityLess Flexible 221Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
St. Olaf CollegeLess Flexible 112Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Stony Brook UniversityLess Flexible 111Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)Stony Brook Curriculum has 11 objectives
Trinity UniversityLess Flexible 211Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Must complete 6 Pathways including "Clusters"
Union CollegeLess Flexible 012Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
University at Buffalo (SUNY)Less Flexible 112Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
University of California, DavisLess Flexible 211Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Core Literacies accont for 35 total units; Topical Breadth is 52 units.
University of California, San DiegoLess Flexible 11-22-50-4 (depending on proficiency)GE requirements vary greatly by college
University of ChicagoLess Flexible 01-24-5Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Requires 6 total math/science courses
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 Minnesota – Twin CitiesLess Flexible 112Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)Must complete Diversified Core + Designated Themes
Vanderbilt UniversityLess Flexible 33 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)13 courses are part of the Liberal Arts Requirement
Washington & Lee UniversityLess Flexible 11-21-2Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
American UniversitySomewhat Flexible 211None
Arizona State UniversitySomewhat Flexible 122None
Barnard CollegeSomewhat Flexible 1122 courses
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)
Binghamton UniversitySomewhat Flexible 111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Boston UniversitySomewhat Flexible 221Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Brandeis UniversitySomewhat Flexible 111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Bryn Mawr CollegeSomewhat Flexible 0112 courses
Bucknell UniversitySomewhat Flexible 1111 course
California Institute of TechnologySomewhat Flexible 128NoneFreshman Math and Physics are yearlong courses
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 012NoneFigures are for Arts & Sciences
Clarkson UniversitySomewhat Flexible 022None
Clemson UniversitySomewhat Flexible 03 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)None10 total combined credits of math/science required
The College of New JerseySomewhat Flexible 03 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency
College of the Holy CrossSomewhat Flexible 0112 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
Connecticut CollegeSomewhat Flexible 2112
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 09 (Math/Science) 9 (Math/Science) 0All requirements by major (engineering listed)
Duke UniversitySomewhat Flexible 122Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Emory UniversitySomewhat Flexible 1122
Florida State UniversitySomewhat Flexible 111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Fordham UniversitySomewhat Flexible 112Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Franklin & Marshall CollegeSomewhat Flexible 002Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Franklin W. Olin College of EngineeringSomewhat Flexible 063030 total credits of math/science required
George Washington UniversitySomewhat Flexible 1230Can take "Cultural" courses in lieu of language
Georgetown UniversitySomewhat Flexible 111Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)CS can be substituted for Math
Harvard UniversitySomewhat Flexible 1112
Harvey Mudd CollegeSomewhat Flexible 1690Some science "courses" are 1-credit labs
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 1220
Indiana University – BloomingtonSomewhat Flexible 1210Can study abroad or take World Culture class in lieu of language
Johns Hopkins UniversitySomewhat Flexible 43 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)0
Lafayette CollegeSomewhat Flexible 111Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
Lawrence UniversitySomewhat Flexible 022Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Lehigh UniversitySomewhat Flexible 2120Requirements listed arts for the CAS
Macalester CollegeSomewhat Flexible 32 (Math/Science)2 (Math/Science)Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Marist CollegeSomewhat Flexible 1110
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologySomewhat Flexible 06 (Math/Science)6 (Math/Science)0
Middlebury CollegeSomewhat Flexible 1111
Mount Holyoke CollegeSomewhat Flexible 01 (Math/Science)1 (Math/Science)1
New York UniversitySomewhat Flexible 212Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Northwestern UniversitySomewhat Flexible 022Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Linguistics courses can replace math courses
Oberlin CollegeSomewhat Flexible 2220
Occidental CollegeSomewhat Flexible 03 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
Ohio State University – ColumbusSomewhat Flexible 213Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Requirements listed for BA candidates
Pitzer CollegeSomewhat Flexible 1110
Pomona CollegeSomewhat Flexible 111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Princeton UniversitySomewhat Flexible 112Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Purdue University – West LafayetteSomewhat Flexible 2220Language reqirement can be filled by Diversity courses
Reed CollegeSomewhat Flexible 03 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)varies by deparment Psychology courses categorized with sciences
Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteSomewhat Flexible 06 (Math/Science)6 (Math/Science)0
Rhodes CollegeSomewhat Flexible 111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Rice UniversitySomewhat Flexible 13 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)0
Rutgers UniversitySomewhat Flexible 122Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
Scripps CollegeSomewhat Flexible 011Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Sewanee – The University of the SouthSomewhat Flexible 13 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Skidmore CollegeSomewhat Flexible 1211
Southern Methodist UniversitySomewhat Flexible 112Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
Stanford UniversitySomewhat Flexible 312Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)11 total "Ways" courses
Stevens Institute of TechnologySomewhat Flexible 1VariesVaries0Varies by department. No "core curriculum"
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 012Proficiency (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 Flexible 212Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
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
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, IrvineSomewhat Flexible 333Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
University of California, Los AngelesSomewhat Flexible 21 (or proficiency)4Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
University of California, Santa BarbaraSomewhat Flexible 23 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
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 Maryland, College ParkSomewhat Flexible 23 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)0
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 MichiganSomewhat Flexible 232Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
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 011Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
University of Southern CaliforniaSomewhat Flexible 202Proficiency (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 01-21-2Proficiency (Second Intermediate Course)
Villanova UniversitySomewhat Flexible 112Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)Core Currculum totals 39 hours
Wake Forest UniversitySomewhat Flexible 11-21-2Proficiency (First 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)
Whitman CollegeSomewhat Flexible 0120Study abroad options rerquire language coursework
Worcester Polytechnic InstituteSomewhat Flexible 0VariesVaries0
Yale UniversitySomewhat Flexible 022Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Students placing into a higher level of foreign language may be have take courses beyond the "first intermediate" level.
Amherst CollegeVery Flexible 000None
Bowdoin CollegeVery Flexible 011None
Brown UniversityVery Flexible 000None
Claremont McKenna CollegeVery Flexible 111Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Computer Science can be subsituted for Math
Colby CollegeSomewhat Flexible 112Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
Colorado CollegeVery Flexible 1112
Grinnell CollegeVery Flexible 0000Only one required first-year tutorial
Hamilton CollegeVery Flexible 1100Math course can be substituted for a logic or CS class
Haverford CollegeVery Flexible 1-21-21-22Foundations/Domains courses total 32 credits
Kenyon CollegeVery Flexible 010Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
Smith CollegeVery Flexible 1000All 7 "Fields of Knowledge" are recommended
Trinity College (CT)Very Flexible 011Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)
University of MiamiVery Flexible 011Proficiency (First Intermediate Course)Though students must take 4 writing-intensive courses are required, no specific writing class is required.
University of RochesterVery Flexible 1000Students compelte two thematic "Clusters"
Vassar CollegeVery Flexible 111Proficiency (Second Elementary Course)
Wesleyan UniversityVery Flexible 0000Must complete 2 Math/Science courses for University Honors eligibility
Williams CollegeVery Flexible 03 (Math/Science)3 (Math/Science)0Varies by department. There is a Humanities & Arts requirement and several projects/seminars.
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