“American higher education would be better off if more colleges tried to replicate what’s going on here,”writes John Tierney, in his article about Champlain College called “What Would an Ideal College Look Like? A Lot Like This” for The Atlantic magazine.
What is Champlain doing that’s so different from the rest of higher education? Plenty. So much in fact, that in 2016, Champlain was ranked as the #1 “Most Innovative School” by U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” review of regional colleges in the North, and the majority of Champlain graduates report that they are landing jobs in their chosen fields within six months after graduation.
Turning passions into professions
Champlain’s enlightened academic model is what sets the Burlington, Vermont, school apart. Champlain’s majors reflect the careers and knowledge areas with the greatest potential for future opportunity. In addition to majors in high-growth, traditional fields like accounting, law, and communication, prospective students can find cutting-edge programs like Data Analytics, Game Production Management, Computer & Digital Forensics, and Environmental Policy.
While Champlain has no general education requirements, its signature Core curriculum offers a distinctive liberal arts experience; there are no exams, and students engage entirely in applied inquiry and experimental learning. Finally, Champlain’s Life Experience & Action Dimension (LEAD) program gives all students a four-year immersion in practical life skills in personal finance, career management, and global citizenship.
Inside out and upside down
Champlain attributes its success to the professional faculty of world-class industry experts and the employers who make up the program advisory boards. Each year, these industry insiders develop and refine curriculum to give Champlain students the most advanced, relevant, marketable, and effective education available in their fields.
The Upside Down Curriculum—perhaps Champlain’s most famous departure from higher-ed norms—incorporates as many as six courses related to a student’s major in the first-year curriculum. This early hands-on learning allows students to take internships earlier—and with greater frequency—during their college years. Champlain graduates who have held three and four internships are not at all uncommon.
Visiting and applying
Champlain’s scenic hilltop campus overlooks Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountain range. The campus, located in a residential area of the city of Burlington, features 19 Victorian-era mansion residence halls as well as award-winning modern architecture. The College highly recommends a campus visit for all interested prospective students.
Champlain’s career-focused majors
• Broadcast Media Production
• Business Administration
• Computer & Digital Forensics
• Computer Information Technology
• Computer Networking & Cybersecurity
• Computer Science & Innovation
• Creative Media
• Criminal Justice
• Data Analytics
• Early Childhood/Elementary Teacher Education
• Environmental Policy
• Game Art & Animation
• Game Design
• Game Production Management
• Game Programming
• Graphic Design & Digital Media
• International Business
• Management & Innovation
• Middle School Teacher Education
• Professional Writing
• Secondary Teacher Education
• Social Work
TYPE: Private residential, coeducational college
LOCATION: Burlington, Vermont, home to four other higher ed institutions; the local undergraduate student population is upward of 14,000
ENROLLMENT: 2,100 undergraduate students representing 47 states and 18 countries
STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 12:1
AVERAGE CLASS SIZE: 17
AREAS OF STUDY: Over 60, including undergraduate majors, minors, and specializations
INTERNATIONAL CAMPUSES: Dublin, Ireland; Montreal, Canada
2015 EMPLOYMENT RATE: 93% of graduates from the Class of 2015 are employed or continuing their education within six months of graduation; of the 90% employed, 88% are already in positions related to their career goals
FINANCIAL AID: More than 90% of Champlain College students receive scholarship funds, which do not need to be repaid