Common classes, traditional grades, structured curricula: these colleges and universities throw it all out the window. Just don't get too excited when they talk about "negotiating" grades.

List produced by the Facts

  • Alverno College (Milwaukee, WI): Alverno offers unique grading and a competency-based curriculum.
  • Amherst College (Amherst, MA): Amherst has no core curriculum and first-year students take interdisciplinary seminars.
  • Bard College (Annandale on Hudson, NY): Among the curricular features are first-year seminars, "moderation" (a self-analysis of goals in the sophomore year), and a senior project.
  • Bennington College (Bennington, VT): The Plan Process allows students to articulate what they want to study and how they intend to study it. Each year, students participate in a seven-week Field Work Term during which they pursue jobs and internships.
  • Berea College (Berea, KY): Though it offers a fairly traditional liberal arts curriculum, Berea is unique in that it offers all students a full-tuition scholarship and requires all students to work 10-15 hours per week in addition to their full course schedule.
  • Brown University (Providence, RI): Brown has no required classes, and students are challenged to define liberal education for themselves. Yes, connect me!
  • Burlington College (Burlington, VT): The college uses a nongraded evaluation system, and students negotiate class expectations through a learning contract.
  • Clarkson University (Potsdam, NY): The school offers an interdisciplinary program for high school seniors.
  • College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor, ME): The college offers interdisciplinary classes and independent study projects and requires an original senior project.
  • Deep Springs College (Dyer, NV): One of the most unusual colleges in the U.S., Deep Springs is an all-male two-year college that is tuition-free and very selective in admission. All students work and live on a ranch.
  • Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts (New York, NY): The college provides integrated interdisciplinary learning opportunities. Yes, connect me!
  • Goddard College (Plainfield, VT): Students design their own curriculum, and the college encourages off-campus activities and internships. Goddard has a "low residency model" of education that does not require students to be on campus for the full year.
  • Green Mountain College (Poultney, VT): GMC has an environmental focus. The "adventure programming and the farm and food project" provide hands-on learning.
  • Grinnell College (Grinnell, IA): Beyond a first semester writing tutorial, no classes are required and students determine their own course of study.
  • Hamilton College (Clinton, NY): The college has an intensive core curriculum including "proseminars," which offer intensive interaction with professors. The college requires students to pass three writing-intensive courses and a swimming test.
  • Hampshire College (Amherst, MA): Hampshire has five interdisciplinary schools instead of single-subject departments.
  • Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY): New College (one of Hofstra's divisions) offers students the chance to build their own degree and provides a one-course-at-a-time option. Yes, connect me!
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania (Indiana, PA): Robert Cook Honors College offers a residential immersion program where students find an integrated, cross-disciplinary approach to the "Great Questions."
  • Kalamazoo College (Kalamazoo, MI): Career internships, study abroad opportunities, and senior projects merge to form an integrated educational program.
  • Long Island University — Brooklyn (Brooklyn, NY): The college is focused on learning through international awareness.
  • Maharishi University of Management (Fairfield, IA): The school is oriented around a "consciousness-based curriculum."
  • Manhattanville College (Purchase, NY): The college uses a portfolio system (a self-designed four-year plan) rather than a traditional curriculum. Yes, connect me!
  • Marlboro College (Marlboro, VT): Each student completes a self-designed Plan of Concentration that is reviewed by an outside evaluator. Many independent study options are available.
  • Miami University — Oxford (Oxford, OH): Western College (an undergraduate option) offers interdisciplinary studies and close student/faculty interaction.
  • Naropa University (Boulder, CO): Based in the Buddhist tradition, the school is nonsectarian but offers "contemplative education."
  • New College of Florida (Sarasota, FL): The college is known for learning contracts, independent study, and tutorials.
  • New York University (New York, NY): Gallatin School (one of the undergraduate colleges) offers individualized learning opportunities. Yes, connect me!
  • Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH): General education requirements include cultural diversity, quantitative proficiency, and writing proficiency. The Experimental College allows students to pursue topics outside of normal courses.
  • Pitzer College (Claremont, CA): Pitzer offers individually designed interdisciplinary study plans.
  • Prescott College (Prescott, AZ): Prescott is known for experiential education and narrative evaluations. Yes, connect me!
  • Reed College (Portland, OR): Reed is known for conference-style classes and interactive teaching. Yes, connect me!
  • Ripon College (Ripon, WI): Students develop a Four-Year Plan through the career development office.
  • SUNY — Purchase College (Purchase, NY): Narrative evaluations are offered in many courses.
  • Sarah Lawrence College (Bronxville, NY): Seminars replace traditional classrooms, and written evaluations are common.
  • Shimer College (Chicago, IL): Shimer offers a Great Books curriculum and a Socratic method of teaching.
  • Smith College (Northampton, MA): According to the college, "In the spirit of 'individual liberty [and] largeness of opportunity' Smith College has since 1970 had no distribution requirements for graduation."
  • Soka University of America (Aliso Viejo, CA): Special features include a student-centered curriculum, seminar classes, and study abroad for all students. Yes, connect me!
  • St. John's College (Santa Fe, NM): St. John's program is based on reading and discussing major books of Western civilization. Students can study in either Santa Fe or Annapolis or alternate between the two. Yes, connect me!
  • St. Lawrence University (Canton, NY): "Adirondack Semester" is a "domestic study abroad program" offering students an opportunity to take courses like nature writing, ecology, environmental philosophy, and woodworking. Yes, connect me!
  • St. Olaf College (Northfield, MN): Integrative Studies is offered as an undergraduate major through the Center for Integrative Studies.
  • Sterling College (Craftsbury Common, VT): Sterling has an ecology/forestry emphasis with hands-on work experiences.
  • Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, PA): Starting with very small first-year seminars and continuing through an interdisciplinary curriculum, Swarthmore has an Honors Program that includes work in a wide range of areas (such as studio and performing arts, study abroad, and community-based learning). Yes, connect me!
  • The Evergreen State College (Olympia, WA): Evergreen offers interdisciplinary programs and learning contracts.
  • Thomas Aquinas College (Santa Paula, CA): The school follows a Great Books curriculum and does not have traditional majors.
  • Thomas More College (Crestview Hills, KY): The college focuses on the classics and emphasizes individualized education.
  • Truman State University (Kirksville, MO): A public liberal arts college, Truman has a unique student assessment program that evaluates (among other things) class learning, competencies, and engagement. Yes, connect me!
  • Tusculum College (Greeneville, TN): Tusculum's Focused Block Calendar features two eight-week blocks each semester, so students can dive deep into their academic course work.
  • Unity College (Unity, ME): The curriculum centers around the environment and outdoor experiences.
  • University of California, San Diego (La Jolla, CA): UCSD's undergraduate college system combines the closeness of a small liberal arts college with the resources of a larger, research university. Each college has its own programmatic theme, curricular requirements, and extracurricular activities.
  • University of California, Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, CA): The College of Creative Studies offers select students a "graduate school for undergraduates."
  • University of California, Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA): Regardless of major, students enter one of ten colleges that provide academic support and student activities. The grading system includes performance evaluations.
  • University of Chicago (Chicago, IL): Chicago values interdisciplinary education and emphasizes critical thinking and discussion of classic texts. Yes, connect me!
  • University of Dallas (Irving, TX): UD has an intensive, integrated two-year core curriculum, and all students study abroad. Yes, connect me!
  • University of Redlands (Redlands, CA): The Johnston Center for Individualized Instruction allows freedom to design an individual major. Yes, connect me!
  • University of Rochester (Rochester, NY): In the Rochester Curriculum, there are no required subjects and no general education requirements. Yes, connect me!
  • Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, NY): Vassar has no core curriculum and no general education or distribution requirements.
  • Warren Wilson College (Asheville, NC): Program includes academics, work, and service learning.
  • Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT): The college is known for the diversity of both its student and curriculum. Wesleyan students assemble an electronic portfolio that allows them to compile their work and set goals with their professors.
  • Western Washington University (Bellingham, WA): Fairhaven College, one of the units of the university, offers interdisciplinary study and self-evaluation.
  • Wheaton College (Norton, MA): Every student takes a series of courses on a single topic from various departments.
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