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A Guide to Carleton’s Graduation Requirements

Kelly outlines the liberal arts requirements at Carleton and shares how easy it is to fulfill them.

Kelly outlines the liberal arts requirements at Carleton and shares how easy it is to fulfill them.

As a prospective student reading this blog, you are probably asking yourself “I haven’t even graduated from high school yet, why would I be worrying about graduating from college already?” Well, when choosing a college, it is important to know how the institution will support you in your endeavor to cross the finish line of graduating college. 

commencement 2019
Commencement in 2019.

Carleton has one of the highest graduation rates in the country, with a four-year graduation rate in 2020 of 88.2% and a six-year graduation rate in 2018 of 92.98%. Check out this link for more data on Carleton’s graduation rate. 

I share these statistics to show that fulfilling Carleton’s graduation requirements is not a scary, daunting, or difficult task. Despite having to take some classes out of your comfort zone (including PE *gasp!*), Carleton boasts one of the best graduation rates in the country—15th to be exact. 

How you are supported in graduating from Carleton

While students are responsible for making sure they are on track to graduate, the student’s academic advisers, class dean, and major department are also responsible for checking in to ensure their students are going to graduate. Your first year at Carleton you receive a liberal arts adviser who helps you choose classes, transition to college, and fulfill requirements your first two years at Carleton. Once you declare your major at the end of sophomore year, you receive a major adviser who continues to support you in choosing classes and other major-related concerns. My major adviser helped me pick an Off Campus Studies program that aligned with my interests and fit with my major. Your senior year you also receive a comps adviser who helps you through your comps process. 

There are also other academic supports at Carleton that I have found to be helpful. The Spanish Help Desk in particular was a huge help in passing my language requirement. The Writing Center and Math Skills Center are also heavily used resources by the student body.

Another great resource available to students is the Progress Towards Degree webpage that all Carls can access, which shows how many more credits and courses you need to graduate for both the graduation and major requirements.

Progress Towards Degree
The Progress Toward Degree webpage.

Outline of the graduation requirements

Now that we have established that you will be supported academically throughout your Carleton career, let’s get into what you must actually do to graduate from Carleton.

The graduation requirements call for students to earn at least 210 credits (equivalent to about 3 classes per trimester for four years) and a cumulative GPA of a C (2.0) or better.

Additionally, you must take courses in the areas listed below that can be covered by a wide variety of courses across many departments.

Check out this link for more details on each graduation requirement.

How I fulfilled my graduation requirements

After completing my first two years at Carleton, I have 134 of the 210 overall credits. I have also fulfilled all of the liberal arts requirements more than once. For example, I have taken an additional 6 Writing Rich courses, which averages to taking one writing rich course every trimester of college thus far. As a STEM major this may be surprising, but I love to write, so the writing rich tag on courses is something I embrace.

My experience shows how easy it is to fulfill these requirements. Your first year at Carleton you end up completing requirements organically just by taking courses that look interesting. In fact, Carleton’s liberal arts curriculum encourages academic exploration like this, and taking courses purely out of interest is the expectation and norm.

Specifically, here are the names of the courses I took that covered each of the distribution requirements, and the requirements I have yet to fill.

6 credits = one trimester long course

Requirement – Course I took

6 credits of Argument and Inquiry Seminar (AI) – European Studies 100 Allies Or Enemies**

6 credits of Arts PracticeMusic 157 Cello Lesson (4 credits)*, Music 187 Carleton Orchestra (2 credits)*

6 credits of Formal or Statistical Reasoning – Have not completed. This requirement will be covered by taking a Psychology course called Measurement & Data Analysis, a required class for my major.

6 credits of Humanistic Inquiry Religion 110 Understanding Religion** 

6 credits of Literary/Artistic AnalysisMusic 239 The Philosophy of Music**

6 credits of Science with Lab Neuroscience 127 Foundations in Neuroscience and Lab**

6 credits of Social Inquiry Psychology 110 Principles of Psychology 

6 credits of International Studies European Studies 100 Allies Or Enemies**

6 credits of Intercultural Domestic Studies Religion 110 Understanding Religion**

3 courses of Quantitative Reasoning Encounter Neuroscience 127 Foundations in Neuroscience and Lab,** Psychology 218 Hormones, Brain & Behavior, Psychology 253 Personality Lab

Language RequirementSpanish 204 Intermediate Spanish 

Writing Requirement (AI Seminar, 6 credits of Writing Rich 2, and Sophomore Writing Portfolio) European Studies 100 Allies or Enemies,** Music 239 The Philosophy of Music,** Completed Writing Portfolio

Four terms of Physical Education Physical Education 142 Karate, Physical Education 284 Tennis Club. I need to complete two more terms of PE.  

*Cello Lessons and Orchestra are each 1 credit each per term.

**As you can see, some classes can count for multiple requirements.

In addition to the basic graduation requirements, you also need to complete your major requirements to graduate. I am about halfway through completing those requirements for the Psychology major. Use this link to check out the requirements for other majors. 

Progress Towards Degree
It’s an unofficial requirement to purchase the dorky t-shirts the department of your major hands out.
Here’s the hat my friend received as a Sociology-Anthropology major.

Kelly is a rising Junior at Carleton. She is a Psychology major and is considering a minor in Cognitive Science. Her other academic interests include Neuroscience and Educational Studies. Kelly considers Northfield her home as she is spending the summer here as an Admissions Fellow. Outside of the classroom, Kelly enjoys hosting programs for her residents as a Resident Assistant, planning practices for the Womxn’s Club Soccer team where she is one of the captains, and playing the cello in the Carleton Orchestra. Meet the other Bloggers!