students fill their plates at an outdoor picnic

An invitation to the feast

Education at Carleton College is a banquet. There’s so much to choose from that you may feel overwhelmed at first — but showing up hungry to learn is the perfect start. Carleton students are renowned for their insatiable curiosity, and our professors are renowned for feeding it!

In your first year and beyond, we encourage you to make the most of this feast. Savor subjects you’ve never tried before. Sample from all different disciplines and all parts of the world. Even if you’re certain you know what you want for your main course (your major), take the time to explore new flavors of knowledge before you start concentrating on just one.

It’s all part of the true liberal arts experience at Carleton: a curriculum that challenges our students to learn broadly, think deeply, and explore new intellectual territory.

Declaring a major comes later

Carleton students declare majors in spring term of their sophomore year; they’re not allowed to declare one sooner.

Why not? We expect you will spend at least part of your first two years exploring the different fields of study that are part of a liberal arts curriculum. It’s amazing how often interests change when students encounter different subjects at the college level! We really want first-year students to strive for variety and exploration in all the curricular exploration groups.

Does this mean you can’t lay the foundation for a major, if you’ve already got a definite plan? Of course not. If you think you know what you want to major in, visit the department websites to see if the department you are considering has suggested particular courses or sequences appropriate for first-year study.

What makes Carleton’s Liberal Arts Experience Distinctive?