The Carthage Plan

The Carthage curriculum emphasizes interdisciplinary study, hands-on learning through research and other projects, writing in every major, and developing the critical thinking and reading skills necessary to excel in work and life. You will need 130 credits to graduate from Carthage — but that’s just a number. Earning a degree from Carthage is about much more than checking off a list of requirements.

  • Earning a degree from Carthage is about receiving individual attention from professors at the top of their fields in classes that may have just a handful of other students.
  • It’s about tackling topics from new directions — and in new places, through offerings like the interdisciplinary courses and January Term.
  • It’s about studying the cultural foundations upon which societies are built through the Intellectual Foundations seminar.
  • It’s about learning to solve problems by conducting your own original research and analysis and then communicating your findings to others.
  • It’s about transforming from a good student into a great scholar.

Below is a list of the academic experiences students have at Carthage — basically your map to your transformation. Please note: Current students should follow the printed version of the College Catalog and work with their advisors and the department chair to ensure all requirements are met.

See Majors & Minors

The Big Picture: 130 Credits

You will need 130 credits to graduate. Most courses are 4 credits, and full-time students may register for 12-18 credits during each 14-week term.

About a third of your courses will be core courses, common for all majors. Another third will be courses specific to your major. The remainder of your courses will be electives — courses you choose to enhance your major, broaden your expertise, or explore a new interest.

The Carthage Core: Common Experiences

The general education curriculum is comprised of one Intellectual Foundations seminar course, a wellness requirement, a reflection framework, and a set of curriculum requirements divided into three categories: Explorations, Abilities, and Perspectives.

A graphic that explains Carthage's new general education plan, which begins for new students ente...

Intellectual Foundations

  • One (1) Intellectual Foundations Course — All students must successfully complete one seminar course called Intellectual Foundations, typically taken during the fall semester of the first year. Intellectual Foundations will expose you to literature from some of the greatest thinkers, authors, artists, and leaders of all time — not so you can “ooh” and “ahh” at their genius, but so you can build upon it. You will imagine what could be possible, learn to think independently, and discover what you’re capable of achieving through a combination of intense discussions and complex writing assignments. * Note: Students who entered Carthage prior to Fall 2020 must complete two semesters of Intellectual Foundations.

Wellness Requirement

  • One (1) or more wellness courses (at least 2 credits) — Through the wellness requirement, you will gain the knowledge and skills necessary to live healthier lives, enhancing your general well-being at Carthage and beyond. Wellness is a holistic approach, optimizing your life through a dynamic process of growth and change. Students will have the opportunity to take a wellness course focused on improving their well-being in the following areas: mental and emotional, physical, environmental, social, financial, spiritual, intellectual, and occupational. 


The Explorations category encourages students to develop a sense of intellectual curiosity by exploring courses from across the College and studying the process by which knowledge is acquired in a range of different disciplines. Students will take one (1) explorations course in each of these four areas: 

  • One (1) Artistic Inquiries course (4 credits)  Students have the opportunity to perform or create by taking a course in the literary, performing, or visual arts. Options include acting, dance, voice or instrument lessons, music ensembles, music theatre workshops, opera production, and more! 
  • One (1) Cultural Legacies course (4 credits)  We cultivate a deeper understanding of our world and our place in it by examining and asking questions about the legacies of human cultures — their histories and the products they leave behind. This sort of inquiry teaches us about the values and perspectives of other cultures while also deepening our understanding of our own culture. Students will gain insight from poems, novels, paintings, plays, histories, myths, and more. 
  • One (1) Social Interactions course (4 credits) — Students will study the patterns of human behavior, social interactions, the structures we create that shape these interactions, and societies as a whole.
  • One (1) Scientific Exploration course (4 credits) — Students will learn how to better understand and interpret scientific information in order to make good decisions for themselves and their communities. Curiosity about the workings of the natural world is an essential part of what makes us human — engaging with the process of scientific discovery is a core part of the acquisition of knowledge. 


The Abilities category encourages students to develop some of the skills needed for success in college and beyond. Students will take two Global Language courses, four Written Communication courses, and one course each in Oral Communication and Quantitative Reasoning. 

  • Two (2) Global Language courses (8 credits) — Understanding and interacting in a global society increasingly requires languages skills. Global Language courses build linguistic and cultural competency, as well as basic communication skills in a foreign language. 
  • Four (4) Written Communication courses (16 credits) — Writing is a pivotal form of communication across all disciplines, professions, and walks of life. The ability to articulate ideas through writing is essential — writing must be taught and practiced at every level of the education process to equip students to share with clarity and distinction in a complex world. Students will practice and improve the articulation of ideas and arguments in clear, precise, and expressive writing. 
  • One (1) Oral Communication course (4 credits) — Clear and effective verbal expression is a skill demanded of us in every area of life. We need to communicate cogently whether we are engaging in a small group discussion or presenting to a large audience. Although some oral communication is inherently woven into the experience of a college education, intentional and consistent development of these skills will provide you with a foundation for success. 
  • One (1) Quantitative Reasoning course (4 credits) — As educated citizens, our understanding of the world around us and our ability to make reasoned decisions is based in part on quantitative information. In order to manage our finances, maintain our health, and follow the news, we need to be able to work with numerical data. In addition, we recognize that students need more opportunities to develop quantitative skills that are relevant to many majors and professions. 


This category encourages students to consider the world around them from a range of different angles. Students will take one course in each of the following areas: Religious Perspectives, Diverse Perspectives, International Perspectives, and Interdisciplinary Perspectives. 

  • One (1) Religious Perspectives course — Throughout the world, religion is often the foundation of culture, ethics, and social practice. Through the Religious Perspectives requirement, students will be prepared to analyze, articulate, and defend religious views — their own and others’ — as they encounter a world of ethical complexity.
  • One (1) Diverse Perspectives course — We live in a diverse society, and diversity comes in a variety of forms including race, ethnicity, religion, social class, sexual orientation, and gender identity. It’s important for students to gain awareness of the ways in which diverse individuals and groups interact, to learn of the personal and institutional inequities within our systems, and to understand how the diverse intellectual and cultural contexts that surround us allow us to recognize our own context. Students will gain broader perspectives that can be useful in helping overcome the limitations inherent in any single context.
  • One (1) International Perspectives course — We also live in a global society, in which international communication, culture, politics, migration, and trade become ever more relevant. This ongoing globalization emerges from interactions among individuals representing countries and cultural identities from all over the world, each having its own context, ideals, and goals. Understanding these global issues requires not only awareness of the issues but also an ability to see them from a perspective beyond that of the United States in order to interpret and interact with the world appropriately and effectively.
  • One (1) Interdisciplinary Perspectives course — Interdisciplinary studies are at the core of the liberal arts experience — they encourage students to consider important questions from multiple perspectives and to value the outcomes of this approach. This fosters cognitive development, including diverse approaches to knowledge acquisition and the integration of alternate perspectives. As a result, these experiences prepare students for success in the modern world. 

Reflection Framework

The Reflection Framework helps students to process their experiences, be intentional about their choices, and develop an appropriate education plan. Many students begin their college journey uncertain about who they are, who they want to be, and how their education can support them in developing and refining their goals. To aid students in finding their own answers to these questions, reflection is woven throughout Carthage’s curriculum. These curricular components use teaching, mentoring, peer discussion, and individual self-examination to help students personalize their education and articulate the role it plays in their ongoing individual development. 

Expert in Your Field: Major Requirements


A maximum of 56 credits may be required in your major, with no more than 40 of these credits within any one department. You may count a maximum of 56 credits in any one department toward graduation; however, you must have 74 credits outside your major department in order to graduate. (For transfer students, a minimum of 12 credits in the major must have been completed at Carthage.)


Minors are optional unless specified as a requirement for the major. Minors may be pursued through electives and through general requirements. The minor is a minimum of 20 credits and a maximum of 24 credits. Those planning to obtain teacher licensure must consult with the College certification officer. Students must complete a minimum of 12 credits in the minor at Carthage.


Electives allow you to explore intellectual interests in a wide variety of disciplines and areas of knowledge. So peruse the Carthage Catalog or the courses pages in any of our more than 75 areas of study. What do you want to know more about? Now’s your chance. Go learn something.

See a list of all Carthage majors and minors

Senior Thesis

Carthage is one of the few schools in the country to require a senior thesis. All students must complete a senior thesis in order to graduate, but don’t worry: Your faculty thesis advisor will guide you in your research, assist you with research techniques, and help you hone your presentation skills. This is your chance to apply everything you’ve learned over the previous three years. Your senior thesis can take the form of a written thesis, laboratory research, art exhibit, music recital, or other significant and integrative experience appropriate to your major. Students graduating with more than one major must complete a senior thesis project for each major, or one integrative senior project approved by each major department or program.

Learn more about Senior Thesis