The 9 Most Flexible Colleges in the Country


3. Amherst College
Students at Amherst are given the liberty to design their own programs of study, as the school has an open curriculum and no core or general education requirements. In addition, Amherst offers the Independent Scholar Program for students who don’t wish to follow the traditional path of choosing a major. Available to students who are nominated for the program by a member of the faculty, Independent Scholars construct their program of study with the help of a tutor.

Requirements:

  • During their freshman year, Amherst students must complete a First-Year Seminar.
  • Each student must fulfill the requirements for his or her chosen major.

4. NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study
Did you know that there are more than ten schools and colleges at New York University? Yet with only 1200 undergraduate students, Gallatin is the most flexible of them all. Students at the Gallatin School design their own programs of study in accordance with their academic and intellectual interests. There are no defined majors or concentrations at Gallatin—it is each student’s responsibility to use his or her own creativity and intellect to construct an exciting and interesting curriculum.

According to Lauren Kaminsky, Director of Academic and Student Affairs at Gallatin, the school is “interdisciplinary, not multidisciplinary. Students are encouraged to push the envelope by asking what happens at the point where different fields intersect.”

“Not only do Gallatin students have this incredibly mind-blowing [academic] freedom, but they can also invent things and create opportunities,” says Kaminsky. “When you teach at Gallatin,” she says, “it’s really palpable that [the students] are there because they want to be there and because they’re very passionate about what they’re doing. It changes the tone in the room.”

Requirements:

  • Gallatin students must design an academic concentration based on their interests, usually combining work in two or more academic disciplines and taking courses in several departments at NYU.
  • Each student must complete at least 32 credits in liberal arts courses in the humanities, social sciences, mathematics or science, and expository writing, either in Gallatin or in any other of the NYU schools.
  • Students must complete the Senior Colloquium, an “oral examination” in which each student reflects on her concentration and talks about what she has learned from her studies at Gallatin.

5. Hamilton College
Located in the village of Clinton, NY, Hamilton College is a small liberal arts school that prides itself on its legacy of educating students to become successful writers and free thinkers. There are no distribution or curriculum requirements at Hamilton. With the help of an advisor, students at Hamilton pursue their own academic interests and goals.

Requirements:

  • Hamilton “encourages” all students to complete at least four Proseminars, which focus on writing, speaking and discussion.
  • In addition, students must pass at least three writing courses.
  • Beginning with the Class of 2014, every student must complete one “quantitative and symbolic reasoning” course.
  • Each student must choose a concentration and complete the requirements for it in order to graduate.