Skip to main content


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 Intellectual Foundations and Global Heritage seminars.

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.

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

Intellectual Foundations

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.

Religion course

All students must take one religion course (designated as “REL” in the College catalog).

One Mathematics Course

All students must successfully complete one mathematics course  (designated as “MTH” in the College Catalog).

Two Modern Language Courses

Students must successfully complete two modern language courses in the same language (unless you have fulfilled the proficiency requirement established by the College). You can take courses in Chinese, French, German, Japanese, or Spanish. Students may also fulfill their language requirement by taking courses in Italian at the nearby University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Two Physical Education Experiences

All students are required to successfully complete two physical education experiences within the Exercise and Sport Science Department. The first is Concepts of Physical Fitness (EXS 0010), a seven-week lecture/laboratory course that presents basic information about maintaining good health, fitness, and overall wellness. For your second EXS course, how about badminton, racquetball, yoga, martial arts, Pilates, or scuba? Participation on a varsity sports team for an entire season also fulfills this second requirement.

Honduras J-TermTwo January Terms (but you’ll want to do more!)

J-Term is famous at Carthage. It’s one page of the calendar devoted entirely to whatever you’re wild about. Travel. Volunteer. Perform. Inspire. There are more than 60 courses you can take on campus, or go on a study tour led by a faculty member to such destinations as Cuba, China, Ireland, Nicaragua, or the Caribbean. All Carthage students must enroll in a J-Term course during their freshman year, and successfully complete at least two J-Term courses to graduate. 

One Global Heritage Course

Global Heritage courses study cultures and civilizations with non-Western traditions, so you learn to see the world from a new perspective. The Global Heritage requirement can be fulfilled through a course on campus, or through off-campus study like a J-Term study tour.

Four Writing Intensive Courses

Writing well is a powerful life skill, and Carthage is committed to teaching you to write well — no matter what your discipline. All students are therefore required to take four courses that are designated Writing Intensive (“WI” in the College Catalog). The first of these courses is Intellectual Foundations I. Of the remaining three courses, one must be in your academic major; the others can be any “WI” course in the curriculum. If you are completing more than one major, you need only one “WI” in one of the majors that you are completing.

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.


A Well-Rounded Education: Distribution Requirements

As a liberal arts college, Carthage is committed to graduating well-rounded students able to understand the world in different ways. That’s why you’ll need to take courses in the fine arts, humanities, and natural and social sciences, no matter what your major. Students must fulfill:

  • Fine Arts — 4 credits (4 credits of dance, 4 private lessons, or 1 class lesson and 3 private applied lessons may count)
  • Humanities — 4 credits
  • Social Science — 4 credits
  • Natural Science — 4 credits


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.)
See a list of all Carthage majors and minors


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 College catalog or the Courses pages in any of our more than 50 areas of study. What do you want to know more about? Now’s your chance. Go learn something.

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2021), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit The Aspire Center.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors, and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from marketing to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $25,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about Intellectual Foundations.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked in the Top 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …