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The Liberal Arts at Carthage

The Liberal Arts Across Majors

Carthage’s liberal arts education will make you a better physicist, designer, actor, programmer, police officer, doctor, teacher … Whatever your major, be better. The essential skills you’ll gain from Carthage will help you advance in any career.

Here’s what faculty and alumni across majors say about the value of the liberal arts:

The Majors:

Graphic Design
Public Relations

Work in a Carthage Communication and Digital Media classroom.Serena Sessoms ’13 graduated with a triple-major in communication, graphic design, and public relations. Today she’s an account manager at GFX International, where she manages all day-to-day communication for multiple clients, and executes design and print production pieces.

“Coming from a liberal arts school has helped me in my career greatly,” she says. “Not only do I have skills directly related to my field, but I have the skills to go above and beyond. …  Being in the design field isn’t all about designing. You have to be able to talk with clients and communicate in a way that not only helps you understand what their needs are, but helps the client fully understand as well.

“Carthage makes you think outside of your field and see things from different perspectives. You are not isolated in your specific field all four years of school. This allows you to broaden your background knowledge, and it gives you an upper hand in the corporate world.”

• • • 



Theatre Professor Martin McClendonWhen you major in theatre at Carthage, a third of your classes will be in theatre. But you’re also going to take courses across disciplines, so you will graduate with deep understanding about the world both behind the scenes and beyond the stage.

“We broaden your mind,” says theatre professor Martin McClendon. “Our mission is to create well-rounded citizen artists, not just proficient actors and proficient set designers.”

Yes, you will get stage experience. “We push performance experience. You’re active every semester. You’re on a crew, or you’re on stage, or you’re designing every semester.” But you’ll also be versatile, and trained to make the most of every opportunity presented to you. 

“This is your foundation. You don’t want to build your foundation too narrow. You can build high on that, but it’s not as stable as having a broad base. So give yourself a broad base. You’ll be able to bring a lot to the conversation as you enter the world of the arts.”

• • •

The Major:


Jillian Theobald ’01 is an emergency medicine physician, medical toxicologist, and assistant professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin. She got her start in Carthage’s Physics Department, and says that experience played a big role in preparing her for her medical career.

“I had such a wonderful, well-rounded experience bolstered by the amazing faculty; there was no way I wasn’t going to be prepared,” says Dr. Theobald.

Today “I encounter people from all walks of life in the emergency room: young, old, immigrant, local, male, female, transgender, you name it. And I have to make a connection with them in a very short amount of time. Each one of these patients has a problem to solve.

“Carthage laid the foundation for me to develop and fine-tune my approach to solving the patient’s problem, but also communicating with them in a meaningful way. … It is important to have goals, but it’s more important to remain flexible and curious.”

• • •

The Majors:

Political Science
Great Ideas

Jeanne Sullivan ’11 graduated with a degree in Great Ideas and political science. Today she’s a project manager at Clotho Digital in Madison, Wisconsin, managing web design projects.

“Before I started this job, I had absolutely no training in web development or anything in technology. I believe the reason for my success in this industry is due in part to my liberal arts education,” she says.


“Just because I am not working in a field that is directly related to my degree does not mean that my degree was a waste or not useful. Quite the contrary. There is not a day that goes by where I am not influenced by an experience from my Great Ideas or Political Science programs. “

“Studying the great books and politics taught me so much about the nature of human beings that I’ll always have a unique perspective on how people work. It allows me to be a strong and empathetic manager, and it gives me confidence when meeting new clients. I study technical documentation just like I studied the great books; and I prepare for presentations just like I prepared for my theses.

“Carthage instilled a strong discipline that allows me to thrive today. In my Great Ideas program, we talked a lot about the idea of gaining knowledge just for the sake of knowledge. So even if I am not studying the works of the most brilliant minds, or analyzing some public policy as my 9-5, I am still driven by the need to gain knowledge for the sake of knowledge. And that passion makes me the best employee that I can be.”

• • •



When you study a modern language at a liberal arts institution like Carthage, opportunities and challenges on campus and abroad will motivate you to think and communicate critically about your language. Majoring in German at Carthage means diving deep into German literature, politics, history, economics, art, and language in ways that are culturally sensitive and insightful. Your course of study will inspire reflection and self-discovery, and make you adaptable and flexible in the workplace.

As you study German, for example, you will learn to ask and address difficult questions, support your answers with strong evidence, and communicate your ideas clearly, carefully, and correctly — all in German.

Employers want these kinds of critical thinking and communication skills. And these are the skills you will need as you uncover and ignite your potential and prepare to grow, serve, and lead in the 21st century.



  • 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 …