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The Liberal Arts at Carthage

Myths about the Liberal Arts


A liberal arts education won’t prepare me for a job.

“Liberal arts degrees are great — if you’re REALLY good at making those flower designs in coffee.”

IN FACT: Carthage College graduates are doing far more than brewing coffee: 90 percent of Carthage alumni report that they’ve landed a satisfying career position or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduating. So in 180 days, our students go from being students to becoming the leaders of tomorrow.

That’s not to say coffee art isn’t cool, but that can be learned in a minute.

A Carthage graduate receives his diploma from President Woodward.


Liberal arts schools don’t offer athletic opportunities.

“So, uh, I want to play basketball, not sit under a tree and talk about Shakespeare.”

IN FACT: A third of Carthage students are involved with varsity intercollegiate athletics and another third participate in club or intramural sports. So that person sitting under a tree discussing “The Tempest” could have had a game-winning three the night before or could be playing in an NCAA tournament next weekend.
Watch a video about Carthage Athletics

Carthage volleyball players celebrate a big win.


A liberal arts degree doesn’t agree with me politically.

“Liberal? I don’t really agree with their politics.”

IN FACT: Want Ronald Reagan put on our currency? You’re welcome here. Think that Barack Obama should be put on Mount Rushmore? You’re welcome here. Anarchist? You’re welcome here. Communist? You’re welcome here. Left, right, up, down, in between. You’re welcome here.

The word “liberal” in the liberal arts context means that instead of a closed focus on one subject, students can learn things from a variety of subjects.

Still confused? Ever hear of someone taking a liberal heaping of ice cream? Think of a liberal arts education as taking a liberal heaping of knowledge.

The Script performs at Carthage's Tarble Arena.


Liberal arts schools are small and boring.

“This place is smaller than my high school…and it’s a college?”

IN FACT: Yes, liberal arts schools are smaller than universities, but that’s a good thing. A smaller school means more faculty-student interaction and more personal attention. It also means that our professors are interested in actually teaching their students instead of letting TAs do it.

And boring? Carthage has more than 130 student organizations and events are happening literally every day. From playing Pokemon to improv comedy to one of Carthage’s 16 greek organizations, and everything between, Carthage has something for you.

Students laugh during a relaxed gathering in the chapel.


All liberal arts schools are super religious.

“I don’t go to church on Sundays, I definitely don’t want to go every day.”

That’s great. You don’t have to.

Yes, Carthage is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, but that doesn’t mean you have to be. Carthage isn’t just welcoming to people of all beliefs, it actually wants students of all creeds to come together. Even our baccalaureate service, the last religious service that seniors experience before they graduate, is an interfaith service.
See photos from Baccalaureate 2016

Students walk down Campus Drive near the new Science Center.


Liberal arts schools are too expensive.

“Liberal arts schools are for the few people that can afford it. Like the Monopoly guy.”

Carthage is dedicated to making it possible for anyone who wants to attend to be able to attend. More than 90 percent of our students receive financial aid. Every year Carthage awards $14 million in scholarships and grants, including more than $4 million to Presidential Scholars.

A Carthage student conducts research in a chemistry lab.


A liberal arts degree is only for those interested in the fine arts.

“It’s called the liberal arts, not liberal sciences.”

No matter what the field of study, Carthage’s curriculum is designed to encourage critical thinking and provide hands-on learning. Show us a scientist who doesn’t think critically. We’ll give you some time to think.

No problem if you need more time.

Give up? It’s because being able to explore other options and think creatively isn’t just reserved for the artists of the world. In fact, Carthage prides itself on the sciences. We recently built a state-of-the-art science center to accommodate the growing amount of students majoring in the sciences. Oh, and we’re home to Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium and conduct ongoing research for NASA.


  • 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 …