What form of undergraduate education best prepares students to live in a rapidly changing world?
What curricular structure best provides students with the critical skills necessary for civic and economic leadership, while instilling the reflective, evaluative and comparative habits of mind and heart integral to the tradition of the liberal arts? How best can a college help students develop the rigorous competencies required by a complex world of work while fostering the thoughtful exploration and articulation of values and perspectives that ground a fulfilling life?
The academic program at Monmouth College is our distinctive answer to these questions. We offer a curriculum that nourishes personal growth and prepares our students for professional success. We offer opportunities for intellectual exploration and discovery. We intend that the liberal arts education we provide will greatly assist our students to live meaningful and productive lives. In addition, we ask ourselves and our students to respond to an essential paradox of being in the world: namely, that we achieve the greatest measure of individual freedom, the fullest realization of our individual humanity, in the larger context of social responsibilities.
Our curriculum is both intentional and integrated. It is ordered into component parts: Foundation Skills, Integrated Studies, Area Studies, the Major, and Electives. Although each of these elements has its specific purpose, together they provide a structure that guides students toward the goals of a liberal education: to think critically, to communicate effectively, to appreciate the varieties of human experience and achievement, to articulate and develop ethical values, to pursue expertise in a discipline, and to discover patterns of meaning across disciplines.
The Semester Calendar
The academic year at Monmouth is organized into two semesters. In each semester, students ordinarily take 4 course credits. The first semester begins in late August, ending before the Christmas holidays. The second semester begins in late January, ending in mid-May. Depending on the course credit value of each course, students might anticipate taking between four and six courses (amounting to 4 course credits) each semester. Most courses meet for three-four 50-minute periods or two 75-minute periods a week, with laboratory or studio courses having additional sessions. Individual courses are worth .25 to 1 course credits.
The General Education Program
One of the qualities that has long made Monmouth College distinctive is its commitment to a four-year general education program. General Education provides the larger context of knowledge and human experience, raises questions of meaning and value, and provides a basis for judging the purposes and methods of particular disciplines. General Education commits undergraduates and the entire campus to life-long learning through course work that promotes purposeful inquiry into those activities, forms, and institutions that define our humanity and that identify significant areas of cultural agreement and difference among us. The components of our General Education program are Foundation Skills, Integrated Studies, and Area Studies.
I. Foundation Skills
Throughout a student’s academic career – indeed, throughout a person’s whole life – effective communication and quantitative literacy are essential tools for analysis and understanding. A Monmouth College education begins with Foundations Skills, where language and reasoning are intentionally integrated through Communication Across the Curriculum (CAC) and Quantitative Reasoning Across the Curriculum (QAC) programs. The goals of such integration are comprehensive, involving instruction, reinforcement, and elaboration across the curriculum, from Integrated Studies general education courses to classical and modern foreign languages to major courses. Always before us, then, is the understanding that skills in writing and reading, speaking, listening, and quantification, underwrite academic success and successful personal and professional lives. Students begin with COMM 101, Fundamentals of Communication, and ENGL 110, Composition and Argument, during the first year.
II. Integrated Studies
Introduction to Liberal Arts
Our Integrated Studies program begins with Introduction to Liberal Arts. We meet first-year students in the midst of the transition between high school and college. Guided by an instructor who is professor, mentor, and the students’ academic advisor, the course addresses the purposes of liberal and collegiate education by examining a single topic or theme from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The aim is to identify and celebrate the liberal arts as a community of learners excited by the informed exchange of ideas. Although all sections share common objectives, foundation skills goals, common core readings, and a common theme, each section is enhanced by the instructor’s distinctive emphasis.
Once our students have found their new place in the world of higher education, we ask them in the second year to turn attention to their place in the larger world: to investigate communities, societies, political systems, and civilizations other than their own. How are we to understand a complex and changing world and its peoples, where events unfold and are chronicled with ever-increasing speed? Global Perspectives addresses this question by highlighting the influence and importance of cultural differences and by asking students to understand culture as a lens through which we view the world. Inherent in this process is fostering critical thinking about the students’ own place in that world, as well as garnering knowledge about world political economy, about global demographics, and about the differences between developed and developing nations. Like Introduction to Liberal Arts, Global Perspectives shares common readings and emphasizes communication skills introduced in the first year.
The turn outward represented by Global Perspectives is balanced in Reflections by a turn inward to consideration of personal values. As in Global Perspectives we ask students in Reflections courses to analyze familiar and unfamiliar systems of thought and belief, but this time in order to explore their own and others’ ideas about the ultimate meaning and purposes of our lives. Because inquiry about human values can occur in a variety of disciplinary contexts, our students may choose in their third year from a menu of courses representing philosophical, religious, artistic, and scientific perspectives. Yet each course in its own way addresses foundational questions, linking provisional answers to descriptions of ethical conduct and an examined life.
By the time students are seniors, they have been asked in Integrated Studies courses to develop some understanding of their places in college, their places in the world, and their own beliefs and values. The senior capstone course, Citizenship, challenges students to move past study and contemplation to conscientious action. Citizenship courses, chosen from a menu of offerings, typically take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding important social issues. Then students are called upon to address those issues variously as citizens of community, nation, and world. Individual and group projects may involve position papers, social or political policy proposals, development of and participation in service projects, or other experiential learning projects.
III. Area Studies (Distribution Requirements)
This component of General Education serves two essential goals of liberal education, supplying breadth of basic knowledge in important fields of study, and providing a basis for judging the purposes and methods of our four divisions of knowledge: Foreign Languages, the Arts and the Sciences.
Important to understanding one’s own culture is being able to step outside of it, even for the duration of a course. Learning another language requires students to understand and communicate in new patterns of thought, on terms other than their own. Studying a foreign language is experiential learning, requiring students to explore the linguistic and cultural richness of a world beyond their own. To satisfy the Foreign Language requirement, students must be proficient at the 102 level of language study, in other words at the level commensurate with one year of college-level study. International students whose native language is other than English meet the Foreign Language requirements by demonstrating their competency in English, which is for them a foreign language.
Literature, music, art, and theater are among the greatest accomplishments of the human imagination and spirit. Human beings have found in the arts ways to shape and give order to experience, to express their most private feelings, to celebrate life, and to affirm human community. The arts transmit to us the wealth of the past and give promise of transmitting the best of the present to the future. We believe that to value the arts fully, students must both appreciate historic and formal achievements and participate in the creative processes; thus, students will complete one course credit in the arts, ideally before the end of the junior year.
Like the Arts, Science represents imaginative achievement: a systematic method and an organized body of knowledge about our physical universe and its life forms. Study in the sciences further defines the extent to which discovery and invention have shaped human identity, human choices, human societies, and changed our relationship to Nature. The Area Studies requirement in the Sciences is for one course credit in a lab science. The laboratory experience replicates the art requirement’s emphasis on the importance of participation in the learning process.
IV. The Major
The Major Program provides students with more comprehensive study of a particular discipline, both its methods and its information. Depth, rigor, and coherence are the keynotes of major study. Understanding the process and methods whereby disciplinary knowledge is discovered, developed, and refined over time enables students to appreciate that current generations of theorists and practitioners stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before. The major may or may not be directly linked to the career a student intends to follow, but it should reflect a student’s desire to explore a discipline comprehensively, because such exploration and knowledge are themselves profoundly important. A further goal of the major is to prepare students for careers and graduate study.
Students may take a major program in a single discipline, fulfilling the requirements set by the department. The departmental major provides an appropriate culminating experience during the senior year: a special seminar, a thesis, or an independent study project. Each department publishes a description of the purposes and scope of the major program in its discipline(s), identifying the courses that are required including courses intensive in speaking, writing, and quantitative skills development. It should be noted that no more than 13 course credits in a single discipline can be applied toward the 32 required for a degree.
The topical major provides a unique opportunity for the student who wants to pursue in depth an interest area that bridges the subject area of several departments. The student’s advisor plays an important role in helping to plan a topical major. The topical major consists of 9-10 course credits, of which half must be at the 300 or 400 level. One of these courses must be designated as the culminating experience. The Admissions and Academic Status Committee must approve the proposed set of courses and formally appoint the advisor who will guide the student. In order to adequately evaluate a topical major request, requests for approval of a topical major must be filed at least three semesters before the student’s graduation.
V. Elective Courses
Beyond the General Education and Major requirements, students have opportunities to take courses that may enhance and augment major study or simply satisfy curiosity in another area of interest. Elective courses provide opportunities for enrichment and experimentation. Topics and instructors that students would not otherwise encounter may spark a life-long hobby, hone a passionate interest, dedicate a life to volunteerism, or even result in a change in career plans.
Our four-year General Education program— comprised of Foundation Skills, Integrated Studies, and Area Studies—informs and references Major and Elective course choices. Taken altogether they represent a distinctive, intentional, and integrated liberal arts curriculum, an education that challenges students to life-long learning, personal achievement and leadership, citizenship, and service.
In summary form, these are the requirements for the degree:
- Four years of academic work in which the student earns at least 32 course credits.
An average of C (2.00) or higher must be obtained in course work taken at Monmouth
College. The senior residency requirement stipulates that after attaining senior status
(23 course credits), at least 6 course credits of the remaining credits required for
the degree must be granted by the College. No more than 2.5 course credits of participation
or activity courses can be counted towards graduation.
- Completion of all general education requirements with a passing grade. (Transfer students
who enter Monmouth College with 6 or more course credits of transferred work will
be exempt from taking INTG 101.)
- Completion of a major program with at least a C- grade in all courses required for
the major and an overall C average (2.0) in those courses. (Certain majors have stricter
requirements. Read through the departmental descriptions carefully.) Although minors
are not required, in order to complete a minor, the grade point average of courses
in the minor program must be at least a 2.0 with no grades below C-.
- Payment of all current financial obligations to the College.
Application for Degree
Candidates for the Bachelor of Arts degree must make formal application to the Registrar one year (2 full semesters) in advance of their expected graduation.
The primary responsibility for ensuring that all requirements are met rests with the student.
Assessment of the Academic Program
Monmouth College is actively engaged in assessing student learning. The ultimate goal of assessment is to improve the education students receive at Monmouth College by evaluating the educational program. Specifically, assessment attempts to identify what the college wants students to learn, to determine how well students are learning what they need, and to help students learn more effectively.
Assessment activities are overseen by the Assessment Committee. Some of these activities are carried out in the classroom, such as standardized testing and transcript reflection. Other assessment activities are carried out after graduation through alumni surveys. Yet other activities are embedded in the day-to-day activities of class work. Occasionally, students may be requested to participate in assessment activities outside of their normal class work. The data collected from these activities culminate in a five-year assessment report for each department and program at Monmouth College.
General Education Program
Courses that satisfy the requirements of the general education program are designated by the faculty. In addition to the courses listed in the College Catalog, some courses that vary in content satisfy requirements when particular topics are offered. Such courses are listed in semester course schedules.
See the PDF version of the Monmouth College Catalog (also accessible via the drop-down menu on the opening page of the College website) for the latest information about courses that meet specific requirements as well as the official College statement about degree requirements and academic policies.
See the Course Schedule website for the current year's schedule of courses, with associated information.