Morehouse College Gets an “A” for its Liberal Arts Core Curriculum
Each year, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), an independent nonprofit committed to liberal arts education and academic freedom, releases a national survey assessing core curricular requirements at over 1,100 U.S. colleges and universities. This year, Morehouse College is one of only 23 schools to receive an “A” rating.
The survey, What Will They Learn? 2020–2021, examines course requirements in seven subject areas widely recognized as critically important to a twenty-first century college education by ACTA’s Council of Scholars: Composition, Literature, (intermediate-level) Foreign Language, U.S. Government or History, Economics, Mathematics, and Natural Science. To earn an “A,” a school must require all students to study at least six of these foundational subjects.
Given that general education makes up one-quarter to one-third of a student’s academic program at most universities, choosing a school with a strong core is just as important as choosing the right major. Unfortunately, too many colleges have allowed their general education programs to erode over the decades, failing to ensure that students graduate prepared for informed civic participation and equipped to compete in a complex and ever-evolving job market.
At a time in which young people are changing jobs and even industries with unprecedented frequency, it is incumbent on colleges and universities to foster a lifelong learning orientation. Engagement with the Great Books and big ideas is one of the best ways to unleash students’ creativity, develop strong analytical abilities, and build clear and precise written communication skills.
The results of traditional college ranking systems and What Will They Learn?, which focuses on what schools are actually teaching, are most divergent when it comes to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). While HBCUs consistently offer rigorous core curricula, they rarely break into the top tier of traditional college rankings. In contrast, of the 65 HBCUs surveyed by What Will They Learn?, 41 schools, or about two-thirds, earn at least a “B.” Only two Ivy League schools earn a “B” (not one scores an “A”), and less than one-third of the 356 liberal arts colleges surveyed score an “A” or a “B.”
“Liberal education is essential not only for providing our workforce with creative and critical thinkers, but for cultivating the kind of informed, conscious, and engaged citizens that representative democracies require,” said ACTA President Michael Poliakoff. “We should all thank Morehouse College for its deep commitment to the liberal arts; today more than ever, maintaining high curricular standards is essential to advancing the public interest.”
ACTA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to academic freedom, academic excellence, and accountability in higher education. We receive no government funding and are supported through the generosity of individuals and foundations.