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Can you tell me a little bit more about your core curriculum? I hear it is pretty extensive and that everyone has to take all the same classes. Do students get to choose any of their classes? When do you pick your major?
Our core curriculum is our pride and joy. In fact, it’s one of the most distinctive aspects about us, and I am happy that you want to know more about it!
All students who attend Christendom study much of the same subject matter for the first two and a half years. Currently, all students take 86 credit hours of carefully selected classes:
- 6 classes (18 credits) of Theology
- 6 classes (18 credits) of Philosophy
- 4 classes (12 credits) of English Language & Literature
- 4 classes (12 credits) of History
- 4 classes (12 credits) of Foreign Language (Latin, Greek, or French)
- 2 classes (6 credits) of Political Science
- 1 class (3 or 4 credits) of Math
- 1 class (3 credits) of Science
- 2 credits in Career Development Workshops
At the end of your sophomore year, you are able to select one of our six majors (History, Theology, Philosophy, Classics, English Language & Literature, or Political Science). Additionally, you can minor or double major in any of these same subjects, and can minor also in Math, Economics, and Liturgical Music.
Once a student has completed the core curriculum, they can then focus more on their major and take classes in their area of study.
Christendom offers a number of internship opportunities for students on campus, but we also do what we can to help our students find internships in the Washington, DC, area and elsewhere during the school year or during the summer.
One of the benefits of doing an internship (paid or volunteer) is to gain experience in a field that you may want to work in after graduation, but another reason is to gain contacts in the field that may help you later on in life. Christendom has a number of internships and employment opportunities that can really benefit students post-graduation. These are on-campus positions in fundraising, journalism, photography, office administration, kitchen help, maintenance, library services, event planning, and much more.
A lot of our students get internships in the Washington, DC, area during the summer, working at think tanks or on Capitol Hill or for law offices or political/non-profit groups. Some students can even earn academic credit for doing an internship.
Can you give me a little summary of each of your various departments? Who are the teachers in each department and what are their educational backgrounds?
We have 6 main academic departments here at Christendom in which you may select a major: History, Philosophy, Theology, Political Science and Economics, Classical and Early Christian Studies, and English Language and Literature. We also have a Math and Natural Sciences, as well as a Music program in which students may minor.
We have a short summary of the various departments and the names and educational backgrounds of our full-time professor available here and you may also watch some of the short departmental videos on our website under the individual department pages. These can give you a pretty good insight into what makes Christendom's approach to the various academic disciplines a little different than other colleges.
Additionally, you may take a look at the entire faculty line-up here.
I am really good at my math and science-related subjects in high school, particularly math, yet, I also like the idea of Christendom's liberal arts curriculum, which doesn't seem to offer much in the math and science department. Is there some way that I can do both if I attend Christendom?
A. This is a very common question that is asked of me, and I am glad that I can once again try my hand at giving you a suitable answer.
From my understanding, normally, the reason people like math/science related subjects is because their brains are wired that way and they like the idea of things being black and white, right and wrong, objectively true rather than subjectively true. Additionally, they are interested in the reasons why things are the way they are, thus the desire to understand how things work and operate through the sciences.
When I came to Christendom as a freshman many years ago, I was the math kid. It was my favorite subject. I scored 200+ points higher on the math section of my SAT than on the reading section. My Dad has an Electrical Engineering degree, two of my brothers have computer science degrees, one of my brothers has a doctorate in Electrical Engineering, and my sister is a math teacher. Math seemingly runs through my blood.
But I am here to tell you that Christendom has many offerings for those who tend toward "right side of the brain" activities. We offer many math classes (in which one can get a minor in math, if desired)
- Introduction to Mathematical Thought
- Euclidean Geometry
- College Algebra and Trigonometry
- Computer Programming
- Calculus I, II, III
- Linear Algebra
- Probability and Statistics
- Symbolic Logic
- Modal Logic
- Mathematical Logic
- Differential Equations
And we also offer a number of science courses as well:
- Introduction to Scientific Thought
- Descriptive Astronomy
- General Physics I and II
- Laboratory for General Physics I & II
And besides the actual math and science offerings, there are many subjects that work well with the "right side of the brain" people. If people like objective truth, it doesn't get much more objective than Theology. If people like to figure things out and learn to understand what makes things tick, then Philosophy is the subject to study. History is also very good for people who like to keep things objective. Studying these subjects definitely fulfills the needs of a "right brain" person, so it is not always necessary to actually study math/science in college, even if it is your favorite subject. Take it from me, a Theology major.
Finally, I wanted to let you know something that my brother, Michael, told me a while back. He came to Christendom for two years and took all the core curriculum courses that were offered (history, Theology, philosophy, political science, English), as well as a whole bunch of math classes. After two years, he decided that he wanted to do electrical engineering, so he transferred to George Mason University.
Because he had taken so many math courses at Christendom he didn't need to take any more math courses to fulfill his degree in engineering, and he finished up with his EE degree in just three additional years. He eventually went on to get his doctorate in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Delaware. He currently works in Texas and recently told me that he tends to use more of what he learned in his two years at Christendom than he does all the scientific stuff he studied for 8 years. I asked him why and he said that it is because scientists spend much of their time doing various projects, and when the project is over, there needs to be some sort of synopsis or paper written up about it. As a result of his Christendom liberal arts education, he says that he is quite often selected to be the project manager and therefore, the one responsible for writing up the findings. So, there's something to be said for a well-rounded, well-read scientist.
For more information on our math/science department please click here.
I'm looking at a couple other colleges (I know, shame on me), particularly ones that offer a Great Books type program, and I was wondering what your thoughts were on these types of colleges. And why isn't Christendom a Great Books program?
There are a number of good Catholic colleges out there today offering Great Books type programs – some are stricter in their interpretation of the Great Books, others a little more loose. Most of these schools are small, and they are very attractive to a certain type of student.
A Great Books Program, is one which studies a certain limited number of primary texts in a Socratic or discussion type forum. No textbooks or secondary sources are used in a Great Books program and all students study the exact same subjects and receive one degree, a BA in Liberal Arts, without having choices of majors.
Christendom would be categorized as offering a classical liberal arts education. We rely heavily on many of the exact same primary texts read in a Great Books program, but we also use many secondary sources to gain deeper understanding of the subject matter. Additionally, we rely heavily on the great education and knowledge of our esteemed faculty. All of them have read more on the subjects that they teach than probably the whole student body put together. We rely on their insights into their subject matter and want to hear what they think about this or that topic in their area of expertise, as opposed to relying on the insights of college-aged students (which happens quite often in a Great Books Program).
Also, the vast majority of our classes are lecture format (with an average class size of around 18-22 students) with students having the ability to ask questions and make comments during class. Although we do have a very strong core curriculum which lasts two and a half years, following the completion of the core, students are given the opportunity to delve deeper into one of six areas of study and major in Theology, Philosophy, English Language and Literature, Classics, Political Science, or History.
Additionally, most Great Books programs do not offer history as part of their curriculum because generally, in order to do an in-depth survey of history, textbooks are used. Here at Christendom, we rely heavily on College founder Dr. Warren Carroll's History of Christendom series of books.
Of course, there are other differences, but these are the ones I think may be easiest understood. I hope that this clarifies a couple of the differences between a Great Books Program and what Christendom offers. Here is our core curriculum at a glance.
Here is an interesting (although a little long) look at the idea of studying the Great Books by a former University of Dallas professor named Frederick D. Wilhelmsen.
In short, Christendom is not a Great Books program because we wanted to provide out students with the age-old scholastic approach to education (the same approached used at all of the Catholic colleges and universities founded in Europe back in the day on through the 20th Century), giving them a solid core curriculum in the liberal arts, ordered by Thomistic wisdom within an historical matrix. This could not be achieved through a Great Books program.
I welcome any further questions on the matter that you have and don’t ever be ashamed of looking at other colleges – it’s how you realize which is best for you!
Why does Christendom have its students study the same subjects in a core curriculum for two years before allowing them to pick a major? Wouldn't it be better to just start off studying in the subject matter of your intended major?
This is a great question and I hopefully will be able to sum up for you the main reasons we do what we do in this area.
First, we believe that it is very important for college-aged students to be well educated, rather than simply well trained. And this is a very important distinction that I will come back to in a bit.
Second, we think that far too many students go off to college, pick a major as freshmen, and then change their majors a number of times before graduating 5 or 6 years later. So our system certainly helps with these types of problems.
Here's Christendom's view of education and why we offer our students a two and half year core curriculum before they select of one of our 6 majors. We believe it is essential to their well-being and broad understanding of the world that they be immersed in the variety of subject matters and academic disciplines that we offer: Theology, Philosophy, History, Political Science & Economics, Math, Science, Modern and Classical Languages, and English Language & Literature. This way, they are exercising many parts and areas of their brains, rather than one area, as happens when someone studies only one subject matter, and this enables them to think more clearly, analyze more deeply, and evaluate better. Because of their exposure to the many academic disciplines, they delve deep into subject matters that they may have otherwise never know about, or sometimes, even cared about. But once our faculty uncovers the hidden meanings to this or that theory, or this or that piece of literature, then it opens our students' eyes to a whole new world of thoughts and ideas. [Read more about our educational principles here.]
And this is what a college education is, or at least should be, yet unfortunately, happens all too rarely at colleges and universities across the nation. People sometimes just want to get a job in this or that field, so they pick a school that has a major in the field in which they hope to get a job, and that's it. But what many fail to realize is that the majority, the vast majority, of people do not work in the field in which they studied. Yes, only 27% do, which means 73% do not. 73% went to college to get trained in order to work in a specific field. And now, they are not doing what they thought they were going to do.
Christendom alumni, on the other hand, are not generally interested in finding a job in their field because they didn't major in the subject for that purpose. They know that they received a deep and lasting education, and that they are educated to work in any field. And this is evidenced by what our alumni do. You should check out this page for the proof of the matter.
So, back to the core curriculum. Let me tell you a couple little stories about the "usefulness" of our core curriculum, which may not be very apparent at this moment to you. These are all real stories and I am sure there are many others I could have told.
- When I came to Christendom, I was a math guy. My math score was 200 points higher than my verbal score. At the time, it was required that every student take 5 semesters of English as part of the core. This was pretty much the worst news ever to someone like me - a math guy - because it was very difficult for me to try and come to a deeper understanding of literature and what the writers actually meant when they wrote. Anyways, I had 5 semesters of English, and I never got above a C in any English class, if I recall properly. So, what's the point of this story? The point is that I am now the editor of just about anything that you ever see or read about Christendom College. Yep, I'm the English language and literature flunky who now has the responsibility of crafting advertisements, news releases, stories for our magazine and internet, editing fundraising letters and articles, and the like, including writing a weekly column for The Chronicler each week. Most math guys can't write anything because when they studied in college, they did not do anything other than math and science related subjects. But, although I didn't necessarily enjoy my English classes, because my mind had to be stretched in that direction, I benefitted from the exposure I received to great literature and writing. If I hadn't had to take these classes in the core, I never would have, and I would be less of a person for it.
- My friend, James, is a computer programmer for a large inspection/relocation company in the Washington, DC, area. James came to Christendom and majored in political science and economics before immediately joining the company he now works for. He told me once that he learned everything he ever needed to learn about computer programming from the class that we all take here called "Metaphysics." Some of you may be wondering what it is, and why anyone would ever, on their own, choose to take such a class. The answer is that it is a type of philosophy class and that pretty much nobody would ever choose to take such a class if it were simply one of the possible classes to take. And that would be a real problem because, along with teaching James everything he needed to know about programming, it teaches us what it means to be, and answers some of the most fundamental questions that we have as humans. And without it being in the core, many would have a misunderstanding of these important matters.
Hopefully this gives you a little insight into why we do what we do and maybe you can see that you never really know what is going to be useful in the future, so it is best to get as broad an education as possible. And besides, just about everyone here graduates in 4 (or less) years, so there's none of that mess of picking a major then changing it, and then changing it again, and then graduating more in debt after spending 6 years in college to major in something that you probably won't end up doing anything with.
So, learn more about our awesome core curriculum (link it) and what our alumni don't do with their majors:)
I was looking through your list of majors on your website and was interested to see that all the ones I am looking for you do not have. I had been thinking of applying to Christendom, but now that I see the lack of majors, I am not so sure. Are you going to add any more soon, because I really want to be able to get a job when I graduate?
If one of your goals of a college education is to find gainful employment post graduation, well, Christendom meets that goal. If one of your goals is to study a very narrow and specific subject area and then major in it, such as advertising, accounting, education, or communications, then we do not meet that goal. But, you can still get jobs in advertising, accounting, education, and communications with a degree from Christendom, if you want.
Christendom grads are employed in just about every field possible. We have alumni who have degrees in philosophy who are financial analysts and teachers. We have alumni with history degrees who are marketing professionals and officers in the military. Theology majors are now electrical engineers and computer software programmers. We have alumni who are doctors, lawyers, physical therapists, accountants, managers, nurses, educators, salesmen, graphic artists, editors, entrepreneurs, project managers, tradesmen, builders, carpenters, priests, religious, music teachers, art directors, drama teachers, missionaries, real estate agents, insurance salesmen, architects, dentists, college professors, Montessori teachers, computer scientists, and everything in between.
Additionally, Christendom has a full-time Director of Career Development, Mr. Mike Mochel, and he is very helpful to our students as they discern their career choices throughout their years at Christendom. His focus is on helping students figure out what types of employment they might enjoy, which grad schools they might wish to attend, and helping them be prepared for their jobs by aiding them with interview skills and resume writing. His office is located in our Student Center and his door is always open. Here is a link to our Career Services page on our website.
The liberal arts education that Christendom offers is good and useful in and of itself, but it also makes our graduates very employable. Our graduates are easily able to adapt to an ever-changing work environment and they have all the most sought-after skills, as evidenced by the following information:
- Liberal arts students advance more quickly to middle and senior management positions than their colleagues who pursued other fields of study . . . these graduates become employees that are ready to learn (AT&T Management Study).
- The liberal arts are more effective in teaching communication skills, general knowledge and information, an understanding of people, an appreciation of ethical concerns, an ability to organize and prioritize, and vital leadership skills (Fortune 500 study).
- Business leaders value liberal arts grads for their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, strong writing and speaking skills, self-discipline, exposure to diverse ideas, and global perspective (Hobart & William Smith Colleges study).
- Strong communications skills are the single most important attribute a candidate can have – and also the one most lacking among job applicants (Poll of hiring managers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers).
- A broad liberal arts education is preferred for future CEOs – blending knowledge of history, culture, philosophy, and economic policy, with international experience and problem-solving skills (The Wall Street Journal).
- Employers focus on finding graduates with the right skills rather than the right major, as a new employee with the right skills can easily learn the specifics of an industry. Employers desire transferable skills, skills employees take with them to any job, such as written and verbal communication skills, the ability to solve complex problems, to work well with others, and to adapt in a changing workplace – and these are characteristic of a liberal arts education (Survey by National Association of Colleges and Employers).
So, as a result of all of this, the short answer to your question about whether we are going to add a whole bunch of majors or not is “no.” But, as you can see from some of the facts stated above, there is no real need to add all those majors in order to get a decent job after graduation. What is important is that you become educated while in college, not trained, so that you can be adaptable and more able to work in a wide variety of fields.
So, please do not stop thinking about us and definitely don’t write us off because of the majors we offer. Apply online today!