All of the following FAQs are taken from past issues of the weekly online newsletter, The Chronicler, and are answered by former Admissions Director (now VP Enrollment) Tom McFadden
What are your majors?
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 seven majors (History, Theology, Philosophy, Classics, English Language & Literature, Mathematics, or Political Science). Additionally, you can minor or double major in any of these same subjects, and can minor also in Physics, 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.
Does Christendom offer any type of internships for its students?
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 7 main academic departments here at Christendom in which you may select a major: History, Philosophy, Theology, Mathematics, Political Science and Economics, Classical and Early Christian Studies, and English Language and Literature. We also have a Physics and 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'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 7 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.
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 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. Greg Monroe, 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.
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!