Founded in 1866, Carleton College is a small, private liberal arts college in the historic river town of Northfield, Minnesota. Best known for its academic excellence and warm, welcoming campus community, Carleton offers 37 majors and 15 concentrations in the arts, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.

Carleton at a Glance

  • Location: Northfield, Minnesota, population 20,000
  • Nearest cities: Minneapolis and St. Paul (40 miles)
  • Enrollment: 2,023 students (fall 2013)
  • Demographics: 47% men, 53% women; 90% live on campus
  • Calendar: Trimester (Three ten-week terms)
  • Areas of Study: 37 majors, 15 concentrations
  • Degree awarded: Bachelor of Arts
  • Student/faculty ratio: 9:1
  • Average class size: 18 (64% of classes have fewer than 20 students)
  • Campus: 1,040 acres including an 880-acre arboretum
  • Religious affiliation: None
  • Accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools since 1913

A true liberal arts education

Carleton College is committed to providing a true liberal arts education, a curriculum that challenges our students to learn broadly and think deeply. Instead of training for one narrow career path, Carleton students develop the knowledge and skills to succeed in any walk of life.

"Classes here are not about simply memorizing information," says Anna H. Newman '11. "They are about leading you to a deeper understanding of the material."

The most important thing our students learn is how to learn for a lifetime. Critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, effective communication: these are the tools that transform a collection of facts and figures into a way of understanding the world. Learn more about academic life at Carleton.

Faculty passionate about teaching

Carleton's faculty members are highly respected scholars, researchers, and practitioners in their fields. But above all, their first priority is teaching. Every course at Carleton is taught by a professor, not a teaching assistant, in classes small enough to offer individual attention for our students. A student-faculty ratio of 9 to 1 ensures that Carleton students have plenty of opportunity for interaction with their professors.

"The majority of our professors really want to get to know you," says student Jinai Bharucha '11, "and I have yet to meet a professor that does not encourage class discussion."

Students passionate about everything

Carleton's student body is notoriously difficult to categorize, but if we had to choose just one word to describe them, it would be curious. They're an intellectually insatiable group that approaches learning with enthusiasm, energy, and a uniquely Carleton brand of playfulness. Broad-ranging interests are common, and friendships seem to cross all traditional boundaries.

"The student body here at Carleton is surprisingly diverse," says Caitlin Unumb '11. "You can have any interest, any talent, any background and still fit in well at this school. The only real generalization I can make about the students here is that nearly everyone I meet is friendly."

"The Carleton student body has a bit of every type of person," agrees Steve Merry '10, "with the common thread of a willingness to hear new ideas with an open mind."

A close-knit community

When people visit Carleton, they're often surprised by the warmth and closeness of the campus community. Somehow they expect a leading liberal arts college to feel more formidable and competitive.

But as our students and alumni will tell you, there's just something different about Carleton. Maybe it's our small size (2,000 students). Or maybe it's the round-the-clock proximity of so many creative minds (most students live and socialize on campus). Whatever the reason, Carleton is a place where students are likelier to cooperate than compete--and where working hard doesn't mean forgetting how to play. Learn more about about Carleton campus life.