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This Is Carleton

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 38 majors and 15 concentrations in the arts, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.

Carleton at a Glance

  • A private, residential liberal arts college in Northfield, Minnesota
  • Bachelor of arts degree in 38 majors in the humanities, social sciences, arts, and natural sciences and mathematics
  • 2,000 students from 49 states and 42countries (8% international)
  • 52% female, 48% male
  • 22% of students identify themselves as people of color
  • 220 full-time faculty members; 96% hold the highest degree in their field
  • Average class size:  18
  • 9:1 student/faculty ratio
  • Academic calendar: three 10-week terms
  • 73% of students study off campus in places from Chicago to New Zealand to China
  • 94% of students live in campus housing
  • 96% of first-year students who entered in fall 2010 returned for their sophomore year in fall 2011
  • 88% of students graduate within four years
  • 65% to 75% of students attend graduate or professional school within five years of graduation
  • 100% of demonstrated financial need is met for all admitted students

Carleton was ranked first in undergraduate teaching among liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report in 2011. 

Carleton has been ranked the #1 Best-Loved School on the basis of alumni giving by U.S. News & World Report for 10 years.  In the spirit of that tradition, the members of the Class of 1962 made a record-breaking $30 million gift to Carleton this year in honor of their 50th reunion.

Carleton ranks first for students participating in a mid-length study abroad experience, according to a recent report by the Institute of International Education.

Carleton received an A- on the College Sustainability Report Card in 2011.  The college has installed low-flow showerheads and dual-flush toilets in most of its facilities, contributing to a 20 percent reduction in water usage since 2005.  Carleton also achieved a 9 percent reduction in carbon emissions between 2004 and 2008.

Carleton is the first U.S. college to own and operate a utility-grade wind turbine.  Carleton's second wind turbine came online in 2011; combined, the two turbines generate the equivalent of more than 50% of Carleton's annual energy usage.

Three Carleton Ultimate Frisbee teams have claimed national titles in the past two years.  Carleton squads have won a total of seven national titles since 2000.

Carleton graduates earn many honors and awards.  In 2011-12 they earned:

  • 14 National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships
  • 6 Fulbright Fellowships
  • 2 Watson Fellowships
  • 2 Goldwater Scholarships
  • 1 Churchill Scholarship
  • 1 Beinecke Scholarship
  • 1 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship
  • 1 Davis Projects for Peace Initiative Award

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.

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.

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.

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 (fewer than 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.