Skip Navigation

Academic Life

You'll find that Carleton's academic environment is both highly challenging and highly supportive. You'll pursue a rigorous liberal arts education in the company of friends who love learning as much as you do—and who help one another instead of competing.

Whether your academic goals are already well formed or you're unsure of what path to take, a Carleton education will prepare you to think critically, to solve problems creatively, and to express yourself well. You will discover new passions, gain fresh perspectives, and learn to adapt to dynamic situations. After four years at Carleton, you will be ready to take your place in the world, wherever that place may be.

See what makes a Carleton education distinctive.

Learn about academic support at Carleton.

  • Cliff Clark
    Cliff Clark (faculty) says:
    During a senior oral exam there was a knock on the door, and the student’s roommate, dressed in tails with a linen napkin on his arm, appeared and served us all champagne. Carleton students have a great sense of humor.
  • Yansi Perez
    Yansi Perez (faculty) says:
    Academic life is challenging! I know that my students are working extremely hard in all the classes they are enrolled in but that does not lower my expectations for them. It is a rigorous academic institution and all the students I've talked to chose Carleton precisely because of that reason.
  • Emily Balczewski '16
    Academic life here changes term-by-term. It is key to have a balanced schedule and to explore all of Carleton's fabulous departments. Students here do care about grades, but I think there is a positive culture here that values learning more.
  • Susan Jaret-McKinstry
    Susan Jaret-McKinstry (faculty) says:
    Everyone here takes the life of the mind very seriously, and demonstrates that ideas matter by talking, writing, thinking about, and applying them in so many ways. For those who want to be challenged, Carleton is ideal.
  • Al Montero
    Al Montero (faculty) says:
    Every week begins with an array of breath-taking challenges and every week ends with only partial resolutions and many on-going tasks yet to do. It just keeps coming until time runs out on the trimester. And then it starts all over again. After this, 'real life' seems to move much slower; it is 'easier.' So Carleton students feel that much more empowered to do more after graduation.
  • Kathleen Galotti
    Kathleen Galotti (faculty) says:
    Academic life is intense! Tailored to an audience of highly motivated and hard-working students who thrive on intellectual challenges.
  • Cliff Clark
    Cliff Clark (faculty) says:
    Carleton students are serious about their studies but friendly and warmly supportive. I have always been impressed by how willing Carleton students are to help each other, whether it is supporting a friend who is having difficulty in a Calculus class, or working together on their senior comprehensive essays. Students here are competitive with themselves but not with their peers.
  • Kifaya Taha '17
    I’m the kind of student who wants a little more attention from professors. I value that relationship. It’s why I feel comfortable in class. I know I can go to see them during office hours. They’ll know my name, tell me how I’m doing. I can also ask as many questions as I want. That relationship exists here.
  • Emily Balczewski '16
    I wanted a school that would challenge me both inside and outside of the classroom and then offer support to allow me to grow academically and personally from these challenging experiences. Small classes, intimate professor relationships, and a kind and diverse student body are key to achieving this, and Carleton has all three!
  • Marielle Foster '16
    How would you describe academic life at Carleton? Marielle Foster '16 says:
    Intense, fast, and fulfilling. The school does a great job helping people blow off steam, whether that is through petting puppies or having a silent dance party during finals week, or bringing giant bouncy houses indoors for us to play in during the dead of winter.
  • Marty Baylor
    Marty Baylor (faculty) says:
    Academic life is intense. The pace of the term, the high expectations of faculty for students, and the high expectations students have for themselves and the faculty keeps everyone on their toes.
  • Marty Baylor
    Marty Baylor (faculty) says:
    Carleton is for students who love to learn something new. Whether it’s trying something they have never done before like jewelry making or delving deeper into a subject they have seen before, Carls live to learn.
  • Adriana Estill
    Adriana Estill (faculty) says:
    Carleton academic life is intense, fast-paced - for thrill-seekers. Challenging.
  • Louis Newman
    Louis Newman (faculty) says:
    Carleton students are eager to learn, inside and outside the classroom, and to engage with faculty and with one another.
  • Scott Carpenter
    Scott Carpenter (faculty) says:
    Academic life at Carleton is like one of those jungle scenes in old movies -- filled with novelty and adventure (not to mention the occasional scary plant), and whenever you fall into a pit of quicksand, there's always someone around to pull you out with a vine.
  • Sam Patterson
    Sam Patterson (faculty) says:
    Academic life at Carleton is intense, but everyone is focused on the same goal.
  • Caffi Meyer '15
    Which Carleton classes have been your favorites? Why? Caffi Meyer '15 says:
    CGSC 130 "Introduction to Cognitive Science: How to Build a Mind" (taught by Roy Elveton). The course title reeled me in but it was the engaging readings and lectures that kept me hooked. This class was definitely a favorite of mine because I got to learn about an interdisciplinary field of science about which I initially knew very little. The final class assignment involved an open-ended research paper which was an opportunity to apply what we learned about cognitive science to any topic of our choosing.
  • Anna Chance '15
    How would you describe academic life at Carleton? Anna Chance '15 says:
    Difficult but also within a very accommodating and supportive framework. It's OK to struggle, it's OK to fail. Professors are there to help you get better and to learn. Everyone is good at "their thing." Even if you are SUPER BAD at something like math (like me), no one on campus will judge you for that. Teachers and other students are there TO HELP. The only expectation is that you to work hard, and to care about the work that you do.
  • Cindy Bell Neville '75 says:
    Carleton taught me that I can learn anything I put my mind to.
  • Josh Meltzer '95