Open Curriculum Colleges

open curriculum colleges

Open Curriculum Colleges

Check Out Our List Of Colleges With An Open Curriculum. Get Matched For FREE To Online Colleges.

What are Open Curriculum Colleges?

Open curriculum colleges are ones that let you to choose your own classes. You may still have to declare a major, but you direct your own course plan. Depending on the college, an open curriculum may allow you to craft your own major too. Some schools (Cornell is one) call this an “individualized major.” Here, you don’t have to commit to a major offered by the school. Instead, you choose topics that make sense to your unique plans for your career.  

Open Curriculum vs Core Curriculum

A core curriculum differs from an open curriculum as it has courses you must take. You have to satisfy these credits to earn your degree. What that means is that all undergrads take a set of common (core) classes. Core classes tend to include general education (GE) topics. Like math, science, social studies and foreign language.  

You have to take these courses no matter what major or school within a college. The idea behind this is that when you study these subjects, it helps to mold a well rounded learner. In an open curriculum, you may not have GE classes. And, in some cases, you don’t have to use a formula for how you use credits. 

That doesn’t mean you don’t choose a major or focus. But when you do, you may not have to meet any core requirements. Since you don’t have to take these common classes, you may have more credits to play with. So, many students are able to do a double major with room to explore both in a deep way. 

How Do Open Curriculum Colleges Work? 

In an open curriculum college, academic advisors help you choose courses around a professional goal. This goal might be a desire to blend two areas like chemistry and bio. Or, you want to learn how to raise money, impact public policy, or get into law school. 

While not the same as independent study, an open C is flexible. Mostly in the area of lower division classes. A school may allow you to replace honors and advanced courses in their place. With the format, many schools accept only those students with strong grades. So, you may need to show case talents, interests and goals to get in. And some schools expect you to write a proposal that explains how your classes all fit together.  

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Ashford University

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Is an Open Curriculum College Right for you?

If you are a self starter and like flexibility, an open curriculum may be ideal. As a rule, it offers a very broad based liberal arts education. And, is one you can mold to the topics you can’t wait to learn about. Liberal arts topics often relate to big ideas, themes, events, arts and culture. You also read and write a lot. And this may help you grow as a thinker, problem solver and communicator.

On the other hand, a core curriculum provides more structure. You tend to have GE classes to fill as well as ones in your major and focus. This path may suit you if you prefer to map a journey out in advance. Or if you want to dive into one technical area and learn about it from different sides.

30 Open Curriculum Colleges

We used data from the US Department of Education to create a list of the 30 Open Curriculum Colleges.  

1 Amherst College
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Amherst College is a four year private, liberal arts school with 1,855 undergrads. In MA, the school offers 36 fields of study. Some programs include economics, math and English.

Open Curriculum Requirements

Amherst has no distribution requirements and no core curriculum. Instead, students may choose the courses that matter to them the most. With over 850 courses to choose from, many students pursue a double major. 

Open Curriculum Programs

Anthropology, Buddhist Studies, Asian Pacific American Studies.

Tuition & Fees

$25,208

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

95%

2 Brown University
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Brown U is a four year private school with 6,752 undergrads and is known for robust research. The campus, in RI offers 57 fields of study. Some choices are economics, comp sci, applied math and bio. 

Open Curriculum Requirements

Students may develop a customized course of study with the freedom to study what they choose. 

Open Curriculum Programs

Engineering, Behavioral Decision Sciences, Biophysics, Classics.

Tuition & Fees

$31,685

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

97%

3 Grinnell College
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Grinnel is a four year private school with 1,683 undergrads. In IA, it offers 30 fields of study in the liberal arts. A few of these areas are economics, poli sci, comp sci and bio. 

Open Curriculum Requirments

Grinnell believes in free inquiry and the open exchange of ideas. All students take a First Year Tutorial, and this is the only required class.

Open Curriculum Programs

American Studies, Bio, Art History. 

Tuition & Fees

$25,358

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

87%

4 Hamilton College
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Hamilton is a four year private school in NY, with 1,989 undergrads. A liberal arts school, it offers 37 fields of study in the liberal arts. Some choices include economics, math, poli sci and language.  

Open Curriculum Requirements

You need to pass 3 writing courses. By the end of your second year, you must also complete at least one quantitative and symbolic reasoning course. The school also wants you to take part in the First Year Course and Proseminar programs. You must also take a range of liberal arts classes that support cultural analysis and need to choose a focus. The program caps with a senior project.

Open Curriculum Programs

Astronomy, Art History, Digital Arts and Cinema. 

Tuition & Fees

$25,160

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

92%

5 Hampshire College
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Hampshire is a four year private school with 1,175 undergrads. In MA it offers 51 fields of study. Among these areas are film and video, fine and studio arts and writing studies.  

Open Curriculum Requirements

Students may design their own program with the 5 College Consortium that includes Dance, Film, Astronomy and Architectural Studies. 

Open Curriculum Programs

Marine Science, Entrepreneurship, Applied Design and Music.

Tuition & Fees

$28,173

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

68%

6 NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study
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NYU is a four year private school that serves 26,339 undergrads. In NYC, it offers 152 fields of study in liberal arts, sciences, business and beyond. Within NYU, this school is a smaller unit for BA and MA students.

Open Curriculum Requirements

You will consult with advisors to develop a program of study centered around a theme, problem, activity or idea. To mark your progress, there are marked expectations for each year of study. And, at the end of your final year, there is a final project.  

Open Curriculum Programs

Liberal Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Math.

Tuition & Fees

$42,397

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

85%

7 Smith College
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Smith is a four year private liberal arts school with 2,496 undergrads and 49 fields of study. In MA it is one of the largest women’s colleges in the US. While the school also admits male students, this policy applies to grad programs only. Some of the undergrad programs are in psych, economics, bio and languages.  

Open Curriculum Requirements

You have the freedom to customize your studies drawing from social sciences, history, arts, languages, literature, math and natural science.

Open Curriculum Programs

Africana Studies, Comp Sci and Dance.  

Tuition & Fees

$28,193

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

88%

Featured Schools

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Southern New Hampshire University

  • Take advantage of some of the nation’s most affordable tuition rates, while earning a degree from a private, nonprofit, NEASC accredited university
  • No application fee for April & June terms.
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2

Purdue Global University

  • Competency-based ExcelTrack™ Programs may allow you to earn your degree faster and for less money
  • Experience world-class education online with more than 175 programs at associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels.
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8 University of Rochester
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U Rochester is a four year private school with 6,348 undergrads. In NY, the school offers 66 fields of study (and 12 libraries). Of these, registered nursing, bio, economics and music are some that they offer.

Open Curriculum Requirements

You work with an advisor to design their plan of study. There are no gen ed classes to take though you do select a major and many opt to pursue a double or triple major.

Open Curriculum Programs

Humanities, Social Science and Natural Sciences.

Tuition & Fees

$29,373

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

88%

9 Vassar College
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Vassar is a four year private school with 2,436 undergrads. In NY, it offers 43 fields of study. Some of these are economics, poli sci, psych and bio. 

Open Curriculum Requirements

General curricular requirements are flexible. But you must fulfill three requirements. Freshman writing, a quantitative course and foreign language.

Open Curriculum Programs

Anthropology, Cognitive Science, English, Film.

Tuition & Fees

$27,808

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

91%

10 Wake Forest University 
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Wake Forrest is a four year private school with 5,225 undergrads. In NC, it offers 35 fields of study. Some programs are economics, communication, psych and finance.  

Open Curriculum Requirements

You will work with faculty advisors to craft a broad plan of study and declare a major in your second year.

Open Curriculum Programs

Applied Math, Bioethics, Journalism, Health Policy. 

Tuition & Fees

$32,129

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

88% 

11 Weselyan University
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Wesleyan is a four year private school with 2,922 undergrads, In CT, it offers 36 fields of study. Some majors are economics, area studies, English and poli sci.  

Open Curriculum Requirements

Students may create their own plan for gen ed but must satisfy some disbursement requirements. 

Open Curriculum Programs

Applied Data, Film Studies, Religion, Theatre.

Tuition & Fees

$26,291

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

93%

12 James Madison University
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James Madison U is a four year, public school with 19,679 undergrads. In VA it offers 46 fields of study, some available online. Of these, the some majors are in mental and social health services, communications and liberal arts.  

Open Curriculum Requirements

You must take gen ed classes in five cluster areas. As long as you meet the GE credits, you may take courses in any area.

Open Curriculum Programs

Geology, Philosophy, Hospitality Management. 

Tuition & Fees

$21,281

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

83%

13 California College of the Arts
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California College of the Arts is a four year school with 1,453 undergrads. In San Francisco, this small school offers 9 fields of study. A few are design, fine and studio arts, graphics and architecture.  

Open Curriculum Requirements

Some programs map out a first year core curriculum.

Open Curriculum Programs

Architecture, Fine Arts, Design, Humanities and Science. 

Tuition & Fees

$35,458

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

65%

14 University of Washington
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U Washington is a four year public school with 30,905 undergrads in their main campus in Seattle. Out of 136 fields of study, some area include psych, communication, biochemistry and economics. 

Open Curriculum Requirements

You may need at least three credits in a ‘diversity’ study area.  

Open Curriculum Programs

Arts, Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences. 

Tuition & Fees

$12,001

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

83%

15 Cornell College
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Cornell College is a four year private school that has 1,022 undergrads. In IA, the school offers 40 fields of study. Economics, psych, health and biochem are some. 

Open Curriculum Requirements

There are specific requirements to follow but you have some flexibility in how to fill them. 

Open Curriculum Programs

Pre Health Sciences, Law and Society, Business, Literacy Arts. 

Tuition & Fees

$27,204

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

68%

Featured Schools

1

Southern New Hampshire University

  • Take advantage of some of the nation’s most affordable tuition rates, while earning a degree from a private, nonprofit, NEASC accredited university
  • No application fee for April & June terms.
Sanhu-university

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2

Purdue Global University

  • Competency-based ExcelTrack™ Programs may allow you to earn your degree faster and for less money
  • Experience world-class education online with more than 175 programs at associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels.
Purdue Global University

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16 CUNY
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The City University of New York, aka CUNY, is a four year public school with 12,503 undergrads in its NYC campus. A large school, it offers 57 fields of study in areas are psych, bio, liberal arts and sciences.  

Open Curriculum Requirements

You need to complete a Common Core, but there may be some flexibility around course choice.

Open Curriculum Programs

World Culture, Liberal Arts, Business, Finance.

Tuition & Fees

$3,744

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

49%

17 Indiana University Bloomington
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Indiana U Bloomington is a four year public school with 32, 991 undergrads. There are 87 fields of study to choose from. Among them are business, public administration, computer and info sciences.  

Open Curriculum Requirements

You must satisfy Common Ground gen ed classes. 

Open Curriculum Programs

Accounting, Advertising, Music, Web Programming

Tuition & Fees

$13,428

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

78%

18 Lesley University
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Lesley U is a four year private school with 2,108 undergrads. In MA, the school offers 33 fields of study. Some options are liberal arts and sciences, psych, business and design. 

Open Curriculum Requirements

You may need to take required foundation credits.

Open Curriculum Programs

Art and Design, English, Math, Counseling.

Tuition & Fees

$32,289

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

60%

19 Marlboro College
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Marlboro College in Vermont is a four year private school with 140 undergrads. The school offers 55 programs with options that include visual arts, film and video, political science.  

Open Curriculum Requirements

You must show you can write clearly and effectively by the end of the first three semesters. 

Open Curriculum Programs

Art History, Languages, Classics, Computer Science.

Tuition & Fees

$17,497

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

64%

20 Evergreen State College
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Evergreen State College is a four year public school with 2, 962 undergrads. In WA, the school offers two main fields of study. Liberal arts and sciences; and biological and physical sciences.  

Open Curriculum Requirements

Students could layer interests and their degree. 

Open Curriculum Programs

Architecture, Art History, Bio, Leadership Studies.  

Tuition & Fees

$12,500

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

68%

21 Warren Wilson College
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Warren Wilson College, in NC, serves 635 undergrads. While a small school , they offer 21 fields of study. Some of these are in natural resources conservation, bio and psych. 

Open Curriculum Requirements

You will take a liberal arts core, on campus work and community engagement. There is an option to also pursue a self designed major.

Open Curriculum Programs

Contemporary Writers, Leadership, Environmental Law, Business.

Tuition & Fees

$26,017

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

53%

22 University of Maryland
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U Maryland is a four year public school with a main campus in Baltimore that has 11,156 undergrads. Here you may choose from 62 fields of study. Some are bio, psych, comp sci, and info sciences.   

Open Curriculum Requirements

You must complete core credits and UMBC electives, but these may vary between programs.

Open Curriculum Programs

Africana Studies, Modern Languages, Education, English.

Tuition & Fees

$18,706

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

64%

23 University of Michigan
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U Michigan is a four year public school. The Ann Arbor campus has 30,079 undergrads and there are 81 fields of study. Areas include research psych, comp and info science, business admin and economics.  

Open Curriculum Requirements

You need to follow some guidelines related to writing, language, major, diversity and residence. 

Open Curriculum Programs

Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, General Studies. 

Tuition & Fees

$16,010

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

92%

Featured Online Schools

1

Southern New Hampshire University

  • Take advantage of some of the nation’s most affordable tuition rates, while earning a degree from a private, nonprofit, NEASC accredited university.
  • No application fee for April & June terms.
Sanhu-university

Visit School

2

Ashford University

  • Accredited University offering Associate’s, Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees
  • Affordable tuition, 5-6 week courses, and various payment options
  • 80+ online programs
Ashford University

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Sponsored Partners

24 Hanover College
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Hanover College is a four year private school with 1,099 undergrads. In IN, the school is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. They offer a liberal arts education and option to design your own major. Among the 34 available fields of study are physical ed, media studies, psych and economics.  

Open Curriculum Requirements

You may have to follow some guidelines but programs are interdisciplinary. 

Open Curriculum Programs

Art and Design, History, English, Pre Law, Humanities.

Tuition & Fees

$21,121

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

67%

25 Swarthmore College
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Swarthmore College is a four year private school with 1,544 undergrads. In PA, the school offers 60 fields of study. Some of these are economics, comp sci, bio and math.  

Open Curriculum Requirements

You need to fulfill distribution, physical education, and foreign language requirements in order to graduate. 

Open Curriculum Programs

Comparative Literature, Global Studies, Engineering, Art History. 

Tuition & Fees

$21,067

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

95%

26 UC San Diego
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UC San Diego is a four year public school with 30,279 undergrads. In La Jolla, the school offers 65 fields of study. Among them are comp sci, economics, bio and biochemistry.  

Open Curriculum Requirements

You must follow some guidelines for core credits and may declare a second major.  

Open Curriculum Programs

International Studies, Global Health, Literature, Poli Sci.  

Tuition & Fees

$13,318

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

89%

27 Oberlin College
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Oberlin College is a four year private school. In OH, it serves 2,785 undergrads and offers 38 fields of study. Among these are music, bio, poli sci and natural resources.  

Open Curriculum Requirements

You must follow some guidelines to develop balanced programs.  

Open Curriculum Programs

Cinema Studies, Creative Writing, Book Studies, Comparative American Studies. 

Tuition & Fees

$35,555

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

87%

28 St. Olaf College
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St. Olaf College is a four year private school serving 3,022 undergrads. In MN the school offers 33 fields of study. Some are bio, economics, psych and math.  

Open Curriculum Requirements

You must take some foundation and core classes. 

Open Curriculum Programs

Film Studies, Linguistic Studies, Classics, English.

Tuition & Fees

$23,386

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

88%

29 The University of Minnesota
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U Minnesota is a four year public school. The main campus in MN serves 31,451 undergrads. Of the 148 fields of study are psych, economics, comp sci and bio. 

Open Curriculum Requirements

You need to complete liberal education and second language requirements.  

Open Curriculum Programs

Liberal Arts, Science, Sociology, Technical Writing.

Tuition & Fees

$17,479

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

78%

30 UC Berkley
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UC Berkeley is a four year public school with 30,845 undergrads. There are 75 fields of study to choose from. Among them are economics, cell bio, comp sci, and engineering.  

Open Curriculum Requirements

You have to meet some guidelines for core classes and ones for your major. 

Open Curriculum Programs

Comparative Literature, Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences.

Tuition & Fees

$14,846

Financial Aid

Yes, if eligible

Grad Rate

93%

Featured School

Southern New Hampshire University

  • No application fee for April & June terms
  • Take advantage of some of the nation’s most affordable tuition rates, while earning a degree from a private, nonprofit, NEASC accredited university
  • Qualified students with 2.5 GPA and up may receive up to $20K in grants & scholarships
  • Multiple term start dates throughout the year. 24/7 online classroom access.
  • Offering over 200 online degree

Popular Programs

Business Administration, Psychology, Information Technology, Human Services…

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Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer for nor a guarantee of employment. Students should consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. The financial aid information on this site is for informational and research purposes only and is not an assurance of financial aid.