The Carthage Plan

The Carthage curriculum emphasizes interdisciplinary study, hands-on learning through research and other projects, writing in every major, and developing the critical thinking and reading skills necessary to excel in work and life. You will need 130 credits to graduate from Carthage — but that’s just a number. Earning a degree from Carthage is about much more than checking off a list of requirements.

  • Earning a degree from Carthage is about receiving individual attention from professors at the top of their fields, in classes that may have just a handful of other students.
  • It’s about tackling topics from new directions — and in new places, through offerings like the interdisciplinary courses and January Term.
  • It’s about studying the cultural foundations upon which societies are built, through Intellectual Foundations and Global Heritage seminars.
  • It’s about learning to solve problems by conducting your own original research and analysis, and then communicating your findings to others.
  • It’s about transforming from a good student into a great scholar.

Below is a list of the academic experiences students have at Carthage — basically your map to your transformation. Please note: Current students should follow the printed version of the College Catalog, and work with their advisors and the department chair to ensure all requirements are met.

See Majors & Minors

The Big Picture: 130 Credits

You will need 130 credits to graduate. Most courses are 4 credits, and full-time students may register for 12-18 credits during each 14-week term.

About a third of your courses will be core courses, common for all majors. Another third will be courses specific to your major. The remainder of your courses will be electives — courses you choose to enhance your major, broaden your expertise, or explore a new interest.

The Carthage Core: Common Experiences

  • One (1) Intellectual Foundations Course — All students must successfully complete one seminar course called Intellectual Foundations, typically taken during the fall semester of the first year. Intellectual Foundations will expose you to literature from some of the greatest thinkers, authors, artists, and leaders of all time — not so you can “ooh” and “ahh” at their genius, but so you can build upon it. You will imagine what could be possible, learn to think independently, and discover what you’re capable of achieving through a combination of intense discussions and complex writing assignments. * Note: Students who entered Carthage prior to Fall 2020 must complete two semesters of Intellectual Foundations.
  • One (1) Religion Course — All students must take one religion course (designated as “REL” in the College Catalog).
  • One (1) Mathematics Course — All students must successfully complete one mathematics course (designated as “MTH” in the College Catalog).
  • Two (2) Modern Language Courses — Students must successfully complete two modern language courses in the same language (unless you have fulfilled the proficiency requirement established by the College). You can take courses in Chinese, French, German, Japanese, or Spanish. Students may also fulfill their language requirement by taking courses in Italian at the nearby University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
  • Two (2) Physical Education Experiences — All students are required to successfully complete two physical education experiences within the Exercise and Sport Science Department. The first is Concepts of Physical Fitness (EXS 0010), a seven-week lecture/laboratory course that presents basic information about maintaining good health, fitness, and overall wellness. For your second EXS course, how about badminton, racquetball, yoga, martial arts, Pilates, or scuba? Participation on a varsity sports team for an entire season also fulfills this second requirement.
  • Two (2) January Terms (but you’ll want to do more!)J-Term is famous at Carthage. It’s one page of the calendar devoted entirely to whatever you’re wild about. Travel. Volunteer. Perform. Inspire. There are more than 60 courses you can take on campus, or go on a study tour led by a faculty member to such destinations as Cuba, China, Ireland, Nicaragua, or the Caribbean. All Carthage students must enroll in a J-Term course during their freshman year, and successfully complete at least two J-Term courses to graduate.
  • One (1) Global Heritage Course — Global Heritage courses study cultures and civilizations with non-Western traditions, so you learn to see the world from a new perspective. The Global Heritage requirement can be fulfilled through a course on campus, or off-campus study like a J-Term study tour.
  • Four (4) Writing Intensive Courses — Writing well is a powerful life skill, and Carthage is committed to teaching you to write well — no matter what your discipline. All students are therefore required to take four courses that are designated Writing Intensive (“WI” in the College Catalog). The first of these courses is Intellectual Foundations I. Of the remaining three courses, one must be in your academic major; the others can be any “WI” course in the curriculum. If you are completing more than one major, you need only one “WI” in one of the majors that you are completing.
  • Senior Thesis — Carthage is one of the few schools in the country to require a senior thesis. All students must complete a senior thesis in order to graduate, but don’t worry: Your faculty thesis advisor will guide you in your research, assist you with research techniques, and help you hone your presentation skills. This is your chance to apply everything you’ve learned over the previous three years. Your senior thesis can take the form of a written thesis, laboratory research, art exhibit, music recital, or other significant and integrative experience appropriate to your major. Students graduating with more than one major must complete a senior thesis project for each major, or one integrative senior project approved by each major department or program.

A Well-Rounded Education: Distribution Requirements

As a liberal arts college, Carthage is committed to graduating well-rounded students able to understand the world in different ways. That’s why you’ll need to take courses in the fine arts, humanities, and natural and social sciences, no matter what your major. Students must fulfill:

  • Fine Arts — 4 credits (4 credits of dance, 4 private lessons, or 1 class lesson and 3 private applied lessons may count)
  • Humanities — 4 credits
  • Social Science — 4 credits
  • Natural Science — 4 credits

Expert in Your Field: Major Requirements


A maximum of 56 credits may be required in your major, with no more than 40 of these credits within any one department. You may count a maximum of 56 credits in any one department toward graduation; however, you must have 74 credits outside your major department in order to graduate. (For transfer students, a minimum of 12 credits in the major must have been completed at Carthage.)
See a list of all Carthage majors and minors


Minors are optional unless specified as a requirement for the major. Minors may be pursued through electives and through general requirements. The minor is a minimum of 20 credits and a maximum of 24 credits. Those planning to obtain teacher licensure must consult with the College certification officer. Students must complete a minimum of 12 credits in the minor at Carthage.
See a list of all Carthage majors and minors


Electives allow you to explore intellectual interests in a wide variety of disciplines and areas of knowledge. So peruse the Carthage Catalog or the courses pages in any of our more than 50 areas of study. What do you want to know more about? Now’s your chance. Go learn something.