NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Just 3 Percent of Colleges Require Students to Take Economics

October 17, 2014

In its sixth annual study of curriculum at 1,098 colleges and universities in the United States, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni reports some staggering facts about college course requirements:

  • Just 18 percent of schools require students to take an American history class to graduate.
  • Only 13 percent of schools require a foreign language.
  • A miniscule 3 percent of schools require students to take a course in economics before receiving their degrees.

One of the worst-performing schools was Whittier College in California. The school (one of 98 in the survey that scored an F) required only one course -- composition -- while having no requirements for literature, foreign language, government, history, economics, math or science. Defending the school's program was Sean Morris, chairman of Whittier's English department. According to Morris, "We don\'t mandate every single student take a class in American history…so you may find a senior not knowing the specifics of the New Deal. But you will graduate knowing how to think and how to accumulate that knowledge and make connections between things."

Brown University, an Ivy League school, also earned an F.

The study's authors reported just three years ago that 70 percent of Americans believed that colleges should require basic classes in core subjects such as history or math.

Source: Douglas Belkin, "Study Finds Many Colleges Don\'t Require Core Subjects Like History, Government," Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2014.  


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