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College Expert on Lewis & Clark College: An International Liberal Arts Curriculum

lclark campus

For those hoping to get accepted to a liberal arts college, educational consultant Mark Montgomery details the curriculum of Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.


Lewis & Clark College is a liberal arts college. It is not only a liberal arts-focused university that really is an undergraduate school. It does have a law school and there is a graduate school. But the primary focus of this institution is on undergraduate education. When I’m talking to students and thinking about curriculum in general and how to decide what kind of institution you want to go to, I actually push students to think about the curriculum requirements.

Curriculum Requirements

Freshman Year

So here at Lewis & Clark for example, they do have a general education requirement. The first thing is during the freshman year. Students take two semesters of a sequence to help students adapt to a college environment, this kind of university education. So the first semester is a class that everyone takes and everyone reads more or less the same books; those books may change from year to year. And that is really an introduction to the university academic requirements, helping student get their writing up to speed. And students, they have a professor, only 19 kids or fewer in each class. The professor can really see whether the student is ready for all of the demands of the higher level curriculum. If not, they can get them into a tutoring center. And help with their writing, or the teacher can spend more time with that student.

Second Semester

The second semester is more of a choice. Students can choose lots of different topics of seminars, whether it’s in the humanities, social sciences, the sciences, and this is another writing-intensive course where students are going to be reading a lot, but every student has to do a major research project, independent research project, for that semester. So you can see by the time students finish their freshman year, they’re ready not only to do high-level coursework, but they’re able to do independent research and writing just by the end of that first year.

International Curriculum

The other requirements here at Lewis & Clark are at least two semesters of an international kind of curriculum. 50% of students study abroad. There’s also a scientific and quantitative reasoning requirement, so students have to take three semesters of that; one has to be a lab. And arts, creative arts, are required, fantastic facilities for visual arts, for theater, for music. Foreign languages, you have to take at least three semesters of a foreign language. So again, foreign study abroad, that could help meet that requirement. And then there’s a year-long physical education requirement. And really, this is a perfect place to do it here in the Pacific Northwest near Portland, it’s actually in Portland. But you have right behind the camera you’ve got Mt. Hood, you’ve got the ocean behind me, you’ve got all kinds of possibilities for recreation as well as the more standard physical education requirements.

So that’s what the requirements are here at Lewis & Clark. It’s important, as you’re looking at each school, these requirements, yeah, there are some similarities, but there are major differences and you see here at Lewis & Clark there’s a big focus on international, foreign language, that’s a little bit more what Lewis & Clark is all about. So make sure, when you’re thinking about college you’re going to apply to, think about that general education requirement. It helps to define what the college is all about.


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