At CBA, we spend considerable time helping families consider how potential college choices differ in terms of the courses they require in a Major of interest. So, for example, in terms of courses required, a Biology major at one college may be required to take a significantly different set of courses (both in the major and in the core curriculum) from the same major at another college.
For example, a Geology major at the University of Akron is required to complete a four course, 14 credit hour, foreign language sequence (Wow!!!), two semesters of Calculus, and three semesters of Chemistry. At Ohio University a Geology major needs only one foreign language course, one semester of Calculus, and two semesters of Chemistry. That is a significant difference!!
Ohio’s Catholic colleges typically require two courses in Theology and two courses in Philosophy in their Core Curriculum whereas at most non-Catholic colleges there is no Theology requirement and Philosophy is available as a Humanities option. While four courses in some combination of Theology and Philosophy may not sound like much, it does constitute 10% of a student’s total required credit hours for graduation (out of 120).
At Cedarville University, all students are required to complete a minor in Bible comprised of 5 courses or 15 credit hours (13% of the total credit hours for graduation).
Similarly, majors in general fields or that have overlapping content may have very different requirements. For example, there are significantly different math, science, and engineering course requirements among the following majors: Management Information Systems, Computer Science, Computer Engineering, and Software Engineering. Additionally, each of these majors will differ between colleges.
You can be assured that each college mentioned above can articulate a cogent argument for the structure of their curriculum. These arguments are often made in terms of the college’s mission or core values. We are not questioning that. We are just suggesting that prospective students and parents should make it point to “look under the hood” when comparing colleges and majors. A review and comparison of required courses (both in the major and core curriculum) for each major of interest is a great way to begin understanding how institutions differ from each other. It may even be the difference in your final choice!!
About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them. College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas.