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Elements of a Susquehanna Education

There are three major elements of coursework at Susquehanna:

  • The Central Curriculum forms the broad liberal arts base in preparation for specialized study in any field. Central Curriculum courses are spread over four years and total about 40 percent of the graduation requirements.
  • Major programs build on the Central Curriculum foundation and usually total one-third of courses taken. Majors are designed to provide a broad introduction to the theory and practice of each field; students may choose departmental, interdisciplinary or self-designed majors. Each student must complete a capstone course as part of the major program, with a grade of C- or higher.
  • Electives typically make up the remaining coursework. These may be used to pursue one or more minors or a second major, to work in an internship, or simply to develop individual interests that may expand career options.

Susquehanna's Central Curriculum, which is required of all students, embodies the university's vision of our students as confident, liberally educated people who are committed to the ongoing processes of cross and multidisciplinary education, who are capable of thinking not only in terms of their major area, but from the perspectives of other disciplines as well, and who bring together all facets of their educational experience in order to frame a way of thinking about their vocations, their major area of study, and their lives as a means to achievement, leadership and service in the world.

The Central Curriculum is designed to develop in students an awareness of:

The richness of human thought and expression.

The ways humans have sought to explain the natural world.

The breadth of human interactions throughout the world, across time and into the present, and of the belief systems, values and practices through which those interactions are manifested.

The Central Curriculum is intended to provide students with the ability to:

  • Think creatively and critically in order to analyze issues and make effective decisions.
  • Incorporate the methods of analysis from a range of academic disciplines in the natural and social sciences and humanities to understand and solve problems and explore conflict.
  • Listen effectively and articulate an informed opinion and argument orally and in writing.
  • Gather and evaluate information.
  • Work effectively with a team to analyze and solve problems.
  • Function with professional competency in a chosen discipline.
  • Understand that problems often elicit complex, conflicting and ambiguous responses.

The Central Curriculum is designed to foster in students:

  • Knowledge of the limits and contexts of their own experience and the ability to value the different experiences of others.
  • The ability to examine their own strengths and weaknesses critically and realistically.
  • Willingness to strive for responsible actions personally and interpersonally.

The Central Curriculum is intended to lead students to possess an integrated sense of personal ethical responsibility focused on their:

  • Interaction with the natural environment.
  • Continued growth and development as contributing members of a number of communities within human society.
  • Recognition and understanding of the diversities of human experience.
  • Commitment to an ongoing development of the life of the mind.

Students must successfully complete all of the Central Curriculum requirements in the five sections listed below.

Section 1. Richness of Thought

4 semester hours in Analytical Thought

4 semester hours in Literary Expression

4 semester hours in Artistic Expression

Among the goals of the Richness of Thought area are teaching students to debate the definitions of literary text, canon(s) and the relationship between them; to abstract a problem into a symbolic or mathematical model or framework; and to articulate an understanding of the ways in which art can serve as a medium for recognizing and understanding the diversities of human experiences.

Section 2. Natural World

4 semester hours in Scientific Explanations

On completing the Natural World requirement, students should be able to describe the philosophical underpinnings of science as it is used to explain the natural world and to evaluate the validity of information presented as science.

Section 3. Human Interactions

4 semester hours in Social Interactions

4 semester hours in Historical Perspectives

4 semester hours in Ethics

0-8 semester hours (depending on placement) in a language other than English

4 semester hours in Ethics Intensive courses

The extensive objectives of this area of the Central Curriculum include leading students to demonstrate they can understand and evaluate how the methods of analysis from the social sciences are used to identify issues and explore conflict within a contemporary context; to describe the way past events and trends are relevant to the present; to articulate the implications of ethical questions for human life; and to compare and contrast another language and culture with their own.

Section 4. Intellectual Skills

2 semester hours in Perspectives

4 semester hours in Writing and Thinking

8 semester hours in Writing Intensive courses

4 semester hours in Oral Intensive courses

4 semester hours in Team Intensive courses

Through this area of the Central Curriculum, students should learn core intellectual skills, such as working together in a team to analyze and solve problems and developing, strengthening, and marshaling an argument, both orally and in writing.

Section 5. Connections

4 semester hours in Diversity

4 semester hours in Interdisciplinary

4 semester hours in Diversity Intensive courses

An off-campus Cross-Cultural experience that may or may not bear credit, depending on the specific experience selected by the student

2 semester hours total in a Cross-Cultural preparation course and a Cross-Cultural reflection course, the latter to be taken after the student returns from the Cross-Cultural experience

Their study in this area of the Central Curriculum should lead students to a fundamental understanding of multiple theories and principles of diversity; to demonstrate a complex understanding of culture; to show an appreciation of how different academic disciplines can supplement and reinforce one another; and to reflect on their personal growth, social responsibility and the value of active participation in human society.

Courses satisfying Central Curriculum requirements also may be counted toward majors and minors. The Diversity course may cross-count with any one non-Intensive course and up to two Intensive courses within the Central Curriculum, merging the requirements for both into a single course offering (e.g., ANTH-413 Race, Ethnicity and Minorities satisfies the Diversity requirement, the Social Interactions requirement, the Oral Intensive requirement and the Writing Intensive requirement). Similarly, the Interdisciplinary course may cross-count with any one non-Intensive and up to two Intensive courses within the Central Curriculum. In addition to satisfying other requirements, an appropriately designated course in the Central Curriculum also may be counted toward one or two Intensive requirements. 

Capstone Courses

In addition to the Central Curriculum requirements, students must complete at least two semester hours in a capstone course, with a grade of C- or higher, as a part of the major program.

The capstone is designed to enrich students' academic experience by allowing them to demonstrate what has been learned through a concentrated course of study at Susquehanna. This course cannot be transfered from another institution.

Choosing a Major. Some students declare their major when they enter Susquehanna. Many others prefer to wait and investigate a number of fields before deciding. Susquehanna welcomes and encourages these undeclared students. Students may pursue an "Undeclared" option for their first two years. During this time, faculty advisers, department heads and the Career Development Center can help them to choose or design a major that satisfies their interests and goals.

To ensure they can complete degree requirements within the normal four-year period of study, students must declare a major by the end of the sophomore year. Those seeking to enter programs leading to teacher certification must have a grade point average of 3.00 or better and secure the approval of the department. Those seeking to major in music must audition successfully with the music faculty before admission. Those seeking to major in creative writing must submit a portfolio (eight to 10 pages) of work to the creative writing faculty. Those seeking to major in studio art or graphic design must submit a portfolio to the art faculty.  

Departmental Majors typically consist of eight to 12 courses, or 32 to 48 semester hours. Requirements may include courses from related disciplines. Music education, elementary education, graphic design, computer science, mathematics, ecology, biology, neuroscience, accounting and majors offered through the Management Department require more than 48 semester hours; students choosing these majors should do so early and plan carefully to complete the requirements in four years. Students must complete at least half of their major coursework at Susquehanna. Unless it is explicitly stated otherwise in the section for that individual department, students must earn a grade of at least C- in a course to apply it to their major.

Dual Majors. Students pursue dual majors for a variety of reasons. Many have a strong interest in more than one field; others feel that a second major will better prepare them for their profession. Students seeking to declare a dual major must have the approval of both departments and plan their program with a faculty adviser from each. Because completing two majors is demanding, the university expects candidates to have a strong academic record. Most dual majors can be completed in four years, but additional time may be needed depending on the particular combination of majors proposed and the student's academic level when making this decision.  Some departments have restrictions on the number of credits which can be counted toward a second major (or minor) and such details are listed on each department's catalog page.

Major/Minor Combinations. Students may not major and minor in the same department, unless specifically stated under a department's catalog entry.   If a student is earning an interdisciplinary minor, at least 16 semester hours of that minor must not be counted toward the student's major.

Self-Designed Majors must contain 48 to 60 semester hours from at least two different departments, with at least 28 semester hours from one core department. The student receives a primary adviser from this core department and a secondary adviser from one of the other departments from which a number of courses are taken for the major. Only grades of C- or higher may be used to satisfy the requirements for a self-designed major, and the student must have at least a 2.00 GPA in the major. Other degree requirements, such as the university Central Curriculum, remain in effect for students pursuing self-designed majors and should be included in the plan of study. The plan must be approved by the sponsoring departments and the dean of the school, with the proposal being signed by the primary adviser, secondary adviser and the department head of the sponsoring department.

Accelerated Degree Options. Most majors, with the exception of accounting, elementary education and music, adapt to Susquehanna's accelerated degree option, which allows highly motivated students to complete degree requirements in three or three and one-half years of study. For further details, contact the Office of Admissions.

School of Arts and Science Majors

Sigmund Weis School of Business Majors

Interdisciplinary Majors

The major-minor combination often allows students to combine a field of study chosen for its appeal to their special interests with a field chosen for its practicality. Such combinations often broaden possible career outcomes. A minor can also represent a particular skill that may give students a competitive edge in the job market, such as proficiency in a foreign language. Susquehanna offers more than 60 minors. Most consist of four to six courses, or 16 to 24 semester hours, of concentrated study in a specific field beyond the Central Curriculum requirement. Students who complete a minor will have it noted on their transcripts. If a student chooses an interdisciplinary minor, at least 16 semester hours of that minor must not be credited toward the student's major. Unless explicitly noted otherwise, a student must earn a grade of at least C- in a course in order to have it satisfy the requirements for a minor.

School of Arts and Science Minors

Sigmund Weis School of Business Minors

Interdisciplinary Minors