Hidden Gems

This site showcases colleges and universities that maintain strong core curriculum requirements. The "Hidden Gems" institutions all receive "A" or "B" grades, and several distinguish themselves further by additional core requirements beyond the seven core subjects of What Will They Learn?™. Schools are featured on this webpage on a rotating basis. Please check it frequently to see new profiles of institutions with outstanding general education programs.

Bluefield College

Bluefield, VA

Grade: A
Tuition: $24,800

Bluefield's General Education program places heavy emphasis on writing and communication skills: in addition to two required expository writing courses and a speech course, Bluefield's Confident Communicator program includes assessment of growth in writing skills at the beginning and end of every academic year, and writing in the disciplines throughout the undergraduate program. Every undergraduate takes a Biblical Perspectives and Ethics course, a literature survey, a laboratory science, a mathematics course, and a semester of both world history and U.S. history. Bluefield is among the roughly 3% of colleges and universities in the nation that require all undergraduates to take at least an introductory course in economics.

Colorado Christian University

Lakewood, CO

Grade: A
Tuition: $30,370

The General Education program at Colorado Christian University integrates foundational studies in the liberal arts with a strong grounding in Christian theology. In addition to courses in six of ACTA's core categories, Colorado Christian also requires students to take classes in biblical studies, philosophy, theology, fine arts, public speaking, and Western civilization. The university clearly states its commitment to helping its students become well-informed and thoughtful American citizens who can take an active role in the public life of their country.

Baylor University

Waco, TX

Grade: A
Tuition: $43,790

The oldest university in Texas, Baylor is an institution with a rich history and a strong commitment to the liberal arts. Notably, the university's foreign language requirement may be fulfilled by either studying one modern language or two of an impressive array of classical languages, which includes not only Latin, Greek, and Hebrew but also Akkadian, Aramaic, Syriac, and Ugaritic. Baylor's core curriculum also includes courses in theology and fine arts.

Regent University

Virginia Beach, VA

Grade: A
Tuition: $16,438

Founded by American evangelist Pat Robertson in 1978, Regent University maintains a strong Christian identity and mission. Accordingly, the university writes that "the general education core curriculum is intended to foster students' personal, spiritual, and academic growth as Christian leaders who can change the world." Regent's curriculum not only requires the six subjects necessary to earn an "A" rating from ACTA, it also includes coursework in public apeaking, philosophy, the biblical worldview, christian leadership, and fine arts.

Morehouse College

Atlanta, GA

Grade: A
Tuition: $27,278

Morehouse is the alma mater of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It requires every student to study U.S. history, literature, English composition, mathematics, natural sciences, and a foreign language. Students with this level of preparation will be well-equipped to succeed in the global economy and to be informed citizens.

University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

Chickasha, OK

Grade: A
Tuition: In-state, $7,200; Out-of-state, $17,550

In-state students at this small public liberal-arts college pay less than $8,000 annually. In return, they experience an impressive core curriculum that integrates writing, math, science, and the humanities. The university's core comes with a clear and confident educational vision: "USAO eschews the menu approach to general education, in which students choose from many courses that have been pieced together into broad categories. Instead, all USAO students take the same sequence of courses, building a common experience that binds together current students, faculty and alumni. This common set of courses is structured to lead students through a logical sequence of learning."

University of North Carolina - Asheville

Asheville, NC

Grade: B
Tuition: In-state, $7,145; Out-of-state, $23,868

Students at the University of North Carolina—Asheville take an impressive three-semester humanities core which covers Eastern and Western texts—from Homer, Confucius, and the Bhagavad Gita, through Sei Shonagon and The Muqaddimah, to modern writers like Eliot and Tanizaki. Asheville also requires its students to study composition, mathematics, and natural science. Its core requirements are far stronger than those at the flagship campus at UNC Chapel Hill.


University of Dallas

Irving, TX

Grade: A
Tuition: $38,716

This small Texas university is one of only four schools to receive credit for every requirement in What Will They Learn?™. In addition to What Will They Learn?™ subjects, Dallas students read classic works of philosophy and theology, take a great books sequence in Western history, and study the fine arts.

University of Georgia

Athens, GA

Grade: A
Tuition: In-state, $11,818; Out-of-state, $30,392

This storied and prestigious public university is the only state flagship to receive an "A" grade for its core curriculum. As a "Public Ivy," it has a core curriculum that outshines all of the actual Ivies. Students at UGA take a two-semester sequence that integrates composition and literature; they also study foreign languages, American history and the U.S. Constitution, mathematics, and the natural sciences.


Gardner-Webb University

Boiling Springs, NC

Grade: A
Tuition: $30,700

Gardner-Webb is a small university with big expectations for its students. Students study composition, literature, a foreign language, mathematics, and the sciences; they also study U.S. history and culture as well as the heritage of the West.

Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi, TX

Grade: B
Tuition: In-state, $8,750; Out-of-state, $18,925

"The Island University," as it is known, is doing a lot right in undergraduate education. Corpus Christi receives a "B" in What Will They Learn?™ for requiring its 10,000 students to study five out of seven core subjects, including composition, mathematics, and the natural sciences. Corpus Christi also requires both U.S. history and U.S. government, and is one of just over 3% of schools in What Will They Learn?TM to require economics.

Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw, GA

Grade: A
Tuition: In-state, $6,347; Out-of-state, $17,329

Kennesaw State is one of five Georgia schools to receive an "A" in What Will They Learn?™ for requiring at least six of the seven core subjects. And Kennesaw State accomplishes that goal while charging quite reasonable tuition.

Fairfield University

Fairfield, CT

Grade: B
Tuition: $47,165

While over one-third of the colleges and universities in What Will They Learn?™ fail to require a college-level mathematics course, this liberal arts university ensures that every student has some exposure to calculus in the general education curriculum. In addition, Fairfield earns a high "B" by requiring all students to take English composition, literature, two semesters of foreign language at the intermediate level, and two semesters of natural science. The requirements do not end there: all students also take two semesters of philosophy and two semesters of visual or performing arts.


Sewanee: The University of the South

Sewanee, TN

Grade: B
Tuition: $45,120

In 1940, Sewanee voluntarily left the Southeastern Football Conference, when it demanded that the university build a new, larger football stadium. Sewanee has kept its focus squarely on strong academic standards. It requires English composition, literature, two foreign language courses at the intermediate level, and mathematics. In addition, it has requirements for philosophy, Western civilization, and fine arts. Sewanee has set a high standard, too, for putting students first: responding to the recession, it lowered its tuition rate by 10% in 2011-2012.

Pepperdine University

Malibu, CA

Grade: A
Tuition: $50,022

Pepperdine students complete an integrated core curriculum which addresses important skills like writing and mathematics as well as traditional liberal-arts disciplines and the natural sciences. They also have the option to take a four-semester great-books sequence, which is integrated into the core curriculum and introduces students to great works, from Homer and the Bible to the present day.

James Madison University

Harrisonburg, VA

Grade: B
Tuition: In-state, $10,830; Out-of-state, $27,230

James Madison students master English composition, literature, U.S. history, mathematics, and natural science, and they do so at a very reasonable price.

Georgetown College

Georgetown College

Georgetown, KY

Grade: B
Tuition: $37,160        


With its idyllic campus, Georgetown College has been home to such distinguished scholars as Steven May. Students at Georgetown College benefit from an exceptional humanities core with strong requirements in composition, literature and foreign language. The college also excels at providing a solid foundation in math and science, with a core incorporating a course in mathematics and two courses in the natural sciences.

Virginia Wesleyan College

Virginia Wesleyan College


Norfolk, VA

Grade: B
Tuition: $36,660                                               



Virginia Wesleyan College benefits from a prime location between Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Resting in 300 acres of woodlands, the college is secluded enough to provide a an atmosphere of calm study while being part of the historic and exciting Tidewater region. In addition to strong requirements in science, mathematics, foreign language, composition and literature, a Virginia Wesleyan education ensures students experience the fine arts and philosophy.

Dillard University

Dillard University


New Orleans, LA

Grade: B
Tuition: $17,917                                               



Located in the heart of New Orleans, Dillard University has significantly enhanced its core curriculum, and with it, its grade in the What Will They Learn?™ project. Students at Dillard will be equipped with essential knowledge of composition, literature, mathematics and science, and Dillard is one of the just over 3% of schools nationwide to require courses in economics.

Christopher Newport University

Christopher Newport University


Newport News, VA

Grade: A
Tuition: In-state, $13,654; Out-of-state, $25,850  

Christopher Newport can claim the singular achievement of being the only public university in America to receive credit for all seven subjects evaluated by the What Will They Learn?™ report. The magnificent new buildings that comprise its campus are matched by a meticulously structured curriculum. In addition to a robust foundation in composition, literature, foreign language, United State history and government, mathematics and natural science, CNU ensures its students have an appreciation of the fine arts. It carefully measures the value it adds to students skills through its use of the new Collegiate Learning Assessment-Plus exam. As its graduation and retention steadily rise, Christopher Newport University is quickly establishing a new paradigm of student-focused excellence in public higher education. 

Signup to Receive ACTA's Newsletter & Email Updates