Curriculum

Our curriculum builds on Sweet Briar’s unique strengths in the arts, sciences and humanities. At its heart: a bold focus on women’s leadership in the 21st century.

The Leadership Core

Unlike other colleges with general education requirements, Sweet Briar’s core curriculum consists of 10 leadership courses that span multiple disciplines:

  • CORE 110 Design Thinking
  • CORE 120 Argument and Persuasion
  • CORE 130 Women and Gender in the World
  • CORE 140 Sustainable Systems
  • CORE 150 Expression and the Arts
  • CORE 160 STEM in Society
  • CORE 170 Decisions in a Data-driven World
  • CORE 210 Contemporary Questions in Ethics and Human Difference
  • CORE 220 Leadership Realized I
  • CORE 310 Leadership Realized II

The required courses are designed to be taken throughout three or four years of study so that students have the time to explore what really excites them.

The leadership core will prepare you to be an effective leader for today’s society. The classes are interdisciplinary and will enable you to develop the skills and habits of the mind that are the hallmarks of liberal arts excellence. These courses will encourage you to ask questions, identify interdisciplinary connections and foster intellectual open-mindedness. Further, the classes will help you establish the habits of lifelong learning, innovation, ethical conduct, problem-solving, collaboration and empathy.

As part of our innovative look at Sweet Briar’s curriculum, we’ve also recently streamlined our majors. You can learn more about the leadership core and our programs of study here.

Centers of Excellence

  • Engineering, Science and Technology in Society: This center builds on being home to one of only two ABET-accredited engineering programs among women’s colleges in the U.S. Raina Robeva has been appointed director of this center.
  • Human and Environmental Sustainability: This center capitalizes on one of our greatest assets — our campus and its vast nature preserves that serve as a laboratory. Bethany Brinkman and Linda Fink serve as co-directors of this center.
  • Creativity, Design and the Arts: This center takes advantage of the natural synergy with the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, one of the nation’s largest artist colonies, located just across U.S. 29. Carrie Brown leads this center.

You can learn more about the center directors here.

Academic Calendar

Sweet Briar has a unique 3-12-12-3-week academic calendar that incorporates short terms dedicated to experiential learning opportunities such as research, internships and study abroad. Every undergraduate student will be eligible for up to $2,000 to fund these experiences. Summer courses will be added to allow students opportunities to complete a bachelor’s degree in three years. Additionally, the three-week short terms may be used for intensive courses taught by guest instructors who bring practical lessons from their everyday jobs. Such guests may be policy-makers and legislators, working artists from the VCCA, or accomplished alumnae. These are opportunities for lifelong connections and mentorships.

Academic Calendar