Why Sweet Briar?

Excellent. Relevant. Fierce.

Everything we do — everything we have done for 116 years — is focused on developing “women of consequence.” Our graduates become exemplary leaders who take charge of the complex world around them with confidence, courage and grit. That world keeps moving and we are moving with it. In 2017, recognizing that the liberal arts must increasingly teach students to be problem-solvers — and sometimes disruptors — Sweet Briar fundamentally changed its academic programs, effective fall 2018. These innovations, together with Sweet Briar’s long history of excellence, set Sweet Briar apart from its peers.

The Leadership Core

The first innovation is the adoption of a core curriculum that focuses on what women’s leadership means in the 21st century. These integrated courses take the place of general education requirements — and place a heavy emphasis on learning by doing.

Centers of Excellence

We’re also shaking up the traditional model of academic departments separated by areas of study. Instead, majors and faculty are clustered into three “centers of excellence.” Study is intense, collaborative and interdisciplinary — the building blocks of the career and life skills the liberal arts are known for: critical thinking, written and verbal communication; ethics and awareness; and adaptability. The centers are designed around Sweet Briar’s existing strengths — both its resources, which include a 3,250-acre campus, and its distinguished academic programs:

  • Engineering, Science and Technology in Society
  • Human and Environmental Sustainability
  • Creativity, Design and the Arts

We reconfigured the academic calendar, too, so that there are more opportunities during the year for you to participate in high-impact learning experiences. These may include internships, research with faculty and capstone projects. Every undergraduate student is eligible for up to $2,000 to support these experiences.

Three-week short terms may also 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 Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, or accomplished alumnae who represent any career you can dream of. These are opportunities for lifelong connections and mentorships.