Sterling offers a single B.A. degree program. To graduate, students must complete 120 credits (including at least 30 from Sterling), follow a major course of study (typically ~50 credits), and complete the general education requirements including the foundational curriculum (10-13 credits). Students may complete the balance of their coursework through electives in any area (provided they have met the prerequisites); students may also pursue independent studies with a faculty advisor, contingent upon an approved proposal, once they have completed at least 45 credits of college-level classes.
GENERAL EDUCATION AND FOUNDATIONS CURRICULUM
CENTRAL TO STERLING’S GENERAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS IS THE FOUNDATIONS CURRICULUM, WHICH CONSISTS OF A SUITE OF COURSES DESIGNED TO INTRODUCE STUDENTS TO THE SCOPE OF STERLING’S CURRICULUM AND THE UNDERPINNING OF STERLING’S APPROACH TO ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP. THESE COURSES ALSO SCAFFOLD STUDENT LEARNING IN THEIR FIRST YEAR OF STUDY AND BUILD A FOUNDATION FOR SUCCESS THROUGHOUT THEIR TENURE.
The Foundations curriculum for all incoming students begins with Sterling’s flagship course, INT100A A Sense of Place: Expedition I. This 3-credit, two-week, intensive course immerses students in interdisciplinary study of the culture, community, literature, ecology, and traditional skills of northern Vermont. In the two semesters following this two-week intensive, students will typically enroll in:
- NS107A Foundations of Ecology (4 cr); and
- Two* of either:
- HM107 Foundations of Environmental Humanities (3 cr);
- INT107 Foundations of Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems (3 cr); or
- SS107 Foundations of Outdoor Education
*Note that students entering Sterling with more than 45 cr will be waived from one of these Foundations classes and thus need to choose just one of the three options.
IN ADDITION TO THESE FOUNDATIONAL COURSES, STUDENTS MUST FULFILL THE REQUIREMENTS OF A MAJOR COURSE OF STUDY, WHICH TYPICALLY REPRESENTS AROUND 45 CREDITS OF COURSEWORK, AND A 6-CREDIT, TWO-SEMESTER, SENIOR YEAR RESEARCH PROJECT.
FINALLY, AS PART OF THEIR CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE STUDENTS ARE REQUIRED TO TAKE A MINIMUM OF TWO 400-LEVEL SEMINARS AND ARE REQUIRED TO COMPLETE THE FOLLOWING MINIMUM GENERAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS:
- Humanities — 6 credits
- Natural Sciences — 6 credits
- Social Sciences — 6 credits
- Applied Sciences — 1 credit
These course credits may include major requirements or any courses taken at Sterling or courses taken elsewhere and transferred to Sterling College for credit.
All resident students must participate and make satisfactory progress in the College’s Work Program. All students must receive a satisfactory grade in their final semester of record in the College’s Work Program.
STERLING’S WORK PROGRAM EFFECTIVELY SERVES AS A PART OF THE FOUNDATIONS CURRICULUM AS WELL. WHILE STUDENTS DO NOT RECEIVE CREDIT FOR THEIR WORK PROGRAM JOBS, THROUGH THIS EXPERIENCE, THEY LEARN OTHER SKILLS RELATED TO OUR COLLEGE-WIDE COMPETENCIES, INCLUDING CREATING AND ASSESSING LEARNING OBJECTIVES, APPLYING ACADEMIC LEARNING TO REAL-WORLD EXPERIENCES, AND WORKING WITH OTHERS.
The Sterling College curriculum incorporates the classic elements of a liberal arts education and includes experiences across the arts and sciences designed to help students develop strong problem solving skills and become lifelong environmental stewards and responsible leaders in the communities in which they live. Many Sterling College courses require students to integrate skills and content from multiple disciplines. Sterling’s curriculum demands commitment—physical, intellectual, and emotional—to problem solving in real-world situations to meet the following College-Wide competencies:
1. Ecological Fluency
Achieve a sophisticated understanding of and personal engagement with ecological systems.
- Understand the processes underpinning ecosystem function and the distribution of life on Earth.
- Recognize and assess interrelationships among human and non-human communities.
- Practice place-based field observation and interpretation, using methods from different areas of study.
- Engage with the natural world through direct experience outdoors in a variety of environments and seasons.
2. Knowledge of Intersecting Social Contexts
Understand societies and cultures as dynamic and complex systems of relationships and interdependencies.
- Understand and critically engage with intersecting social systems.
- Demonstrate cross-cultural understanding.
- Integrate contextual understanding in real-world situations.
3. Critical and Creative Thinking
Use research and creative endeavor to explore concepts, experiences, and artifacts.
- Gather information from a wide variety of primary and secondary sources.
- Analyze and synthesize information.
- Design and conduct qualitative and quantitative research.
- Demonstrate creative problem-solving across areas of knowledge.
- Exhibit proficiency with appropriate technical skills and tools.
4. Communication Skills
Articulate ideas and share information clearly, using a diversity of approaches.
- Express ideas in a clear, informed, and engaging manner.
- Demonstrate fluency with oral, written, and other forms of communication in a variety of contexts and to a variety of audiences.
- Listen respectfully to others and participate in civil dialogue.
- Develop the capacity to express individual voice, perspectives, and creativity.
5. Socio-Ecological Engagement and Practice
Become effective environmental stewards and community members.
- Demonstrate responsibility within human and ecological communities.
- Cultivate and practice self-awareness and personal resilience.
- Apply skills and knowledge to help build community and ecological resilience.
- Participate in discussion and decision-making in a range of situations.
- Exercise leadership and cooperation, including when facing challenges.
TYPICAL COURSE LOAD
The standard course load, including Foundations Courses, major requirements, and electives, is between 14 and 16 credits per semester. Students wishing to take either fewer or more credits than a standard load should consult with their advisor. Students should be aware that a reduced course load may require additional semesters of study, at additional cost, to earn their degree. Students may take up to 18 credits per semester without additional charge. Those who wish to take courses beyond this credit limit must seek the permission of the Dean of Academics and will be charged additional tuition.