Press Releases | General Education

MD & VA Schools Perform Well in New College Rankings

Just not the schools you would expect
October 7, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The latest edition of a rating released annually by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) called What Will They Learn? shows that schools in Virginia and Maryland vary widely in what they expect their students to study before they graduate. 

What Will They Learn? evaluates over 1,100 colleges and universities and awards them grades based on the requirement of seven key subjects: composition, literature, foreign language, U.S. history or government, economics, math and science. Some of the best known schools have weak, if any, general education requirements.

For example, Johns Hopkins University (MD) does not require students to take a single class in any of the seven core subjects. Meanwhile, students at the College of William and Mary can graduate without ever taking a single course in composition, literature or U.S. History. And at the University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson who believed in a strong liberal arts education, there are no requirements for U.S history, math or literature.

One bright spot for the region is Christopher Newport University in Virginia. Christopher Newport is the only public university in America to earn a perfect “A,” meaning that students must take all the core courses in order to graduate. Bluefield College (VA) and St. John’s College (MD) also earn “As.”

ACTA President Anne Neal observed, “Many schools with major name recognition set minimal requirements for core skills and knowledge. Some institutions that are currently less well known in fact offer students a better chance to gain the well-rounded education so vital for success in career and community. 

To see the full report card, visit

Molly Mitchell
Director of Communications
American Council of Trustees and Alumni 202.467.6787


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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