Carleton College is the fourth oldest private institution of higher learning in Minnesota. It was founded in 1866 by the General Conference of the Congregational Churches of Minnesota who chose Northfield over Zumbrota, Mantorville, Cottage Grove and Lake City for the campus. Northfield businessman, Congregationalist Charles M. Goodsell encouraged the church to open a college, donating 20 acres for the campus.

From the beginning, men and women attended what was then known as Northfield College, with the first classes offered in 1867 in what was then the American House hotel. Students reported that the plumbing was “disgraceful,” there was little heat and that they shared classroom space with many mice. Finances were a challenge in the early years of the school until William Carleton, a brass wares manufacturer from Massachusetts agreed to donate $50,000. Carleton chose to donate the funds after Reverend James W. Strong, president of the college, was seriously injured in a railway accident on the way to meet with Carleton on a fundraising mission. Impressed with Strong’s ‘miraculous’ recovery, Carleton made the donation and the board renamed the school in his honor in 1871.

Another $10,000 gift from Carleton’s second wife, Susan Willis Carleton, allowed the school to move into its first new building. Willis Hall burned in December 1879 and the reconstructed building stands on the western edge of campus, housing the political science and economics department. In 1874, the first bachelor’s degrees were given to James J. Dow and Myra A. Brown. The two were married six months later. Two years later, Joseph Lee Haywood, treasurer of the college was murdered in the Jesse James Gang raid on the First National Bank of Northfield.

During World War II, campus life changed significantly as male enrollment dropped from 455 to 93 in 1943. Women stepped into important student positions and, from 1943 to 1944, Carleton hosted several Army units who were taught engineering, aeronautics, meteorology and modern languages. Of the 1,500 men and women who served during the war, 55 of them lost their lives. After the war, however, veterans taking advantage of the GI Bill pushed enrollment over 1,000.

Today, there are almost 2,000 students enrolled at Carleton from 50 states and 35 countries.

Carleton College Accreditation Details

Carleton College is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The college earned accreditation in 1913. Accreditation indicates that the school meets or exceeds requirements that are set forth by the organization that indicate students are receiving high quality education and that the school strives to improve in any areas identified by the accrediting agency.

Carleton College Application Requirements

Students must complete the Common Application in order to apply to Carleton. The school also offers what they call Application Part I which is a short form that lets the school know that they plan to apply. The form allows the college to contact the student with reminders regarding application deadlines and needed documentation. They also accept applications through QuestBridge, a program designed for high-achieving, low-income students and the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success application.

Students must provide an official transcript and high school counselor recommendation. Students must supply two teacher recommendations as well as official transcripts, SAT and/or ACT scores. There is no application fee.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Full-time tuition at Carleton College is 450,580 per year. Financial aid is available and more than $49,4 million was awarded in 2014-15. The average aid offered to students is over $45,500 and 54 percent of the Class of 2018 received need-based grants and scholarships . Carleton does not offer merit scholarships to provide maximum financial aid to all students who are in need.

Financial aid is in the form of grants, scholarships, loans or work-study programs. Students must complete the College Board PROFILE form as well as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to qualify for assistance.

Degree Programs Available

American Studies

The American Studies program at Carleton College provides students with a deep understanding of the American culture. The program draws on faculty knowledge in different disciplines and helps students better understand the institutions, values and beliefs that have shaped the United States. Carleton has offered an American Studies program since the 1950s that focuses on America’s past and present. Students are provided core courses that provide introduction to American Studies as well as electives that help them focus their studies even further. Students in any department can also add an American Studies major as well. Students study a wide range of subjects that include literature, immigration, diversity and pop culture in order to develop an understanding of how the United States came to be what it is today as well as how those subjects may shape the future of the country in years to come.

Environmental Studies

The Environmental Studies program at Carleton focuses on educating the next generation of environmental scholars in scientific, ecological, social, political and economic dimensions of environmental issues. The program uses an interdisciplinary perspective and strong critical thinking skills combined with hands-on lab and field research so that students get a thorough understanding of environmental issues and methods for resolving those issues. The program emphasizes integration across social science, natural science, humanities and the arts as well as quantitative literacy. Students work collaboratively and are provided an understanding of how to communicate their research to the public. Students develop problem-solving skills through civic engagement projects as well as place-based learning.

Political Science/International Relations

Political science encompasses the study of governments and international organizations, political behavior and other matters that influence the United States government as well as other governments throughout the world. The program includes instruction in American politics, comparative politics, philosophy and world politics. The curriculum cultivates citizenship while providing students with important skills and knowledge that will help them obtain leadership roles in business, law, government, education or journalism fields. Study often begins with courses such as Comparative Political Regimes, Politics in America: Liberty and Equality or Political Philosophy.

Sociology and Anthropology

The Sociology and Anthropology programs at Carleton College provide students with an understanding of family, law, art, religion and other subjects that affects groups of people. Sociologists often focus on large-scale societies while anthropologists focus on small-scale societies, although the concentrations overlap often. Students develop an understanding of research in both disciplines applying them to a wide range of social issues. The program has a diverse faculty that allows students to develop an understanding of many world cultures, including the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, South Asia and North America with many faculty members conducting ground-breaking research in both fields of study.

Carleton College provides students with an in-depth, diverse and high-quality education experience through classroom, hands-on and laboratory studies. Carleton College provides students with unique learning opportunities designed to help them move into a new career or advance in a current career.