The Five Academic Principles

Innovative, student-centered learning

Guilford embraces effective and adventurous pedagogy. Learning formats are chosen to promote dynamic exchange among students and between students and faculty.

Throughout, Guilford places the individual student at the core of its educational mission. In an environment committed to the value of interdependence, each student is encouraged to develop an individual viewpoint through the sharing of ideas with other members of the College’s intentionally diverse community.

Challenge to engage in creative and critical thinking

Guilford emphasizes these activities: identifying and solving problems; delving below the surface of things to understand phenomena in their complexity; considering how frameworks and perspectives affect observations and analyses; appreciating the interplay of believing and doubting; and combining intuition, imagination and the aesthetic sense with reasoning, quantitative analyses and factual knowledge.

Students learn not only to develop and synthesize ideas but also to articulate them clearly via the spoken and written word and other forms of creative expression. In particular, Guilford emphasizes writing as a mode of both learning and communicating, and thus students write intensively throughout their years here. Guilford especially values courses that connect different ways of knowing: hence the College’s interdisciplinary emphasis.

Cultural and global perspectives

Guilford strives to prepare students to be citizens of the world. Thus the curriculum is designed to encourage students and faculty to respect and learn from people of other cultures and also to foster an understanding of ecological relationships within the natural environment. By interacting with people from different cultures and gaining sensitivity to other ways of life, students deepen their academic investigation of Western and other traditions. In the process, students are challenged to envision better societies and to work collectively with others toward mutual benefit.

Values and the ethical dimension of knowledge

The Quaker ethos deeply influences the academic program as it does all other aspects of College life. In particular, the curriculum nurtures the spiritual dimension of wonder, the pursuit of meaning in life and sensitivity to the sacred. It also promotes consciousness of those values necessary to successful inquiry: honesty, simplicity, equality, tolerance.

The College’s courses explore the ethical dimension of knowledge. This often requires close attention to such issues as gender, race, ethnicity, religion, social justice and socioeconomics in historical and contemporary contexts.

Focus on practical application: vocation and service to the larger community

Noting Quaker founder George Fox’s call for schools to teach “things civil and useful,” Guilford’s teachers help their students choose majors and sequences of supporting courses that fit their interests and aptitudes and lead to work and service possibilities that will bring personal fulfillment and challenge. The College also upholds each individual’s obligation to the larger community: thus its commitment to personal responsibility, social justice, world peace, service and ethical behavior. Rooted in the Society of Friends’ social testimonies, the College aims to help its graduates learn to evaluate the effects of their actions and the implications of their decisions.

Getting a Quaker-based Education

In a world that is increasingly smaller and more transparent, we believe that genuine honesty and the Core Values of our Quaker heritage are vital to success. After you graduate, the ability to prosper in difficult situations, while maintaining a positive and open-minded perspective, is a lifelong benefit of your Guilford education. We are here to help you become an ethical leader who values equality, acts with integrity and is committed to the world's collective future.


We aim to graduate students who are “ready on day one” to contribute to their communities and to succeed at work, graduate or professional school, community service and life in general.  Strategic outcomes for students fall into four broad areas:

  • cognitive (think critically, know globally)
  • skills (communicate effectively, create insightfully)
  • values (engage responsibly, choose diversity)
  • applications (ability to learn experientially, achieve personal and career goals)

These areas help students to master the general education and disciplinary components of the curriculum.  Whether an aspiring artist or chemist, students need to think critically, communicate effectively, engage responsibly and learn experientially, among other things. All these attributes define the liberal education of a Guilford College graduate.


The curriculum consists of five tiers:


Throughout their time at Guilford, students develop skill competencies in the following specific areas: writing, oral communication, research, information technology and quantitative reasoning. The platform for these competencies occurs generally in the foundations courses; students then continue to develop these competencies during their course of studies.

The five foundations requirements are: the First Year Experience or Adult Transitions, College Reading and Writing: Many Voices, Historical Perspectives, foreign language and quantitative literacy. These requirements provide solid grounding in Guilford’s five academic principles.


Breadth:  To gain educational experiences in each of the five disciplinary divisions (arts, business and policy studies, humanities, natural sciences and mathematics and social science), students are required to take one “Breadth” course in each of these divisions.

Critical Perspectives:  The critical perspectives courses speak directly to Guilford’s Core Values. Each student must complete three specially designated “Critical Perspectives” courses: intercultural, social justice/environmental responsibility and diversity in the U.S.

Each student must choose a major field of specialization. It is expected that students should declare a major online in the College’s BannerWeb system by the time they have earned 32 credit hours. Students may pursue disciplinary majors, double-majors or interdisciplinary majors.

All majors require a minimum of 32 credit hours. Certain majors require a larger number of credit hours. For a student to earn a major at Guilford, the student must complete at least half of the major credit requirements at Guilford. This requirement applies to each major a student earns. The minimum grade to satisfy a major is a C- in each of the courses required for a major, unless otherwise specified for professional licensure. In order for credit/no credit courses to count toward a major, they must be explicitly designated as such in the college catalog, and must represent credits above and beyond the minimum 32 semester credits required for a major.

In addition to the major course work, each student who is not pursuing a double-major, triple major, B.F.A. degree or an integrative studies major must choose a minor. A minor is a focused collection of a minimum of 16 credit hours that either provide a second, mini-depth area or involve study related to the major. The student must complete at least half of the minor credit requirements at Guilford. Students are free to take any minor so long as it does not have the same name as the major: thus an English major would not be able to use an English minor to satisfy the minor requirement. Minors may be either disciplinary or interdisciplinary.

Minimum grade to satisfy the minor: D- in each of the courses required for the minor. Students should declare a minor online in the BannerWeb system by the time they have earned 32 credit hours.

Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS) Capstone
After students reach senior standing they must take an (IDS) capstone course. The IDS course allows students to draw upon knowledge and skills gained from previous College work and explore issues that cross traditional disciplinary lines.