The Drake Curriculum

The purpose of the Drake Curriculum is to provide students with a meaningful liberal education. Drake students will gain the breadth of knowledge and skills necessary to successfully function in a complex and rapidly changing world. The Drake Curriculum prepares students to live fulfilling lives and to contribute to their communities. This page offers an overview of the Drake Curriculum and its requirements.

The Drake Curriculum: Three Components

The Drake Curriculum consists of three components: a First Year Seminar, a set of Areas of Inquiry requirements and a Senior Capstone. Students are required to complete all three. Each component is described below.

First Year Seminars

All Drake students entering direct from high school or transferring fewer than 30 hours of college credit must complete a First Year Seminar during their first year of enrollment. First Year Seminars are student-centered learning experiences that involve critical thinking and both written and oral communication skills. Through a topical focus, they foster understanding of methods of analysis and creativity. A student should normally take their First Year Seminar in the Fall term when seminars on a wide variety of topics are offered. Students transferring to Drake at mid-year and those who failed or dropped their Fall term First Year Seminar should enroll in the First Year Seminar available in the Spring term.

Areas of Inquiry

The Areas of Inquiry requirements are designed to provide students with a solid introduction to a variety of intellectual fields and a diversity of learning experiences. Students are required to take one course in each Area of Inquiry listed below, with the exceptions of the Historical Consciousness and Scientific Literacy areas where two courses each are required. Note that in the Scientific Literacy area, one course must fall under the Physical Sciences and the other course must fall under the Life and Behavioral Sciences. One of the two Scientific Literacy courses must carry a 1 credit lab. To view on the description and rationale for each Area of Inquiry, click here: Areas of Inquiry Descriptions

  • Artistic Experience
  • Critical Thinking
  • The Engaged Citizen
  • Historical Foundations (2 courses)
  • Information Literacy
  • Global and Cultural Understanding
  • Scientific Literacy (2 courses)
  • Quantitative Literacy
  • Values and Ethics
  • Written Communication

Students select courses for each Area of Inquiry from approved course lists. Selections should be made in consultation with the student's academic advisor. With specific exceptions, students and advisors must choose from the approved lists in fulfilling area requirements. The exceptions to this rule involve honors courses, independent study courses, special topics courses and transfer courses. Students may apply courses of these types to an appropriate Area of Inquiry requirement with the approval of their advisor. It is mandatory, however, that courses falling into one of these four categories must centrally address the goals and expectations of the relevant Area of Inquiry (as specified in the Area description) before they can be approved as fulfilling the Area requirement. Note that First Year Seminars may not be counted toward Area of Inquiry requirements. For approved course lists for each Area of Inquiry, click here: Area of Inquiry Approved Course Lists.

Note that no double counting of courses across Areas of Inquiry is permitted. In other words, even if a given course is listed under more then one Area of Inquiry (as some are), that course may be counted only once, toward one of the Areas where it appears, but not toward more than one.

Optional Honors Program Track

As an alternative to the Areas of Inquiry requirements, students may fulfill the Drake Curriculum by completing the requirements of the Honors Program Track listed below. Students may declare the Honors Program Track by completing a form available through the Honors Program office. Forms may be obtained from Assistant Director of the Honors Program Charlene Skidmore (x2999; charlene.skidmore@drake.edu) in Medbury 206/209. Completed forms will be shared with the appropriate Dean's office.

Students pursuing the Honors Program Track must still take a First Year Seminar and a Senior Capstone. Note that students who later decide to drop the Honors Program Track must complete the Areas of Inquiry requirements (Honors courses already taken may be counted toward appropriate Areas of Inquiry with advisor approval). Please consult with your academic advisor before switching to the Honors Program Track.

Completion of the Honors Program Track in the Drake Curriculum is not sufficient to fulfill the requirements of the Honors Program (leading to a designation of "University Honors" on a student's final transcript). To complete the Honors Program, students must complete the Honors Program Track plus the following: successfully complete a Senior Honors Thesis and maintain an overall 3.5 GPA.

Honors Program Track Requirements:

  • One laboratory science course from AOI lists for either Physical or Life Sciences.
  • One course from AOI list for Quantitative Literacy.
  • One course from AOI list for Artistic Experience.
  • HONR100: Paths to Knowledge.
  • 15 additional credits in Honors.

For more information about the Honors Program, go to the Honors Program Web Page.


Senior Capstone Experiences

Each Drake University student completes a Senior Capstone Experience. Capstone Experiences allow each student to demonstrate the capacity to bring information, skills, and ideas to bear on one significant project. Capstone options available to the student are designed by individual major departments. Capstones may take many different forms, including seminars, internships, practicums, field work, independent research and other options. Students who are earning double majors are required to meet the capstone requirement of each major. The same capstone may, however, satisfy requirements in more than one major with approval of both departments or programs.

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December 17, 2014
Drake University has been named to the Kiplinger's Personal Finance list of 100 best values in private universities for 2015, coming in at No. 34.
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