Seven Liberal Arts painting by Michelino, c. 1460

The Liberal Arts at Grinnell

artes liberales

  • Developed in classical Greece and Rome
  • Designed to help free citizens participate in civic life
  • Promotes free thinking through critical analysis

Medieval Universities Codified Seven Liberal Arts

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Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic

Math icon, pencil and ruler


Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, Astronomy

Grinnell and the Liberal Arts Mission

The College's founders in 1846 wanted to build a community that prepared students "for the different professions and for the honorable discharge of the duties of life."

We believe that knowledge is a good to be pursued both for its own sake and for the intellectual, moral, and physical well-being of individuals and of society at large.

The Six Elements of a Liberal Arts Education at Grinnell

books on a table beside a typewriter

Writing and Communication

Students chat together under the global flags in Spencer Grill

Language Study

Students collect samples in creek

Natural Sciences

professor and students write equations on markerboard

Quantitative Reasoning

VR on campus

Human Behavior and Society

Guest discuss art hung on the Faulconer Gallery's wall

Creative Expression

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Grinnell's individually advised curriculum allows students to chart their own journey through the liberal arts. Students work closely with their faculty advisers to design a course of study that engages with each of the Six Elements of a Liberal Education while pursuing intensive study of a discipline through academic majors and concentrations.

The Lasting Value of a Liberal Arts Education

4 out of 5
employers say students need broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences
of employers say students need broad knowledge and specific skills for long-term career success
of employers agree communication, critical thinking, and complex problem solving skills matter more than undergraduate major
Students attend class outside.

Why we Believe in the Liberal Arts

  • A liberal arts education empowers students to develop valuable skills.
  • Employers need the liberals arts.
  • We want to live in a world shaped by life-long learners and critical thinkers.

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