Shimer College

April 30, 2014

Shimer College Makes It Easier for Transfer Students to Earn Their Degree

Shimer College, a liberal arts college in Chicago with a common curriculum in which students take a mostly prescribed set of courses over four years of study, has made it possible for qualified transfer students to complete the four-year curriculum in two years.

Shimer College offers a core curriculum in the great books by writers like Aristotle, Newton, Marx, Darwin, Kafka, and Virginia Woolf. Now, transfer students with 60 or more credits can apply those credits toward the Shimer College Bachelor of Science degree, so called to distinguish the degree from the full four-year core culminating in a Bachelor of Arts. All Shimer students take both core and elective courses to graduate, and can earn a concentration in Humanities, Social Sciences, or Natural Sciences, or receive a degree in Liberal Arts.

To facilitate the transfer process from community colleges in the Chicago area, Shimer College has developed transfer guides and created two “bridge” seminar courses, Introduction to the Liberal Arts and Research Methods in the Liberal Arts, that introduce transfer students to the common foundation of knowledge usually acquired through participation in the  lower-level core courses. Transfer guides can be found on the Shimer College website (

The core curriculum presents a challenge for transfer students wishing to apply credits earned at another institution toward their Shimer degree. There are a handful of Great Books colleges with a core curriculum in the country, some of which, like St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD, and Santa Fe, NM, do not accept transfer credits.

By officially changing its own transfer policies, Shimer College is hoping to attract students from nearby community colleges and other institutions who are interested in a liberal arts undergraduate degree.