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Core Curriculum

Classical Liberal Arts Core Curriculum

Patrick Henry College students explore the breadth of the classical liberal arts in an academically rigorous environment in which professors maintain fidelity to Scripture and the spirit of the American founding.


Our curriculum is "Classical" in that it is founded on the great texts and ideas that have stood the test of time and experience. The term "Liberal Arts" refers to an education for a free people:

"[P]eople who are to be free must be given an education that equips them for freedom. 'Liberal' education, for the founders, was essential for 'liberty.'  ...The liberal arts stress content, the imitation of excellence, the pursuit of knowledge that is valuable in itself, and the exercise of the whole range of talents that God has given. The liberal arts curriculum is broad in scope, but its parts are integrated with each other, as students explore the connectedness of all the disciplines...."  — PHC Philosophy of Education

PHC’s classical liberal arts curriculum begins with the Core Curriculum, comprised of 63 credits plus foreign language. There is no electivity in the Core Curriculum—every student in every program takes each of the following courses:

    • Theology of the Bible I & II
    • Logic
    • Principles of Biblical Reasoning
    • Rhetoric & Composition
    • Economics for the Citizen
    • Recitation
    • Constitutional Law
    • Freedom’s Foundations I & II
    • History of the United States I & II
    • Western Literature I & II
    • History of Western Civilization I & II
    • Euclidean Geometry
    • Music History & Appreciation
    • Philosophy
    • Biology & Biology Laboratory
    • Physics & Physics Laboratory
    • Modern/Classical Foreign Language
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Through these courses, PHC's Core Curriculum embraces all seven of the classical liberal arts, both the arts of language, or trivium (grammar, logic and rhetoric), as well as the quantitative arts, or quadrivium (mathematics, geometry, empirics, and music).  Through study of over 70 "great books" of Western civilization, students make connections across disciplines and explore the unity of truth, beauty, and goodness in the person of Christ.  

The classical liberal arts, however, is more than a sequence of courses; in fact, the trivium serves as a powerful educational methodology.   Students learn the grammar (the foundational facts, rules, and information), logic (analysis required for understanding), and rhetoric (creative application) of the disciplines, both within individual courses and within the degree as a whole.   The same classical liberal arts methodology that educated the American founders now equips PHC students, not solely with knowledge of great texts but with the skills for a lifetime of learning.  The results of this time-tested methodology are clear: PHC students consistently score in the 99th percentile in reading, writing, and critical thinking skills and are among the nation's best communicators (click here to read more). 

The trivium's sequence of grammar, logic, and rhetoric provides a conceptual framework for PHC's Bachelor of Arts degrees, where students study the Core (grammar), major courses (logic), and apprenticeship (rhetoric).  Because there is no electivity in the Core, the faculty in major courses are able to assume certain prior knowledge, allowing for advanced mastery in upper-level courses that would not otherwise be possible. As a result of the classical approach in Core and major studies, students are prepared to excel in their apprenticeships:

"PHC’s emphasis on Apprenticeship (specifically, the internship program) exemplifies the rhetorical dimension of classical education, and it also follows the model of how classical universities prepared young people for their professions, giving them a rigorous grounding in the liberal arts and then sending them out to practice their craft under a master/mentor."  — PHC Philosophy of Education


Apprenticeship Requirements

Each degree program requires a significant number of Apprenticeship credits (as high as 23 credits for some programs).  Apprenticeship, which can be customized to the student's career plans, offers vocation-related experience and the application of classroom learning.  It is the culmination, or rhetoric level, of PHC's classical Christian liberal arts curriculum:

A "liberal arts education" is associated with the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake and is generally contrasted with the practical, job-focused training of "vocational education."  Actually, though, liberal arts education has historically been complementary with a very practical approach to on-the-job training:  the apprenticeship methodology, which is a distinctive of Patrick Henry College.

Though this approach goes back to classical and Biblical times, apprenticeship as a formal educational methodology had its origins in the medieval guilds.  A young person would learn a trade or profession under the tutelage of a "master" in that trade or profession.  Working side by side with the master and helping him do his work, the apprentice learned by means of practical real world experience....

Students, having learned the "grammar" of their disciplines and understanding its "logic," go on to apply what they have learned in the "rhetoric" of their own creative performance.  — PHC Philosophy of Education

Click here to learn more about PHC's majors. Click here to learn more about two popular forms of Apprenticeship: Internships and Moot Court


Foreign Language Proficiency Requirement

Foreign language ability is required of all PHC graduates.  Students may increase their proficiency level through a variety of formal or informal learning methods including, but not limited to, online language learning, traditional classroom curriculum, independent study, immersion programs, and other overseas experiences. Visit the Foreign Language page for more


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Bachelor of Arts Degree (B.A.)

Bachelor of Arts Degree

Patrick Henry College awards the Bachelor of Arts degree. The B.A. degree requires the satisfactory completion of a minimum of 121 credit hours and is awarded once all graduation requirements are fulfilled.

In addition to the broad curriculum offered in the Core, students have the opportunity to specialize their education according to their interests and goals.  Click here to view of list of PHC's Academic Programs.  Programs at PHC have common elements:  Course and Apprenticeship requirements; Course and Apprenticeship Electives; and, Open Electives. 

Course and Apprenticeship Requirements - These required academic experiences are the heart of the academic program and must be completed prior to degree completion.

Course and Apprenticeship Electives - Major and Minor Electives allow students to choose a certain number of credits from a list courses according to their interests; the parameters of approved, applicable courses are provided in the student's College Catalog. 

Open Electives - an 'everything else' category, which can be fulfilled through courses not required by the student's program, transfer credit, or language courses. PHC majors require between 11-24 credits of Open Electives, depending on the Major.


Academic Sessions and Academic Credit

Patrick Henry College operates on a semester system. The regular fall and spring semesters are 15 weeks of class plus an additional period for 

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final examinations. Some summer courses are offered for continuing students. The academic unit is the semester credit hour. A credit hour represents an amount of work as reflected in intended learning outcomes that approximates three hours of study per week (a minimum of one hour which is typically designated for engagement with a content expert) for 15 weeks.  In compressed terms, the amount of student work per week increases, correlating proportionally according to the duration of the term.  Actual student experience will vary based on course type, prior learning, and ability.

View all PHC Majors

PHC Majors