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A Customized Curriculum

The McDaniel Plan is our version of a general education program. With the goal of equipping critical thinkers and excellent communicators, the McDaniel Plan is versatile and customizable while still ensuring that each McDaniel student graduates with a strong academic foundation.

The First-Year Seminar Experience

A small seminar. A close relationship with a faculty member. Intense and challenging classroom debate and discussion. We often think of these experiences as ones reserved for college students in their senior year. But at McDaniel, your McDaniel Plan experience begins with this kind of challenging and rewarding classroom environment.

It's all part of your First-Year Seminar.

First-Year Seminars are designed to develop a variety of skills including writing, speaking, critical thinking, and the ability to discuss and debate with others who think differently than you do. You'll walk away with lifelong friends, a close relationship with a faculty mentor, and the skills you need to be successful in future coursework.

Selecting Your Seminar

Once you submit your deposit to McDaniel College in the spring of your senior year of high school, you will be asked to review as many as twenty different First Year Seminar course descriptions. Taught by some of McDaniel's most compelling and beloved faculty, these courses are interdisciplinary, engaging and challenging. You'll identify 3-5 seminars that capture your interest and imagination, and will submit them through your New Student Academic Survey. Prior to registration, you'll be assigned to your seminar. Over 98% of new students are placed into one of their top three seminars of interest.

First-Year Seminar Courses

Ready for your imagination to be captured? Here are a few First-Year Seminars that have been offered in the past. They serve as examples of the kind of courses you might enjoy. And of course, we add new courses every year. 

FYS 1159: Horror in Fiction & Film

In this course students examine horror in fiction and film, investigating together why it fascinates so many of us, and analyzing what kind of messages it conveys about the world we live in. In addition to reading and viewing these works for enjoyment, we will analyze them, attempting to understand how they reflect the authors' anxieties about a whole range of concerns: sexuality, the unconscious mind, scientific discoveries, unjust laws, and others.

FYS 1150: America's Game: Baseball

This course investigates the colorful history of baseball: the origins and evolution of the game, the professionalism that grew out of it, and the big business that was built upon it.

FYS 1149: Gender, Literature & Culture

Be a man! That’s not very ladylike! We’ve all heard statements like these, but what do they really mean? What is “masculinity,” what is “femininity,” and how have these concepts changed over time? This course will examine the social construction of masculinity and femininity over the last century or so. We will read literature and examine cultural artifacts from early twentieth century Boy Scout manuals to contemporary magazine advertisements, and from a sex manual to popular movies and books in an attempt to chart some of the changes in the social construction of gender over the course of the twentieth century. How much have things changed? Have books, movies, television, advertisements helped advance new gender roles, or have they reinforced traditional ones?

FYS 1157: Psychology & the Law

Why do people confess to crimes they did not commit? Why is eye witness testimony sometimes inaccurate? Are there valid techniques for detecting lies? What factors influence jury decisions beyond the mere evidence of a case? This course will use psychological theories and experiments to answer these and other questions relevant to human behavior and erroneous decision making within the legal context.

FYS 1147: Scientific Revolutions

Until the eighteenth century, most Western scientists believed that any item that could be burned must contain phlogiston, a colorless, odorless, and massless substance that was consumed by fire. Today, this theory is nearly forgotten. How was this theory disproved? Who decided to challenge the existence of phlogiston, and how did they do so? How was the rejection of this popular idea received? This course will explore how new scientific ideas are introduced, and how they come to be accepted (the Germ Theory of Disease, the Theory of Relativity, Calculus, and Plate Tectonics) or rejected (Spontaneous Generation, Alchemy, and Cold Fusion).

First-Year Composition

The U.S.-based National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) recently asked employers what they look for on a recent college graduate candidate’s resume, to screen for those they will interview and potentially hire. The results? Employers are looking for leaders who can work as part of a team and communicate effectively. In fact, 73.4% of employers surveyed sought written communication skills, and it was the third most-desired quality for potential employees. It's for this reason that we provide general and program-specific writing coursework for every student. All first-year students will be given introductory instruction in writing, and students further develop their writing through a department's writing-in-the-major plan.

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of first-year students will be given introductory instruction in writing. 

Critical Inquiry Requirement

As part of your McDaniel Plan curriculum, you'll select Critical Inquiry courses. These courses explore vital areas of knowledge in ways that stretch your ability to inquire and imagine. They focus on key practices and methodologies that are central to the academic search for knowledge and are designed to advance the capacity for clear, critical, and creative thinking and communication across the breadth of the liberal arts. The areas of knowledge covered by these categories are important for the development of thoughtful, informed, and imaginative citizens.

Critical Inquiry Categories

There are three Critical Inquiry categories and students are required to take six total Critical Inquiry courses, which provides each student flexibility to discern courses that uniquely interest them and support their personal and professional interests. The Critical Inquiry Categories include:

  • Quantitative Reasoning and Scientific Inquiry
  • Textual Analysis and Creative Expression
  • Social, Cultural, and Historical Understanding
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Completing Your Plan Additional McDaniel Plan Requirements

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Foreign Language

The study of other languages introduces important avenues of communication and promotes linguistic, cultural, historical, and international understanding. McDaniel students must demonstrate proficiency in a second language. Popular languages at McDaniel include Arabic, French, American Sign Language (ASL), and Spanish.

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Global Citizenship

To fulfill the Global Citizenship requirement, students must take one course with a multicultural focus, and two courses with an international or cross-cultural focus. Multicultural education will give students an understanding of the cultural pluralism of American society. International education is a critical component of global education.

"My time at McDaniel allowed me to gain a broader perspective on life and education. The liberal arts education gave me knowledge not just in my major, but in a variety of subjects providing me the ability to think outside the box."

Rebekah James, Class of 2013, U.S. Army of Medical Research Institute in Infectious Disease