Our mission is our way of life

The mission and goals of New College evolved out of intensive dialogue about higher education at the College's inception in the early 1960s.

The mission and goals of New College evolved out of intensive dialogue about higher education at the College’s inception in the early 1960s. That dialogue involved administration, trustees and the charter faculty. Later, the faculty developed a unique, intellectually-rigorous curriculum designed to sustain the College’s broad commitment to individualism, pluralism, flexibility, freedom and excellence.

As stated in the very first college catalog: “New College was named for a purpose. It is not, and never will be another college. It is, and will always remain, the new college, seeking new solutions to educational needs, accepting no dogma without test, striving to eliminate all barriers that inhibit the growth of ideas.”


More than 50 years later, New College’s mission remains essentially unchanged:

New College offers a liberal arts education of the highest quality in the context of a small, residential public honors college with a distinctive academic program which develops the student’s intellectual and personal potential as fully as possible; encourages the discovery of new knowledge and values while providing opportunities to acquire established knowledge and values; and fosters the individual’s effective relationship with society.

In 2008, the College’s Board of Directors approved an Academic Master Plan that is firmly rooted in the College’s mission and reaffirms the distinctive, innovative academic features developed by our founders over 50 years ago. More recently, we identified four core values that sum up what New College is all about: an intellectually rigorous curriculum; an innovative academic program; a collaborative learning environment; and a place to chart one’s one course.

Core Values

When New College convened a broadly representative group of faculty and staff in the summer of 2011, we discovered that the institution was still very aligned with the aspirations and values of our founders. Four core attributes emerged:

An intellectually rigorous curriculum

Our students are smart and motivated, allowing our faculty to teach challenging courses and critical thinking skills to last a lifetime. Students work one-on-one with faculty to research and write a senior thesis, the culmination of their academic program. It’s hard work – but excellent preparation for graduate school or the workplace.

An innovative academic program

Faculty guide students through an academic program that is uniquely suited for, and designed by, each individual student. Flexible course requirements allow students to mold their program of study and, with faculty input, students can even create a major of their own. Students’ progress is measured by narrative evaluations instead of grades, they engage in Independent Study Projects each January, and they have the opportunity to design educational projects of specific interest to them.

A collaborative learning environment

Small, intimate classes are the norm at New College. Students meet with faculty mentors to develop seminars, tutorials, independent research and off-campus study. Faculty involve students in their own research projects: public archaeology, endangered butterfly conservation, coastal habitat restoration, and mammal cognition.

A place to chart one’s own course

Professors instill in each student a sense of personal accountability for his or her educational journey. In addition to designing their own course of study, students are guided toward stimulating summer internships and volunteer posts that relate to their interests. Each student is truly responsible for his or her own education

Goals and Principles

To maintain our mission, New College of Florida has the following goals:

  • To provide a quality education to students of high ability who, because of their ability, deserve a program of study that is both demanding and stimulating.
  • To engage in undergraduate educational reform by combining educational innovation with educational excellence.
  • To provide programs of study that allow students to design their educational experience as much as possible in accordance with their individual interests, values and abilities.
  • To challenge undergraduates not only to master existing bodies of knowledge but also to extend the frontiers of knowledge through original research.

New College pursues these goals through highly selective admissions, an individualized and intensive “academic contract” curriculum, frequent use of individual and small-group instruction, an emphasis on student/faculty collaboration, a required senior thesis and innovative approaches to the modes of teaching and learning. It all adds up to a very personalized experience.

Four principles define our educational philosophy. These principles serve as guideposts among each student’s educational path.

  • Each student is responsible in the last analysis for his or her education.
  • The best education demands a joint search for learning by exciting instructors and able students.
  • Students’ progress should be based on demonstrated competence and real mastery rather than on the accumulation of credits and grades.
  • Students should have from the outset opportunities to explore areas of deep interest to them.

Strategic Vision

New College’s establishment as an independent member of the State University System in 2001 has given way to focused strategic planning on the part of the board, staff, faculty and administration. We invite you to read some of the more important documents that reflect the College’s recent strategic plans.

New College of Florida is a national leader in the arts and sciences and is the State of Florida’s designated honors college for the liberal arts. Consistently ranked among the top public liberal arts colleges in America by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes and The Princeton Review, New College attracts highly motivated, academically talented students from 38 states and 23 foreign countries. A higher proportion of New College students receive Fulbright awards than graduates from virtually all other colleges and universities.

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