AXLE (Achieving Excellence in Liberal Education) is the undergraduate curriculum of the College of Arts & Science. The A&S faculty approved it in February 2004, and the entering class of August 2005 was the first group of students to be governed by it. AXLE represents a significant revision of the former curriculum, the CPLE (College Program in Liberal Education), which had been in effect since 1982. In comparison with the CPLE, the curricular requirements were simplified, liberal arts distribution categories that had not been successful were eliminated, and every Arts & Science course may count toward some curriculum requirement.
Under AXLE, only 13 of the approximately 40 courses required for graduation are devoted to satisfying the curriculum. Consequently, students have greater choice and flexibility in planning and completing their courses of study. Simultaneously, the revised curriculum challenges students in new ways since each student must complete 13 courses from across the liberal arts spectrum at Vanderbilt regardless of AP or placement test scores. (AP credit continues to count toward other degree requirements.) The writing program includes a larger range of writing classes from which students may choose, along with more advanced courses in writing and oral communications. The Freshman Seminar Program developed under CPLE was retained and strengthened—all Freshman Seminars became First-Year Writing Seminars. The AXLE curriculum gives students the freedom to ambitiously pursue their academic dreams and intellectual aspirations while providing them a solid liberal arts foundation.