Reed students pursue the bachelor of arts degrees in 40 majors and programs. The curriculum includes a yearlong humanities course, broad distribution requirements, and a senior thesis. The curriculum at Reed is both demanding and wide-ranging. A 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio and small conference-style classes allow faculty members to truly mentor students and engage with them in individual discussions. Reed also offers a graduate program leading to a master of arts degree in liberal studies.
Reed strongly believes that learning should be undertaken for its own sake, not for the sake of letter grades. Accordingly, students do not receive grade reports unless they wish to. A student's transcript does include letter grades for all courses taken, but students can better gauge their progress through professors' written evaluations of their work and one-on-one meetings with faculty. Most prefer this system, which greatly reduces competition among students and allows them to focus on the content of their academic work.
Reed maintains inclusive in all organizations and activities, so the college has no fraternities or sororities and no NCAA or NAIA athletic teams (more about sports below). All campus organizations are student-created and student-run. Student organizations must lobby the Student Senate for funding annually, after which the Senate oversees a vote in which the entire student body decides what organizations should be funded. Thus, the number and nature of campus organizations at Reed changes every year to meet current student interests. Instead of NCAA or NAIA competition, students participate in sports on an informal basis. Intramural sports and club sports proliferate in basketball, fencing, rugby, sailing, soccer, squash and ultimate Frisbee. A three-semester physical education requirement underscores the importance of physical fitness and the balance of healthy mind and body.
The college campus is 10 minutes from downtown Portland, a place the New York Times called “the most European of American cities, literate and small-scale, a pleasant surprise around every corner.” Crisscrossed by bike paths, public transportation, and bridges, Portland is home to an inspiring music scene, cultivated gardens and forested parks, internationally recognized museums and galleries, the largest independent bookstore in the world.