5 Indian Universities That Follow a Liberal/Flexible Curriculum

posted at April 19, 2022, 6:14 p.m.



Over the years, problems arising due to increasing border tensions around the world, inter-state debates on education have increasingly been moving towards bringing education to the students instead of the other way around. Additionally, there is also the problem of the traditional Indian Education system’s approach being purist. Students are beginning to find the age-old curricula rigid, with little space to explore at the Undergraduate level. With increasing exposure, students (and guardians) are finding the liberal curriculum followed in countries like the US to be more flexible and more open to career shifts, giving more time to students at the UG level to figure out what tangible benefits they want out of their degrees.

In this article, we provide you with an overview of the Indian universities/institutions that aim to do the same. Here we have shortlisted 5 universities based on the following features: Liberal Curriculum Credit-Based System Acceptance of SAT scores

Liberal Curriculum

Generally speaking, a curriculum can be labeled liberal if it- Adopts a multi-pronged or multi-disciplinary approach to any degree Links curricular with co-curricular in a seamless fashion Allows lateral movement amongst disciplines at the next step in the academic career Incorporates internationally relevant course structures

Choice-Based Credit System

Although most of us are familiar with this system that was introduced by UGC, not many know how deep its implications run. Replacing the old year-end examination system, CBCS is based on a semester calendar similar to the U.S. system. By assigning credits to courses, and then making a total number of credits obtained as the criteria for getting a degree, this system offers flexibility for students to study at different times and at different institutions to complete one course (check MEA guidelines here). Credits earned at one institution can be transferred to another institution, thus facilitating international acceptance of minimum requirements for being eligible to apply to programs across countries.

At the same time, this system complements the liberal aspect of the curriculum by allowing the student to choose interdisciplinary, intra-disciplinary, and skill-based courses

Acceptance of SAT scores

To build a community of institutions across borders to make that world-class post-secondary education accessible to Indian students as well as make the transition from school to higher education smooth and effective, the College Board, the makers of SAT, launched a platform called India Global Higher Education Alliance in 2018. More than 40 universities in and outside of India are members of this platform, almost all of them accepting SAT scores as a part of their admission process.

All the institutions listed below are members of the India Global Higher Education Alliance.

Ashoka University

Established in 2014, Ashoka University has seen a meteoric rise becoming one of the most sought-after educational hubs for liberal arts education in India. Offering a multidisciplinary undergraduate program, students are not expected to declare their Major until the middle of the second year. This blends well with the CBC system, allowing the student to explore courses from various disciplines while also accruing credits/grades. Highlight: Apart from offering pure Majors (total of 100 credits), Ashoka also offers an interdisciplinary Major (total of 116 credits). While it’s not a dual-degree program, it allows students to combine related fields and explore new approaches to the study of particular fields, awarding a single, interdisciplinary Bachelor’s degree. Check out their UG program structure here: UG at Ashoka University

Azim Premji University

Founded in 2010, Azim Premji University is funded by the Azim Premji Foundation which aims to enhance the quality of education in India at the deepest levels in partnership with the government. The University offers a full-time, residential UG program based in Bengaluru.

Highlight: Apart from 3-year programs, they offer a 4-year dual degree program in Science and Education i.e. B.Sc. and B.Ed. In an attempt to make academics more accessible and approachable, APU also started a collaborative platform called University Practice Connect in 2018. The platform publishes articles/papers/insights by academics and researchers and individuals and organizations with the aim “to reduce the gap between the evolving theory of practice and the work that individuals and organizations are involved with, in the here and now.” Check out their UG program structure here: UG at Azim Premji University

FLAME University

Another newly established University emerging as a leader in the liberal arts education sector is FLAME University. Founded in 2015 and situated in Pune, FLAME also follows a thoroughly multi-disciplinary approach to its Undergraduate programs. Their programs offer non-conventional, cross-discipline courses such as Critical Reasoning, Academic Writing, Digital Literacy, Mental Models, and Financial Literacy. Highlight: As a part of their curriculum, FLAME has included “uniquely-crafted” experiential learning programs like Development Activities Program (DAP), the Discover India Program (DIP), and the Summer Internship Program (SIP). FLAME offers both three-year and optional four-year undergraduate programs with the degree nomenclature determined by the major that the student chooses to pursue. Their UG program structure: UG at FLAME University

KREA University

Located in the Sri City of Andhra Pradesh, Krea University was established in 2018. Basing their pedagogy on multi-disciplinarity, they follow an ‘inter-woven’ learning approach. The courses are designed by making their majors writing-intensive, interdisciplinary, and research-based. A faculty member is assigned to each student in the first trimester who helps them choose their major as well as create an academic action plan for the student for the next two years. Students are required to take up internships or projects (as part of their Immersive Experiential Learning) at the end of their second and third years during the summer breaks. They are also required to submit a capstone thesis in their third year.

Highlight: Krea offers Joint Majors in the following: Economics and Environmental Studies Politics and History Physics and Chemistry Literature and Arts

Learn more about their programs here: UG at Krea

O. P. Jindal Global University

Founded in 2009, O. P. Jindal is considered to be one of the most prestigious private universities in India. Offering 35 UG programs spread over 12 schools, it promises a vibrant community of young scholars and professionals. Having fostered a strong culture of co-curricular activities, it has over 28 clubs and societies that allow students to learn and engage outside of the classroom too.

Find information on their UG programs here: UG at O. P. Jindal University


With the global village fighting the pandemic, education is one of the many sectors that has taken a hit right in the gut. Every day, we are faced with new challenges to keep the ball rolling and keep up with the new normal. 11,33,749 Indian students were studying abroad, as per the data shared in Rajya Sabha in 2021. While going overseas opens up new avenues for the students, there is a constant need to address the education question at the internal level: How can we provide our youth with world-class education within the confines of the country? Moreover, what do we mean by a world-class education?

The universities listed above are making strides in finding the answer to these questions, forging intellectual links across the globe in the process.