WMU Essential Studies is the required curriculum for all undergraduate students. Courses are designed to help students become fluent in change and driven to contribute, develop perseverance, and be ready for their future. Students develop the skills employers seek most in graduates—demonstrated complex problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, responsible judgment, and decision-making.
The overall program targets essential skills, identified as learning outcomes, by integrating and applying them in content courses. Specific curriculum-wide learning outcomes include:
- Expand students’ understanding of human cultures and the physical/natural world.
- Enhance intellectual and practical skills.
- Exercise personal and social responsibility.
- Exhibit integrative and applied learning.
An important feature of the program is the sequencing (where specified and practical) to ensure students are learning skills before developing and applying them. The program introduces and emphasizes content areas of diversity and inclusion, global awareness, critical thinking, and planetary sustainability.
The program is comprised of three levels: Foundations, Exploration and Discovery, and Connections. Within each level are course categories that have associated student learning outcomes. All student learning outcomes will be assessed at the end of each course. The program also incorporates outcomes for planetary sustainability and diversity and inclusion.
WMU Essential Studies is designed to help undergraduate students make more connections among courses and benefit from multi-layered content.
Level 1: Foundations (4 courses): Comprised of introductory or first-year courses, the four categories in this level build the essential skills students will need for success in college, careers, and life after graduation.
Level 2: Exploration and Discovery (6 courses): The six courses students select in Level 2, one from each category, will promote intellectual growth and personal responsibility. These courses may be taken at any point in the program, although WMU recommends taking them after Level 1 courses.
Level 3: Connections (2 courses): In this level, students will complete two courses that are the culmination of the WMU Essential Studies program. They are designed to widen students’ perspectives; engage students in local, national, or global issues; and further develop skills introduced in Levels 1 and 2.
Diversity and Inclusion Requirement: Students will not only learn how diversity and inclusion impacts themselves and others, but also how to engage in meaningful interactions and understanding of the historical influences that impact today’s world. To fulfill this requirement, students will select one course in Level 2 or 3 that has a Diversity and Inclusion outcome.
Planetary Sustainability Requirement: By analyzing the actions of community that promote or disrupt the well-being of the human and natural worlds over time, space, and culture, students will discover the interconnectedness of the human and natural worlds and the concept of sustainability. To fulfill this requirement, students will select one course in Level 2 or 3 that has a Planetary Sustainability outcome.
Successful completion of the program requires each student to complete:
- One course in every course category of the WMU Essential Studies curriculum.
- One course that addresses the “develop sensitivity to diversity and inclusion” required student learning outcome.
- One course that addresses the “develop practices for planetary sustainability” required student learning outcome.
- The program is designed for some course sequencing and ideally students will meet the following sequencing requirements;
a. Level 1 - Foundations course categories of Writing and Inquiry and Engagement: Critical Thinking in the Arts and Humanities must be completed as prerequisites for enrolling in Level 2 - Exploration and Discovery course category Societies and Cultures.
b. Level 2 - Exploration and Discovery course category Societies and Cultures must be completed as a prerequisite for enrolling in Level 3 - Connections course categories Local and National Perspectives and Global Perspectives.
- No more than three courses from any one prefix.
Students may receive credit in place of coursework, if the department offering the course provides credit by examination or an alternative demonstration of skills and knowledge, in accordance with the University’s Credit by Examination Policy and Prior Learning Assessment Policy.
For more information see the WMU Essential Studies webpage: https://wmich.edu/essentialstudies.
WMU Essential Studies Requirements for Transfer Students
All students graduating from WMU must meet the requirements of WMU Essential Studies.
Students who have fulfilled the requirement of the Michigan Transfer Agreement (MTA) and are transferring from participating Michigan community colleges:
Colleges listed below have signed the Michigan Transfer Agreement. Transfer students from these schools whose transcripts have been appropriately identified and certified as having fulfilled the requirements of the Michigan Transfer Agreement by their respective community college will have satisfied WMU Essential Studies Level 1: Foundations and Level 2: Exploration and Discovery requirements. Such students only need satisfy WMU Essential Studies requirements of two Level 3: Connections courses; one in the Local and National Perspectives Category and one in the Global Perspectives Category.
Michigan community college Michigan Transfer Agreement (MTA) signators:
Alpena Community College
Bay de Noc Community College
Glen Oaks Community College
Gogebic Community College
Grand Rapids Community College
Henry Ford College
Kalamazoo Valley Community College
Kellogg Community College
Kirtland Community College
Lake Michigan College
Lansing Community College
Macomb Community College
Mid Michigan Community College
Monroe County Community College
Montcalm Community College
Mott Community College
Muskegon Community College
North Central Michigan College
Northwestern Michigan College
Oakland Community College
St. Clair County Community College
Southwestern Michigan College
Washtenaw Community College
Wayne County Community College District
West Shore Community College