General Education Program Summary

As a liberal arts institution, Willamette provides an education in the arts, humanities, and sciences while allowing students to major in a particular field within these areas.

Students engage in critical thinking and problem solving, close reading, discussion, and writing. Individualized experiences challenge students both in and out of the classroom. Teaching and learning, strengthened by scholarship and community engagement, prepare graduates to transform knowledge into action and lead lives of contribution, achievement, and meaning in a dynamic world.

General Education Requirements

Designed to expose students to a broad range of subjects and methods of investigation. The general education courses fall into one of the 4 categories: study in a language other than English, Quantitative and Analytical Reasoning (QA), Modes of Inquiry (MOI), and the Writing Program. Courses taught this fall that satisfy particular parts of the General Education program are listed in the schedule of classes. Use the Course Type Quick Assess under Department Quick Access.

All students are expected to study a language other than English through the intermediate level. The number of courses needed to complete this requirement depends on where the student begins the sequence, and could be up to 4 courses. Students with background in a language need to take a placement exam.

In order to satisfy Willamette University’s non-English language requirement, students must do one of the following:

  1. Complete the fourth semester (L232) or higher of one of Willamette University’s non-English language courses with a minimum grade of C-
  2. Place into a 300-level language course and pass an additional proficiency examination in that language administered on campus by Willamette University faculty
  3. Complete the second semester (L132) or higher of a Willamette University non-English language course with a minimum grade of C- plus one semester of intensive study abroad or an immersion program in that same language (the program must be approved by Willamette University)
  4. Complete the third semester of a Willamette University non-English language course (L231) with a minimum grade of C- plus one semester of an approved course (possibly taught in English) that considers the culture, cinema, or literature of populations who use the studied language or that considers linguistics
  5. Successfully complete the first two years or higher of college non-English language study in one language at another college or university
  6. Achieve a minimum score of 4 on the AP language exam
  7. Achieve a minimum score of 5 on the higher level International Baccalaureate language exam
  8. Present evidence of a primary language other than English

Willamette expects graduates to be knowledgeable about mathematics and quantitative reasoning so that they are able to use quantitative reasoning to understand and solve everyday problems. See Mathematics Placement for information on placement.

There are two types of QA courses:

  1. QA* (referred to as “QA star”): courses feature quantitative methods and provide students with the ability to interpret & apply mathematics, e.g., calculus (MATH 140) or statistics (MATH 138).
  2. QA (referred to as “QA non-star” or simply “QA”): courses use quantitative methods to learn another subject, e.g., physics (PHYS 221).

Students must have credit for two quantitative courses (except Multivariable Calculus (MATH 249) satisfies the entire quantitative requirement.)

  • Need at least one QA* course
  • Need a second quantitative course which can be another QA* course or a QA course
  • Sufficiently high scores on calculus or statistics AP or IB exams can be used to satisfy this requirement. See the policies AP and IB policies on the Registrar’s Webpage.

Students are required to complete work (with a minimum grade of C-) in six broadly defined Modes of Inquiry. The range of courses available allows students a great deal of choice and flexibility in constructing their general education programs. Some courses are designated to satisfy two categories; however, students must take at least five courses in satisfying the six requirements. The catalog has brief descriptions of the six Modes of Inquiry under General Education (it is part way down the page). Note that courses from a variety of disciplines will be designated to fulfill each Mode.

  • Creating in the Arts (CA): Courses seek to provide an understanding of the creative process as a means of discovery, exploration, and self-expression.
  • Examining Values (EV): Courses focus on values and the roles they play in human life.
  • Interpreting Texts (IT): Courses develop students' skills in analyzing and understanding textual representations of human experience.
  • Thinking Historically (TH): Courses develop students' understanding of the temporal dimension of human social existence.
  • Understanding the Natural World (NW): Courses apply the methodology of science to examine the natural world. These courses include a laboratory or field component in which students investigate natural phenomena.
  • Understanding Society (US): Courses develop students' understanding of social phenomena by analyzing and explaining human behavior and social institutions and practices.

All entering students become part of the writing culture at Willamette through a series of writing-centered courses taken throughout their college careers. The program has two central goals: the use of writing to develop understanding of course content across the disciplines, and the progressive development of fluency in writing for a variety of audiences, both general and disciplinary. The Writing Center, housed in Ford Hall, supports the program by providing opportunities for students at all levels to confer individually with faculty and peer consultants about their writing.

  • A W following the course number designates a writing-centered course.
  • Three courses are needed: in the major, out of major, any field.
  • At least one course must be at the 300 level or higher.
  • While College Colloquium is not a writing-centered course, it introduces students to college level writing and embodies the goals of the writing program.