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.

The General Education Program ensures that students are exposed to a range of disciplinary methods of inquiry, as well as development of students’ capacity to engage in self-reflection, critical thinking and problem solving, close reading, discussion, and writing. Individualized experiences are strengthened by opportunities for scholarship and community engagement. General Education, then, plays a critical part in preparing graduates to transform knowledge into action and lead lives of contribution, achievement, and meaning in a dynamic world.


General Education Requirements

The General Education Program has 5 components: College Colloquium, the Distribution, the Writing Program, World Engagement, and Power, Diversity and Equity. Categories within the World Engagement component are: the Non-English Language requirement, as well courses designated as Continued Study in a non-English Language, Culture and Values, Study Abroad, and Service Learning.  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.

  • The College Colloquium is a one-semester seminar required of all entering first-year students. Taught by faculty across the curriculum and encompassing a wide diversity of topics, each seminar provides a challenging and engaging introduction to the liberal arts curriculum through close engagement with information and text, effective communication of ideas, discussion, and critical thinking.
  • College Colloquium seminars are small, averaging about 14-15 students. The seminar teacher is also the academic advisor to each student in their seminar.
  • Newly-enrolled students communicate a list of preferred Colloquium courses that interest them, and every effort is made to accommodate preferences.
  • The Distribution component expresses one of the fundamental values of a liberal arts education: That every graduate should have a broad exposure to significant areas of human inquiry and cultural practice. Through this exposure, students cultivate a diversity of interests, gain an awareness of multiple intellectual frameworks, and learn a variety of approaches to solving problems. To fulfill the Distribution component, students must earn (with a grade of C- or higher) at least the specified amount of credit listed in the four areas:
    • Arts and Humanities (8 credits; must have two different prefixes)
    • Mathematical Sciences (4 credits)
    • Natural Sciences (4 credits)
    • Social Sciences (4 credits)
  • While some courses are designated in more than one Distribution category, each course may only be counted one time toward the Distribution requirement. To complete the Distribution requirement, students must finish five distinct courses (total of 20 credits) with five distinct department/program prefixes.
  • The Writing Program for undergraduates at Willamette University aims to establish a culture of writing so that, when students graduate, they will be prepared to use writing as an instrument of their continued learning, in the career paths they follow, and in participation in social, cultural, and civic life. Writing-centered classes, while always focused on a particular topic, incorporate writing as an important mode of intellectual discovery, and require students to develop their ideas through multiple drafts and revision.
  • All students are required to take two writing-centered classes, at least one of which must be taken at the upper-division level (300/400).
  • The Writing Center, housed in the Learning Commons 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.
  • Writing-designated courses, where offered, can be co-counted with other General Education course designations.

The World Engagement component ensures that, as part of their course of study, students engage with ideas, perspectives, or experiences beyond those to which they are accustomed. World Engagement components are divided between a minimum language requirement and five additional designations.

  • Completion of non-English language (NEL) through the second semester (132) level. This can be achieved in the following ways (8 credits):
    • Completion of a NEL course at Willamette at the 132-level or higher;
    • Placement into a 231-level or higher course, and passing of a proficiency exam administered by a faculty member in the language department of choice;
    • Transfer in credit for equivalent NEL study (including AP/IB or “Running Start” credits accepted by the Registrar);
    • Present evidence of a primary language other than English
    • If you need to pursue an accommodation for a language substitution, please visit the Foreign Language Requirement Substitution Policy on the Accessible Education Services website.
  • World Engagement Elective course categories (8 course credits)
    • Continued study in a NEL (231 or above on courses with a language department prefix)
    • Study Abroad
    • Culture and Values (CV)
    • Service Learning (SL)
  • Power, Diversity, and Equity (PDE) courses embed the following student learning outcomes as central organizing components of the courses:
    • Power: Students will be able to think critically about how structural power gets distributed [unequally] based upon constructed categories of difference; this includes an understanding of how power relations are maintained, contested, and changed over time and in different spaces/placed.
    • Systemic Inequality: Students will be able to identify the historic and/or contemporary contexts that create systemic inequality, particularly as they maintain arrangements of oppression, access, resource distribution, and the privilege that arises through these institutionalized mechanisms.
    • Intersections of Oppression/Privilege: Students will be able to recognize the assumptions embedded in singular identity-based approaches, analyzing how race, class, gender, sexuality, nation, and/or ability can intersect to shape opportunity, identity, and relationships to power.
  • Power, Diversity, and Equity courses, where offered, can be co-counted with any of the Liberal Arts Distribution, World Engagement, or Writing-centered requirements.
Willamette University

First Year Students Advising Materials

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

Back to Top