Curriculum

Wesleyan University is dedicated to providing an education in the liberal arts that is characterized by boldness, rigor, and practical idealism. At Wesleyan, students have the opportunity to work at the highest levels, discover what they love to do, and apply their knowledge in ways the world finds meaningful.

Open Curriculum

When students direct their own education in consultation with intensively engaged faculty advisors, they learn to think independently, explore questions from multiple points of view, and develop habits of critical thinking that are hallmarks of a liberal education. Wesleyan upholds the principle that student choice fosters the drive to explore freely and seek connections across courses, generating the intellectual excitement that can fuel liberal education as a lifelong pursuit. With the freedom to sample liberally from across the curriculum, students are able to experience the surprise of unexpected ability in fields new to them and to make fruitful connections across subject areas that do not traditionally intersect. This can generate innovative depth of study and new ways of seeing—with students posing questions from one discipline to the assumptions of another.

 

General Education Expectations

Wesleyan’s open curriculum challenges students to create their own plan for general education. Academic coherence here does not rely on a core curriculum or a set of required courses; instead, students propose their academic plan to their faculty advisors and recalibrate it with their advisors each semester as their discoveries lead them to pursue new areas or deepen existing strengths. By the end of the first two years, students are expected to have earned at least two course credits in each of the three areas (HA, SBS, NSM), all from different departments or programs. In the last two years, students are expected to take one additional course credit in each of the three areas. A student who does not meet the expectation of a total of nine general education course credits by the time of graduation will not be eligible for University Honors, Phi Beta Kappa, honors in general, and honors in certain departments, and may not declare more than a combined total of two majors, certificates, and minors.

 

Majors

A degree of disciplined mastery in a major field of learning is an important dimension of a liberal arts education. The major may help a student prepare for a specific profession or may be necessary for a more specialized education in graduate school or other postbaccalaureate educational institution. Majors can take several forms—a departmental or interdepartmental major or a college program (College of Letters or College of Social Studies). Generally, students declare a major in the second semester of their sophomore year—when they have sampled widely from different areas of the curriculum, have completed the first stage of their General Education Expectations, and are ready to develop deeper knowledge in a particular area of study.