Liberal Arts Curriculum

The liberal arts curriculum reflects the distinctive mission of Wilson College. Through requirements which bridge the sciences, humanities, and social sciences, students develop effective written and oral communication skills, the power to reason critically, and increased awareness of cultural differences within the U.S. and a global framework.

I. Foundations

Foundations courses equip students with the fundamental skills necessary to pursue a liberal arts education. Upon completion of these requirements, students should:

  • Acquire a better understanding of Wilson College
  • Develop an appreciation of a liberal arts experience
  • Write with clarity in English
  • Speak and write with some proficiency in a foreign language and demonstrate a basic understanding of another culture
  • Demonstrate some proficiency in using computer technology to process, manage, and access information, be able to solve basic mathematical problems, and demonstrate some ability to interpret and present numerical data
  • Increase their awareness of the relationship between mental and physical well-being and develop some skills in a specific physical activity

A. First Year Seminar

All new students (excluding most transfers and those in the Adult Learning Program) in the College for Women take a seminar during the first semester to support their transition to college. The seminar provides information about the college's honor principle, traditions, and its mission and history. It also seeks to facilitate students' self-understanding, e.g., through exploration of career interests and completion and analysis of personality inventories. Developing knowledge of academic skills required at the college level is also a goal.

The course consists of two parts: an academic seminar and a lab. The seminar is developed around a common theme, but each section explores the theme from a different perspective. The seminar, which is led by a faculty member and peer teacher, is designed to strengthen students' skills, particularly in writing, speaking, and critical thinking. A laboratory, led by various resource persons from the college and local community, explores aspects of Wilson College life, examines issues which affect the transition to college, and seeks to deepen the understanding of self.

B. Writing Skills

Students enroll in one of the following (depending on placement): English 104: ESL-Writing at College Level I, English 101: Written Communication, English 108: College Writing, or English 180: Writing and Literature, depending upon placement. Students who complete English 104 or 108 will continue to develop their writing skills by taking at least three additional writing-intensive courses. Students who complete English 180 will take a minimum of two additional writing-intensive courses. Students who receive a score of four or five on the Advanced Placement (AP) exam in English will take at least one writing-intensive course.

Students are expected to complete the writing-intensive requirement by the end of the junior year. The writing-intensive courses may concurrently satisfy requirements in transdisciplinary studies or in the major field of study.

Writing-intensive courses are designed to improve writing skills through substantial writing requirements in the context of a course in English or another discipline. Writing-intensive courses facilitate student understanding of the process of writing, the integration of writing and thinking, and the importance of sustained evaluation by and feedback from peers and instructors. Writing is also the means by which sophisticated ideas are developed, understood, and communicated.

Writing-intensive courses are part of a broader emphasis on writing across the curriculum.

C. Foreign Language Skills

Two courses in one foreign language, or placement above the intermediate level. Additional foreign language courses may be required by the major or recommended for students interested in pursuing graduate or professional studies.

Knowledge of and exposure to foreign languages and cultures is an essential component of a liberal education. Preparation for leadership and service in a global society is not genuinely attainable without knowledge of the language and culture of the peoples with whom we interact, whether on an economic, political, or social basis.

Studies in a foreign language provide a path to more global understanding by exposing the student to cultures that will continue to radiate an effect on the people of the United States. Foreign language study can provide insight into ethnic diversity within the United States, prepare students for work or study in a foreign setting, and develop skills that may be useful or essential for certain careers or vocations.

D. Computer Skills

One course in Computer Systems.

Computer skills and knowledge of computers have become a widely assumed aspect of economic and social interaction. Students must be prepared, throughout their lives and careers, to continually learn and develop their understanding of and ability to use computing technologies. This requirement provides a foundation for understanding current and emerging computer technologies, uses, trends, and issues. Students develop knowledge of computer terms, technical concepts, and basic operations while learning how to use a computer as a tool for practical applications.

E. Quantitative Skills

Placement above Math 100: Intermediate Algebra, or one of the appropriate quantitative skills courses (MAT 100 or PSY 115). Additional quantitative skills courses may be required by the major or recommended for students interested in pursuing graduate and professional studies.

It is vital for well-educated persons to be comfortable with mathematics as a tool for describing and analyzing their environment. Wilson students are expected to demonstrate an ability to solve basic mathematical problems. Students learn to interpret and present numerical data in research settings or in everyday situations in which critical evaluation is required.

F. Physical Activity and Wellness

Physical Education 124: Fitness for Life*, and one activity course.

Fitness for Life and the activity requirement are designed to help students develop lifelong strategies for overall wellness and physical fitness.

*Students who complete the athletic coaching certificate or minor are not required to take this course. These courses are not required for students in the Adult Learning Program.

Liberal arts college for women

Contact Information

Admissions Office
Norland Hall
717-262-2002
800-421-8402
admissions@wilson.edu