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.


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 take a seminar during the first semester to support their transition to college. The seminar provides information about the college's honor principle, tradition 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 is required. 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 is required.

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

Students must placeĀ above Math 100: Intermediate Algebra, or take 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 is required.

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.


Transdisciplinary Studies

II. Transdisciplinary Studies

The general requirements for the Transdisciplinary Studies categories below are:
  • Courses must be taken in at least six different disciplines.
  • At least four of the courses must be at the 200 or 300 level.
  • Each requirement must be satisfied by a different course.
  • Courses required by the major which are outside of the primary field of study may be used to satisfy these requirements.
  • Writing-intensive courses may be used to satisfy these requirements.

A. Western Cultures and Societies

Three courses are required, one in each of the following areas:
  • Foundations of Western Cultures (FWC)
  • History of Western Cultures and Institutions (HWC)
  • Contemporary U.S. Culture and Institutions (CC)

In order to function capably in a globally-interdependent society, students benefit from an understanding of the institutions, histories and traditions of various cultures including our own. Courses in this category address the economic, political and social influences on U.S. culture and society, and promote student understanding of the ethnocentric nature and development of knowledge, ideas and experience.

Pedagogical approaches encourage students to think critically in analyzing economic, social and political dimensions of contemporary conflicts and issues. In addition, deeper understanding of contemporary political, philosophical, literary, economic, linguistic and social issues will provide a foundation for social and civic responsibility and action.

Appropriate courses in classics, culture and civilization, economics, history, historical treatments of art, literature, mass communications, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion studies and sociology will satisfy these requirements.

B. Studies in Cultural Diversity

Three courses are required, one in each of the following areas:
  • Women's Studies (WS)
  • Cultural Diversity within the U.S. (CD)
  • Non-Western Cultures and Institutions (NWC)

Studies in cultural diversity at Wilson provide broad exposure to diversity, including different values and different ways of knowing. Students are exposed to perspectives and voices of populations historically excluded from academic discourse: women, racial and ethnic minorities, lesbians and gay men, the physically challenged and others who are disadvantaged and/or disempowered by virtue of their positions in society.

Students also learn about the social construction of gender as it interacts with class, race, age, sexual preference and nationality in a variety of settings, cultures and times. They explore and analyze the experiences of racial, ethnic, and cultural diversities found among persons living in the United States, and develop an understanding of groups of people whose culture, language, literature and history are significantly different from the Western tradition.

C. The Natural World

Three courses are required, at least one with a laboratory component*, and at least one in each of the following areas:
  • Natural Sciences (NS)
  • Environmental Studies (ES)

*The designation of a course as NSL or ESL indicates that it meets the requirement as a lab.

Students explore the natural world with the aim of increasing scientific literacy. Students learn basic concepts and principles. They also achieve an understanding of the methods and limits of scientific discovery and they are exposed to the history and philosophy of science. Relationships among science, technology and society are also considered.

Courses are available in biology, chemistry, math, physics, behavioral sciences and physical education. All students take at least one course in environmental studies from among six academic disciplines.

D. Modes of Thought, Inquiry, and Expression

Three courses are required, one each in three of the following areas:
  • The Arts (ART)
  • Literature (LIT)
  • Frontiers of Knowledge and Human Beliefs (ETH)
  • Formal Thought (ET)

In consistency with Wilson College's mission as a liberal arts college, these courses broaden students' exposure to knowledge, values and different ways of knowing. Students develop artistic expression through courses in dance, studio art, music and creative writing. Literature courses are available in English, religion studies, French and Spanish. Students explore the frontiers of knowledge and human beliefs through courses which emphasize thinking in a disciplined and reasoned way about questions of meaning, ethics and values. Courses which satisfy this requirement are offered in the disciplines of philosophy, religion studies, environmental studies, political science and mass communications. Appropriate courses in fields such as computer programming, higher mathematics, music theory and philosophy satisfy the formal thought requirement.

E. Major

Depth of knowledge in one of the student's principal intellectual and professional interests is sought through the selection of a major in a single discipline or a major which combines two or more disciplines. Single discipline majors involve in-depth study in a specific academic discipline. Some of these include the option of a specific track within the major.

Combined majors integrate two interrelated or complementary disciplines (e.g., History and Political Science). Within these majors, areas of concentration may be available to permit in-depth study within a specific field of knowledge.

Special majors cover topics not ordinarily offered as a major at the college. Special majors are individually designed interdisciplinary majors composed of two or more related fields of knowledge. Special majors are designed by students in consultation with faculty from appropriate disciplines and they must be approved by the Committee on Academic Procedure.

Double majors may be pursued under some circumstances, although they may take longer than four years to complete. Students confer with two academic advisers and meet the major requirements of both major fields of study.

F. Minors (optional)

Students may select one or more minor. The minors are designed to provide opportunities for in-depth study outside of the major field of study. Students are encouraged to venture out into disciplines which are unrelated to their major field of study. Courses required by the major, which are outside of the primary field of study, may be used to satisfy requirements for the minor.


III. Synthesis

Senior Experience

The supervision and implementation of a senior experience resides with the major area. Students in many majors at Wilson complete a senior thesis, capstone project, senior seminar or internship. These experiences bring together the student's accomplishments and learning within and outside the major. The senior experience may also be designed to assist students with the transition from the undergraduate experience to graduate school, professional school or a career.