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The Westminster Plan


From a curricular perspective, Westminster's vision of a liberally educated person is achieved from a four-year integrated course of study involving general education, prescribed graduation requirements, a major, and electives. At the center of the curriculum is the common core, Liberal Studies, a course of study spanning all four years of the undergraduate experience. The entry point of Liberal Studies is Inquiry 111, a semester-long, first-year core requirement for all students. Communication skills are developed in conjunction with the Inquiry course. Students enroll in semester-long courses in writing and oral communication. The middle two years of the undergraduate experience are devoted to cluster courses and to courses satisfying prescribed Intellectual Perspective requirements. The general education curriculum culminates in a senior year capstone course in the major.

Throughout the entire curriculum, the applied use of sophisticated information technologies is emphasized in order to enhance teaching and learning, and to provide students with knowledge acquisition skills necessary for a lifetime of learning. Finally, the process of liberally educating students is completed by combining general education with in-depth course work in a major and with electives.


Liberal Studies Curriculum

The Liberal Studies portion of the curriculum is the common core for all students. This program of study is a four-year series of courses crafted to foster collaborative learning and the integration of knowledge, and structured to facilitate the acquisition of learning skills and the development of a community of learners. Liberal Studies has four complementary parts, the First-Year Program, Intellectual Perspectives, Cluster Courses & Senior Capstone.


The First-Year Program

The First-Year Program at Westminster College is an integrated educational experience required of all new students. It is designed to introduce you to the philosophy and practice of a liberal arts education and equip you with skills essential to your success at college and in life beyond Westminster College. The First Year Program begins over the summer, with your participation in the New Titan Day Event, the First Year Student Summer Reading Program and Orientation. Then, the formal academic portion of the First Year Program occurs over your first two semesters, and is composed of four classes : Inquiry 111, Writing 111, and Speech 111, Westminster 101.



Inquiry 111/211

Introduction to a Liberal Arts Education. Inquiry is designed to introduce students to the life of the mind and engage them in liberal learning. With the exception of students who take part in the Honors Program, all first-time, full-time college students who are less than one academic year past high school graduation when they enter Westminster will take Inquiry 111 in their first fall semester. Transfer students and students who begin their Westminster College experience in the spring semester take Inquiry 211, which has outcomes and objectives similar to Inquiry 111, but was designed for students who have more college or life experience than traditional first-year students.

Both Inquiry courses are structured so that, following completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Articulate and practice the values and methods of a liberal arts education.
  • Engage, experience, and explain different ways of knowing.
  • Pursue interdisciplinary study and discussion of important issues.

Writing 111

Writing. Writing is a valuable and necessary tool for the investigation, exploration, analysis, evaluation and expression of ideas and experiences encountered in Inquiry 111. First-year students receive instruction and practice in essential skills and forms of written expression. The course in writing capitalizes on the substance of the Inquiry course to motivate learning-specific skills in written expression and to enhance teaching and learning in Inquiry. WRI 111 or an approved equivalent is required of all first-year students.

Speech 111

Introduction to Public Speaking. Like writing, the mastery of oral expression skills is essential for success in college, a vocation, and throughout life. The first-year course in oral communication provides a basic grounding in these skills. Oral communication capitalizes on the substance of the Inquiry course to motivate learning-specific skills in oral expression, and to enhance teaching and learning in Inquiry. SPE 111 or an approved equivalent is required of all first-year students.

Westminster 101:

This course serves to introduce students to life at Westminster College and to assist them in making a successful transition to higher education. Students will learn how to take advantage of opportunities for personal and academic growth while on campus and to develop strategies for personal and academic success.

For more information regarding these courses, please refer to the Westminster College Undergraduate Catalog.


Intellectual Perspectives

The Intellectual Perspectives portion of the curriculum is designed to assure that all Westminster College graduates are familiar with a broad range of human intellectual endeavors and creativity. The requirements of this component of Liberal Studies are subject based and provide opportunity for students to explore significant areas of knowledge.

The seven principal areas of study are:

  1. foreign language
  2. humanity and culture
  3. quantitative reasoning
  4. religious and philosophical thought and tradition
  5. scientific discovery
  6. social thought and tradition
  7. visual and performing arts

All students are required to complete at least four semester hours in each area. Two courses that satisfy major or minor requirements may also be used to satisfy Intellectual Perspectives. See the Westminster College class schedule, published each semester, for a list of courses which fulfill these requirements.


Cluster Courses

Cluster courses are taken during the sophomore or junior years. A cluster consists of two linked courses taught by at least two faculty from different disciplines to the same group of students. Clusters offer opportunities for students to integrate knowledge and to develop into a community of learners. All students are required to take at least one cluster (two courses). Cluster courses may also satisfy Intellectual Perspectives.


Senior Capstone

The final component of Liberal Studies is a senior capstone course. The capstone is at least a four-semester-hour course within the major designed to provide an opportunity for students to evaluate and assess the strengths and limitations of their major field. Additionally, the capstone experience permits opportunity for structured reflection on the value of education in and beyond the major and provides another chance to strengthen communication and problem-solving skills.