Differential Tuition

Differential tuition has been in practice at most institutions for many years. It is most common among professional schools (business, law and medicine). Differential tuition is a mechanism for paying different tuition for specific high-cost, high-demand programs. The College of Fine Arts at Western Michigan University adopted a differential tuition model in the fall of 2011. Students are assessed a per-credit-hour rate in addition to the applicable resident or non-resident tuition rate charged university wide. Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding differential tuition.

Who will be affected?

The plan will affect every College of Fine Arts undergraduate pursuing any major in the Frostic School of Art, the Department of Dance, the School of Music and the Department of Theatre. The differential tuition rate will affect resident and non-resident students at every level of undergraduate study (freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors).

Are any other colleges at WMU implementing differential tuition?

The Haworth College of Business also adopted a differential tuition model for its juniors and seniors, effective in the fall of 2011.

What is the differential tuition funding used for?

Funding raised through the plan will stay in the college, with 75 percent of the funds used to directly ensure the totality of the student experience is of the highest quality. Under the plan, many course fees will be eliminated. Differential tuition incorporates all non-consumable course fees and reduces a significant number of fees. Course fees for consumable materials will continue.

If I am pursuing a double major at WMU, with one major in the College of Fine Arts and another in a college that does not assess a differential tuition rate, can I avoid the differential tuition charge?

No. Any undergraduate pursuing any major in a College of Fine Arts unit will be subject to the same differential tuition per-credit surcharge, regardless of whether or not majors in other colleges are also being pursued.

Will all courses be subject to differential tuition, or only those taken from a College of Fine Arts unit (art, dance, music and theatre)?

All classes/credits taken by a College of Fine Arts student will be subject to differential tuition. 

Why did the College of Fine Arts decide to implement differential tuition?

The College of Fine Arts wants to maintain its commitment to high quality degree programs that attract high quality students. With costs increasing and state revenue decreasing, there is the danger of diluting quality. The college is one of only eight in the nation that has all of its programs professionally accredited. The College of Fine Arts boasts an outstanding faculty, expert staff, enviable facilities, state-of-the-art equipment, successful alumni and evidence of award-winning programs. Differential tuition will help to maintain that quality, and it will provide additional benefits for its students in the form of reduced course fees, enhanced financial aid and new professional development opportunities.

An education in the arts is an expensive endeavor. College of Fine Arts' course sizes are, for the most part, small. Studying the art forms requires intensive and individualized instruction by highly specialized faculty. Consequently, instructional expenses are very high. Most fine arts students are pursuing professional degree programs, such as the Bachelor of Fine Arts or the Bachelor of Music, wherein two-thirds to three-fourths of the degree is in the major courses.   

How can differential tuition be beneficial to the College of Fine Arts and its students?  

With most course fees being incorporated into the tuition differential, it will be easier for students and families to project actual expenses more accurately. Also, student financial aid can be calculated on the inclusive tuition costs which will include differential tuition. A third benefit is that more student financial aid will be available. For every new dollar of differential tuition, 25 cents will be set aside for need-based and merit-based scholarships. The most attractive benefits, however, are plans to help students take their next steps toward career development through professional development activities designed by the faculty in each unit.

What are the benefits of pursuing an art, dance, music or theatre major through WMU's College of Fine Arts?

The chance to study with faculty of national and international renown — professors who are professionally active, yet committed to undergraduate education. College of Fine Arts faculty serve as board members, editors, authors, composers, presidents, consultants, exhibitors, performers and grant recipients (NEH, NEA, Fulbright, Kress Foundation), to name a few. 

  • A favorable student/faculty ratio — WMU is 19:1 while the College of Fine Arts is 9:1. Fine arts students benefit from a high degree of personalized attention.
  • Arts Village facilities — Instructional and public presentation spaces are the envy of the Midwest: Dalton Center (music and dance), Richmond Center for Visual Arts (art), Kohrman Hall (art), Gilmore Theatre Complex (theatre), Miller Auditorium (all) — performance halls, studios, exhibition spaces, laboratories and classrooms.
  • Competitive and selective admission - College of Fine Arts students boast the highest entering GPAs and test scores of all WMU freshmen (3.53 average GPA, 24.5 average ACT composite), a high percentage of honors college students, many Medallion scholars and a student body with the highest retention rate make for an academically charged environment.
  • Comprehensive programs of study in each unit:
    • Frostic School of Art
      • B.A. in art and art history; B.F.A. in art education, graphic design and art, with concentrations in ceramics, metals/jewelry, painting, photography/intermedia, printmaking, sculpture
      • Department of Dance
      • B.A. and B.F.A. in dance, with emphases in ballet, jazz and modern
    • School of Music
      • B.M. in music education, music therapy, performance, jazz studies, composition and B.A. in music
      • Option of completing B.M./B.A. and M.A. within five years through accelerated degree path
    • Department of Theatre
      • B.F.A. in music theatre performance, theatre performance, design and technical production, stage management and B.A. in theatre studies
  • Professionally accredited programs — WMU is the only university in Michigan to have all disciplines accredited, and one of only eight in the nation.
  • Technology embedded in curriculum — Each unit supports its own computer lab with applications unique to the discipline.
  • Extensive performance and exhibition opportunities — DeVries Gallery (dedicated to student shows), Western Dance Project, comprehensive ensemble offerings (bands, choirs, orchestra, instrumental and vocal jazz, early music, opera workshop, chamber groups) with extensive performance schedules both on and off campus, Mainstage Theatre Series, Multicultural Theatre Series, Footlight Series, and Stars & Moon Cabaret.
  • Professional travel and touring opportunities — Support for students to participate in American College Dance Festival, American College Theatre Festival, Kennedy Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York Showcase and Chicago Showcase advance career-readiness.
  • Creative research/collaboration opportunities — Special initiatives that involve working with students and faculty in a variety of disciplines include the Great Works Dance Project, Kalamazoo Laptop Orchestra, Tectonic Theatre Project, NYC Professional Opportunity Program and more.