Faculty Guide to WMU Essential Studies

This site is to guide faculty through WMU Essential Studies. Students and parents can click on this link to be redirected to the main WMU Essential Studies webpage.


The WMU Essential Studies program provides Western Michigan University undergraduate students an integrated curriculum designed around a University-wide set of Essential Studies Learning Outcomes which enhance the quality of the undergraduate experience.


Using a learner-centered approach, the WMU Essential Studies program enables students to succeed in an ever-changing world by expanding their understanding of human cultures and the physical/natural world, enhancing their intellectual and practical skills, and exercising personal and social responsibility through integrative and applied learning.


WMU Essential Studies is the new required curriculum for undergraduate students, scheduled for implementation fall 2020. The program is designed to support the University-wide set of Essential Studies Student Learning Outcomes which can be traced across the curriculum.

  • Expand students’ understanding of human cultures and the physical/natural world.
  • Enhance intellectual and practical skills.
  • Exercise personal and social responsibility.
  • Exhibit integrative and applied learning.

The overall program targets essential intellectual skills, identified as learning outcomes, by integrating and applying them in content courses. An important feature of the program is the sequencing (where specified) to ensure that students are learning skills before developing and applying them. The program encompasses all of the areas taught in WMU’s existing general education program, plus introduces the following new skills and content areas: diversity and inclusion, global awareness, critical thinking, sustainability, and “real-world problems” chosen by faculty.

The program is comprised of three levels: Foundations, Exploration and Discovery, and Connections. Within each level are subsequent categories and student learning outcomes. All student learning outcomes will be assessed at the end of each course.

WMU Essential Studies Handbook

Frequently Asked Questions

Contact the WMU Essential Studies Director at wmu-essentialstudies@wmich.edu

WMU Essential Studies Curriculum as of May 2022

Student Learning Outcomes Choices by Course

To find the link to the complete list of WMU Essential Studies Courses

WMU Essential Studies Illustrated Model

Access the interactive tutorials page for understanding how a course fits within the model, assessing student learning outcomes, and the electronic course submission process:
WMU Essential Studies Faculty Resources

Access the support materials page for document such as timeline, glossary, and MOA's:
WMU Essential Studies Support Materials



WMU Essential Studies Executive Advisory Committee

WMU Essential Studies Course Review and Approval Committee

Click here for information on WMU's General Education