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.

WMU Essential Studies scheduled for fall 2020 launch.


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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

WMU Essential Studies Curriculum as of February 2020

Student Learning Outcomes Choices by Course

WMU Essential Studies fall 2019 Update


The Faculty Senate Executive Board on Nov. 16, 2018 approved the following draft statement:


The WMU Essential Studies Executive Advisory Committee affirms that baccalaureate writing is a subset of the existing General Education program. The new WMU Essential Studies curriculum design addresses writing in a more comprehensive nature by offering writing courses at all three levels of the curriculum. One fundamental improvement in this model is the ability to assess student learning outcomes at multiple points of the WMU Essential Studies curriculum. Therefore, this treatment of writing across the curriculum is not an elimination of writing but is instead an improvement. That said, the new WMU Essential Studies curriculum does not preclude an academic unit from continuing with an intensive writing course if they so choose. Some academic units will retain a writing in the discipline course as part of a major while others may choose to discontinue offering such courses once WMU Essential Studies is fully implemented. In closing, part of any creative endeavor sometimes means letting go of certain assumptions from the past. The new WMU Essential Studies curriculum provides an opportunity for the University to rethink what it means to prepare well-educated WMU students in the 21st century.


WMU Essential Studies Illustrated Model (updated 1-1-20)

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

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