May 7, 2001
Revised Fall 2003; Spring 2010; Spring 2011; Spring 2013; Fall 2013; Spring 2014; Spring 2016; Fall 2019; Spring 2022

  1. General Considerations

    As an academic community, the University of Puget Sound provides a meeting place for those committed to generating, studying, analyzing, and exchanging ideas. The intellectual purposes of the University are of paramount importance. At the same time, the University recognizes that the life of the mind creates a context for the personal and professional growth of individuals as whole persons. The University thus encourages both formal thought and self-reflection and offers a curriculum supporting the exploration of diverse ideas, values, and cultures.

    An undergraduate liberal arts education should provide the foundation for a lifetime of intellectual inquiry by grounding undergraduates well in a field of specialization, developing their ability to write with clarity and power, deepening their understanding of the structures and issues of the contemporary world, and broadening their perspective on enduring human concerns and cultural change. Such education should prepare a person to pursue interests and ideas with confidence and independence, meet the demands of a career, and cope with the complexity of modern life.

    The curricular requirements outlined in this document represent the minimum demands of a liberal education. Academic advisors should urge each student to explore varying fields of study in constructing a broad educational program on the foundation of the required curriculum.

  2. Educational Goals for the University

    A student completing the undergraduate curriculum will be able to

    1. think critically and creatively;
    2. communicate clearly and effectively, both orally and in writing;
    3. develop and apply knowledge both independently and collaboratively

    and will have developed

    1. familiarity with diverse fields of knowledge and the ability to draw connections among them;
    2. a solid grounding in the field of the student’s choosing;
    3. understanding of self, others, and influence in the world; and
    4. an informed and thoughtful sense of justice and a commitment to ethical action
  3. Graduation Requirements

    To receive the baccalaureate degree from the University of Puget Sound, a student must have

    1. Completed a minimum of 32 units. The 32 units may include up to 2.0 units of activity courses, up to 4 units of independent study, and up to four academic courses graded on the pass/fail system;
    2. Earned a minimum of 16 units, including the last 8, in residence at the University; residence requirements also exist in Core, majors, minors, and graduation honors.
    3. Maintained a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 2.0 for all courses taken at Puget Sound;
    4. Maintained a minimum GPA of 2.0 for all graded and all Puget Sound courses in the principal (s) and the minor(s), if a minor is elected;
    5. Maintained a minimum GPA of 2.0 for all graded courses, including transfer courses;
    6. Met University core requirements; (Courses taken pass-fail will not fulfill University core requirements.)
    7. Completed the Language Graduation Requirement.
      Courses fulfilling the Language requirement are approved by the Curriculum Committee based on the guidelines listed in the following rubric:

      Learning Objectives
      Courses meeting the language requirement prepare students for a life of global citizenship by engaging students with oral and written skills in a language other than English.

      Courses fulfilling the language requirement will 
      1. help students understand how different languages lead to different ways of interpreting the world
      2. deepen students’ understanding of alternative perspectives, values, behaviors, and traditions through linguistic, historical, and cultural study
      3. engage students in exploring commonality and difference among multiple languages and cultures to encourage deeper understanding of one’s own language(s) and culture(s).

      Two courses are required for all students, with the following exceptions:
      Students with a high school diploma from a school where the primary language of instruction was other than English do not need to take further courses.

      Heritage learners (defined by Valdés, 2001 as “a student of language who is raised in a home where a non-English language is spoken, who speaks or merely understands the heritage language, and who is to some degree bilingual in English and the heritage language”) are required to take only one course.

      Students with AP language exam scores of 4 or 5 or IB higher level language scores of 5, 6, or 7 are required to take only one course.
      Transfer students may use transfer credit to count for one or both courses. Each approved transfer course must be a minimum of 4 quarter credits or 3 semester credits.  

      Courses satisfying the requirement may also apply, when eligible, to the Core, Experiential Learning, and Knowledge, Identity and Power degree requirements, and also to major, minor, and interdisciplinary emphasis requirements where applicable.

      All 1 unit courses in CHIN, FREN, GERM, GRK, JAPN, LAT, or SPAN taught in the target language have been approved for the language requirement. In addition the following courses taught in English have been approved for the requirement: ARTH 371, CONN 330, FREN 391, GERM 305, GERM 320, GERM 350, GLAM 120.

    8. Satisfied the Knowledge, Identity, and Power (KNOW) Graduation Requirement by completing one course that has been approved to meet that requirement. The Curriculum Committee approves courses fulfilling the KNOW requirement based on the following rubric:
      1. Learning Objectives
        • Courses in Knowledge, Identity and Power (KNOW) provide a specific site for students to understand the dynamics and consequences of power differentials, inequalities, and divisions among social groups and the relationship to the representation and production of knowledge. Students also develop their capacity to communicate meaningfully about power, disparity, and diversity of experiences and identities in these courses.
      2. Guidelines
        • These courses promote critical engagement with the causes, nature, and consequences of individual, institutional, cultural, and/or structural dynamics of disparity, power, and privilege.
        • These courses provide opportunities for students to:
          1. engage in dialogue about issues of knowledge, identity, and power, and
          2. consider linkages between their social positions and course themes related to these issues.
        • Courses may also fulfill other program or graduation requirements.
    9. Satisfied the Experiential Learning Graduation Requirement by completing either a zero-credit EXLN course (295-298) or a credit-bearing course that is approved to meet that requirement.
      Experiences associated with the zero-credit courses that fulfill the requirement are approved by Curriculum Committee and the Office of Experiential Learning Programs and Support in one of the following categories:
      1. Internships. All internships approved through a learning agreement between the student, employer, and Career and Employment Services fulfill this requirement. Internships can occur during the semester or the summer.
      2. Study abroad/study away. Only study abroad and study away programs approved by the Office of International Programs fulfill this requirement, including faculty-led programs and third-party programs.
      3. Independent research, scholarship, and creative work. Participation in the University’s summer research, scholarship, and creative work program fulfills this requirement. Other independent research, scholarly, and creative experiences outside the traditional classroom, teaching laboratory, and teaching studio setting must be approved by the Office of Experiential Learning Programs and Support.
      4. Community-based learning. Community-based learning experiences supervised by Puget Sound faculty, staff members, or community partners, and approved by the Office of Experiential Learning Programs and Support fulfill this requirement.

      Credit-bearing courses that fulfill the requirement are approved by the Curriculum Committee and the Office of Experiential Learning Programs and Support based on the following rubric:

      1. Learning Objectives
        Students satisfying the Experiential Learning requirement will
        • engage in direct experiences outside the traditional classroom, teaching laboratory, and teaching studio that allow them to integrate theory and practice in real-world contexts
        • reflect on how these direct experiences have shaped their academic growth and understanding of self, others, or the world
        • utilize flexible and sophisticated problem-solving skills to address unscripted problems
      2. Guidelines
        Courses that fulfill the Experiential Learning requirement
        • require students to spend at least 10 hours outside the traditional classroom, teaching laboratory, and teaching studio on course-related activities
        • require students to reflect in documented ways at appropriate intervals throughout the course
        • require students to apply ideas, theories, and skills to non-simulated, real-world situations
        • foster student agency through the independent navigation of ambiguous or indeterminate situations, requiring students to take initiative, make decisions, and learn from mistakes, successes, and consequences of decisions.
        • utilize experiential components of the course as central elements of overall course design and assessment of student performance
      3. These courses may also fulfill other program or graduation requirements.
      4. Earned at least three academic units outside the requirements of the first major, and outside the department/program of the first major, at the upper-division level, which is understood to be 300 or 400 level courses or 200 level courses with at least two prerequisites;
      5. Met requirements in an academic major; (Courses counting toward the major may not be taken pass/fail unless they are mandatory pass/fail courses.)
      6. Completed all incomplete or in-progress grades;
      7. Filed an application for graduation with the Office of the Registrar. Applications are due in September for graduation in the following May, August, or December.
    10. Core Requirements for the Bachelor's Degree

      The University of Puget Sound faculty has designed the core curriculum to give undergraduates an integrated and demanding introduction to the life of the mind and established methods of intellectual inquiry. The Puget Sound undergraduate's core experience begins with two first-year seminars that guide the student through an in-depth exploration of a focused area of interest and sharpen the student's skills in constructing persuasive arguments. In the first three years of their Puget Sound college career, students also study five "Approaches to Knowing" - Fine Arts, Humanities, Mathematics, Natural Science, and Social Science. These core areas develop the student's understanding of different disciplinary perspectives on society, culture, and the physical world and explore the strengths of those disciplinary approaches and their limitations. Connections, an upper-level integrative course, challenges the traditional boundaries of disciplines and examines the benefits and limits of interdisciplinary approaches to knowledge.

      Further, in accordance with the stated educational goals of the University of Puget Sound, core curriculum requirements have been established: (a) to improve each student's grasp of the intellectual tools necessary for the understanding and communication of ideas; (b) to enable each student to understand herself or himself as a thinking person capable of making ethical and aesthetic choices; (c) to help each student comprehend the diversity of intellectual approaches to understanding human society and the physical world, and (d) to increase each student's awareness of their place in those broader contexts. Specific objectives of the core areas are described below.

      1. Core Curriculum: Rubrics and Guidelines.

        Each core rubric consists of two sections, "Guidelines" and "Learning Objectives." Faculty have developed the Guidelines section to achieve the particular Learning Objectives of the core rubric and, more broadly, the university's educational goals. The Guidelines are intended to be used by faculty to develop core courses and the Curriculum Committee to review core courses. The Learning Objectives are intended to provide a clear statement to students of what they can expect to learn from any given core area. Although the Learning Objectives will assist the faculty in developing Core courses and meeting the Core area's spirit, the Curriculum Committee will evaluate and approve Core courses based on their adherence to the Guidelines, not the Learning Objectives.



        The First-Year Seminars at Puget Sound introduce students into an academic community and engage them in the process of scholarly inquiry.

        Students develop the intellectual habits necessary to write and speak effectively and with integrity in these discussion-based seminars. Students increase their ability to develop compelling arguments by learning to frame questions around a focused topic, assess and support claims, and present their work to an academic audience both orally and in writing. As part of understanding scholarly conversations, students learn to identify the most appropriate information sources and evaluate those sources critically. Over the course of two seminars, students-with increased independence-contribute to these conversations and produced a substantive scholarly project.

        In the first seminar in this sequence, students engage challenging texts and ideas through guided inquiry led by the faculty member. Students begin to develop the academic reading, writing, and oral argument necessary to enter into academic conversations. Assignments in this seminar largely involve sources prescribed by the instructor rather than sources students search for and identify themselves. In Seminar II, students build on and continue to develop the academic abilities introduced in Seminar I. The seminar culminates in independent student projects that incorporate sources beyond the instructor-prescribed course materials.

        Each seminar is focused on a scholarly topic, set of questions, or theme. These seminars may be taken only to fulfill the SSI core requirement and simultaneously fulfill the KNOW graduation requirement.

        1. These seminars teach students how to frame a problem or question, develop a thesis, defend their thesis effectively, and think critically about arguments- their own and those of others.
        2. These seminars address important conventions of written argumentation (including audience, organization, and style) and approach writing as a process.
          1. In Seminar I, assignments focus on material provided mainly by the instructor.
          2. In Seminar II, students produce a substantive scholarly paper or project appropriate to first-year students' skill level and preparation that involves independent research.
        3. Each seminar requires students to present arguments orally through discussion and a more structured presentation.
        4. Concepts and practices of information literacy, including issues of academic integrity, are integrated into these seminars.
          1. In Seminar I, students learn to distinguish between different types of information sources (for example, scholarly vs. popular, primary vs. secondary) and learn to evaluate sources of information for biases, reliability, and appropriateness.
          2. In Seminar II, students learn to craft research questions, search for and retrieve information, and seek appropriate assistance in the research process.



        Students in Artistic Approaches courses develop a critical, interpretive, and analytical understanding of art by studying an artistic tradition.

        1. The Fine Arts include the visual, performing, and literary arts. Courses in Artistic Approaches may either be historical or creative in emphasis.
        2. Courses in Artistic Approaches examine significant developments in representative works of an artistic tradition.
        3. These courses provide opportunities for informed engagement with an artistic tradition and require students to reflect critically, both orally and in writing, about art and the creative process.



        Students in courses in Humanistic Approaches acquire an understanding of how humans have addressed fundamental questions of existence, identity, and values and develop an appreciation of these issues of intellectual and cultural experience. Students also learn to clarify and to evaluate products of human reflection and creativity critically.

        1. Humanistic Approaches courses examine products of individual or collective human reflection and creativity. Accordingly, courses may include literary or artistic works or other evidence of a culture's beliefs, customs, and institutions.
        2. Courses in Humanistic Approaches introduce students to methodologies appropriate to exploring beliefs about human existence, identity, and values.
        3. Humanistic Approaches courses explore these issues over time or across cultures.



        Students in Mathematical Approaches courses develop an appreciation of the power of Mathematics and formal methods to provide a way of understanding a problem unambiguously, describing its relation to other problems, and specifying an approach to its solution. Students in Mathematical Approaches courses develop various mathematical skills, an understanding of formal reasoning, and a facility with applications.

        1. These goals are met by courses that treat formal reasoning in one of the following areas.
          1. Quantitative reasoning: The ability to work with numeric data, to reason from those data, and to understand what can and can not be inferred from those data;
          2. Logical reasoning: The study of formal logic, at least to the extent required to understand the mathematical proof.
          3. The algorithmic method: The ability to analyze a problem, design a systematic way of addressing that problem (an algorithm), and implement that algorithm in a computer programming language.
        2. Where these skills or methods are taught within the context of a discipline other than mathematics or computer science, they must receive greater attention than the disciplinary material.



        Students in Natural Scientific Approaches courses develop an understanding of scientific methods. They also acquire knowledge of the fundamental elements of one or more natural sciences.

        1. Courses in Natural Scientific Approaches are founded in and explore the fundamental elements of one or more of the disciplines of astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, and physics.
        2. Courses in Natural Scientific Approaches emphasize scientific methods in problem-solving. They develop the student's analytical abilities and, whenever possible, incorporate quantitative methods.
        3. Courses in Natural Scientific Approaches have regularly scheduled laboratory or field experiences involving data collection and analysis.



        The social sciences provide systematic approaches to understanding relationships that arise among individuals, organizations, or institutions. Students in a course in the Social Scientific Approach to Knowing acquire an understanding of theories about the individual or collective behavior within a social environment and of the ways that empirical evidence is used to develop and test those theories.

        1. Courses in Social-Scientific Approaches
          1. explore assumptions embedded in social scientific theories and
          2. examine the importance of simplifying or describing world observations to construct a model of an individual or collective behavior.
        2. Courses in Social-Scientific Approaches require students to apply a social scientific theory to understand individual or collective behavior.



        Students in Connections courses develop their understanding of the interrelationship of fields of knowledge by exploring connections and contrasts between various disciplines with respect to disciplinary methodology and subject matter.

        1. Connections courses draw upon the curricula of either established disciplines or the University's interdisciplinary programs. These courses may involve the collaboration of faculty from more than one department or individual faculty with interdisciplinary expertise and interests.
        2. In the Connections course, students engage the interdisciplinary process by
          1. identifying multiple disciplinary approaches to a subject;
          2. analyzing the subject from these perspectives;
          3. participating in cross-disciplinary dialogue; and
          4. exploring the integration or synthesis of these approaches to foster understanding of the subject.
        3. Connections courses explore these interdisciplinary issues at a level of sophistication expected of an upper-division course. These courses may have appropriate prerequisites, so long as they do not unduly limit the audience in numbers or the level of disciplinary sophistication.
        4. The Connections course must be taken at Puget Sound.
      2. Sequence of Core Courses.

        Students are expected to satisfy the eight-core requirements in the following sequence:

        The First Year: Argument and Inquiry Units
        Seminar in Scholarly Inquiry I 1
        Seminar in Scholarly Inquiry II 1
        Years 1 through 3: Five Approaches to Knowing Units
        Artistic 1
        Humanistic 1
        Mathematical (strongly recommended in the first year) 1
        Natural Scientific 1
        Social Scientific 1
        Junior or Senior Year: Interdisciplinary Experience Units
        Connections 1
        Total: 8
      3. Core requirements for transfer students.
        1. All transfer students, before receiving the bachelor's degree, must meet all core requirements.
        2. Students entering the University with advanced standing must complete the following minimum core requirements at the University of Puget Sound.
          1. Students entering with sophomore standing must complete a course in Connections and three additional core areas.
          2. Students entering with junior standing or above must complete a course in Connections and two additional core areas.
      4. Enrollment limits for core courses.

        Faculty and administration recognize the value of small classes for teaching and learning and will work together to reduce the size of core classes whenever possible. Sections of the Seminars in Scholarly Inquiry I and II will have enrollment limits of 17 students unless faculty members request or give permission for an enrollment limit of 18.

    11. Departmental, School, and Program Guidelines

      1. Each program, department, and school within the University will review its academic program regularly to ensure that the primary educational objectives of the University are being addressed. This re-examination should not be cursory nor designed merely to affirm the status quo. Courses should be revised, if necessary, to address University and departmental objectives.
      2. Each program, department, and school will maintain at least one course suitable for, but not restricted to, the non-major, for whom that course may comprise the sole exposure to the field. The course should consider methodology and assumptions as well as substantive disciplinary knowledge.
      3. Each student should become familiar with values, assumptions, and perspectives conditioned by cultures different from their own. Wherever it is appropriate and possible, courses should consider the subject matter in a multicultural context.
      4. Since the University supports and encourages writing in all disciplines, students need to have significant writing experiences whenever appropriate across the curriculum.
      5. Writing in the Major. Because the Seminars in Scholarly Inquiry anticipate further development of writing abilities throughout the undergraduate years, it is appropriate that all students should encounter substantive writing experiences within their major fields of study. Each department, school, or program with an undergraduate major shall demonstrate to the Curriculum Committee that it contains significant writing expectations within its curricular requirements. (Please see Addendum A of the Departmental Curriculum Review Self-Study Guide for guidelines.)
      6. To encourage study outside the major field, the following limitations will govern the requirements imposed by each program, department, or school:
        1. No more than 10 units may be required in the major field.
        2. No more than 16 total units may be required in the major and supporting fields.
        3. Exceptions will be permissible only with the approval of the Dean and the Curriculum Committee.
      7. An academic minor must consist of a minimum of five, but no more than six, units within the minor area.
      8. All courses and requirements shall be reviewed and approved by the Curriculum Committee.