College Studies Program


The College Studies program—Philadelphia University‘s general education core curriculum—promotes a strong liberal arts and sciences education alongside the University’s professionally oriented majors. Students progress through a sequence of foundational courses, making connections between disciplines and viewing their own fields of choice through wider social, economic, political and cultural lenses. The liberal arts and sciences form the foundation of every student’s major, bringing classmates together to share a common educational experience and to learn from each other’s diverse perspectives. 

Two realities fuel our College Studies program: the inevitability of future change—in the economy, technology, the workplace or career goals—and the necessity for effective communication, critical thinking, research and information literacy skills. The College Studies program at the University promotes the development of lifelong skills through a structured and progressive approach to the liberal arts and sciences that prepares students for a constantly changing world in which career success requires more than just the latest technical skills. As a program, College Studies comprises about 40 percent of students’ baccalaureate experience and represents the most significant common factor in their education. Offering core courses and options within categories, the program is sequenced over four years to meet the intellectual needs of students at each level of development.

Program Learning Outcomes

Through the College Studies general education program, graduates of the B.S. programs at Philadelphia University will: 

  • Understand the cultural, political and economic development of the United States and the challenges of citizenship in a diverse, pluralist society and in the global community.
  • Understand the interdependence of the world, including its history, societies, cultures and environments.
  • Connect learning across disciplines and between liberal education and professional studies as a means of making effective contributions to their professions and their communities.
  • Develop effective critical thinking, written and other forms of communication, quantitative research and information literacy skills.
  • Engage in ethical and moral reasoning in their personal and professional lives.
  • Develop the cross-cultural understanding and communication skills necessary to live and work in a multicultural society and in an interconnected world. 
  • Understand the methodologies and concepts central to the humanities, social sciences and natural and physical sciences to enrich their understanding and aesthetic appreciation of the world. Become successful collaborative, reflective, intentional and lifelong learners. 

Program Description

College Studies courses introduce students to the major modes of knowledge, such as the nature of the scientific method and the methods of analysis used by social sciences. They also seek to develop awareness of the connections among academic disciplines. In the first year of study, the primary focus is upon the American experience. Students examine the implications of a multicultural society and its impact on the workplace in the United States as well as abroad. Courses throughout the remaining years of the program expand students’ understanding of the wider international context. Students may take foreign language courses as well as regional/area studies courses to promote an understanding of the increasingly interdependent world.

To promote effective communication skills, the College Studies program has a strong emphasis on writing, with two courses devoted specifically to writing and other courses in which writing is an important element, including at least one writing-intensive course in every major.

This innovative program is customized to the University’s mission of professional education, and its use of best practices in general education has been recognized by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education, the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Sequencing of College Studies Courses

College Studies: The general education core curriculum at Philadelphia University

Select appropriate number of courses from each block.

College Studies courses are sequenced over four years in order to meet the intellectual needs of students at each level of their education. In most cases, each category of courses will be taken at a specific time in the student’s major program. Students should consult with their academic advisors before registering each semester and use the chart provided to follow the sequencing of the College Studies program.

Fundamentals Courses

Some students begin the College Studies sequence with appropriate preparatory courses in reading, writing and mathematics (determined by placement testing). Introduction to Academic Writing (WRTG-100), Fundamentals of College Reading and Study Skills (READ-099) and Fundamentals of College Mathematics (MATH-099) are listed in the course-description section.

Description of College Studies Groups and Courses

The following provides a description of the categories or groups of courses, which are taken in a prescribed sequence in the College Studies program. The groups and courses are listed in the sequence in which students will take them.

Writing Group: Writing Seminar I (WRTG-101) and Writing Seminar II (WRTG-21X)

The College Studies program includes two courses in which writing is a central focus. Students take the first course in the freshman year and the second in the sophomore year. Some students may begin the sequence with Introduction to Academic Writing (WRTG-100) (determined by placement testing).

WRTG-100 Introduction to Academic Writing


This is a theme-based writing course designed for students who need additional preparation before taking Writing I. Students who place into this course are given background information about the content of Writing I, which prepares them to read and write college-level academic prose. Students who are learning English take a different version of this course (Global), though students should only be placed in WRTG-100G after designated faculty members have evaluated a writing sample. 

Writing Seminar I

The first of two core writing-specific courses in the College Studies Program, WRTG-101 Writing Seminar I: Finding Philadelphia is a theme-based writing course designed to be taken in the first year of study. The interconnected skills of careful reading, critical thinking and cogent writing are the primary concerns of this course. The seminar has a specific topic focused on aspects of diversity in the Philadelphia cultural experience. Through reading, discussing and writing about a variety of texts that share a common theme, students learn the rudiments of writing college-level academic papers. Honors and Global versions of this course are available.

Writing Seminar II

All versions of this sophomore level writing course focus on problem-solving and thinking analytically about professional concerns. Students address key issues in different disciplines and professions. Students select one course from the following:

WRTG-211 Writing Seminar II: Business
WRTG-215 Writing Seminar II: Architecture and Design
WRTG-217 Writing Seminar II: Science, Technology, Engineering and Health Professions


Scientific Understanding

All students will complete two science courses in order to understand the scientific method and its application. Some students will take one science course in their first year and a second the following year, while others will take both College Studies science courses in the first year. Students should take the sequence that meets the requirements of their major and is of greatest interest.

SCI-101 Environmental Science
SCI-102 Exploring Science
SCI-106 Biology for Design: From Biological Adaption to Biomimetic Design
SCI-108  Sustainability & Eco-Innovation
SCI-110 Landscape Ecology
SCI-112 Materials Selection
BIOL-101 Current Topics in Biology
CHEM-101 General Chemistry
PHYS-101 General Physics
CHEM-103/103L Chemistry I/Chemistry I Lab
CHEM-104/104L Chemistry II/Chemistry II Lab
BIOL-103/103L Biology I/Biology I Lab
PHYS 201/201L Physics I/Physics I Lab


Quantitative Reasoning

The College Studies curriculum requires every Philadelphia University graduate to complete a mathematics education that includes differential and integral calculus to ensure that our graduates have developed quantitative reasoning skills that strengthen their critical thinking abilities. To fulfill this core curriculum requirement, students must complete the highest calculus course for which they are qualified, up to Calculus I.

MATH-100/101 Finite Mathematics  
MATH-102 Pre-Calculus
MATH-110 Pre-Calculus for Science and Engineering
MATH-103 Introduction to Calculus 
MATH-111 Calculus I


Arts and Cultures - One Course

Courses in this group are divided between those dealing with visual literacy and those that help students “read” the performing arts or explore the notion of aesthetic knowledge itself. 

ARTS-101 Integrative Design Process
ARTS-105 Music
ARTS-120 Performing Arts
ARTS-123 Ideas and Images (not for Architecture or any design majors)
ARTH-101 History of Western Art I
ARTH-102 History of Western Art II
AHIST-205 History of Architecture & Interiors I


Historical Understanding I - One Course

The course in this category helps students understand the significance of change over time and the way in which our present is shaped by the past. America in Focus examines the various transformations of U.S. society since the end of the Civil War, with a special emphasis on Philadelphia as an example of America’s historical development.

HIST-114  America in Focus: Themes in U.S. History

World Languages and Area Studies - Two Courses

The offerings for this group seek to promote students' intercultural and international understanding. A student receives College Studies credit for only two offerings within this distribution group. (There is an exception for Engineering students, who need only one course in this category.) Students may choose World Language courses or study a region and understand its cultures in the Area Studies courses. Students planning to study abroad should consult early with their advisors about how best to prepare in terms of the courses in this category. 

Students may take:

  • Two courses in Area Studies; 
  • One World Languages course and one course in Area Studies; or
  • Two courses in the same World Language.

World Languages:

Students taking two World Languages courses to fulfill this requirement must take sequenced levels of the same language to satisfy the World Languages requirement; for example, a student cannot take Spanish I and French I.

An exception to the sequencing rule can be given if:

  • A student places into a higher-level language course (e.g. German 201) and no course at a more advanced level is routinely offered at the University. In these instances, a student will be allowed to take different language courses at different levels (e.g. German 201 and French 101).
  • A student takes a 101-level course and no 201-level course is routinely offered. In these instances, a student will be able to take different language courses at the 101 level (e.g. Chinese 101 and Spanish 101).

Students who are unsure about the level of World Language course for which they should register can contact the College of Science, Health and the Liberal Arts to schedule a diagnostic assessment. If you studied a foreign language in high school, please use the following guidelines to determine which college-level courses to take:

  • No previous study, or one (1) year of a foreign language: 101 course
  • Two – four (2-4) years of study: 201 course

There will be an in-class assessment at the beginning of the semester to make sure that students are placed appropriately. The language program reserves the right to decide on a student’s placement at this stage.

Because the College Studies program serves to broaden a student’s global perspective, students who are native speakers of one of the languages presently offered must study a different language or take Area Studies courses to fulfill this category.

Challenge exams in a foreign language can be taken only for those courses presently offered at the University.

Independent study in a foreign language (HUMN-382) may be offered by individual appointment for students who wish to continue beyond the Foreign Language IV level. 

World Languages courses:

ARAB-101, ARAB-102 Arabic I and II
CHIN-101, CHIN-102 Chinese I and II
FREN-101, FREN-201, FREN-301, FREN-401 French I-IV
GER-101, GER-201 German I and II
ITAL-101, ITAL-201, ITAL-301, ITAL-401 Italian I-IV
JAPN-101, JAPN-201, JAPN-301, JAPN-401 Japanese I-IV
SPAN-101, SPAN-201, SPAN-301, SPAN-401 Spanish I-IV

Area Studies courses:

AREAST-201 Europe
AREAST-202 Latin America
AREAST-205 East Asia
AREAST-208 Africa
AREAST-210 Middle East
AREAST-220 Great Britain: Study Abroad Preparation
AREAST-226 Italy: Study Abroad Preparation
AREAST-227 India and South Asia

Social Sciences I: One course

Courses in this group acquaint students with the social sciences as a way of looking at human behavior. Social Sciences I courses present a global perspective based on the understanding that we live in an increasingly interdependent world. These courses are interdisciplinary and give students a broad introduction to social scientific methods.

SOC-201 Class, Gender & Race in World Societies
SOC-204 Personality and Global Cultures
SOC-208 The Individual and the Global Environment
SOC-211 Poverty and Power in the Global Economy
SOC-225 Global Politics

Humanities I: One course
Courses in this group examine aspects of the human endeavor through the study of areas such as literature, philosophy, ethics and religion. Using primary texts, these courses address human beliefs and values, including religion and ethical reasoning. 

HUMN-225 Exploring World Literature
HUMN-215 Evil and Good
HUMN-223 World Philosophies

Junior Seminars: Liberal arts Seminars and Integrative Professional Seminars - Two Courses 
Junior Seminars are upper-level writing-intensive courses that explore a specific topic in detail. There are two categories of Junior Seminars: Liberal Arts Seminars, which explore select topics in history, the humanities and the social sciences; and Integrative Professional Seminars, which feature topics related to the University’s professional majors. Students may take one course from each category or two courses from the Liberal Arts Seminars category.

Liberal Arts Seminars

JSLA-360 Creative Writing: Shaping Narrative and Experience
JSLA-361 From Fiction to Film
JSLA-362 Artist & Society in Literature and Film
JSLA-363 Shakespeare and Popular Culture
JSLA-370 U.S.: Recent Past
JSLA-380 Human Rights
JSLA-381 Gender Studies
JSLA-390 The Urban Experience
JSLA-391 The African-American Experience 

Go to before pre-registration to check for additional course offerings in this category.

Integrative Professional Seminars

JSINT-360 Human Behavior and the Physical Environment
JSINT-378 Ethnographic Research Methods
JSINT-384 Applied Professional Ethics

Go to before pre-registration to check for additional course offerings in this category.

Capstone Course in College Studies:

COLLST-499 Contemporary Perspectives

The capstone of the College Studies program, Contemporary Perspectives draws upon the previously completed College Studies courses and makes connections between students’ majors and the liberal arts and sciences. Students explore major economic, political and cultural trends in the post-1945 world. All students complete a final research project, which addresses an issue in the professions in light of current international trends. All students take this 4-credit capstone core course in their senior year. This course is writing intensive and cannot be taken for credit/no credit.


College Studies and Transfer Students

The University is mindful of the need to be accessible to students who transfer from two-year colleges and other four-year institutions. In general, students who transfer academic credit from other colleges to the bachelor’s degree program at Philadelphia University may have that credit apply toward the requirements of the College Studies program.

Courses for which credit can be transferred include all of those College Studies courses for which equivalent courses have been completed at other accredited institutions. Since College Studies courses are designed specifically for Philadelphia University, the University will determine transfer course equivalency.

Two specific courses in the College Studies curriculum, Writing Seminar II and Contemporary Perspectives, serve as keystone courses that require students to reflect on liberal-professional connections at Philadelphia University and to integrate the multiple academic skills they have learned in the other College Studies courses they have completed. Therefore, AP/transfer credit is not awarded for Writing Seminar II or Contemporary Perspectives.

Advanced Placement and College Level Examination Program (CLEP) credits will be accepted under the policy that is currently in effect at the University. Their acceptability to the curriculum will be determined in the same manner as transfer credit from other colleges.

Transfer students should meet with their academic advisors during orientation or at the beginning of their first semester to review whether/how courses taken at other institutions apply to their degree requirements at Philadelphia University.