The Liberal Studies Program (LSP) is divided into two primary components. The first is termed the Common Core, and consists of a series of classes taken sequentially by students as they progress towards their degree. Core requirements begin when incoming students in autumn take a Chicago Quarter (CQ) course. From over a hundred different topic offerings, a single class is selected that is either Discover Chicago, which includes an intensive immersion week experience prior to the start of fall classes, or Explore Chicago, which meets during the regular fall term. Regardless of type, CQ instructors use both traditional and experiential pedagogies to teach students not only relevant course content, but also information about the city's people, communities, institutions, and system of public transportation. All CQ classes further include a co-curricular component called the Common Hour, which is designed to facilitate students' transition to the college experience, and give them initial exposure to DePaul's distinctive mission.
Students take additional Common Core courses during their first year. The WRD 102-WRD 104 sequence introduces different conventions of writing, and instructs students on how to analyze readings, write for different audiences, and take a rhetorical stance. Upon completion students are better able to express themselves creatively and can defend and document a clearly articulated thesis in a scholarly paper. The Focal Point Seminar further emphasizes different forms of writing, and helps students develop strong oral communication skills. Applying critical perspectives and through multiple lens of inquiry, students learn to discuss and debate ideas and issues beyond their own opinions. Lastly, first-year students begin a two-course sequence in Quantitative Reasoning and Technology Literacy (QRTL I-QRTL II) designed to teach them how to apply quantitative reasoning and quantitative information, and to critically evaluate real-world issues and problems using modern information technologies (e.g., spreadsheets, databases, statistical analysis software, search engines, programming algorithms). The skills gained in the QRTL courses provide students with the necessary tools to live and work in a global community that is increasingly quantitative and technological. Some students may be required to take preparatory math classes before being eligible to enroll in QRTL courses, while other students may have one or both QRTL courses met by AP scores, transfer credit, or proficiency tests. Majors that require calculus do not require QRTL.
During subsequent years, students take courses based on their class standing. In the second year, the Common Core course is the Seminar on Multiculturalism in the U.S. These seminars range widely in subject matter but each is meant to inform students about key debates in the history of multiculturalism, and give them the ability to incorporate and apply multicultural perspectives in a diverse workplace and society. The Common Core requirement for the junior year is an Experiential Learning course, which can take the form of doing laboratory or field research, studying abroad, engaging in community service, or completing an internship in their field of study. Connecting in-class readings and writing assignments with real world applications and experiences are key features of experiential learning. The final Common Core requirement is the Capstone Seminar. This course provides students with the opportunity to synthesize into a final project the methods and knowledge of their chosen major with what they have learned in their liberal studies classes.
The second component of the LSP is made up of courses in six distinct Learning Domains: 1) Arts and Literature 2) Philosophical Inquiry; 3) Religious Dimensions; 4) Scientific Inquiry; 5) Social, Cultural, and Behavioral Inquiry; and 6) Understanding the Past. These areas reflect a conventional liberal arts and social sciences curriculum yet are not discipline based. Within any one domain, courses share basic criteria, learning outcomes, and modes of inquiry, but can be quite dissimilar in content. In fact, faculty from different departments, programs, and colleges across the university serve as instructors for these courses. Students are assured breadth of learning by being required to take two to three courses in each domain, but are also given enough latitude to experience and apply the many exciting forms of intellectual inquiry taking place in today's modern university.
In summary, DePaul University's Liberal Studies Program provides students with a well-rounded and intellectually challenging education. The thinking, writing, speaking, and computational skills gained from the combined LSP requirements facilitate successful graduation, and beyond that, enable students to pursue productive careers while being actively engaged in life-long learning. Ultimately, the LSP seeks to educate future leaders who will create a more just and humane world.