DePaul University Catalog > Undergraduate Core > Liberal Studies Program


General Purpose

The Liberal Studies Program (LSP) is the common curriculum taken by all students enrolled in the traditional undergraduate colleges at DePaul University. The LSP is designed to enhance writing abilities, mathematical and technological proficiencies, and critical and creative thinking skills, while broadening students’ knowledge base beyond their chosen major. LSP courses foster an appreciation of different religious and philosophical worldviews, promote application of ethical reasoning, and realize new understanding of concepts and theories through multiple methods of inquiry and disciplinary perspective. In LSP seminars, students read primary texts, write research papers, and communicate their ideas orally. Essential intellectual skills are further reinforced throughout the program with performance assignments, field observations, laboratory research, and more. While the LSP curriculum itself is quite varied, the Program as a whole shares these four learning goals:

  1. Knowledge of Human Cultures and the Physical and Natural World
  2. Intellectual and Creative Skills
  3. Personal Responsibility and Social Transformation
  4. Integrative Learning

Ultimately, LSP courses lay the groundwork to discover, transform, and create knowledge, and are meant to instill a thirst for lifelong learning.


The Liberal Studies Program (LSP) has 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 for incoming students in their first autumn quarter when all take a Chicago Quarter (CQ) course. From over a hundred different topic offerings, each student selects a single class 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, all 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 also 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. 

Another Common Core requirement in the first year is First-year Writing. The WRD 103-WRD 104 sequence introduces students to different conventions of writing and instructs them how to analyze readings, to write for different audiences, and to take a rhetorical stance in their scholarly papers. (Students taking WRD 103 and/or WRD 104 at DePaul must receive grades of C- or better.) Upon successful completion of First-year Writing, students have the ability to express themselves creatively and can defend and document a clearly articulated thesis in a scholarly paper. The Focal Point Seminar (see College requirements) further emphasizes different forms of writing, oral communication skills, and seminar behavior, such that they are able to intellectually discuss and debate beyond their own opinions. Lastly, first-year students begin (depending on College/major requirements) a two-course sequence in Quantitative Reasoning and Technology Literacy (QRTL I & II), designed to develop quantitative reasoning, the use of information technologies (e.g., databases, statistical analysis software, programming algorithms), and the necessary skills to think critically and reflectively in an increasingly sophisticated global economy. (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 waived on the basis of AP classes, assessment tests, or major area of study). 

Students continue to take Common Core courses based on their class standing. In the second year, the requirement is the Seminar on Multiculturalism in the U.S. This seminar draws students into key debates about multiculturalism and encourages critical thinking and reflection in a diverse workplace and society. The LSP 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 a field of study. Students connect their experiences to in-class readings and writing assignments. The final Common Core course is the Senior Capstone, which enables students to synthesize the methods and knowledge learned in their major field of study courses into a final project, while reflecting upon the values and content of their liberal studies classes. 

The second component of the LSP is made up of 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 Domains reflect a conventional liberal arts and sciences curriculum, yet are not based in any one discipline. Within any single Domain, basic criteria, learning outcomes, and modes of inquiry are shared, but the courses themselves come from many different departments, programs, and Colleges across the University. By having such broadly defined Learning Domains, students receiving a liberal education at DePaul are assured a breadth of pedagogical experiences but also enjoy great latitude in selecting, experiencing, and applying the many types of intellectual inquiry taking place in a modern university.

Liberal Studies Program Essential Learning Outcomes


DePaul’s Catholic, Vincentian, and urban character distinguishes its students’ experiences. In turn, its Liberal Studies Program connects students – in progressively more integrated ways – to the university’s mission and to values associated with social justice, diversity, and the desire to work toward socially and environmentally sustainable communities.

To prepare its students to understand, engage, and effect change as global citizens, these revised Liberal Studies Program learning goals and outcomes provide students with an integrative and intellectually challenging education. The rhetorical, creative, intellectual, analytical, quantitative, and interdisciplinary knowledge gained from the program’s connected coursework facilitates success as students and as life-long learners. The Liberal Studies Program supports the student’s academic major with learning across disciplines – both in and beyond the classroom.

Faculty from virtually every department, interdisciplinary program, and college teach over 1,400 different courses from which students can choose to fulfill their Liberal Studies Program requirements. This wide spectrum of participation on the part of students and faculty alike contributes to a strong sense of intellectual community at DePaul University as well as a shared commitment to its mission and values.

Goal 1. Knowledge of Human Cultures and the Physical and Natural World

Given our diverse and increasingly interdependent world, students will develop an understanding of societies and scientific principles.

Outcomes: As a result of their liberal studies coursework students will be able to:
  • demonstrate a breadth of knowledge through studies in the arts, history, humanities, languages, mathematics, natural sciences, and social sciences

Goal 2. Intellectual and Creative Skills

Given the Liberal Studies Program’s breadth and importance in the undergraduate curriculum, students will progressively develop the ability to think critically and imaginatively, formulate their own understanding, and effectively communicate their ideas.

Outcomes: As a result of their liberal studies coursework students will be able to:
  • systematically access, analyze, and evaluate information and ideas from multiple sources in order to identify underlying assumptions and formulate conclusions
  • create and support arguments using a variety of approaches
  • use existing knowledge to generate and synthesize ideas in original ways
  • employ information and quantitative literacies
  • communicate clearly in speech and writing 

Goal 3. Personal Responsibility and Social Transformation 

To understand and appreciate one’s role as a citizen in the greater community and world, students will demonstrate an awareness of their own and others’ values and ethical reasoning, consider and synthesize global, transnational, and intercultural perspectives and viewpoints, and understand the importance of civic participation in developing communities.
Outcomes: As a result of their liberal studies coursework students will be able to:
  • articulate their own and others’ beliefs about what it means to be human and to create a just society
  • respect and learn from others’ perspectives
  • evaluate ethical issues from multiple perspectives
  • make ethical decisions and live a life of personal integrity
  • benefit communities through socially responsible engagement and leadership
  • understand global interconnectedness and interdependencies
  • become a steward of global resources for a sustainable future

Goal 4. Integrative Learning 

Students will be encouraged – with the help of faculty, advisors, and the structure of the curriculum itself – to make connections between their Liberal Studies Program courses and to understand the value and utility of liberal education. They will also reflectively connect knowledge and competencies gained in the classroom to experiences beyond this setting.
Outcomes: As a result of their liberal studies coursework students will be able to:
  • make connections among ideas and experiences in order to synthesize and transfer Liberal Studies Program learning goals to their personal, academic, and professional pursuits
  • relate their learning to multiple fields and realms of experience
  • articulate connections to the Liberal Studies Program courses and aspects of DePaul’s mission.

The revised learning goals and outcomes are derived from national research and best practices surrounding liberal education. Building on the four pre-existing LSP meta-goals reflectiveness, value consciousness and ethical reasoning, multicultural perspective, and creative and critical thinking), and recognizing the challenges and opportunities of the contemporary world, these revisions amplify the four traditional outcomes of a liberal education* while engaging DePaul University’s mission throughout the program. 

* American Association of Colleges and Universities. College Learning for the New Global Century: A Report from the National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America’s Promise. (Washington, D.C., 2007) 11-50.