Comprehensive Liberal Studies

The Comprehensive Liberal Studies major (CLS) offers students with unusual and varied interests the opportunity to design an individual program of study that closely reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the liberal arts. It is a unique major that, unlike more traditional departmental approaches, allows students to pursue the study of disparate subject areas in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences and mathematics divisions. At the same time, students declaring the CLS also identify and explain a clear intellectual focus that serves to define and unify the major they create.

The CLS major consists of 44 semester hours drawn from courses in the three academic divisions. Over half of these 44 semester hours must be taken at the 300/400 level, and must be spread across at least two of the academic divisions. In addition, a CLS major must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Sixteen semester hours must be taken in each of two academic divisions, while twelve semester hours must be taken in a third academic division.
  • At least 24 of the 44 total semester hours in the major must be taken at the 300/400 level. These 24 upper-level hours must be distributed across at least two academic divisions.
  • No more than half the semester hours earned in any one division may be drawn from the same discipline or departmentment.
  • Only one interdisciplinary course designated INST may be counted in either the Humanities or Social Science groupings, but not in the NS&M group.
  • At least one lab science course must be included as part of the major.
  • English and foreign language courses serving to satisfy VWU's core general studies requirements are excluded, but courses satisfying general studies Frames of Reference, Writing (other than core English courses), Quantitative, Textual Analysis, Lab Science and SIE requirements may be included.
  • A 2.5 grade point average in the courses comprising the CLS is required for graduation.

When formally declaring this major, the student must file a Declaration of Major form with the Office of the Registrar at least two semesters before graduation, summer not counting as a semester. In addition, a contract outlining the plan of study must be worked out in close consultation with an academic advisor, who can be a full-time faculty member from any one of the three academic divisions. This contract consists of a tentative list of courses the student plans to take to complete the proposed program of study. It also includes a student essay declaring the goals and rationale for choosing this type of liberal studies major, and demonstrating an intellectual coherence and unifying theme that will serve to define and give clear direction to the major. Examples of this might include a study of forensic techniques used in criminal investigations as featured in American mystery novels, or the impact of the bacteria-borne Black Death pandemic on European religion and art in the late medieval and early modern periods. Complete contracts must also indicate which courses (whether or not they count toward the CLS) have been or will be taken to fulfill the University's requirements for "Oral Communication Competence" and "Computer Proficiency," and must explain in writing (if not readily apparent) specifically how the indicated courses fulfill these requirements. Contracts will be subject to initial approval by the student's faculty advisor and the director of the Comprehensive Liberal Studies major, both of whom (along with the student) will sign the completed contract. This contract is to be kept on file by the faculty advisor; it is renegotiable if courses listed on the contract become unavailable, but such modifications must be approved by the student, the faculty advisor and the CLS director. See the next section, Comprehensive Liberal Studies—Curricular Emphasis, for teacher licensure information.