Portland-State-University 2022-2023 Bulletin

University Studies

117 Cramer Hall




Please see University Studies (general education) baccalaureate requirements.

The faculty of PSU have designed a four-year program of study required of all students (not required for Liberal Studies or Honors Program) planning to graduate from PSU. This nationally recognized program offers students a clear opportunity to acquire the foundation for the academic and problem solving skills needed to succeed in the 21st century. University Studies offers students a program of connected educational opportunities.

The purpose of the University Studies program is to facilitate the acquisition of the knowledge, abilities, and attitudes that will form a foundation for lifelong learning among its students. This foundation is built on four learning goals which include building capacity and the propensity to engage in critical thinking, using various forms of communication for learning and expression, exploring and analyzing the broader human experience and its environment, and appreciating the responsibilities of persons to themselves, each other, and their communities.

University Studies begins with Freshman Inquiry, a year-long course introducing students to different modes of inquiry and providing them with the tools to succeed in advanced studies and their majors. At the sophomore level, students choose three different courses, each of which leads into a thematically linked, interdisciplinary cluster of courses at the upper-division level. Students are required to complete 12 credits from one of these clusters. Finally, all students are required to complete a capstone course which consists of teams of students from different majors working together to complete a project addressing an issue in the Portland metropolitan community.

University Studies courses transfer to other institutions. For more information or assistance visit the University Studies website www.pdx.edu/university-studies/transferring-credits or the Office in 117 Cramer Hall.

Freshman Inquiry

See the University Studies Program website (www.pdx.edu/unst) for course descriptions

Freshman Inquiry consists of a year-long course developed by a team of faculty from different disciplines. Freshman Inquiry has a maximum class size of 36 students. Each class is also divided into three small-group, peer mentor sessions led by specially selected upper-division students. Class material is introduced and explored during the full class sessions and then assignments are developed and discussed in the peer mentor sessions.

While the themes and content of the Freshman Inquiry courses differ, the overall objectives are the same. Each of these classes builds a foundation of communication skills for learning and expression. Writing is the core, but communication also includes emphasis on improving oral, quantitative reasoning, and graphic/visual modes of communication. Freshman Inquiry is also designed to help students learn and effectively use current information technologies. Students will also learn how disciplines from the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and professional schools approach problems in different ways and how they work together to improve understanding of complex issues.

When students complete Freshman Inquiry they will be expected to be able to apply writing, quantitative reasoning, speech, and visual/graphic skills to problems requiring analysis and discovery. Freshman Inquiry will expand awareness of academic potential and prepare students to move on to increasingly rigorous and sophisticated levels of inquiry.

Sophomore Inquiry

See the University Studies Program website (www.pdx.edu/university-studies/sinq-junior-clusters) or online schedule of courses for course descriptions.

At the sophomore level, students complete 8 credits of coursework in Sophomore Inquiry. Students select two Sophomore Inquiry classes. Sophomore Inquiry classes are structured similarly to those in Freshman Inquiry with a main class and smaller mentor inquiry workshops, except at this level the mentor classes are led by graduate students. Mentor inquiry workshops focus on weekly learning modules on study skills, writing, technology training, group dynamics, speech and oral communication.

Sophomore Inquiry classes maintain an interdisciplinary approach to their individual topics, and continue to emphasize the four University Studies goals of Inquiry and Critical thinking, Communication, Diversity Equity, and Social Justice, and Ethics Agency and Community. Each Sophomore Inquiry class also provides an introduction to important concepts, questions, and concerns that will be explored in greater depth in the upper-division cluster courses to which it is linked.

Prior to Fall 2022, The Sophomore Inquiry requirement was 12 credits and was directly linked to the Upper-Division Cluster Theme. The 8-credit requirement only applies to students starting at PSU after Summer 2022.

Upper-Division Cluster

See the University Studies Program website (www.pdx.edu/university-studies/sinq-junior-clusters) for descriptions of upper-division clusters and lists of approved cluster courses.

After their Sophomore Inquiry coursework, students select an Upper-Division Cluster. Beginning in Fall 2022, the Upper Division Cluster does not need to link to any of the SINQ courses the student has taken, although it is recommended. From a list of courses approved for the selected cluster, students pursue a program of 12 upper-division credits offered by various departments across campus. These classes allow students to explore an aspect of the cluster’s theme in greater depth, while continuing to investigate the four University Studies goals in relation to the cluster topic.

Students might choose a cluster to broaden their perspective, allowing them the opportunity to take classes of interest outside their major, or students can choose a cluster to complement their major area of study. In either event, Upper-Division Cluster courses may not be used to fulfill a student’s major requirement. In addition, students cannot take cluster courses in their major or courses cross listed with their majors. The Upper Division Cluster theme completed is recognized as a note on the student transcript.

Senior Capstone

See the University Studies Program website (www.capstone.unst.pdx.edu) for course descriptions.

The culmination of the University Studies program is the Capstone course requirement. This 6-credit, community-based learning course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to apply, in a team context, what they have learned in the major and in their other university studies courses to a real challenge emanating from the community. Interdisciplinary teams of students address these challenges and produce a summation product in a University Studies approved Capstone course under the instruction of a PSU faculty member.

The Capstone’s purpose is to further enhance student learning while cultivating critical life abilities that are important both academically and professionally: establishing connections within the larger community, developing strategies for analyzing and addressing problems, and working with others trained in fields different from one’s own.

Independent volunteering, work experience, by arrangement credits, internships and practica cannot fulfill the Capstone requirement. Students must have completed 90 credit hours before registering for their Capstone course. Students should read and follow the Capstone attendance policy.

University Studies (Unst) Courses