Essential Learning, Lower- and Upper-Division Requirements

Learn... Express... Do…: CMU’s Integrated Curriculum Model for a Baccalaureate Degree

The broad philosophy that underlies CMU’s curriculum is Integrated Learning. This approach expects students to draw upon knowledge and skills from courses across disciplines, critically evaluate information, and apply what they have learned in response to a problem, argument or issue. Colorado Mesa University expects that students will graduate with a well-developed capacity for analytical thought and a heightened awareness of their world. In the university learning environment, students are expected to embrace great ideas and expressions of creative energy that define the human condition. CMU baccalaureate students explore and integrate learning from a variety of fields of knowledge while also focusing their attention on a particular area of interest. This combination produces graduates with an adaptable skill set for use throughout their personal and professional lives.

Upon graduation, a CMU baccalaureate student will be able to:

  • Construct a summative project, paper, or practice-based performance that draws on current research, scholarship and/or techniques, and specialized knowledge in the discipline (communication; specialized knowledge; applied learning);
  • Analyze data critically, reason logically, and apply quantitative analysis methods correctly to develop appropriate conclusions (quantitative fluency);
  • Make and defend assertions about a specialized topic in an extended well-organized document and an oral presentation that is appropriate to the discipline (critical thinking);
  • Describe reasoned conclusions that articulate the implications and consequences for a particular decision by synthesizing information and methodologies (critical thinking);
  • Reflect on and respond to ethical, social, civic, and/or environmental challenges at the local, national, and/or global levels (personal and social responsibility);
  • Find relevant sources of information, evaluate information critically, and apply the information appropriately and effectively to specific purposes (information literacy).

Essential Learning Lower Division Requirements

Essential Learning Overview

At the lower division level, success in CMU’s baccalaureate programs requires participation in the Essential Learning curriculum, which at many institutions is identified as General Education. This change in CMU’s description of its lower division curriculum to Essential Learning represents a faculty and staff belief that these lower division courses form an important foundation for all majors in which students begin development of skills in written and oral communication, quantitative literacy and critical thinking. These courses also allow students to integrate what they learn in one course with that from others. The ability to integrate and apply learning and the development of the critical skills listed above are essential competencies for graduates to be successful in addressing the challenges of the twenty-first century.

The Essential Learning Program has two primary components: the Essential Learning Core (31 semester credit hours) and the Essential Learning Capstone (4 semester credit hours). The applicability of these components is described in the following section.

The Essential Learning Core provides students with a foundation in the arts and sciences, based on a range of courses in mathematics, natural sciences, fine arts, humanities and social sciences that complements and enhances a student’s academic major. The exposure to multiple fields of study promotes intellectual respect for diverse people, ideas and cultures. This path of study develops skills critical to academic, personal and professional success while cultivating a passion for lifelong learning. Essential Learning courses, therefore, provide important tools that enable students to fully realize their potential at the baccalaureate level. When students have completed the Essential Learning Core, they possess enhanced abilities in critical thinking, quantitative analysis and communication that they will continue to develop in their academic major.

The Essential Learning Capstone culminates in the completion of the Maverick Milestone (3 credit hours) and its co-requisite, Essential Speech (1 credit hour). Building on the Essential Learning Core, the Maverick Milestone is a 200-level interdisciplinary, topics-oriented, writing-intensive course designed to help students develop the ability to approach problems and evaluate ideas using more than one set of intellectual tools. Students must enroll simultaneously in the Milestone’s co-requisite, Essential Speech, which provides students with fundamental tools for verbally presenting ideas and information learned in the Milestone. Baccalaureate-seeking students are required to meet the Maverick Milestone/Essential Speech requirements in the time frame when they have earned between 45 and 75 credit hours. This pair of courses is an important transition between Essential Learning courses and upper-division work in the major.

Thus, upon completion of CMU’s Essential Learning program, a student will be able to:

  • Produce effective arguments and summaries in written English.
  • Present information effectively in spoken English.
  • Demonstrate quantitative literacy.
  • Critically examine and evaluate an argument.
  • Demonstrate investigative and analytical thinking skills to solve problems.
  • Select and use appropriate information or techniques in an academic project.
  • Construct an academic project using techniques and methodologies from multiple disciplines.

As students transition into upper division courses, they will focus more on specialized knowledge associated with their major. The on-going emphasis on developing written and oral communication, quantitative literacy and critical thinking skills will strengthen the students’ problem-solving skills and integrate ways of thinking from various areas of study. By meeting the student learning outcomes for the lower-division coursework, students will enjoy an enriched learning experience in their major while also preparing for their chosen career paths.

Applicability of the Essential Learning Program Requirements

The Essential Learning Core applies to baccalaureate and associate degrees. The only exceptions to the Essential Learning Core requirements are:

  • students who have earned a baccalaureate degree, Associate of Arts degree, or Associate of Science degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • students who have successfully completed the entire Colorado Core Transfer Consortium General Education Curriculum at another institution prior to transferring to WCCC/CMU.

In both these cases, the Essential Learning Core is complete unless specific requirements are noted in the Programs A-Z section for each program. The student must still meet this coursework as well as any other specified lower division requirements as part of the degree program. 

The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree includes 15 credit hours of Essential Learning Core courses as outlined on the program sheet, which can be found under Programs A-Z.

The Maverick Milestone and Essential Speech requirement only applies to baccalaureate degrees. Once a certificate or associate degree-seeking student makes the transition to a baccalaureate program, the Essential Learning Capstone requirement takes effect and should be completed in the earliest possible semester after which 45 credit hours has been earned.

Exceptions to the Maverick Milestone and Essential Speech requirements include:

  • Students who have previously earned a baccalaureate degree, earned an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree from another institution, as well as those who have successfully completed the entire Colorado Core Transfer Consortium General Education Curriculum at another institution prior to transfer to WCCC/CMU, are exempt from the Maverick Milestone, Essential Speech and Wellness course requirements.
  • Speechmaking/Public Speaking courses (CMU’s SPCH 102), whether taken from CMU or transferred from another institution, will be accepted in lieu of the ESSL 200 requirement.

All students should review the program sheet for their major, provided in Programs A-Z, and consult with an academic advisor as they consider their course selection.

Essential Learning Core Course Requirements

Each student must complete the 31 minimum semester hours Essential Learning Core requirement as specified by the Colorado Mesa University faculty. For specific course requirements and choices, refer to the section titled “Core Courses Approved for the Essential Learning Program Requirements.”

English: 6 semester credit hours

Colorado Mesa University students are required to complete English composition for the Essential Learning requirement prior to exceeding 60 semester credit hours, preferably during their first year of enrollment. Those who are advised to enroll in developmental courses should do so before taking the required 100-level courses, preferably in their first semester at CMU.

English courses must be taken in sequence and students are encouraged to take them in consecutive semesters. Students must earn a “C” or higher in ENGL 111 before taking ENGL 112 or ENGL 219, and students must earn a “C” or higher in ENGL 112 to enroll in ENGL 219. Some programs may require a minimum grade of a “B” in all English Essential Learning courses.

Students who are completing 60 hours of course work will not be permitted to enroll in any additional courses until they have passed the required English courses. Exceptions to the policy require the written permission of the appropriate academic department head for English or designee.

Mathematics: 3 semester credit hours

Colorado Mesa University students are required to complete mathematics for the Essential Learning requirement prior to exceeding 60 semester credit hours, preferably during their first year of enrollment. Those who are advised to enroll in developmental courses should do so before taking the required 100-level courses. All prerequisite mathematics courses, as well as the Essential Learning mathematics course, must be completed with a “C” or higher.

Students who are completing 60 hours of course work will not be permitted to enroll in any additional courses until they have passed the required courses. Exceptions to the policy require the written permission of the appropriate academic department head for Mathematics or designee.

For specific mathematics requirements, students should complete the courses specified on the program sheet, which can be found under Programs A-Z. For all majors, the mathematics requirement and any required mathematics prerequisite can only be met with a grade of “C” or higher.

History: 3 semester credit hours

Choose from selected history courses.

Three additional hours of history may be chosen to fulfill the Humanities requirement below.

Humanities: 3 semester credit hours

Choose from selected English, history, language, mass communication, philosophy and speech courses.

Social and Behavioral Science: 6 semester credit hours

Choose from selected archaeology, anthropology, computer science, economics, geography, political science, psychology, sociology and speech courses.

Fine Arts: 3 semester credit hours

Choose from selected art, dance, fine arts, music and theatre courses.

Natural Sciences: 7 semester credit hours

Choose from selected biology, chemistry, environmental sciences, geology and physics courses.

At least one of the two Natural Sciences courses must have an associated lab or field component, and both the lecture and lab must be taken in all courses listed which have both, if Essential Learning credit is to be received. Courses that fit this lecture and laboratory requirement are marked with an asterisk in the Natural Sciences list for Essential Learning.

Core Courses Approved for the Essential Learning Program Requirements

The following courses are approved to meet the Essential Learning Core requirements for baccalaureate and associate degrees from Colorado Mesa University. Students may select their Essential Learning courses from the list below according to their own preference unless specific Essential Learning Core courses are prescribed for their major or excluded after consultation with their advisor. Courses used to meet the requirements for the major cannot be used to fulfill the Essential Learning requirement. Essential Learning courses, however, can be double-counted between the major and minor or between majors. Requirements for a specific major can be found under Programs A-Z.

Essential Learning Core course requirements may also be met with an appropriate AP, CLEP or DANTES test if the test has been approved by the appropriate academic department at Colorado Mesa University. Credit may also be awarded via the Credit for Prior Learning option. See Non-Traditional Credit section in this catalog for more information.

Most CMU Essential Learning Core courses below are approved by the Colorado Department of Higher Education for statewide guaranteed transfer, as part of the gtPathways program (see section on “Colorado Department of Higher Education Statewide Guaranteed Transfer Courses”).


English 1
Select one of the following:6
Option 1
English Composition I-GTCO1
English Composition II-GTCO2
Option 2
English Composition II-GTCO2
Introduction to Professional Writing-GTCO3
Mathematics 2
MATH 110Mathematical Investigations-GTMA13
MATH 113College Algebra-GTMA14
MATH 119Precalculus Mathematics-GTMA15
or MATH 149 Honors Mathematics-GTMA1
MATH 151Calculus I-GT-MA15
MATH 205Elements of Mathematics II-GTMA13
HIST 101
HIST 102
Western Civilization I-GTHI1
and Western Civilization II-GTHI1
HIST 131
HIST 132
United States History I-GTHI1
and United States History II-GTHI1
ENGL 131
ENGL 132
Western World Literature I-GTAH2
and Western World Literature II-GTAH2
ENGL 150Introduction to Literature-GTAH23
ENGL 222Mythology-GTAH23
ENGL 231
ENGL 232
Non-Western World Literature I-GTAH2
and Non-Western World Literature II-GTAH2
ENGL 254
ENGL 255
Survey of English Literature I-GTAH2
and Survey of English Literature II-GTAH2
ENGL 261
ENGL 262
Survey of American Literature I-GTAH2
and Survey of American Literature II-GTAH2
FLAS 211Second-Year Spanish I3
FLAS 213Spanish Conversation and Grammar3
HIST 101
HIST 102
Western Civilization I-GTHI1
and Western Civilization II-GTHI1
HIST 131
HIST 132
United States History I-GTHI1
and United States History II-GTHI1
MASS 110Mass Media: Impact and History-GTAH23
PHIL 105Critical Thinking-GTAH33
PHIL 110Introduction to Philosophy-GTAH33
PHIL 120Ethics-GTAH33
PHIL 130Philosophy of Religion-GTAH33
SPCH 102Speechmaking 33
Social and Behavioral Sciences
ANTH 202Introduction to Anthropology-GTSS33
ANTH 222World Prehistory 33
ANTH 231
Survey of Biological Anthropology
and Survey of Biological Anthropology Laboratory 3
CSCI 100Computers In Our Society 33
ECON 201Principles of Macroeconomics-GTSS13
ECON 202Principles of Microeconomics-GTSS13
GEOG 102Human Geography-GTSS23
GEOG 103World Regional Geography-GTSS23
POLS 101American Government-GTSS13
POLS 151Introduction to Political Ideas 33
POLS 261Comparative Politics-GTSS13
POLS 270World Politics 33
PSYC 150General Psychology-GTSS33
PSYC 233Human Growth and Development-GTSS33
SOCI 101Introduction to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies3
SOCI 120Technology and Society-GTSS33
SOCO 144Marriage and Families-GTSS33
SOCO 260General Sociology-GTSS33
SOCO 264Social Problems-GTSS33
SPCH 101Interpersonal Communications 3, 43
Fine Arts
ARTE 101Two-Dimensional Design-GTAH13
ARTE 102Three-Dimensional Design-GTAH13
ARTE 103Digital Art and Design3
ARTE 115Art Appreciation-GTAH13
ARTE 118History of Art, Prehistory to Renaissance-GTAH13
ARTE 119History of Art, Renaissance to Present-GTAH13
DANC 115Dance Appreciation-GTAH13
FINE 101The Living Arts-GTAH13
MUSA 220Music Appreciation-GTAH13
MUSA 266History of Popular Music-GTAH13
MUSA 267Jazz History and Literature 33
THEA 141Theatre Appreciation-GTAH13
THEA 145Introduction to Dramatic Literature-GTAH13
Natural Sciences
BIOL 101
General Human Biology-GTSC1
and General Human Biology Laboratory-GTSC1 5
BIOL 105
Attributes of Living Systems-GTSC1
and Attributes of Living Systems Laboratory-GTSC1 5
BIOL 108
Diversity of Organisms-GTSC1
and Diversity of Organisms Laboratory-GTSC1 5
BIOL 250
Introduction to Microbiology-GTSC1
and Introduction to Microbiology Laboratory-GTSC1 5
CHEM 100Chemistry and Society-GTSC23
CHEM 121
Principles of Chemistry-GTSC1
and Principles of Chemistry Laboratory-GTSC1 5
CHEM 122
Principles of Organic Chemistry-GTSC1
and Principles of Organic Chemistry Laboratory-GTSC1 5
CHEM 131
General Chemistry I-GTSC1
and General Chemistry Laboratory I-GTSC1 5
CHEM 132
General Chemistry II-GTSC1
and General Chemistry Laboratory II-GTSC1 5
ENVS 101Introduction to Environmental Science-GTSC23
ENVS 103
Field-Based Introduction to Environmental Science-GTSC1
and Field-Based Introduction to Environmental Science Laboratory-GTSC1 5
GEOL 100Survey of Earth Science-GTSC23
GEOL 103Weather and Climate-GTSC23
GEOL 104Oceanography-GT-SC23
GEOL 105Geology of Colorado-GTSC23
GEOL 106Introduction to Dinosaurs-GT-SC23
GEOL 107Natural Hazards and Environmental Geology-GTSC23
GEOL 108Water, People, and Environment - GTSC23
GEOL 111
Principles of Physical Geology-GTSC1
and Principles of Physical Geology Laboratory-GTSC1 5
GEOL 112
Principles of Historical Geology-GTSC1
and Principles of Historical Geology Laboratory-GTSC1 5
GEOL 113
Field-Based Introduction to Physical Geology-GTSC1
and Field-Based Introduction to Physical Geology Laboratory-GTSC1 5
PHYS 100Concepts of Physics-GTSC23
PHYS 101Elementary Astronomy-GTSC23
PHYS 111
General Physics-GTSC1
and General Physics Laboratory-GTSC1 5
PHYS 112
General Physics-GTSC1
and General Physics Laboratory-GTSC1 5
PHYS 131
Fundamental Mechanics-GTSC1
and Fundamental Mechanics Laboratory-GTSC1 5
PHYS 132
Electromagnetism and Optics-GTSC1
and Electromagnetism and Optics Laboratory-GTSC1 5

Other Lower Division Requirements for Baccalaureate Degrees

In addition to the Essential Learning Core requirements described in the previous section, students pursuing a CMU baccalaureate degree must meet other lower division requirements as described below.

Essential Learning Capstone

Students are required to complete between 45 and 75 credit hours of coursework before enrolling in the four credits associated with the co-requisite Milestone and Speech courses:

ESSL 290Maverick Milestone 13
ESSL 200Essential Speech1

Wellness Requirement

Each student must take KINE 100 Health and Wellness (1 s.h.) plus either one or two activity courses, as specified on the program sheet for each major. Program sheets can be found under Programs A-Z. The only exception to taking KINE 100 Health and Wellness (1 s.h.) are those students who request and pass a proficiency test at least at the 80 percent level. Contact the Kinesiology Department Head or the CMU Testing Center for additional information.

Up to six KINA courses (excluding varsity athletics) may be taken as electives toward graduation with a baccalaureate degree.

Each course is scheduled for an eight-week module and designed to emphasize and assess basic skills, related knowledge, and the importance of physical activity in promoting and maintaining personal health. Students learn and apply health fitness concepts while gaining skills relating to the specific activity. Throughout the eight weeks, students complete various assignments designed to encourage physical activity, healthy lifestyle changes, and application health and fitness concepts. Prerequisites for all “Intermediate” or part II classes: the corresponding beginning course or instructor consent.

Courses approved for the Wellness requirement for baccalaureate degrees are as follows:

KINE 100Health and Wellness1
KINE 1XXActivity Courses
DANC 154Dance Team1
DANC 160Beginning Ballet1
DANC 169Beginning Modern Dance1
DANC 174Beginning Jazz Dance1
DANC 177Beginning Tap Dance1
DANC 180Beginning Hip Hop Dance1
MUSP 147Marching Band1
Total Semester Credit Hours8

Note on Varsity Athletics: Only one varsity sport activity course numbered KINA 180-189 may be used to meet the Wellness activity requirement. Varsity athletics may not be used as elective credit.

Applied Studies

Students enrolled prior to Summer/Fall 2015 have the option of completing CMU’s previous Applied Studies requirement (3 semester credit hours from the following list of approved courses) instead of CMU’s current Essential Learning Capstone requirement.

ACCT 201Principles of Financial Accounting3
BUGB 101Introduction to Business3
BUGB 249Personal Finance: The Business of Life3
CISB 101Business Information Technology3
CSCI 100Computers In Our Society3
CSCI 106Web Page Design I3
ENGL 219Introduction to Professional Writing-GTCO33
FLAF 111
FLAF 112
First-Year French I
and First-Year French II
FLAG 111
FLAG 112
First-Year German I
and First-Year German II
FLAS 111
FLAS 112
First-Year Spanish I
and First-Year Spanish II
FLGK 111
FLGK 112
Introductory Greek I
and Introductory Greek II
FLLT 111
FLLT 112
Introductory Latin 1
and Introductory Latin 2
FLSL 111
FLSL 112
American Sign Language I
and American Sign Language II
FLAJ 111
FLAJ 112
Beginning Japanese I
and Beginning Japanese II
GEOG 131Introduction to Cartography3
HSCI 101Introduction to Health Care Professions3
KINE 265Emergency Care3
PHIL 275Introduction To Logic3
SPCH 101Interpersonal Communications 13
SPCH 102Speechmaking 13
SPCH 112Acting III: Voice and Diction3
TSTG 120Industrial Safety Practices2

Upper Division Requirements

Students seeking a baccalaureate degree must earn a minimum number of upper-division semester credit hours (numbered between 300 and 499), depending on the degree and major.

A minimum of 40 semester credit hours is required for all Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Music Education, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Business Administration and Bachelor of Social Work degrees. Students seeking a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or Bachelor of Applied Science should refer to their program sheet, located under Programs A-Z, for the minimum upper-division credit hour requirement.