Undergraduate Education

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The Office of Undergraduate Education offers undergraduate students the opportunity to discover their intellectual, creative, and professional passions by introducing them to many interconnected areas of knowledge. Through the services we offer such as student testing, the Core Learning Community, the Summer Bridge Program, the quarterly Student Showcases, Undergraduate Majors Fair and other events, our office strives to equip students with the tools they will need to succeed during their four-year undergraduate experience and beyond.

Undergraduate Education Initiatives

Core Learning Community

The Core Learning Community introduces first-year students to the excitement and challenges of post-secondary education through a series of theme-based courses organized around the Core "Areas of Knowledge": academic writing (C), the sciences (NW), the social sciences (l&S), and the humanities (VLPA).

Throughout their Core experience, students will work collaboratively with their peers and UW Tacoma faculty while gaining familiarity with the skills required to succeed across the curriculum. In pursuit of this goal, all Core courses are designed to cultivate and refine our campus-wide learning goals, which include communication and self-expression; civic engagement; critical inquiry; global understanding; cultural competence; and problem solving.

Summer Bridge Program

Summer Bridge provides incoming freshmen with tools for success as they navigate a new academic environment and face the personal and intellectual challenges of being a first-year student.

Undergraduate Student Showcase

Each quarter, OUE sponsors a student showcases that provides undergraduate students an opportunity to present their quarterly projects to the UW Tacoma campus community. It also provides an open forum for students to discuss their work and connect with faculty and peers in their academic fields.


The Office of Undergraduate Education provides Math placement, Spanish Proficiency testing and makeup tests for individual students upon faculty requests.

Undergraduate Education Academic Council

The Undergraduate Education Academic Council (UEAC) oversees curriculum issues pertaining to undergraduate education and plays an important role in elevating the profile and quality of the undergraduate academic experience at UW Tacoma.

Learning Community

Core courses are designed to prepare first-year students for success both in college and beyond. The challenges we face today are complex, and they require educated citizens capable of understanding issues from multiple perspectives. Consequently, many Core courses adopt an interdisciplinary approach to their particular field of study.

In their first year, Core students meet many of their general education graduation requirements in classes with a student-to-faculty ratio of 25 to 1. Discussion, lectures, reading, writing, and project assignments are designed to broaden students' perspectives--not only about what they are studying, but also about how what they are learning resonates within the world in which they live.

Having sampled the scope of UW Tacoma's curricular offerings through their Core experience, first-year students are better prepared to select courses each quarter from a range of electives that will allow them to explore and prepare for potential majors.

Learning Objectives

While the faculty that teach Core curriculum courses come from a variety of academic programs on campus, they teach to a common set of student learning objectives with a developmental approach that emphasizes the foundational skills necessary to succeed in college courses. Faculty collaborate in the Core Learning Community to design and

teach classes that work toward these objectives while introducing students to academic writing, the sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities.

As the foundation of a student's academic career at UW Tacoma, Core strives to foster the following learning objectives:

Inquiry and Critical Thinking

  • Inquiry and problem solving: collect, evaluate, and analyze information and resources to solve problems or answer questions.

  • Research methods & application: approach complex issues by taking a large question and breaking it down into manageable pieces.

  • Synthesis & context: make meaningful connections among assignments and readings in order to develop a sense of the ‘big picture.’


  • Argumentation: formulate an original thesis-driven argument and sustain it in both written and verbal communication.

  • Analysis: identify, analyze, and summarize/represent the key elements of a text.

  • Disciplinary awareness: enter/place themselves into an existing dialogue (intellectual, political, etc.).

  • Expression of ideas: express ideas clearly in writing and speaking in order to synthesize and evaluate information before presenting it.

Global Perspective/Diversity/ Civic Engagement

  • Disciplinary perspective: understand events and processes as ‘disciplinarily’ situated.

  • Global perspective: interact with concepts, ideas, and processes related to the interdependencies between personal, local, and global relationships.

  • Diversity: think outside of cultural biases and values to engage critically with the larger world.

  • Civic engagement: interact with concepts, ideas, and processes related to civic engagement.

Quantitative Literacy

  • Use quantitative evidence (including statistics, graphs, etc.) in support of an argument.

  • Analyze and evaluate a chart or graph and interpret it (through discussion, a written assignment, etc.).

  • Find quantitative data to support an argument.

Sample Course Descriptions

Below are sample course descriptions. Core courses change based on the faculty teaching each quarter. For information on Core courses currently being offered, check the online Time Schedule.

TCORE 101 Introduction to Academic Writing (C)

Service Learning for Social Justice.

Students will explore the theme of social justice through service learning. Along with writing on particular topics related to this theme, they will do research about the issue of volunteerism and civic responsibility in conjunction with the particular project they pick, such as working with Habitat for Humanity. The goal of the class is to put academics into action, so that students will understand that what they learn can be applied in the real world.

TCORE 102 Introduction to Science (NW)

Where the Water Meets the Road: Examining the Environmental Impacts of Urbanization on Aquatic Ecosystems.

How do your actions impact the aquatic organisms living in Puget Sound? As the human population continues to climb, more and more people are migrating to urban areas. This in turn imposes greater stresses on adjacent water bodies and other natural resources. This class seeks to explore the growing urban centers around the world and their associated environmental impacts on neighboring aquatic ecosystems. We will also address practices that promote sustainable living in urban areas.

TCORE 103 Introduction to Social Sciences (l&S)

'I'm Batman': Intersections of Pop Culture and Identity.

As consumers of popular culture, most of us are guilty of defending our favorite TV shows long after they've been cancelled, arguing about the likability of a hero in a film, or even debating the merit of trash TV. In an era where you can take Buzzfeed quizzes to determine which superhero or cartoon character you most resemble, it is important to question why our relationship with such cultural texts matters. This course will interrogate the relationship between popular culture, representations of identity, and its consumers. We will examine texts ranging from commercials to award-winning television shows in order to question how and why these texts create meaning for viewers. By writing about texts that we may not easily consider "academic," we will practice skills of interpretation and reflection in order to ask "Why do these texts matter to us?"

TCORE 104 Introduction to Humanities (VLPA)

Listening Outside the Box: Concert Music in the 21st Century.

With only ten weeks to explore the world of "classical music", we will immerse ourselves in a multitude of listening experiences, to include live concert attendance and in-class performances by local musicians. Building on this foundation, we will explore the impact of today's global society on this musical tradition: to what extent have new technologies, increased communication and the ensuing democratization of music impacted the ways in which we relate to "concert music"? Does this music still have relevance in our lives? How have other cultures embraced this tradition, and how has the music of other cultures influenced composition and performance in this genre?