Close Menu

What the World Needs Now

A Whitworth Liberal-Arts Education

In today's challenging economy, many liberal-arts institutions are shifting away from the humanities and are tailoring their curricula toward industry-specific skill sets. Yet Whitworth is actively deepening its commitment to providing students an education grounded in the liberal arts and sciences: One of the university's eight goals in its Whitworth 2021 strategic plan calls for the university to further elevate a liberal-arts education as essential and relevant to all majors and careers.

Why?

Because a Whitworth education of mind and heart, grounded in the liberal arts and sciences, provides students the best preparation for career – and life – success.

At Whitworth, students learn how to think, not what to think. They aren't merely trained, they are educated. They don't just acquire knowledge, they become equipped to flourish and adapt in their professions, as informed citizens, and as fully engaged human beings.

So What, Exactly, Are the Liberal Arts?

  • The liberal arts are rooted in a broad study of the humanities: math, psychology, science, literature, languages, philosophy and history.
  • The liberal arts reach across traditional academic boundaries, connecting and integrating multiple disciplines and schools of thought through interdisciplinary courses, faculty/student research projects, majors and programs.

At Whitworth, biochemistry and ethics go hand-in-hand. So do sociology and theology, and business and politics. And why not? They do in our workplaces and in our world, where fields of knowledge overlap and merge, problems are dynamic and complex, and their solutions require broad, deep and innovative thinking.

Through interdisciplinary courses, collaborative research projects, and experiential learning, Whitworth students push beyond their intellectual comfort zones to explore the interconnectedness of ideas and make new discoveries where disciplines intersect.

Students gain applied skills to succeed in their chosen professions, and they develop transferable skills that equip them to adapt to the 21st century's swift pace of progress and change.

Diversity Is a Key Part of the Liberal Arts

Diversity is inherent in a Whitworth liberal-arts education. When people across racial, ethnic, gender, socio-economic, religious and other expressions of human difference engage with each other effectively and constructively, we begin to more clearly see varying dimensions of humanity and better understand multiple points of view.

Whitworth's commitment to diversity stems from our Christ-centered heritage, which compels us to love justice and to treat each individual equally, with respect and compassion, as we educate the next generation of critical thinkers, discerning moral agents, and responsible democratic citizens.

Whitworth Prepares Students to Excel and Adapt

A Whitworth liberal-arts education equips students with the applied skills essential to excelling in their chosen professions, but students also acquire transferable skills that are crucial to adapting to the 21st century's unprecedented pace of progress and change.

What can Whitworth students do with their liberal-arts education? Anything they choose.

Whitworth Students Gain Essential Applied Skills

Being a liberal-arts university doesn't mean we overlook teaching the technical skills today's jobs require. Au contraire.

At Whitworth, caring, dedicated faculty at the top of their professions teach and mentor students, who master their fields of study and gain essential, applied skills to succeed in their chosen professions, from accounting, teaching, and graphic design, to athletic training, directing church worship, and computer programming.

We believe the best learning occurs within the context of relationship. Whitworth's 11-to-1 student/faculty ratio means that:

  • Students know – and are known by – their professors
  • More students conduct meaningful research with their professors and benefit from faculty mentoring
  • Small classes ensure that Ph.D. faculty – not graduate students – engage students in inquiry-based, experiential learning

Whitworth has an excellent track record for placing students in successful careers and selective graduate schools such as Harvard University Law School, University of Washington School of Medicine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Stanford University.

Whitworth Students Develop Crucial Transferable Skills

Given the 21st century's increasing complexity and pace of change, students are best equipped for success by not only mastering skills in a specific field, but also by developing broad skills that prepare them to be adaptable agents of change, not victims of change.

Through interdisciplinary study and research, engaging a wide range of diverse voices, perspectives and ideas, and participating in abundant experiential learning opportunities, Whitworth students learn to:

  • Analyze complex issues from a variety of perspectives
  • Think critically and independently
  • Synthesize diverse ideas and information
  • Ask questions that yield original insights
  • Conduct research and produce creative solutions to new problems
  • Lead, collaborate and negotiate
  • Communicate clearly and compellingly

Whitworth Graduates Stand Out

Whitworth graduates stand out –and excel – in today's competitive job market because they:

  • Possess strong industry-specific skills and transferable skills
  • Are adaptable to and can lead fast-paced change
  • Possess focus and perseverance to complete long-term projects
  • Possess grit and ingenuity to solve complex problems
  • Are confident and articulate writers and speakers, and understanding listeners
  • Hold a global perspective
  • Are equipped to make sound, ethical decisions
  • Are critical, flexible and creative thinkers
  • Can collaborate across cultures and differences
  • Are resourceful and self-motivated
  • Possess curiosity and value lifelong learning
  • Are informed and effective citizens of the world

Classroom Study + Experiential Learning = Career Success

Experiential learning is hallmark of a liberal-arts education. Through boundless opportunities to participate in internships/practicums, collaborative research, study abroad, service-learning, and student leadership, Whitworth students integrate and apply their classroom knowledge, and hone their skills in real-world professional and intercultural settings.

Internships/Practicums

There's no substitute for experience. Gaining professional experience before entering the workforce is now a requirement for many employers. And since companies aren't investing as much in training these days, they are more likely to hire college graduates – Whitworth graduates – who can hit the ground running.

Internships/practicums are critical for career success, because they:

  • Allow students to apply what they've learned in classes to real-world, on-the-job experiences
  • Clarify students' career goals
  • Prepare students for today's job market
  • Provide networking opportunities
  • Can lead to job offers from the host company

Whitworth Career Services connects students with hundreds of internship and practicum opportunities locally, regionally and nationally, in a broad spectrum of fields.

Collaborative Research

Throughout the academic year, Whitworth professors engage students fully in the important work of discovering and disseminating new knowledge. During the summer, students participate in paid appointments as research assistants at Whitworth, and in notable research internships in the U.S. (which often provide a stipend, room and board). Year-round, students take advantage of opportunities to submit their work for peer review at regional and national conferences and to publish their work in notable journals.

Through collaborative research, students build valuable portfolios that demonstrate their knowledge and skills, and their aptitude for conducting original research. These portfolios give students a strong edge in being successful candidates for competitive graduate programs and industry careers.

Study Abroad

We live in an increasingly interdependent world, a world in which Whitworth students must be able to navigate diverse cultures, economies, political systems, religions and languages with skill and understanding. Through studying abroad, Whitworth students gain invaluable cross-cultural experiences that challenge them personally and academically while they earn credit toward their degree.

Whitworth's commitment to student participation in study abroad has earned the university a national reputation as an innovator in study-abroad programs. More than two-thirds of our students choose to participate in one or more off-campus study programs during their college years.

  • The Whitworth International Education Center offers more than 30 Jan Term, May Term, and semester-long off-campus study programs throughout the world. These courses allow students to travel and study in their areas of interest and specialty, under the direction of Whitworth professors.
  • Students also enjoy plentiful opportunities for independent study at one of our 150 partner universities in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia or the Americas.
  • In 2013, the Institute of International Education named Whitworth the No. 1 master's-level university in the Pacific Northwest for study-abroad participation.

Through engaging with different cultures, Whitworth students:

  • Gain empathy for others and a deeper understanding of the world
  • Reassess their assumptions, value systems and vocational commitments
  • Further their academic studies and earn credits toward their degree
  • Become better prepared to live, work, serve and lead in today's global society

Service-Learning

More than 90 percent of the Whitworth student body engages in community service, with service-learning opportunities incorporated into every academic department. Whitworth's Dornsife Center for Community Engagement connects students with hundreds of nonprofit organizations in the Spokane area.

Students evaluate and interpret their experiences through journaling, blogging and faculty-led group discussions. Dedicated time for reflection allows students to integrate their service experiences with their academic coursework and leads them to make new connections and gain new insights.

Integrating classroom learning with "real-world" experience allows students to:

  • Develop professional skills and discern vocational interests
  • Explore career options and make professional networking contacts
  • Strengthen their critical-thinking and communication skills
  • Acquire an ethic of service and civic responsibility
  • Increase their awareness of societal issues as they relate to academic areas of interest
  • Gain a broader perspective and increased understanding of diverse communities
  • Become the next generation of leaders and social innovators who create positive change in the world

Student Leadership

Whitworth's student-leadership program offers students opportunities to get involved on campus and develop leadership, service and communication skills.

Within residence halls, students serve as resident assistants, medics, cultural-diversity advocates, and small-group coordinators. Through the Associated Students of Whitworth University (ASWU), students serve as executive officers, dorm senators and representatives, program coordinators, club officers, and activity and media coordinators.

The Sciences at Whitworth: A Liberal-Arts Advantage

Unlike large research universities, liberal-arts colleges and universities set a higher percentage of undergraduate students on the path toward scientific achievement.

Recent National Science Foundation data show that students who earn bachelor's degrees at liberal-arts colleges and universities are more than twice as likely to earn doctorates in science and engineering than those who earn bachelor's degrees at Ph.D.-granting research universities.

As a liberal-arts university, Whitworth produces a greater number of scientists because we:

  • Involve more undergraduate students in professional research than is the norm at large research institutions
  • Hire and reward faculty for teaching and mentoring excellence
  • Ensure small classes where Ph.D.-level faculty engage students in interdisciplinary, hands-on training and research
  • Equip students with the broad knowledge base, communication skills, and multicultural literacy needed to succeed in today's rapidly evolving science and healthcare professions

The Benefits of Faculty/Student Research

During the academic year and through the Whitworth Summer Scholars Program, science majors collaborate with faculty on leading-edge research using state-of-the-art equipment. Recent research projects include:

  • Spacecraft propulsion
  • Biomedical optics
  • Computational physics
  • Software applications for autism screening
  • Treatments for celiac disease
  • Revising sleep models
  • Enzymes, memory function, and Alzheimer's treatments

Students also have opportunities to present their original, faculty-guided research for peer review at local, regional and national conferences, and to publish their work in academic journals.

These advantages enable Whitworth science majors to...

Land competitive summer research internships:

• NASA Ames Research Center • Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory • Stanford Research Institute • NASA Space Academy  • California Institute of Technology • General Atomics • Microsoft • NASA Los Alamos National Lab • NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory • Stanford Linear Accelerator Center

(Summer research internships are most often funded by grants or fellowships that provide a stipend, plus room and board.)

Win national scholarships:

• Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship • Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Scholarship • American Indian Science and Engineering Society Scholarship • National Science Foundation Scholarship

Earn full-tuition fellowships to top schools:

• Notre Dame University • Massachusetts Institute of Technology • Carnegie Mellon University • Columbia University • Cornell University • Princeton • Stanford • Harvard

Lead successful careers:

• Aerospace and mechanical engineering • software and information technology • pharmaceuticals • environmental science • medicine • dentistry • physical therapy • veterinary medicine • nuclear science • electrical engineering • government agencies • teaching, industrial laboratories • aerospace industries • utilities and energy agencies • civil and structural engineering • medical labs • business • law • nursing …and many more

Connecting Mind & Heart

Here at Whitworth, even our mission is interdisciplinary: we embrace and integrate ideals that other colleges and universities – and the world – often dismiss as being at odds with each other:

  • Sharp minds and engaged hearts
  • Curiosity and conviction
  • Grace and truth
  • Faith and reason
  • Responsibility and compassion

Both inside and outside the classroom, Whitworth students:

  • Encounter differing perspectives and are encouraged to question important issues
  • Learn to not settle for easy answers, to engage in civil discourse about divisive topics, and to analyze complex problems with intellectual rigor
  • Are challenged to explore and develop connections between their faith, worldview convictions, academic studies, and vocational discernment

In Whitworth's interdisciplinary Core Worldview Program, for example, students:

  • Explore the external forces that have shaped their worldviews
  • Expose their most deeply held beliefs to scrutiny by others and themselves
  • Apply their worldview convictions to contemporary society's most pressing ethical issues

Whitworth students graduate with a desire to meet the world's deep needs with intellectual vigor, moral courage and compassion. They are prepared to excel in influence industries and professions that will test their mettle, and to live out their vocations by connecting their deepest convictions to their work and to other major life decisions.

A Whitworth Degree Is a Sound Investment

According to The Council of Independent Colleges, of which Whitworth is a member, private schools, unlike state institutions, are more likely to enroll and graduate low-income and first-generation college students and students of color.

And more students at schools such as Whitworth graduate on time and have lower levels of debt than students at public institutions:

  • More than 85 percent of Whitworth's graduates finish in four years, a rate that is 50 percent higher than the average for all public colleges and universities in the U.S. and 10 percent higher than the average for private institutions.
  • Since most Whitworth students graduate sooner than their peers at public and private institutions, they have fewer years of paying tuition, an earlier start at earning a salary, and more years in their lifetimes to earn an income.

Whitworth is widely regarded as one of the best higher-education values in the Western United States:

Whitworth is ranked No. 3 among 118 master's-level universities in the West in U.S. News & World Report's 2016 ranking of best values. Whitworth also is No. 45 on Kiplinger's ranking of the top 100 private university values in the U.S.; this is the eighth year in a row that Whitworth has made this selective national list. These rankings are based on both academic quality and the net cost of attendance.