Whittier Scholars Program Curriculum

The Whittier Scholars Program offers students the opportunity to pursue a self-designed education at Whittier College. The Program embodies Whittier College’s mission and values through an individualized set of requirements tailored to each student. Students in the Whittier Scholars Program (Scholars) integrate all aspects of their college experience into individualized “Educational Designs,” which are customized educational pathways designed to actualize personal aptitudes and ambitions. These pathways may include any of the majors or minors offered at Whittier or self-designed majors or minors. In a series of small seminars, students synthesize learning experiences across a spectrum of fields, discern their academic focus, and work together with others to connect their co-curricular engagements with their aspirations and burgeoning skills.

An iterative design process affords students opportunities to imagine, plan, practice, and reflect on their learning, their goals, and their educational choices. Students create their Educational Designs with close mentorship from members of the Whittier Scholars Council and other faculty. Educational Designs incorporate 4-6 courses (8-13 credits) in the Whittier Scholars Program, a carefully curated selection of courses from all divisions of the College, at least one off-campus learning experience, a mentored capstone project, and a digital portfolio that reflects each student’s goals and growing proficiencies.

Program Purpose and Values

The Whittier Scholars Program helps students

  • Discern their academic focus and purpose by learning about how academic preparation relates to life goals
  • Define and communicate their academic choices to themselves and others 
  • Facilitate cross-cohort connections between alumni, students, and prospective students. 
  • The Program’s focus on discernment, communication, and connecting academics to life goals increases equity of student success as it demystifies the processes and expectations of college life.

In addition

  • Whittier Scholars courses scaffold integrative learning skills throughout the full undergraduate experience of our students, and provide evidence of the development of those skills in student portfolios.
  • Whittier Scholars students may design their own majors and/or minors, or they may pursue any major offered at the College, or they may double major and/or minor
  • Self-designed majors and/or minors must be developmental and interdisciplinary (connecting courses from at least two different departments).
  • All Whittier Scholars Educational Designs must identify at least one methodological course that provides coherence to the design and grounds a long-term research-based creative, scholarly, or applied project.
  • All Whittier Scholars student-designed pathways will integrate each of the following: off-campus experience, long term research-based project, course-based learning experiences, and may include co-curricular learning, and group projects.
  • Students may include co-curricular experiences among students’ educational choices when they support curricular learning.

Program Goal 

The Whittier Scholars curriculum is designed to foster effective expression in multiple modes and media, cultivate community engagement and a habit of self-reflection, and instantiate practical and scholarly skills appropriate to students’ academic and professional goals.

Program Objectives

  1. PURPOSE: Whittier Scholars develop, refine, and pursue their own educational goals.   
  2. INTEGRATION: Whittier Scholars synthesize their achievements and reflect on their learning process in a portfolio of work in multiple modes adapted to various audiences.   
  3. BREADTH: Whittier Scholars attain foundational knowledge in a variety of methodologies or theoretical perspectives. 
  4. DEPTH: Whittier Scholars demonstrate the development of proficiencies relevant to their self-designed education through the completion of original work.   
  5. PRAXIS: Whittier Scholars integrate academic competencies with co-curricular and off-campus learning experiences involving research, study abroad, internships, or service learning.