In this episode of The Cutting Ed podcast, we focus on the “Essential Studies” program at The University of North Dakota.

“Essential Studies” is a nationally recognized gen ed program, which builds on state requirements and adds UND’s signature stamp with a series of courses we call “special emphasis” courses. The purpose of general education is historically summed up as helping students become well-rounded.

The purpose has evolved so that now – in addition to providing students with educational breadth – general education contributes to the curriculum by directly promoting key intellectual skills like effective written and oral communication; the ability to work with, understand, and critically analyze varied types of information; and developing the skills and perspectives necessary to understand and productively interact with people different from oneself.

UND has these as core values:

  1. Informed citizenship
  2. Ability to effectively contribute to varied aspects of social and civic life
  3. Lifetime intellectual fulfillment (life-long learners)
  4. Employment – what it takes to succeed in a job after graduation; creative problem-solvers, skills that make it possible to be nimble in rapidly changing economic environment (notation multiple careers in the future, jobs that don’t even exist now)


Association of American Colleges & Universities:

UND College of Arts & Sciences:

A “Value of Essential Studies” which is a compilation of curated resources linked from within the page:









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