Curriculum Overview

Miami University Mission

Miami University, a student-centered public university founded in 1809, has built its success through an unwavering commitment to liberal arts undergraduate education and the active engagement of its students in both curricular and co-curricular life. It is deeply committed to student success, builds great student and alumni loyalty, and empowers its students, faculty, and staff to become engaged citizens who use their knowledge and skills with integrity and compassion to improve the future of our global society.

Miami provides the opportunities of a major university while offering the personalized attention found in the best small colleges. It values teaching and intense engagement of faculty with students through its teacher-scholar model, by inviting students into the excitement of research and discovery. Miami's faculty are nationally prominent scholars and artists who contribute to Miami, their own disciplines and to society by the creation of new knowledge and art. The University supports students in a highly involving residential experience on the Oxford campus and provides access to students, including those who are time and place bound, on its regional campuses. Miami provides a strong foundation in the traditional liberal arts for all students, and it offers nationally recognized majors in arts and sciences, business, education, engineering, and fine arts, as well as select graduate programs of excellence. As an inclusive community, Miami strives to cultivate an environment where diversity and difference are appreciated and respected.

Miami instills in its students intellectual depth and curiosity, the importance of personal values as a measure of character, and a commitment to life-long learning. Miami emphasizes critical thinking and independent thought, an appreciation of diverse views, and a sense of responsibility to our global future.

Curricular Vision


The overall curricular vision for Miami University was articulated well in President David C. Hodge’s 2008 Annual Address, “The Engaged University and Student Success”:


For nearly 200 years we have produced graduates of uncommon quality because of the dedication of our faculty and staff and their deep engagement with our students. We have accomplished this success because we have understood the importance of developing the whole person, of strengthening both intellect and character. We have embraced and encouraged the total student experience, including both curricular and co-curricular activities, because we have intuitively understood the importance of intangibles like work ethic, initiative, social skills, leadership, and personal values to the lifelong professional and personal success of our graduates.

This approach to the student experience is as relevant today as it has ever been, in fact, even more so. However, to achieve higher levels of excellence, it is critical that we approach our core mission with greater clarity and with an understanding of the possibilities of contemporary education. At the heart of this approach is a reconceptualization of what we expect of our students - the historic view of a student as a receiver of knowledge can now be replaced by a view of the student as a creator of knowledge, a view that fundamentally changes how we think about students and, more importantly, how they think about themselves. It changes how we approach teaching and learning.

Table: Shifts to Develope Students as Learners

Developing students as creators of knowledge must be done purposefully and incrementally.  As students steadily develop, their personal traits and capacities improve, and the role of the faculty, learning goals and assignments and activities shift.  The table below summarizes the shifts that students and faculty make to steadily develop students as learners.





Student Traits

Reliant upon external formulas

Questioning external authorities; developing own voice

Using internal voice to guide actions

Faculty Role

Reflective Scholar

Reciprocal Scholar

Colleague, Mentor

Key Goals

°      Ask relevant questions

°      Identify multiple perspectives

°      Gain foundational knowledge

°      Practice authentic tasks & methods

°      Collaborate on diverse teams

°      Connect inquiries to personal beliefs

°       Design and reflect on own inquiries

°       Integrate learning from multiple domains

°       Apply lessons learned to future goals

Sample Assignments & Activities

°      Simulations

°      Role-playing different perspectives

°      Structured reflections

°      Case studies, authentic scenarios

°      Multidisciplinary panels


°      Service learning projects

°      Student-led classes

°      Faculty-student research teams

°      Internships with ongoing reflection

°      Faculty-student team-taught courses

°       Student-designed inquiries & initiatives

°       Portfolios

°       Art exhibitions, solo performances

°       Conference presentations

°       Publications


Table: Definitions and Terms Related to Curriculum and Courses

The Miami University mission and curriculum vision should guide the development of all of the Miami curriculum.

Definitions and Terms Related to Curriculum and Courses




Academic Program

Any combination of courses and/or requirements leading to a degree or certificate, or to a major, co-major, minor or concentration

Film Studies minor, China Business Program, Mathematics major, Gerontology doctoral degree


“A coherent program of study that is responsive to the needs and circumstances of the pedagogical context and is carefully designed to develop students’ knowledge, abilities and skills through multiple integrated and progressively challenging course learning experiences” (Hubball and Gold, 2007, p. 7)[1]

All of the course and other requirements leading to a particular degree


An award by the Ohio Board of Regents and the Miami Board of Trustees as official recognition of the completion of a prescribed course of study following matriculation.

Doctor of Philosophy, Bachelor of Arts

School or College

Academic organizational division of the university offering curricular programs leading to associate, baccalaureate, and advanced degrees

College of Arts & Science, School of Creative Arts

Farmer School of Business

Academic Department

Administrative unit within a college or school that deals with particular disciplines or fields of knowledge (e.g., the Department of English; the Department of Mathematics). Some departments administer more than one major (e.g., the Department of French and Italian; the Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering). In some cases programs (such as the American Studies Program) function like departments; in this manual, "department" refers to both kinds of units.    

Department of Political Science; American Studies Program


Cohesive combination of courses including introductory, intermediate, and advanced coursework that designates a student’s primary area of undergraduate study.  Majors can be established or restructured to include required or optional concentrations. A major is typically 36-76 credit hours. Majors are designated on University transcripts at the time the degree is awarded.

Music Performance Major

Concentration (within a major)

Coordinated grouping of courses, typically one-third of a major, representing a sub-specialization or emphasis within a major field available for students majoring in that discipline. Concentrations may be offered at the undergraduate, graduate, or professional level.  Majors with a concentration are designated on University transcripts when the degree is awarded. Note: Concentration is the only approved term for transcripting a sub-specialization or sequence within a major.  Terms such as “option,” “sequence,” “track,” or “specialization” should no longer be used (even for academic advising or marketing purposes) to denote specializations within a major.

Global Cultural Relations Concentration in the International Studies Major;

Cross-Cultural Leadership Concentration in the Bachelor of Integrative Studies major; Environmental Technology in the Master of Environmental Science program

Divisional Requirements

A set of courses or specific requirements as defined by the individual school or college that are a required component of a student’s academic program.

CAS required courses, such as: CAS-A: Foreign language
CAS-B: Humanities
CAS-B-LIT: Literature requirement of CAS-B.
CAS-C: Social science
CAS-D: Natural science
CAS-D/LAB: Laboratory requirement of CAS -D
CAS-E: Formal reasoning.


A course is a unique combination of title, course number, credit hours, and other course attributes that may include terms offered, cross listed courses, contact hours, pre- or co-requisites, credit type, level.

ENG 111, “Composition and Rhetoric”

Academic Honors (Distinction or Latin Honors)

Recognition of outstanding achievement by a degree recipient, according to standards established by the Board of Trustees and as noted on the diploma and transcript

Summa cum laude

Program Honors

Recognition of outstanding achievement by a degree recipient, according to established standards and as noted only on the transcript

University honors, department honors


Academic program in which the student completes a prescribed course of study, typically 12-20 credits.  Like a minor, it is offered to students outside of the major. It may also be offered to non-degree seeking students. This may be at the undergraduate, graduate or professional level.   For matriculated students, this type of certificate is designated on University transcripts when the certificate is awarded. For non-matriculated students the certificate is designated on University transcripts upon completion.

Certificate in Gerontology (offered to degree-seeking or non-degree-seeking students);

China Business Certificate (offered only to degree-seeking students in the Farmer School of Business)

Certificate of Completion


A certificate offered by the University or by the University in partnership with another organization.  These students are not currently recorded in the official student information systems and all records are kept by the offering unit. These programs do not involve credit courses.

Get Lean Certification Program


When the major requires declaration of an additional major. A student taking a co-major must also complete a primary major in one of the academic divisions at Miami. Completion of the co-major satisfies the Miami Plan thematic sequence requirement.

Sustainability Co-Major + Primary Major in Any Field or Discipline;

Interactive Media Studies Co-Major + Primary Major in Any Field/Discipline


Courses that must be taken during the same semester because their subject matter is similar or complementary. Co-requisites are given at the end of course descriptions

The co-requisite of MIS 235, “Information Technology & the Intelligent Enterprise is BUS 101, “Foundations of Business Decision Making.”

Course sections 

Courses with large enrollments are divided into sections. Sections are identified by letters. A five-digit CRN (Course Reference Number) also identifies a course section.


Credit/no-credit course 

Students receive credit for a C or better; they do not get credit if the grade is C- or lower. A credit/no-credit course is not figured in the student’s GPA. Students can only take one-fourth of their course work on credit/no-credit basis, and usually cannot take courses in the major this way. First-year students must register for at least 12 hours for a grade before taking a credit/no-credit course. After 20 percent of the class meetings, students cannot change from credit/no-credit to a letter grade or from a letter grade to credit/no-credit.  Some courses are only offered as credit/no-credit. X signifies credit received for the course. Y signifies no credit received for the course.

EDL 110, “The University and the Student” is a credit/no credit course.

Credit hour 

Unit used to measure course work. The number of credit hours is usually based on the number of hours per week the class meets; for example, a three-hour course typically meets three times a week for 50 minutes each time. One credit hour is usually assigned for two or three hours in laboratory and studio courses.

HST 111, Survey of American History, is a three-credit hour   course.

Cross-listed course

Course where material taught crosses multiple disciplines or in which faculty members from two or more departments are eligible to teach. The course may or may not be offered by two or more departments during the same term.

Images of America is a cross-listed course with American Studies and Art (ART/AMS 183)

Double Major

A student who meets the major requirements of two departments may declare, and have recorded on the transcript, a double major.  The students must obtain prior approval from both departments (as well as the appropriate school(s) and college, if the majors are housed in separate divisions).  One major must be declared the primary major. Students who graduate with a double major or degree across two academic divisions are required to complete all University requirements and the requirements of both majors and academic divisions.

Major: Journalism

Major: Political Science

Dual Degree

Designated programs arranged between undergraduate and graduate/professional programs.  Students can be admitted on a provisional basis to the combined program anytime during their academic career at Miami, from the time they apply for undergraduate admission. Upon earning a minimum of 64 hours and having a GPA of 3.25 or greater, students may apply to a combined program by completing the Graduate School application and submitting materials as required by the program to which they are applying. Departments or programs with a combined degree may allow students to double-count up to 12 hours of graduate course work toward their undergraduate degree. A minimum of 150 hours is required for the combined program, of which 30 must be graduate course work.  Students in a combined program will remain undergraduates until they apply for graduation or submit a request to the Graduate School to have their classification changed from undergraduate to graduate.  Students must have completed a minimum of 128 hours to be classified as a graduate student.  Students may receive their bachelor’s degree prior to completing their master’s degree.  Upon receiving the bachelor’s degree, students will automatically be classified as graduate students. Students receiving the bachelor’s degree prior to completing the master’s degree can count up to 12 hours of graduate course work toward their bachelor’s degree.  Those hours can also count toward the completion of their master’s degree.   

B.S. / M.S. (3+2)

B.S. / M.Ed. (4+1)

B.S./MAcc (4+2)

Joint Degree

A program established, coordinated, and awarded jointly between two higher education institutions.

Master’s degree in population and social gerontology (MPSG) between Miami University and Mahidol University


Lecture and laboratory; used to indicate how many credit hours are earned in lecture and/or in laboratory.

Example: 3 Lec. 1 Lab.


Designated sequence of courses in a discipline or area of undergraduate study. Like the major, it is expected to have coherence and increasing sophistication.    A minor is typically 18-24 credit hours (or approximately half of the major) and is independent of the student’s major. Minors are designated on University transcripts.

Major: History

Minor: English


Global Miami Plan for Liberal Education Foundation Course fulfills a part of the liberal education requirement

These refer to the MPF courses:
I: English composition
IIA: Fine Arts
IIB: Humanities
IIC: Social Science
III: Global Perspectives
IVA: Biological science
IVB: Physical science
V: Mathematics, formal reasoning, technology
H: Fulfills historical perspective requirement
LAB: Fulfills laboratory course requirement for the Miami Plan; LAB must be preceded by IVA or IVB to fulfill the MP natural science laboratory requirement.


Miami Plan Thematic Sequence course











Miami Plan Capstone Experience course

Thematic Sequence Courses in PHL 2 Ethics in Health Care,” include: PHL 131 plus two from the following: PHL 360A, “Confronting Death,” PHL 375, “Moral Issues in Health Care,” and PHL 475, “Justice in Health Care.” Not open to majors in Department of Philosophy.


Capstones: GTY 440G: Field Experience in Gerontology or HST 400: Senior Capstone in History

Offered infrequently

Courses may be offered every two or three years



Course(s) that must be taken to provide background for the course requiring the prerequisite. Sometimes permission of the instructor or another requirement (such as graduate standing) may be a prerequisite to a course.

The prerequisites for FIN 301, Introduction to Business Finance, are ECO 201 and 202 and ACC 221 and 222.

Sprint course

Course that meets for less than the full 14-week term or semester, usually in durations of four, six, eight, or twelve weeks.

ART 149, Beginning Digital Photography, is a sprint course.

Principles of Curricular Design

One of the most respected frameworks for curricular design is that offered in Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe.  Wiggins and McTighe advance a “backward” design process that begins with identifying the enduring understandings that students should carry from the course or major. What is it that a faculty member wants students to remember and be able to apply a semester after they leave a course? What are the big ideas that transcend the course?

Specifically, the backwards design process emphasizes the teacher's critical role as an assessor and designer of student learning and involves the following three-stage backward planning curriculum design process.

Stage 1: Identify desired results focuses on identifying the enduring concepts and desired student outcomes before outlining specifics of the lesson plan. Enduring concepts are important ideas or core processes that are transferable to new situations, have lasting value beyond the classroom, are at the heart of the discipline, and are often abstract, counterintuitive, and misunderstood. What should students know, understand, and be able to do? What is worthy of understanding? This approach avoids two critical errors in teaching: textbook coverage or teaching for rote memorization and activity-based teaching that may be engaging but has no clear priorities. Ideas are provided for differentiating enduring understandings from the knowledge and skills supporting those understandings and from second-level skills or factual knowledge.

Stage 2: Determine acceptable evidence concentrates on the variety and depth of assessment tasks that are needed to validate that the student has achieved the desired enduring understanding. Students reveal understanding when they participate in complex, authentic opportunities to engage in the six facets of understanding identified by Wiggins and McTighe:

  • Explanation provides thorough, supported, and justified accounts of phenomena, facts, and data.
  • Interpretation is designed to personalize information, contributing to relevancy and long-term retention.
  • Application provides opportunities to utilize and apply understanding in diverse contexts.
  • Perspective sees points of view through critical eyes and ears, the big picture.
  • Empathy finds value in what others might find odd, alien, or implausible; i.e., to perceive sensitively on the basis of prior direct experience.
  • Self-knowledge recognizes that personal style, prejudices, projections, and habits of mind shape and impede one's own understanding.

Meaningful assessment requires a variety of tools, including informal checks in class, observation and student dialogue, formal quizzes and tests, academic prompts, and open-ended assessment tasks. Scoring rubrics can also be useful in assessing student learning.

Stage 3: Plan learning experiences and instruction occurs when enduring understandings and appropriate evidence of understanding culminate in an effective instructional activity. The backward design process flips from starting at stage 3 to beginning at stage 1 and moving to stage 3. The driving factor is the enduring concept, not the activity. Stage 3 essentially asks, “What activities will equip students with the desired knowledge and skills?” This requires the teacher to consider the intersection of engaging tasks and effective tasks. Activities at this intersection motivate students to explore understandings and misconceptions.

The sieve for activity design is called WHERE. How will you help students know?  Where are students headed and Why? How will you Hook students through engaging and thought-provoking experiences? What events, real or simulated, can students Experience to make the ideas and issues real? What learning activities will help students to Explore the big ideas and essential questions? What instruction is needed to Equip students for the final performance? How will you cause students to Reflect and Rethink to dig deeper into the core ideas? How will you guide students in Rehearsing, Revising, and Refining their work based on feedback and self-assessment? How will students Exhibit their understanding about their final performances and products? How will you guide them in self-Evaluation to identify the strengths and weaknesses in their own work and set future goals?

[1] Hubball, H. and Gold, N. (2007, Winter). “The Scholarship of Curriculum Practice and Undergraduate Program Reform: Integrating Theory and Practice.” IN Wolf, P. and Hughes, J. C. Eds. Curriculum Development in Higher Education: Faculty-Driven Processes and Practices. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, no. 112, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 5-15.