College Establishes New Experiential Education Graduation Requirement

girl standing on table with green and white flag with spartan head on it with NYC in the background

College of Arts & Letters undergraduate students have a new “Experiential Education” graduation requirement that combines real-life experiences with college credit.

The goal of the Experiential Education requirement, which was implemented beginning in Fall 2018, is to give students experience outside the classroom to help them gain meaningful future employment and discover more about themselves, both personally and professionally, before they graduate from MSU. In the process, they are learning how to apply the knowledge and skills they have gained in the classroom, whether critical thought, research and writing, or problem solving, etc.

“Experiential learning affords students the opportunity to blend their academic discipline and knowledge with practices that allow skill attainment and deepened understandings of the interplay of the academic and professional world,” said Beth Judge, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education. “Student involvement in these opportunities helps students gain competencies they need for real-life success. In the liberal arts, the ability to gain these competencies is critical. If one mission of higher education is to bridge the gap between theory and practice, experiential learning is one of the strongest tools available.”

If one mission of higher education is to bridge the gap between theory and practice, experiential learning is one of the strongest tools available.

Beth Judge, Assistant Dean 

As part of this new requirement, students need to earn a minimum of three credits in one of the following approved experiential education options:

  • internship
  • service/community engaged learning experience
  • undergraduate research or creative project directed by a faculty member
  • study abroad program
  • study away program

Each option will have associated courses approved by the College Curriculum Committee so students can earn credit.

“The requirement elevates every student graduating from the College,” said
Experience Architecture senior Brock Delebreau, who is a member of the College Curriculum Committee.  

Emily Toppen, a sophomore Interdisciplinary Humanities major, lived in New York City for 4.5 weeks studying the arts industry as part of her experiential learning requirement.

a girl with blonde hair wearing a jean jacket holding a fish
Toppen with the famous Cod from “Come From Away”

“Through various trips to different museums, performances, and professional offices, I was able to meet and network with the top arts leaders in a multitude of fields,” she said. “These experiences were truly priceless and gave me a well-rounded view of different career paths that all had creativity at the core.

“Our courses here at Michigan State need to be supplemented with real-world experiences. If we don’t allow ourselves to connect our academics to our passions, then the skills and knowledge we learn will not be as valuable.”

To learn more about opportunities like Toppen’s or for more information on the requirement, contact Assistant Director of Experiential Learning Dan Meier at

Pictured above: Emily Toppen with the Spartan flag on top of the roof of International House.