Residential Curriculum & Curricular Approaches

Welcome to! A “residential curriculum” is a particular approach to designing and delivering intentional learning opportunities for college and university students.  Developed since 2005, this approach has spawned its own Institute and has been replicated and modified in various forms at campuses across the country, and even the word.  Although arising out of residence life, this model is flexible and has been adopted by entire students affairs divisions. The Institute on the Curricular Approach is a premier professional development offered by ACPA and the only event that provides comprehensive training on the approach.

If you’re looking to connect with others around curriculum, consider joining the Residential Curriculum Facebook Group or follow the #ACPAICA hashtag on Twitter and other platforms.


img_1717As a professional I’ve previously implemented a curricular approach at one of my past institutions. I have also served as a Residential Curriculum Institute faculty member for a number of years.

I frequently consult with individual campuses on developing and enhancing their curricula through multi-day workshops and speaking events. I have worked with over 30 different institutions across the country. If you’re interested in bringing me to campus, you can learn more about my speaking and consulting and reach out to me with any interest.



Book on Residential Curriculum and Curricular Approaches:
I’ve been progressively updating the following book on curricular development and residence life and education. This resource on residential curriculum and curricular approaches is available for free and provides you with definitions, instructions, and review materials to aid you in your educational work on campus.

Residential Curriculum and Curricular Approaches Book Download NowThe following represents some of my blog posts and related content on residential curriculum development. I’ve also included a number of posts and other publications that I have found in my research on the topic.

Curriculum Basics and Overview

Divisional Curriculum

Beginning Your Journey

The Ten Elements of a Curriculum

Determining Your Objectives

Educational Priority

Goals and Narratives


Rubrics and Sequencing

Strategies and Facilitation Guides

Educational Plan and Curricular Review

Assessing Learning

Partnerships, Buy-In, and Organizational Change

Special Topics in Residence Life

Intentional Conversations

Student and Professional Staff

Residential Curriculum and Curricular Approach Q&A Series

Residence Life-Specific Questions

Case Studies


Publications on Developing a Residential Curriculum:

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles:

About Curricular Approaches:

Reference Curricular Approaches:

Contain Sub-Sections on Curricular Approaches:

Research on the Curricular Approach:

  • Organizational Perspective On Implementing The Residential Curriculum Approach: An Ethnographic Case Study by Hilary L. Lichterman How does a college or university housing department adopt and adapt to a new curricular approach? This qualitative descriptive case study describes how one, mid-size, co-educational residence life department in the Midwestern region of the United States adopted the residential curriculum approach based on “The 10 Essential Elements of a Residential Curriculum” (The 10EERC) that are a foundational aspect of the content discussed at the ACPA – College Student Educators International’s annual Residential Curriculum Institute (RCI). Research questions for the study address changes that occurred in the residence life unit when adopting the residential curriculum approach, participants’ perceptions of positives and challenges in the transition to the approach, and how residence life staff characterize their experience of adopting the approach. Findings reflect that institutional values influence the design of educational practices and tools and that participants reported positive experiences and challenges with communication. The dichotomy in participants’ accounts reveals the opportunity for transparency and inclusion of student leaders in departmental changes. Implications may inform (1) practice in housing and residence life departments, (2) graduate preparation programs and assistantships, (3) functional units in student affairs, (4) divisions of student affairs, (5) ACPA’s RCIs, and (6) The 10EERC. A new organizational tool incorporating Bolman and Deal’s (2014) four frames is presented.
  • Residence Life as Learning Organizations: An Inquiry Into Organizational Elements that Support Integration of the Residential Curriculum by Heather Kropf Student learning and success is tied to the learning goals and mission of each institution, including environments outside of the classroom. Students are more diverse than ever in terms of their lived experience and their culture, identity, and how they engage in learning. Research has indicated that students spend the majority of their time outside the classroom, where they are learning through informal and formal environments. This has significance and opportunities for student affairs practitioners who desire to create student learning environments. In fact, residence life curricular approaches have demonstrated positive learning experiences for students. However, implementing a learning-based curricular model is fraught with organizational challenges, and little is known about how relatively successful residence life curricular model organizations adapt and modify human resources and structural, political, and symbolic elements in their quest to become learning organizations and better support student learning and success. Therefore, this inquiry investigated five residence life curricular model organizations in order to identify common best practices and strategies that can be replicated to support student learning. The findings outline a new model (curricular integration model) and eight critical components in the organizational structure and culture to operationalize the curricular approach; the model can be utilized and adapted for many organizations to support a thriving curricular model.

Videos About The Curricular Approach:


Andrea Guimaraes’s Interview series with:

Dr. Paul Gordon Brown

Dr. Keith Edwards

Dr. Hilary Lichterman

Institute on the Curricular Approach (Residential Curriculum Institute):

2019 Institute Social Media Recaps: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3

2018 Institute Social Media Recaps: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3

2017 Institute Social Media Recaps: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3#ACPARCI 2017 by Erin Simpson (PDF)

2016 Institute Social Media Recaps: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3

2014 Institute Social Media Recaps: Day 1 (PDF), Day 2 (PDF), Day 3 (PDF), Reflections on the 2014 Residential Curriculum Institute by Nicolas Babarskis

2013 Institute Social Media Recaps: #ACPARCI 2013 Twitter Recap by ebeeler (PDF)

Past Institute Showcase Institutions:

  • American University (2010)
  • Appalachian State University (2017)
  • Carleton University (2017, 2018)
  • Central Michigan University (2017, 2018, 2019)
  • Clemson University (2014, 2019)
  • Colorado Mesa University (2012, 2013)
  • Dartmouth College (2009)
  • East Tennessee State University (2016)
  • Eastern Kentucky University (2018)
  • Florida International University (2019)
  • Georgia Southern University (2015)
  • Gettysburg College (2010, 2011)
  • Indiana State University (2014, 2015, 2018, 2019)
  • Indiana University Bloomington (2018)
  • Lehigh University (2013, 2014, 2019) *Divisional
  • Macalester College (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016)
  • Messiah College (2011)
  • New York University (2010, 2015)
  • North Carolina State University (2017)
  • North Dakota State University (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
  • Northern Illinois University (2011, 2012)
  • Pennsylvania State University (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015)
  • Quinnipiac University (2018)
  • Radford University (2018)
  • St. Lawrence University (2012)
  • Saint Louis University (2011, 2012, 2013)
  • Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2018)
  • SUNY Brockport (2011, 2013)
  • SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology (2018)
  • SUNY Geneseo (2019) *Divisional
  • SUNY University of Buffalo (2014, 2018, 2019)
  • Syracuse University (2009)
  • University of Central Florida (2016, 2018, 2019)
  • University of Connecticut (2017)
  • University of Dayton (2012, 2015)
  • University of Illinois Springfield (2019) *Divisional
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2016)
  • University of Iowa (2019)
  • University of Kansas (2018) *Divisional
  • University of Kentucky (2019)
  • University fo Maryland Baltimore County (2019)
  • University of Massachusetts-Amherst (2017, 2018)
  • University of Minnesota (2010, 2012, 2013)
  • University of Mississippi (2016)
  • University of New Hampshire (2009, 2014, 2016)
  • University of North Carolina School of Arts (2018) *Divisional
  • University of Oklahoma (2015, 2017, 2018)
  • University of South Carolina (2013, 2015, 2016)
  • University of South Florida (2014, 2016, 2018, 2019)
  • University of St. Thomas (2019) *Divisional
  • University of Texas at Austin (2019)
  • University of Utah (2018, 2019)
  • Virginia Tech (2013, 2014)
  • West Chester University (2019) *Divisional
  • Western Washington University (2011, 2012)
  • Whitman College (2009)
  • Wilfrid Laurier University (2017)

Schools Referencing A Curriculum:

Although there are many schools implementing curricular approaches to residential and student life, detailed information on these approaches can be difficult to find online. The following is a list of schools that have references to curricular frameworks and/or planning documents (including learning goals and outcomes, strategies, lesson plans, etc.) online. Note that these are of varying quality, and although an institution may list or reference a curricular-type frame work, they may not implement a true approach in practice. The links providing the most detail are listed first. Schools with demonstrated student affairs divisional curricula are noted with an asterisk.

Most useful links:

Additional institutions:

Presentations on Residential Curriculum

The following are presentations on residential curriculum that are publicly available online. The most useful links are in bold.

Student Leader Training and Curricular Approaches:

The following are links provide information on student leader training and curricular approaches including RA training and residential curriculum.


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