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Requirements for the Bachelor’s Degree

Effective for students entering their first semester of higher education after high school graduation fall 2007 or after.

Students who began or resumed higher education (following high school graduation) prior to summer 2007 and have maintained continuous enrollment (without a two-year break) may complete General Foundation Requirements (GFR) or General Education Program (GEP) graduation requirements. See Appendix IV and V for GEP and GFR worksheets.

UMBC’s bachelor’s degree requirements provide students the opportunity to expand the life of the mind by developing life-long habits of thought and intellectual interests. The course requirements for general education allow students to explore a variety of academic disciplines and to acquire and apply skills and competencies essential for a well-educated citizen. They also provide the foundation for effective writing, which is necessary for all fields of study.

General Education Program

For General Education, UMBC students will complete courses distributed in four broad areas of academic inquiry: arts and humanities, social sciences, mathematics and science, and language and culture. General Education courses are designed to introduce students to the knowledge and methods that are foundations of each of these four areas.

UMBC’s General Education courses also enable students to develop functional skills and competencies important for academic and lifetime success. These include one or more of the following: written and oral communication, scientific and quantitative reasoning, critical analysis and reasoning, technological competency and information literacy (recommended competency areas for General Education Programs have been established by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and adopted by the Maryland Higher Education Commission for Maryland colleges and universities). Students must complete the following distribution requirements with a grade of “C” or better. Courses taken on a P/F basis may not be applied to distribution requirements.

Arts And Humanities

(Three courses in at least two academic fields)

Courses in the arts and humanities explore the human condition and its cultural expression, past and present. Arts and humanities courses consider the ethical and value systems which form the basis of thought, artifacts and individual and collective life. They examine a wide variety of sources—from literature, philosophy, the visual and performing arts and religion, to popular culture and patterns of everyday activity—to critically evaluate significant intellectual and artistic issues.

GEP courses in the arts and humanities enable students to:

  • Analyze and interpret diverse texts and modes of expression
  • Understand important intellectual and artistic concepts, whether from historical or contemporary perspectives
  • Discuss, write and conduct research effectively in the arts and humanities
  • Additionally, GEP studio or workshop courses in the arts and humanities enable students to:
  • Learn and practice a particular art form
  • Investigate creative modes of expression by identifying motivations, desires and values that inspire them
  • Learn collaborative skills and how to objectively and appropriately evaluate their own work and the work of others

Social Sciences

(Three courses in at least two academic fields)

The social sciences seek to understand attitudes, beliefs and social behaviors of individuals, groups and institutions, and identify factors that influence them, both past and present. Attention is devoted to the complex interactions among individuals, environment and social institutions. Finally, the social sciences seek to develop, implement and evaluate procedures that can change attitudes and behaviors at both the individual and group level and address issues of social inequality/inequity.

GEP courses in the Social Sciences enable students to:

  • Critically evaluate research regarding the complex interplay of individuals, groups, and institutions
  • Understand the strengths and weaknesses of, and be able to apply research methods within, the many fields of social sciences
  • Provide insight into the development and implementation of programs and policies designed to improve people’s lives


(Two courses, one with a laboratory component)

The sciences seek explanations for how nature functions at scales ranging from the subatomic to the universal. Courses in the natural sciences foster an understanding of the fundamental principles underlying modern scientific thought. In addition to describing what is currently known, science courses teach skills and methods that facilitate inquiry about the natural world, and provide opportunities for students to test those explanations against current scientific knowledge and to communicate their ideas to others.

GEP courses in the sciences enable students to:

  • Apply their knowledge to solving basic scientific problems
  • Describe what it means to “do” science
  • Distinguish science from non-science or pseudoscience
  • Use mathematics as appropriate to present and analyze scientific data
  • Discuss socially relevant issues in scientific terms


(One course)

To prepare college graduates for an increasingly complex and technological world it is necessary to develop problem solving abilities, including analytical and logical reasoning skills. Mathematics GEP courses build upon a student’s fundamental mastery of high school algebra (as evidenced by the placement exam or equivalent course work) to provide a foundation in mathematical concepts and techniques used not only in mathematics and statistics but also in a wide variety of other disciplines.

GEP courses in mathematics enable students to:

  • Develop a level of mathematical maturity significantly beyond high school Algebra II
  • Develop problem-solving ability both in the quantitative and qualitative realms
  • Enhance their analytic and synthetic logical abilities
  • Become acquainted with mathematical ways of thinking, including concepts and techniques utilized in other disciplines


(A single language through the 201 level or equivalent proficiency)

The language and culture requirements recognize the global nature of society in the 21st Century, the importance of inter-cultural communication and the need for modern citizens to broaden their horizons. The study of language through the 201 level provides a foundation for fluency. Languages beyond English offered in the UMBC curriculum range from ancient to modern, representing the major language groups of the world.

Global Cultures

(For B.A. degree, two culture courses; for B.S. degree, one culture course)

The C (global cultures) requirement fosters cultural understanding of the world beyond the borders of the United States. Courses fulfilling this requirement may focus on a single non-U.S. culture; they also may consider the multi-cultural perspectives of global experience or emphasize intercultural, international and comparative approaches to cultural study.

The Writing Requirements

Every student must successfully complete a freshman composition and a designated writing intensive course.

Freshman Composition (English 100)

English 100 provides instruction in crafting essays in a workshop setting. In all of its variations, this course develops students’ abilities to address various audiences and rhetorical situations in competently structured essays. This course helps students to analyze critically electronic and print resources for research for essays. Through this course, students are introduced to writing for an academic audience.

Writing Intensive Course (WI)

Students must complete one writing intensive course; a designated WI course may count for the major or a distribution requirement, or it may be taken as an elective.

Writing intensive courses:

  • Engage students in writing as a form of critical inquiry and scholarly research
  • Require students to write frequently both, in and/or out of class
  • Provide useful feedback to students regarding their writing
  • Discuss the work students are doing as writers at various points during the term

Major Program

Every student must successfully complete the requirements of an approved major program. Students may complete combined major, minor and certificate programs in preparation for careers and/or graduate or professional study.

Additional Requirements

Physical Education Requirement

Students must complete two physical education courses.

Minimum Academic Credits

Students must complete a minimum of 120 academic credits.

Minimum Upper-level Credits

Students must complete at least 45 credits. Courses at the 300 and 400 level carry upper-level credit.

Minimum Resident Credits

Students must complete at least 30 credits of coursework at UMBC. In addition, the final 30 credits of coursework should be earned at UMBC.

Minimum Grade Point Average

Students must have a minimum cumulative UMBC grade point average of 2.0.

General Education Program (GEP) and Writing Intensive (WI) Course Codes and Additional Information

The General Education Program applies to students who began their higher education (after high school graduation) in the fall 2007 semester or later. For more information on the GEP requirements, visit

The codes below are used to indicate whether an individual course can be used to fulfill GEP requirements.

  • AH – Course fulfills one arts and humanities GEP requirement. This GEP area requires three courses, at least two of which must be in different disciplines.
  • SS – Course fulfills one social sciences GEP requirement. This GEP area requires three courses, at least two of which must be in different disciplines.
  • M – Course fulfills mathematics GEP requirement. This GEP area requires one course at the appropriate placement level
  • S – Course fulfills one science (non-lab) GEP requirement but does not include a laboratory component. This GEP area requires two courses, one of which must include a lab.
  • SL – Course fulfills one sciences GEP requirement including the laboratory component. This GEP area requires two courses, one of which must include a lab.
  • LB – Course fulfills laboratory component of the science GEP requirement. This GEP area requires two courses, one of which must include a lab. Note that in order for a “Lab Only” course to apply to the GEPs, the corresponding lecture course must also be completed (i.e. CHEM 102 and CHEM 102L).
  • L(201) – Course fulfills the 201-level foreign language proficiency requirement of the GEP requirements.
  • C – Course fulfills one culture GEP requirement. For B.A. degree seeking students, this GEP area requires two courses. For B.S. degree seeking students, this GEP area requires one course.
  • WI – Course fulfills the one-course writing intensive General Graduation Requirement.

Note: Some courses are designated as applicable to more than one GEP area. When a course meets more than one area (i.e. AH or C), you may choose which requirement area in which to apply the course. The course may not be applied to both GEP areas.

Note: Some courses which fulfill the writing intensive (WI) General Graduation Requirement area are also designated as applicable to one or more GEP areas. When a course meets the WI requirement and one GEP area (i.e. AH and WI), it may be applied to both areas. When a course meets the WI requirement and two GEP (i.e. AH, C and WI) it may be applied to one GEP area and the WI requirement. The course may not be applied to both GEP areas.

Note: The writing intensive (WI) requirement is not part of the GEP requirements. It is a General Graduation Requirement for students beginning higher education in the fall 2007 semester or later. For more information on General Graduation Requirements, refer to the General Education Requirements worksheet.

Note: Students who began higher education (after high school graduation) between the summer 1996 and spring 2007 semesters should complete General Foundation Requirements. Students who began higher education prior to summer 1996 and have not have more than a two-year break in their enrollment history may fall under older general education requirements.

Students wanting more information about these general education requirements should visit the Registrar’s Office between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday or e-mail