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Undergraduate Catalog

Undergraduate Degree Requirements

UMBC confers bachelor's degrees on undergraduate students who successfully complete a course of study that meets minimum university requirements, includes general education, writing requirements, major requirements, and minor and certificate requirements (if applicable). The university reserves the right to change any provision or requirement at any time within a student's period of enrollment. If a change is made, however, the student has the option of following the requirements in the catalog in effect at UMBC when he or she began public higher education within the state of Maryland for the first time, provided continuous enrollment (without a two-year break). This option applies to major requirements as well as to minimum university requirements and general education.

Minimum Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees:

To receive an undergraduate degree, students must complete each of the requirements listed below, without exception.

Minimum Academic Credits

Without exception, students must complete a minimum of 120 academic credits to receive a UMBC degree. (Note: Academic credits exclude developmental level coursework, and physical-activity courses).

Minimum Grade Point Average

Without exception, students must have a minimum cumulative UMBC grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 to receive a UMBC degree. (Note: The UMBC GPA excludes LRC, ELC, pre-college-level coursework, physical-activity courses when a grade of "P" is earned, and academic courses taken as P/F earned with a "P").

Minimum Upper-level Credits

Without exception, at least 45 of the minimum 120 credits required for graduation must be in UMBC courses numbered at the 300-level or above or their equivalents as determined by the relevant academic department at UMBC through processes managed by the Registrar's Office.

Minimum Resident Credits

Without exception, students must complete at least 30 credits of course work at UMBC (referred to as resident credit) to receive a UMBC degree. Of the 30 credits in residence, 15 must be upper-level (courses numbered at the 300-level or above).

Physical Education Credits

In addition to the above requirements, students must pass two activity courses in physical education. Credit for physical education courses is considered institutional credit, and as such, it does not count toward the 120 academic credits required for graduation. Exemptions are made if a student reaches his or her 30th birthday prior to the first day of classes for the semester in which the student initially enrolls at UMBC, if the student is in the military (active duty, veteran, reservist), if the student is a varsity athlete, or if he or she is physically disqualified, for which he or she may receive a waiver from the physical education department.

Components of the Undergraduate Degree:

In addition to the minimum requirements described above, each student's undergraduate degree program consists of several main components: general education, writing requirements, an academic field major, and electives. Additional majors, minors, and certificate programs may be pursued but are not required for successful completion of an undergraduate degree at UMBC. Each of the main components of the undergraduate degree is described below.

General Education

UMBC's General Education courses enable students to develop functional skills and competencies important for academic and lifetime success. Each General Education Program (GEP) course enhances one or more of the following areas: 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 general education distribution requirements with a grade of "C" or better. Courses taken on a P/F basis may not be applied to distribution requirements.

Cross-listed courses bear a particular significance within the general education distribution requirements. A cross-listed course is listed with more than one disciplinary designation; therefore, carries two or more disciplinary prefixes (e.g., HIST 273: History of the Jews in Modern Times, From the Middle Ages to 1917 is also listed as JDST 273 and RLST 273). However, a cross-listed course is, in fact, a single course taught with a multidisciplinary approach by a specific faculty member. A cross-listed course will be indicated in the Undergraduate Catalog with a note that the course is "also listed as" the course (or courses) with which it is cross-listed. For the purposes of general education requirements, a cross-listed course is considered any one of its assigned disciplines, no matter under which disciplinary designation the course is taken. Therefore, HIST 273 can be considered a history course, a Judaic studies course or a religious studies course. This has important implications for fulfilling the general education requirements, and it is recommended that students note cross-listed courses carefully when choosing courses to satisfy general education requirements.

General Foundation Requirements (GFR)

Students who, following high school graduation, began higher education the summer of 1996 through the spring of 2007 and who have maintained continuous enrollment since that period without a two year break may choose to satisfy GFRs in effect during that time. See Appendix V for the GFR worksheet. The course descriptions in the Undergraduate Catalog and the Schedule of Classes will include a notation if the course meets a GFR requirement. Students eligible to complete the GFR requirements have the option to elect participation in the GEP program and in some cases may find it advantageous to do so. Students interested in this option should begin by discussing this possibility with their academic advisors.

General Education Program (GEP)

Students beginning or resuming higher education (following high school graduation) in summer 2007 or later must satisfy the GEP graduation requirements. See Appendix IV for the GEP worksheet.

GEP Distribution Requirements

For GEP, UMBC students will complete courses distributed in four broad areas of academic inquiry: arts and humanities, social sciences, mathematics and sciences, and language and culture.

Arts and Humanities

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

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

Mathematics

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

Sciences

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

Language and Culture

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. Languages beyond English offered in the UMBC curriculum range from ancient to modern, representing most major language groups of the world. Courses designated for the culture requirement generally focus on subject matter beyond the borders of the United States, while recognizing the multi-cultural perspectives of global experience and the value of inter-cultural and comparative approaches to culture study.

GEP courses in language and culture enable students to:

  • Develop skills in languages other than English that are necessary for cross-cultural comprehension and communication
  • Explore and understand diverse systems of practices, values, and beliefs
  • Think in ways that provide perspectives on international and cultural issues

Writing Requirements

English Composition

As part of the GEP distribution requirements, students must complete, with a grade of "C" or better, ENGL 100: Composition, or an equivalent course taken at UMBC or another institution. Incoming freshmen will take a UMBC placement test to determine writing ability. Those who do not qualify must pass a non-credit composition course before enrolling in ENGL 100. Non-native speakers of English may place into ENGL 110 or may first be required to complete institutional credit courses offered by the English Language Institute. To satisfy the English composition general education requirement, this course must be taken within a student's first 30 credit hours of enrollment at UMBC.

Membership in the Honors College is required for students who wish to register for English 100H: Composition. Students may not receive credit for both ENGL 100 and ENGL 100H.

Writing Intensive Course (WI)

In addition to the GEP distribution requirements, 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. The WI course must be completed at UMBC; transfer courses may not to be used to fulfill this requirement.

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 Requirements

In addition to the general requirements and writing requirements, students must satisfy the requirements of a major program. An academic field major provides the focal point of a student's undergraduate study and ensures depth of knowledge in that field. The number of credits required for a UMBC major program varies. A list of major programs offered at UMBC, with links to Departmental websites for additional detail may be found here: http://www.umbc.edu/academics/degrees.html Students may choose to major in an established discipline within one of the available major curricula or develop a self-designed program within the framework of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program. Students should declare a major program as soon as practical but not later than by the completion of 45 credit hours of course work by filing a Declaration of Major form in the Registrar's Office. Students who transfer to UMBC with at least 45 credit hours of course work should declare a major program during their first semester. Students may change their major by filing an updated Declaration of Major form in the Registrar's Office.

Minor Requirements (if applicable)

A minor program provides a survey of an academic field, but in less depth than a major program. Some minor programs are interdisciplinary in nature. In general, students are not required to declare a minor; however, they are encouraged to discuss the opportunity with their academic advisor to determine if it is appropriate. A few UMBC majors require completion of a minor or certificate program in conjunction with the major. The number of credits required for a minor program varies; students are encouraged to study the requirements for each minor program on the website of the academic department offering that program. Minor programs are recognized only when completed concurrently with and as part of a bachelor's degree program.

Undergraduate Certificates (if applicable)

By completing the courses specified for an undergraduate certificate program, a student may achieve mastery of a skill or content area. Certificates are offered by a number of academic departments, including Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Inter-Cultural Communication, Information Systems, and Economics. While generally not required as part of a student's degree program, certificates can enhance the scope and quality of a student's undergraduate education.

In general, students must complete the requirements of a certificate in conjunction with and as part of a bachelor's degree program. Special exceptions may be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Registrar's Office at the point of a student's graduation audit.

Multiple Major and Degree Programs

Students may elect to complete the requirements of multiple major and degree programs:

Multiple Major Programs

Students who elect to complete the requirements of multiple majors must submit a Declaration of Major form in the Registrar's Office. Upon filing the form, the primary, second, third, or more major will be specified.

When pursuing multiple major programs involving the same bachelor degree type (e.g., Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Arts [or] Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Science), the student must complete the requirements of both major programs, complete the general education requirements for only one major since they result in the same degree and a minimum of 120 degree credits. All requirements of both major programs must be completed at the time of graduation.

When pursuing multiple major programs involving different bachelor's degree types (e.g., Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science [or] Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Arts), the student must complete the requirements of both major programs, complete only the general education requirements of the primary major that was specified on the Declaration of Major form, and a minimum of 120 degree credits. All requirements of both major programs must be completed at the time of graduation.

Students who successfully complete multiple majors will receive only one diploma with the primary major printed on the diploma. The secondary, third or more major(s) will be listed on the official transcript.

Multiple Degrees

Students who elect to complete the requirements of multiple degrees must submit a Declaration of Major form in the Registrar's Office.

A student electing to concurrently complete programs involving the same bachelor degree type (e.g., Bachelor of Arts and a second or more Bachelor of Arts [or] a Bachelor of Science and a second or more Bachelor of Science), must complete the requirements of all degree programs, complete the general education requirements for only one degree since they are the same, and a minimum of 30 credits above the 120 credit minimum for each additional degree at the time of graduation.

A student electing to concurrently complete programs involving different bachelor's degree types (e.g., Bachelor of Arts and a second or more Bachelor of Science [or] a Bachelor of Science and a second or more Bachelor of Arts), must complete the requirements of all degree programs, the general education requirements applicable to all degrees, and a minimum of 30 credits above the 120 credit minimum for each additional degree at the time of graduation.

Students who successfully complete multiple degrees will receive one diploma for each degree earned.

Second Degrees

Students who have graduated and wish to complete an additional degree program in a discipline or major not completed during their prior degree program are required to complete all requirements of the additional degree program and a minimum of 30 degree credits after returning to UMBC.

Combined Degrees

If students wish to enroll in a combined degree program in medicine, law or dentistry at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), they must satisfactorily complete 90 credit hours at UMBC, including all general education and major requirements, prior to entrance to the professional school. After completing the first year at UMB and on the recommendation of the dean of the professional school and the provost at UMBC, students will be awarded the bachelor's degree from UMBC. If a student is seeking a second bachelor's degree from UMBC, he or she may apply up to 90 credits of his or her first degree toward the second and must complete a minimum of 30 additional credits at UMBC.


Accelerated Bachelor's/Master's Programs

Students interested in pursuing an accelerated bachelor's/master's degree program should make their intentions known to the appropriate graduate program director. This is usually done early in the junior year, although some programs allow earlier admission. Completion of the Accelerated Bachelor's/Master's Program application form is required at that time; the form is available on the Graduate School Web site.

An undergraduate may apply to participate in an accelerated program even if the desired graduate program is in a department other than the one in which the student is majoring.

A major advantage of this program is that it enables the student to double count up to nine credits toward both the bachelor's and master's degrees. If admitted, the student follows a prescribed course of study in which a maximum of nine credits at the 600 level or higher may be taken as an undergraduate and counted later toward the master's degree. They may be enrolled on either a part-time or full-time basis.

Students must apply and be admitted to the Graduate School at least one semester prior to the completion of bachelor's degree requirements. There will be no retroactive admissions to the program once the student has received the bachelor's degree.

The bachelor's degree may be awarded after successful completion of bachelor's degree requirements (usually at least 120 credits); master's degree requirements depend upon the individual program, but a minimum of 141 total credits is required for both degrees.

This program is selective. Students must have at least a 3.0 GPA to be considered, and some programs have more stringent requirements. The Graduate Record Examination usually is waived for applicants in this program; some graduate programs also waive other application requirements (e.g., letters of recommendation). If admitted, students must develop a plan of study for the remainder of their undergraduate career with the graduate program director. Students in these accelerated tracks must continue to be in good academic standing throughout the course of their studies.

A student admitted to the program may be allowed to take a break between the bachelor's and master's careers, but the graduate courses taken as an undergraduate must be "used" toward the master's degree within five years.

Once students are admitted to Graduate School and are enrolled, they must complete a Transfer of Credit form to transfer up to nine graduate credits taken as an undergraduate into the master's program. Note that only the credits are transferred, not the grade received.

No more than one master's degree may be earned through a combined bachelor's/ master's degree program.