Jul 22, 2024  
2013-2014 Undergraduate Catalog 
2013-2014 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Undergraduate Degree Requirements

UMBC confers bachelor’s degrees on undergraduate students who successfully complete a course of study that includes general education, writing requirements, major requirements, and minor 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 general education.

Overall Undergraduate Degree Requirements:

To receive an undergraduate degree, students must complete each of the requirements listed below.

Minimum Academic Credits

Without exception, students must complete a minimum of 120 academic credits to receive a UMBC degree. (Note: Academic credits exclude LRC, ELC, pre-college-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, and academic courses taken as P/F earned with a “P”).

Minimum Upper-level Credits

At least 45 of the minimum of 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), or if he or she is physically disqualified, for which he or she may receive a waiver from the physical education department. UMBC students participating in the ROTC program are eligible to receive physical education credit by completing PHED 175 .

Components of the Undergraduate Degree:

In general, there are multiple requirements that complete the undergraduate degree. Each of these requirements are described below:

General Education

UMBC’s General Education courses 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 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 to1917  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 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 requirements, and it is recommended that students note cross-listed courses carefully when choosing courses to satisfy general 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.

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 science, 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


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


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


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

The 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.

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.

Freshmen whose SAT verbal scores are above 670 may register for ENGL 100H - Composition . Students may not receive credit for both ENGL 100  and ENGL 100H . The university expects students to complete the English composition requirement within the first 30 credit hours of enrollment at UMBC.

Writing Intensive Course (WI)

In addition to the GEP 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.

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. The number of credits required for a UMBC major program may vary: 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 by the beginning of their junior year by filing a Declaration of Major form in the Registrar’s Office. Students may change their major at any time by filing a Change of Major form in the Registrar’s Office.

Minor Requirements (If applicable)

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. The number of credits required for a minor program may vary: http://www.umbc.edu/academics/degrees.html. Minor programs are recognized only when completed concurrently with a degree program.

Multiple Major and Minor Programs

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

Multiple Major Programs

Where the programs result in the same bachelor’s degree (Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science), the student must complete requirements of all the programs and a minimum of 120 degree credits. All requirements of all programs must be completed at the time of graduation.

Multiple Degrees

A student electing to concurrently complete programs resulting in different bachelor’s degrees (Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science), must complete all program requirements, all 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.

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 additional degree credits.

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.