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General Education Requirement

The General Education (GE) requirement promotes the intellectual growth of all undergraduates by ensuring that they acquire a breadth of knowledge that will enlarge their perspectives beyond the focus of a major and serve them well as participants in a knowledge-based society. It seeks to stimulate continued growth by providing knowledge of both the content and the methodologies of different academic disciplines. It involves students in the learning process by its expectation of considerable writing and class participation, and encourages students to consider the relationships between disciplines.

New General Education (GE) Requirement; Fall 2011 and On

The following section pertains to students who matriculated to UC Davis for the first time in Fall 2011 or later. Students who matriculated prior to Fall 2011 should refer to the Former General Education (GE) Requirement; Pre-Fall 2011.

The GE requirement has two components, Topical Breadth and Core Literacies , and is defined in terms of units, not courses.

Topical Breadth Component 52 units

A GE course in topical breadth addresses broad subject areas that are important to the student's general knowledge. The units of most undergraduate courses at UC Davis are assigned to one of the three Topical Breadth Areas.

Note: In the case of a course that has been certified in more than one Topical Breadth Area, a student may count the units of the course in only one of the areas in which it has been certified.

  • Arts and Humanities 12-20 units
    Courses in this area provide students with knowledge of significant intellectual traditions, cultural achievements and historical processes.
  • Science and Engineering 12-20 units
    Courses in this area provide students with knowledge of major scientific ideas and applications. They seek to communicate the scope, power, limitations and appeal of science.
  • Social Sciences 12-20 units
    Courses in this area provide students with knowledge of the individual, social, political and economic activities of people.

Core Literacies Component 35 units

The literacies are crucial both for success in one's profession and also for a thoughtful engaged citizenship in the community, nation and world.

Note: In the case of a course that has been certified in more than one Core Literacy Area, a student may count the units of the course in only one of the core literacy areas in which it has been certified. Additionally, GE credit for a core literacy course a student completes before it was an approved GE literacy course is subject to the relevant dean's office or the Biology Academic Success Center approval.

1. Literacy with Words and Images at least 20 units

The objective of this core literacy is to help students communicate their ideas effectively in written, oral and visual forms. The requirement also seeks to enhance students' critical judgment of oral, written, and visual messages created by others.

Note: A student must have completed the Entry Level Writing Requirement (formerly known as the Subject A requirement) before receiving General Education credit for coursework satisfying requirements a, b, and Writing Experience coursework satisfying requirement c, below.

a. English Composition 8 units
(as described by College of A&ES, College of L&S, College of Biological Sciences, or College of Engineering)

b. Writing Experience coursework in the student's major or in other departments at least 6 units

Courses in writing experience provide students instruction on how to communicate ideas in the subject matter of the course. The opportunity to improve writing after having received careful commentary is crucial to this requirement.

c. Oral Skills coursework or additional writing experience coursework at least 3 units

Courses in oral literacy involve effective communication of ideas through oral presentation and build on and strengthen the critical thinking skills exercised through writing. As an alternative to developing oral communication skills, the student may take additional coursework certified as writing experience (see requirement b, above).

d. Visual Literacy coursework at least 3 units

Courses in visual literacy provide students with the analytical skills they need to understand how still and moving images, art and architecture, illustrations accompanying written text, graphs and charts, and other visual embodiments of ideas inform and persuade people. Coursework may stress the skills needed to communicate through visual means as well as the analytical skills needed to be a thoughtful consumer of visual messages.

2. Civic and Cultural Literacy at least 9 units

The objective of this core literacy is to prepare students for thoughtful, active participation in civic society. Students will learn to think analytically about American institutions and social relations, understand the diversity of American cultures, and see the relationships between national and local cultures and the world.

a. American Cultures, Governance, and History at least 6 units; of which at least 3 units must be in coursework certified as focusing on issues of domestic diversity.

Courses in American Cultures, Governance, and History provide students with an understanding and appreciation of the social and cultural diversity of the United States and of the relationships between these diverse cultures and larger patterns of national history and institutions.

b. World Cultures at least 3 units

Courses in World Cultures provide students with a global perspective in a world where communication technologies, economic relationships, and the flow of people across national borders increasingly challenge national identities and create transnational cultures. Students can satisfy this requirement through coursework or through certified study abroad.

3. Quantitative Literacy at least 3 units

The objective of this core literacy is to provide students with an understanding of quantitative reasoning and skills for evaluating claims and knowledge generated through quantitative methods.

4. Scientific Literacy at least 3 units

The objective of this core literacy is to provide students with an understanding of the fundamental ways scientists approach problems and generate new knowledge, and an understanding of how scientific findings relate to other disciplines and to public policy.

Additional Conditions

Meeting Total Units Requirement. With the exception of units used to satisfy the English Composition element, units approved for a Core Literacy will be accepted toward satisfaction of the appropriate Topical Breadth component. Course units that satisfy requirements in the candidate's major or majors may also be counted toward satisfaction of General Education requirements.

Grading. Students may take courses P/NP to fulfill their General Education requirements, up to the limits set by college and campus regulations.

Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate. Students may not present Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate credit in satisfaction of GE requirements, except insofar as it may be applied to the English Composition component of the Literacy with Words and Images requirement.

Transfer Students who have successfully completed the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) lower division course work are exempt from all General Education requirements that may be met with lower-division courses. Transfer students who have not completed the IGETC, and who are not entitled to graduate under the provisions of a General Catalog issued prior to Fall 2011 as permitted by the applicable college policy on degree requirement changes, are required to satisfy all General Education components under the revised requirement but may offer previously completed coursework toward their satisfaction.

Approved Revised General Education Courses

See New General Education Courses; Fall 2011 and On, for a list of the courses that provide General Education credit. Please note that you cannot claim GE credit for a course you completed before it was an approved GE course.

Former General Education (GE) Requirement; Pre-Fall 2011

The following section pertains to students who matriculated to UC Davis prior to Fall 2011. Students who matriculated for the first time in Fall 2011 or later should refer to the New General Education (GE) Requirement; Fall 2011 and On.

The GE requirement has three components: Topical Breadth , Social-Cultural Diversity and Writing Experience .

Topical Breadth Component 6 courses

Topical breadth courses are grouped into three broad subject areas of knowledge:

  • Arts and Humanities. Courses in this area provide students with knowledge of significant intellectual traditions, cultural achievements and historical processes.
  • Science and Engineering. Courses in this area provide students with knowledge of major scientific ideas and applications. They seek to communicate the scope, power, limitations and appeal of science.
  • Social Sciences. Courses in this area provide students with knowledge of the individual, social, political and economic activities of people.

To fulfill the topical breadth component of the General Education requirement you must successfully complete three approved courses in each of the two subject areas of topical breadth other than the one that includes your major. To identify the area of topical breadth to which your major belongs, see Topical Breadth Assigned Subject Areas for Majors and Minors; Pre-Fall 2011. Each academic major has been assigned to one of the three subject areas of GE topical breadth. If you have any questions concerning the subject area to which your major is assigned, consult the relevant dean's office or the Biology Academic Success Center.

A course approved in more than one topical breadth subject area may only be offered in satisfaction of only one of those subject areas.

  • Double majors will satisfy the topical breadth subject areas to which they are assigned. You will still be responsible for completing any topical breadth subject area in which you do not have a major. If, for example, two majors are assigned to the same subject area, you will need to complete the topical breadth component in each of the other two other subject areas. If, on the other hand, you complete two majors that have been assigned to two different areas of topical breadth then you will be responsible for completing the topical breadth component in only the remaining subject area.
  • Individual majors are assigned to an area of topical breadth at the time they are approved by your college.
  • Each minor has also been assigned to one of the three subject areas of topical breadth. A minor assigned to a subject area other than the area of your major will satisfy the GE course requirement for topical breadth in that subject area.
  • Courses in your major may count toward the topical breadth component when those courses are also assigned to subject areas other than the area of your major.

Social-Cultural Diversity 1 course

Courses in social-cultural diversity teach students the significance of the many patterned differences that characterize human populations—particularly differences of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion or social class.

To fulfill the social-cultural diversity component of the GE requirement, you must successfully complete one course from the approved list; see Former General Education Courses; Pre-Fall 2011.

Writing Experience 3 courses

Courses in writing experience improve student writing through instruction and practice. Writing assignments are designed to encourage students to think critically and communicate effectively. Courses require one extended writing assignment (five pages or more) or multiple short assignments. Writing is evaluated not only for content, but also for organization, style, use of language, and logical coherence.

To fulfill the writing experience component of the GE requirement, you must successfully complete three courses from the approved list at the back of this catalog.

Note: You must satisfy the university Entry Level Writing Requirement (formerly Subject A) before you take any writing experience course for GE credit. If you take an approved writing experience course, but have not yet satisfied the Entry Level Writing Requirement, you will not receive GE writing experience credit for that course.

Additional Conditions

Letter Grading. All courses taken to fulfill the GE requirement must be taken for a letter grade. No GE credit will be awarded for a course that you take on a Passed/Not Passed basis.

College and University Composition Requirements. The following GE courses may not be used to satisfy university or college requirements in composition and GE writing experience simultaneously:

  • Communication 1
  • Comparative Literature 1, 2, 3, 4
  • English 3
  • Native American Studies 5
  • University Writing Program 1, 18, 19, 101, 102 series, and 104 series

Courses Approved for Multiple GE Components. Courses approved for more than one component of the GE requirement (topical breadth, writing experience and social-cultural diversity) will be accepted toward satisfaction of all components for which the course has been approved.

College of Engineering. Beginning in Fall 2011, the General Education requirement changed. The new General Education requirement applies to freshmen admitted Fall 2011 or later. However, students admitted before Fall 2011 may follow the previous General Education requirement. To ensure accurate information about satisfying General Education, all students should schedule an appointment with their Engineering Departmental Adviser or speak with an adviser in the Undergraduate Advising office in 1050 Kemper Hall.

Transfer Student Exemption for IGETC, TCC and UC Reciprocity. You are exempt from the UC Davis GE requirement if you come from a California community college and are certified as having successfully completed the “Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum” (IGETC) or “Transfer Core Curriculum” (TCC), or if you come from another UC campus and are certified as having successfully completed the lower division breadth or General Education requirements of that UC campus (UC reciprocity).

If you are a Transfer student who has not completed TCC or IGETC prior to attending UC Davis, transfer work comparable to approved UC Davis GE courses may be used to satisfy the GE requirement, as determined by the college's dean's office or the Biology Academic Success Center.

Approved Former General Education Courses

See Former General Education Courses; Pre-Fall 2011, for a list of the courses that provide General Education credit. Please note that you cannot claim GE credit for a course you completed before it was an approved GE course.

General Education Theme Options

The following section pertains to students who matriculated to UC Davis prior to Fall 2011.

General Education theme options are sets of GE courses sharing a common intellectual theme. Faculty from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has worked collaboratively to develop sets of complementary courses in several areas of interest. These GE theme options are not a separate element of the GE requirement, but a way of selecting your GE courses so that you may benefit from a coherent focus of study while completing the GE requirement.

Completion of a theme satisfies the GE requirement for students with majors assigned to the GE topical breadth area of Arts and Humanities. Students with majors assigned to the topical breadth area of either Science and Engineering or Social Science will need to complete additional GE courses in Arts and Humanities to satisfy the campus GE requirement.

Beginning a theme option does not prevent you from later choosing to take other approved GE courses to fulfill the GE requirement. If you choose to mix courses from a theme option and the broader GE course lists, you will need to make sure that the combination of courses you select will complete the campus GE requirement.

Page content manager can be reached at Catalog-Comment@ucdavis.edu.


Updated: August 14, 2014 3:19 PM