Letters & Science College of Letters & Science

Degree Requirements


A minimum of 180 units is required for the bachelor's degree. 64 units must be earned in upper division courses.

Registration Beyond the 225-Unit Limit

You are expected to fulfill all degree requirements within the 180- to 225-unit range. Once 225 units have been completed (excluding units awarded for College Board Advanced Placement Examinations or International Baccalaureate Examinations), you may register only with the permission of the Letters & Science Office of Undergraduate Education and Advising. Such permission is rarely granted and then typically only to allow completion of minimum degree requirements. A hold will be placed on a student's record when they reach 200 total units, requiring submission of an academic plan to verify the degree can be completed within the 225-unit cap. You will be expected to adhere to a program of courses agreed upon and to meet other conditions that may have been set. Approval must be obtained from Undergraduate Education & Advising in the Office of the Dean before you will be permitted to register for courses for the quarter following completion of 225 or more units.

If you are in good standing, you will be able to complete 12 quarters or the equivalent (e.g., four years) of college work even if you have earned more than 225 units before you finish your fourth year. You must petition for continuation, however, and file the quarter-by-quarter course program you have planned.

Unit Credit Limitations

For certain courses, limits have been established on the number of units that can be counted towards the 180-unit minimum required for the degree. To avoid discovering just before graduation that you are short units, meet with an advisor regularly and keep track of the number of units you have taken in each of the following categories.

Limitation on Credit for Graduate & Professional Courses

Undergraduates may enroll in graduate and professional courses subject to the restrictions outlined on the petition to Request to Take a 200, 300 or 400 - Numbered Course for Degree Credit. Graduate and professional courses that have been completed will be listed on the student's transcript in the usual manner. However, the units earned may be counted toward degree requirements only under the conditions listed below.

Within the limitations A, B and C given below, undergraduate students in the College may count up to a combined total of 9 units in graduate 200 series courses and in 300 and 400 series professional courses toward degree requirements. These units, however, are not counted as upper division units.

  1. The recommendations of the instructor in the course and the department chairperson—in addition to approval from Undergraduate Education & Advising in the Office of the Dean—must be obtained by petition in order to receive credit toward the degree for the following kinds of courses:
    • All graduate courses 200–298, whether offered by a department or program outside of or within the College of Letters & Science.
    • All professional courses 300–398 for teachers offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
    • All postgraduate professional courses 400–498 offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
    • All variable unit courses 300–398 and 400–498 offered within the College of Letters & Science.
  2. The minimum eligibility conditions for an undergraduate student in the College to petition for degree credit for a 200, 300, or 400 series course are a UC grade point average of 3.300 and completion of 18 upper division units basic to the subject matter of the course. These eligibility conditions may be waived, however, upon the recommendation of the course instructor and concurrence of the department chairperson if the student's preparation warrants exception.
  3. Undergraduates in the College cannot receive degree credit for special study courses 299, 399, or 499.

Limitation on Credit for Units Graded P

Students in the College of Letters & Science are subject to an additional limitation on the number of units that may be completed employing the Passed/Not Passed grading option. Graduating seniors and other students planning to undertake graduate or professional studies, should consult an advisor before electing for Passed/Not Passed grading in courses required for the major program. Excluding courses that are graded on a Passed/Not Passed (P/NP) basis only, the number of units graded P that may be accepted towards a degree in the College of Letters & Science is limited to not more than one fourth of the units completed in residence on the UC Davis campus. The Academic Senate limits the total number of courses graded P, including units earned in courses graded "P/NP only," to one third of the units completed on the UC Davis campus. This limitation applies to all UC Davis undergraduates, including Letters & Science students.

Limitation on Credit for UC Davis Extension Courses

  1. UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education courses with a designator of "X." Students may apply credit earned through lower division and upper division UC Davis Continuing & Professional Education "X" courses towards the 180-unit requirement only with written approval from Undergraduate Education & Advising in the Office of the Dean prior to registration. The degree credit allowed for such courses is usually less than the unit value listed in the course description. Additional limitations on UC Davis Continuing & Professional Education "X" courses include:
    • A maximum of 9 units may be offered for elective credit only, and
    • They may not be applied toward fulfillment of the Area, Foreign Language, Upper Division, or Residence requirements of the College.
  2. UC Davis Continuing & Professional Education courses with a designator of "XD." Students may apply credit earned through lower division and upper division UC Davis Continuing & Professional Education "XD" courses towards the 180-unit requirement. Additionally, credit from such courses may be applied toward fulfillment of all university, campus, college and major unit and subject matter requirements—including the Area, Foreign Language, Upper Division and Residence requirements of the College—in the same manner that the corresponding regular UC Davis course is so accepted.
  3. UC Davis Continuing & Professional Education courses with a designator of "XDC" [Open Campus (Concurrent) Program]. Subject to the following conditions, students may apply credit earned through lower division and upper division UC Davis Continuing & Professional Education Open Campus (Concurrent) courses—e.g., those bearing the "XDC" designator, towards university unit and subject requirements, and, effective Fall 2003, the calculation of the student's UC GPA, upon admission or readmission to regular student status at UC Davis.
    • Students on leave of absence and regular status students when matriculated, or regular status students for a period of one calendar year following the last term of regular enrollment at UC Davis, may not enroll in Open Campus (Concurrent) courses. Exceptions to this policy for undergraduate students may be made only under extraordinary circumstances by petition with prior approval by Undergraduate Education & Advising in the Office of the Dean and the Dean of UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education.
    • Concurrent ("XDC") courses do not count toward satisfaction of the University residence requirement or the residence requirements of the campus or the college.
    • Concurrent ("XDC") courses may constitute at most half of the units offered in satisfaction of the upper division requirements of the major.
    • In the event that the faculty of the college imposes further restrictions on the number of units of UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education Open Campus (Concurrent) course work that may be applied to undergraduate degree programs, the allowable number of units of course work will be determined chronologically, starting with the course completed first. Grade point credit for such courses will be determined in the same manner.

Other Unit Credit Limitations

The following are additional courses that have limits on the number of units that can be counted toward your degree:

  • Internship courses (numbers 092, 192): 12 units maximum including internship units taken at other institutions; see Nonstandard courses, below.
  • Music 130, 131, 140, 150 (combined): 19 units maximum.
  • Nonstandard courses (092, 097T, 097TC, 099, 192, 194H, 197T, 197TC, 199 and similar courses): 30 units maximum or one sixth of the units taken at UC Davis, whichever is the smaller; note the separate unit limits on internship, special study and tutoring courses; and major limitations
  • Physical Education 001 and 006 (combined): 6 units maximum.
  • Special Study courses (099, 194H, 199): 5 units maximum in any one quarter; see Nonstandard courses, above.
  • Tutoring courses (097T, 097TC, 197T, 197TC): 10 units maximum; see Nonstandard courses, above.


While registered in the College of Letters & Science, a minimum of 27 upper division units, including 18 upper division units in the major, must be completed on the Davis campus; work completed while registered in the UC Education Abroad Program or the UC Davis Continuing & Professional Education Open Campus Program does not satisfy university or College Residence requirements.


The minimum grade point average to satisfy the scholarship requirement is 2.000 for all courses counted toward the major and for all upper division courses used to satisfy major requirements. Only grades earned in courses taken at UC Davis will be included in the grade point computations. To obtain these minimum averages in the major, you may repeat courses that are graded D or F. If you have to repeat a course more than once, you need approval from Undergraduate Education & Advising in the Office of the Dean.

English Composition

All undergraduates in the College of Letters & Science must fulfill a two-course writing requirement, by completing each course with a grade of C- (or P) or higher or by testing out of one or both courses. All courses require a minimum of 6,000 words of writing, designed to introduce students to academic and professional writing, advance their analytic skills, and improve their writing process. Students may satisfy the writing requirement by completing:

  1. One course from University Writing Program 001, English 003, Comparative Literature 001, 002, 003, 004, or Native American Studies 005; and,
  2. After completing 84 units, one course selected from University Writing Program (UWP) 101, UWP 102 series, or UWP 104 series; or completing four units of upper division Writing Experience (WE) designated coursework approved by the English Language & Literacy (ELL) Committee of the College of Letters & Science (these units may only count for the English Composition requirement, not towards the 6 units of General Education—Core Literacy/Writing Experience requirement). Subject to the restrictions just listed, additional ELL approved courses acceptable for satisfying the upper division writing will be listed on the College of Letters & Science degree requirements.

Transfer Courses in English Composition 

Transfer courses considered to be equivalent or comparable to English 003, Comparative Literature 001, 002, 003, 004, Native American Studies 005, or University Writing Program 001, 001V, 001Y, 101, 102 or 104 series, will be accepted toward satisfaction of the English Composition requirement. Note that University Writing Program 101, 102 and 104 series courses or the equivalent must be taken after you have completed 84 units of degree credit.

Upper Division Composition Examination

The no-fee examination is typically offered on a Saturday morning in October, January and April. No examinations are given during the summer.

For specific examination dates, instructions, and to sign up to take an examination, see the University Writing Program—Upper Division Composition Exam Information. It is recommended that students with disabilities contact the Student Disability Center at 530-752-3184 and the Entry Level Writing Program Office, 530-752-0450, at least two weeks prior to the exam date to arrange accommodations.

Students are advised to complete this requirement in their junior year.

Area (Breadth)

The College Breadth Requirement promotes the intellectual growth of students by asking them to acquire a broader background of knowledge than is provided by the usual major. The Breadth requirement also guides students in exploring the interdependence of knowledge.

A.B. Degree

Satisfaction of the campus General Education requirement fulfills this requirement.

B.S. Degree

A total of 90 units in natural sciences/mathematics; units in the approved courses listed below used in satisfaction of the campus General Education requirement in Science & Engineering topical breath may also be used to satisfy this requirement.

Courses numbered 092, 097T, 097TC, 098, 192, 197T, 197TC, 198 and 200-499 cannot be counted toward satisfaction of the natural sciences/mathematics Area requirement. A maximum of 10 units in special study courses (099, 194H, 199) may be counted toward that portion of the Area requirement. Subject to the restrictions just listed, courses acceptable for fulfilling the 90-unit natural sciences/mathematics Area requirement are:

Natural Sciences & Mathematics
  • Anatomy, Physiology & Cell Biology (APC) 100
  • Anthropology (ANT) 001, 001Y, 013, 015, 054, 151, 152, 153, 154A, 154BN, 154C, 154CL, 155, 156A, 156B, 157, 158, 159, 160, 180, 182
  • Astronomy (AST)
  • Avian Sciences (AVS) 013
  • Biological Sciences (BIS)
  • Cell Biology & Human Anatomy (CHA) 101, 101L
  • Chemistry (CHE)
  • Cognitive Science (CGS) 107
  • Communication (CMN) 150V
  • Engineering (ENG) 006, 010, 035, 102
  • Engineering: Biomedical (BIM) 126
  • Engineering: Computer Science (ECS) 012, 017, 020, 032A, 032B, 032C, 034, 036A, 036B, 036C, 050, 089A-L, 113, 115, 116, 120, 122A, 122B, 124, 127, 129, 130, 132, 140A, 140B, 142, 145, 150, 152A, 152B, 152C, 153, 154A, 154B, 158, 160, 161, 162, 163, 164, 165A, 165B, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 177, 178, 189A-N, 191, 193A, 193B
  • Engineering: Electrical & Computer (EEC) 170, 173A
  • Entomology (ENT) 010, 100, 153
  • Environmental & Resource Sciences (ERS) 131
  • Environmental Science & Policy (ESP) 100, 121
  • Environmental Toxicology (ETX) 101
  • Evolution & Ecology (EVE)
  • Exercise Biology (EXB) 101, 103, 106, 106L, 110, 111, 112, 113, 115, 116, 117, 126
  • Fiber & Polymer Science (FPS) 110
  • Food Science & Technology (FST) 100A, 100B, 101A, 101B
  • Geology (GEL)
  • Integrated Studies (IST) 008A
  • Linguistics (LIN) 127, 175, 177
  • Mathematics (MAT)
  • Microbiology (MIC)
  • Molecular & Cellular Biology (MCB)
  • Neurobiology, Physiology, & Behavior (NPB)
  • Nutrition 010, 010V, 010Y, 111AV, 111B
  • Pathology, Microbiology, & Immunology (PMI) 126
  • Physical Education (PHE) 133, 135
  • Physics (PHY)
  • Plant Biology (PLB)
  • Psychology (PSY) 041, 100, 100Y, 101, 103A, 103B, 104, 113, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 135, 137, 146, 180B
  • Statistics (STA)
  • Wildlife, Fish, & Conservation Biology (WFC) 010

Foreign Language (A.B. & B.A.S. Degrees)

A key component of liberal education, the study of another language exposes students to a ubiquitous and highly diverse component of human behavior and interaction. Language learning enables students to communicate effectively in an increasingly internationalized world, enhances their ability to understand ways of thinking different from their own, gives them direct access to cultural production from another time and place, awakens in them an awareness of the conditioned nature of their assumptions about the world, and trains them to cope more effectively with intellectual and practical problems they may face in their future careers.

The College of Letters & Science encourages its students to acquire functional proficiency in at least one language other than English before graduating. At a minimum, the College requires A.B. candidates to complete three sequenced quarters (15 units) of courses, or its equivalent, in one foreign language. B.S. candidate requirements are determined by their respective major program.

Languages Satisfying the Requirement

The Foreign Language Requirement may be satisfied in any language offered at UC Davis, including ancient languages, or which is normally taught at—and for which transfer credit is allowed— from another institution, including American Sign Language. Students may also satisfy this requirement by examination in a language not offered on the UC Davis campus (see below).

Satisfaction of the Requirement
At UC Davis or Another Accredited Institution

You may satisfy the requirement by taking 15 quarter units of one foreign or classical language offered at UC Davis. You may also fulfill this requirement by taking the equivalent number of transferable quarter units in one foreign language at an accredited institution. Transfer students should consult the Transfer Credit Evaluation, which is issued by Undergraduate Education and Advising in the Office of the Dean, within a quarter after their first enrollment at UC Davis. Students planning to continue to study the same language at UC Davis must consult the relevant language coordinator. If you have successfully completed the second or third year of a language in the tenth or higher grade in high school, you may receive unit credit for course 1 of that language when taken at UC Davis, but the grading mode will be P/NP only. Although a Passed or Not Passed grade will be charged to your P/NP option, no petition is required.

Through Study Abroad

Certain study abroad programs offered by UC Davis through the Global Learning Hub, UC Education Abroad Program and other accredited institutions may be used to satisfy the requirement. Some of these programs do not have a language prerequisite, but others do. If you intend to apply for a study abroad program with a language prerequisite, you should plan on completing the relevant foreign language requirement by the end of your second or third year, depending on the program.

With the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC)

IGETC is a series of courses which prospective transfer students attending California community colleges may complete to satisfy the lower division breadth/general education requirements at the University of California. Students may satisfy the Foreign Language requirement by attaining certification of IGETC completion.

By Examination: Proficiency Exam

The UC Davis Language Center (DLC) offers proficiency tests in numerous languages. A proficiency test does not yield unit credit; it only determines whether the Foreign Language requirement has been met or at which point in the language sequence you should enroll. Students must follow the language program's placement policy if they decide to study the language at UC Davis.

By Examination: Standardized Tests

College Board Subject Test: Earning a qualifying score of at least 550 on a College Board Foreign Language Subject Test satisfies the requirement. This test may be taken at any time during your high school career. Once your score is on file at Undergraduate Admissions, notify Undergraduate Education and Advising in the Office of the Dean so that satisfaction of the College requirement can be noted on your record.

College Board Advanced Placement Examination

A score of 5, 4 or 3 on any foreign language College Board Advanced Placement Examination, with the exception of Latin, taken in high school will satisfy the Foreign Language requirement.

International Baccalaureate Higher Level Examination

A score of 7, 6, or 5 on the French A1, A2, or B Examination, the German A1, A2 or B Examination, the Italian A1 Examination, the Latin Examination, the Portuguese A1, A2 or B Examination, or the Spanish A1 Examination taken in high school will satisfy the Foreign Language requirement.

By Examination: Other Means

If you have not completed the required level language course, but assume you have attained equivalent language fluency and cultural knowledge, you may satisfy the language requirement by passing a proficiency examination. For more information, consult the appropriate foreign language department. You may validate your knowledge of a language acquired by any means before matriculating at UC Davis by taking a proficiency test or another form of evaluation (if available in the relevant language department). A test may not be taken, however, in a language for which you have already received degree credit.

Major Degree Certification

These requirements are fulfilled by completing a major program offered by a teaching department or program committee in the College of Letters &  Science (see the list of majors) or an individual major program approved by the College's Committee on Individual Majors. No more than 6 units in internship courses (numbered 092, 192, or similar internship courses) may be accepted in satisfaction of the requirements of major programs. Courses numbered 097T, 097TC, 197T and 197TC do not satisfy unit or course requirements in the major. Please check with your major advisor to determine if there are any additional restrictions for your specific major. You can also learn more about the requirements for a major by talking with a Major Advisor and visiting the departmental website.

Degree Check

Freshman Admits

In your third year, you will be notified by Undergraduate Education & Advising in the Office of the Dean that a summary of your progress in fulfilling college and university requirements has been completed. At approximately this point, you should contact your departmental advisor for a check of your major requirements.

Transfer Admits

During your UC Davis Orientation Experience, your department/program advisor will review your major requirements with you. Additionally, you will receive notification of the evaluation of your transfer institution credit summarizing your progress in fulfilling college, campus and university requirements in late summer/early fall after your official transcripts have been processed.

Senior Year

Before the beginning of your senior year, take some time to consider your goals and to plan the academic program for your final year as an undergraduate. To plan properly and to ensure that you get the most out of your remaining education and complete all graduation requirements, you should know what requirements remain unsatisfied. You are encouraged to utilize the MyDegree advising tool for assistance. While not a replacement for academic advising by your college and major advisors, it is an online advising tool that allows you to understand your degree requirements, track your progress towards degree completion, and explore alternative and/or additional fields of study.

Degree Requirement Changes; Catalog Rights

Students may choose to fulfill the university and college requirements as stated in any UC Davis General Catalog in effect at any time they were enrolled at UC Davis. Transfer students may choose a UC Davis catalog in effect at any time they were registered as a full-time student at a post-secondary institution of higher education; e.g., community college, college or university. Students will use the catalog year chosen to satisfy university and college requirements. In general, major requirements used are those in effect at the time the student officially declares their major; but students should consult their department or major program office for confirmation.

Related: Declaring a Major | Change of Major | Multiple Majors | Cross-College Majors | Individual Major | Minors