General Education (GE) Requirements

For complete information, see General Education Requirements. For a list of courses that contain GE attributes and GE search tools, see General Education Search Tool – All Courses.

General Education (GE) Requirements

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.

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 & Humanities—12-20 units. Courses in this area provide students with knowledge of significant intellectual traditions, cultural achievements and historical processes.
  • Science & Engineering—12-20 units. Courses in this area provide students with knowledge of major ideas and concepts of science and engineering and their applications.
  • 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 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.

  1. Literacy with Words & Images—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: No course passed prior to satisfaction of the Entry Level Writing Requirement may be used to satisfy the General Education requirements for Writing Experience coursework described in b and c, below. Students should contact their college before taking courses for requirement a, as there may be limitations on credit for students who have not completed the Entry Level Writing Requirement. 
    1. English Composition—8 units. As described by College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, College of Biological Sciences, College of Engineering, or College of Letters & Science.
    2. Writing Experience coursework in the student's major or in other departments—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.
    3. Oral Skills coursework or additional Writing Experience coursework—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, students may take additional coursework certified as writing experience (see requirement b, above).
    4. Visual Literacy coursework—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 & Cultural Literacy—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.
    1. American Cultures, Governance, & History—3 units. Courses in American Cultures, Governance, & 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.
    2. Domestic Diversity—3 units. Courses in Domestic Diversity provide students with an understanding of issues such as race, ethnicity, social class, gender, sexuality, and religion within the United States, and develop the student's ability to think critically about diverse socio-cultural perspectives.
    3. World Cultures—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.

Approved General Education Courses

Please note that you cannot claim GE credit for a course you completed before it was an approved GE course.

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 & 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 are required to satisfy all General Education components under the revised requirement but may offer previously completed coursework toward their satisfaction.