General education requirements

The University of Minnesota and its faculty are committed to providing an education that invites you to investigate the world from new perspectives, learn new ways of thinking, and grow as an active citizen and lifelong learner. The University’s general education requirements are designed to be integrated throughout your four-year undergraduate experience. These courses provide you an opportunity to explore fields outside your major and complement your major curriculum with a multidisciplinary perspective.

Requirement Designator Courses required
I. Intellectual Community   1 course
Intellectual Community IC 1 course*
II. Skills for the Liberal Arts   4-6 courses
Writing for the Liberal Arts WLA 1 course
Mathematical/Symbolic Reasoning M/SR 1 course
Writing Enriched WE 1-2 courses**
Artistic Performance ARTP 1 course
World Language WL 0-2 courses
III. Expanding Perspectives   8 courses (at least 2 credits each)
Historical Perspectives HIST 1 course
Human Behavior, Social Processes, and Institutions SS 1 course
Communication, Language, Literature, and Philosophy HUM 1 course
Fine Arts FA 1 course
Physical and Biological Sciences SCI (no lab), SCIL (with lab) 2 courses (at least one with lab)
The Global Village HDIV, ENVT, IP, ECR 2 courses (from different areas)***

*,**,*** See Provision iv

Requirement Descriptions

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I. Intellectual Community (IC)

To foster development of a liberal arts intellectual community through the introduction of intellectual and practical skills and through active student-faculty engagement in course material.

II. Skills for the Liberal Arts

These requirements emphasize the development of the intellectual skills, the communication skills, and the framework for learning needed for successful advanced work. Because new students need this foundation early, they are expected to complete many of these requirements during their first and second years.

  • Writing for the Liberal Arts (WLA): To learn the general conventions of academic writing, including analysis and argumentation; lay the foundation for learning conventions specific to individual disciplines; practice the writing process, especially revision; develop information literacy and understand research process.
  • Writing Enriched (WE): To develop and improve writing skills through explicit instruction, feedback, and the revision and resubmission of assignments.
  • World Language (WL): To develop proficiency in a single language other than English at the level equivalent to the first full year of college language study.
  • Mathematical/Symbolic Reasoning (M/SR): To strengthen students’ ability to formulate abstractions, construct proofs, and utilize symbols in formal systems.
  • Artistic Performance (ARTP): To introduce an understanding of the creative process through individual performance, and demonstrate skill in such activities as composition, theater, dance, studio art, and music.

III. Expanding Perspectives

  • Historical Perspectives (HIST): To increase students’ understanding of the past, the complexity of human affairs, the ways in which various forces—economic, cultural, religious, political, scientific—influence efforts to control events, and the ways historians verify and interpret their findings.
  • Human Behavior, Social Processes, and Institutions (SS): To increase students’ systematic understanding of themselves as functioning humans, their individual similarities to and differences from others, their awareness of the nature and significance of their conscious experience, and the forces that shape their interpersonal attachments and interactions; or to increase students’ understanding of methods of analyzing modern society or some significant legal, political, economic, religious, social, or scientific component of it.
  • Communication, Language, Literature, and Philosophy (HUM): To expand students’ capacity to understand, analyze, discuss, and evaluate discourse concerning the complexity of the human condition through the study of languages and works of thought and imagination.
  • Fine Arts (FA): To develop students’ understanding, analysis, and appreciation of the arts.
  • Physical and Biological Sciences (SCI and SCIL): To increase students’ understanding of the structure and dynamics of the physical and biological worlds, and of the scientific method.
  • The Global Village: To increase students’ understanding of the growing interdependence among nations, peoples, and the natural world.
    • Human Diversity (HDIV): To increase students’ understanding of individual and group differences (e.g., race, gender, class) and their knowledge of the traditions and values of various groups in the United States.
    • People and the Environment (ENVT): To increase students’ understanding of the interrelatedness of human society and the natural world.
    • International Perspective (IP): To increase students’ systematic understanding of national cultures substantially different from those in which they received their prior schooling.
    • Ethical and Civic Responsibility (ECR): To broaden and develop students’ capacity to question and reflect upon their own and society’s values and critical responsibilities, and to understand forces, such as technology, that cause them to modify these views and often mandate creation of new ways to resolve legal, social, and scientific issues.

World Language requirement details

You must demonstrate proficiency in a single language other than English at a level equivalent to the first full year of college language study to fulfill the World Language requirement. You can do this in any of the following ways:

  • Successfully complete a beginning language II course
  • Successfully complete a 2xxx- or 3xxx-level language course
  • Pass a proctored proficiency exam
  • Achieve appropriate AP, CLEP, or IB examination scores
  • Contact the Office of the Registrar if English is not your first language

Placement tests

Placement tests in selected languages are given by Morris language disciplines to determine the level of pre-college proficiency of a student with prior coursework. If you plan to study at Morris in the same language that you studied in high school, you must take the placement test and abide by the placement recommendation. If you attend the recommended course and find the level of placement is not appropriate to your proficiency in the language, you may consult your language instructor as to the proper course level of study.

Proficiency exams

If you wish to test for exemption from the World Languages general education requirement based on prior learning in French, German, or Spanish, you must pass a proctored proficiency exam. The initial online Morris placement test is not a proctored proficiency exam and does not fulfill the World Language requirement. Please contact the Hasselmo Language Teaching Center to schedule an exam. If you studied a second language other than German, French, or Spanish, you should contact the Scholastic Committee for further information.


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Provision i

UMM courses designated as appropriate for meeting general education requirements are those which, if passed successfully, demonstrate a student’s competency in a given skill or area.

Students are required to complete a minimum of 60 credits of general education coursework outside the discipline of the major and must meet the specific requirements listed above. The requirements may be met not only through UMM courses, but also by transfer of credit, examinations for proficiency or credit, assessment of prior learning, individual projects, and other means. For details, students should consult their advisors.

In some instances the specific general education requirements may be met using fewer than 60 credits. If this occurs, then introductory or advanced elective courses from any discipline outside the major—with the exception of courses in elementary or secondary education, wellness and sport science, or accounting courses in management—may be used to fulfill the remaining credits of the 60-credit general education requirement.

Provision ii

Goals will be used to match courses to general education requirements (see above).

Provision iii

Only courses of two or more credits will satisfy an Expanding Perspectives requirement.

Provision iv

A course can satisfy only one general education category.

Each major can provide students with a statement about how a student majoring in that area will formally acquire computing and writing skills. Students should contact their faculty advisors for current information.

*Transfer students who have completed 12 credit hours or more of courses at a college or university after receiving their high school diplomas are exempt from the IC requirement.

** One course or a sequence of courses (1xxx, 2xxx, or 3xxx) for a minimum of 2 credits total can satisfy the Writing Enriched general education requirement.

***If a student tests into AND completes a language III course, they will be exempt from the International Perspectives general education requirement.