Skip to content

Current GE Requirements

General Education Requirements

(Catalog year 23-24)

Courses must be taken for a letter grade and may not be taken on a pass/no pass basis unless the course is only offered on a pass/no pass basis. You must complete all courses with a C- or better. With the exception of Spark Seminar, lower and upper division common course requirements may be shared with your major, concentration, or minor requirements. They can also be shared with the Intellectual Experience Badges.

Lower Division Common Course Requirements

I. Spark Seminar

The Spark Seminars introduce first-year students to life at a research university. They ask you to focus on the nature of inquiry by exploring a particular topic over the course of the semester, generating research questions, engaging with campus and local resources, and conducting research. Spark 001 also requires that you present original ideas in writing and other forms of communication. Spark seminars may be taken concurrently with either WRI 001 or WRI 010. 

The Spark Seminar must be completed with a C- or better, prior to the start of the third regular (Fall/Spring) semester. Students may enroll in Spark Seminar either the Summer before or after their first year, subject to course availability.

Additional options for fulfilling the Spark seminar requirement are also expected to be offered on a very limited basis starting in the Spring semester of the 2021-2022 Academic Year. Please check the General Education website (ge.ucmerced.edu/students/spark) for more information.

  • SPRK 001: Spark Seminar Units: 3-4
  • SPRK 010: Spark Seminar Units: 2-4

II. Written Communication

Designed to help you develop your college-level skills in effective use of language, analysis and argumentation, organization, and strategies for creation, revision and editing.

  • WRI 010: College Reading and Composition Units: 4

III. Quantitative Reasoning

For some of you, mathematics and statistics will be an essential tool for mastering a field in depth. For others, you will build your ability to understand how quantitative methods are applied in society to support arguments and solve problems.

  • ANTH 010: Quantitative Methods in Anthropology Units: 4
  • ECON 010: Statistical Inference Units: 4
  • MATH 011: Calculus I Units: 4
  • MATH 021: Calculus I for Physical Sciences and Engineering Units: 4
  • PH 010: Introduction to Biostatistics Units: 4
  • PHIL 005: Introduction to Logic Units: 4
  • POLI 010: Understanding Political Controversies Units: 4
  • PSY 010: Analysis of Psychological Data Units: 5
  • SOC 010: Statistics for Sociology Units: 4

IV. Language

The study of language exposes you to different ways of structuring thought. You can complete the language requirement one of four ways:

Coursework: Complete one of the following courses. 

  • BIOE 021: Introduction to Computing with Python 
  • CHN 002: Elementary Chinese II  
  • CHN 003: Intermediate Chinese I 
  • CHN 004: Intermediate Chinese II 
  • CSE 019: Introduction to Computing 
  • CSE 022: Introduction to Programming 
  • EE 021: Introduction to Electrical Engineering Programming 
  • FRE 002: Elementary French II 
  • FRE 003: Intermediate French I 
  • FRE 004: Intermediate French II 
  • JPN 002: Elementary Japanese II 
  • JPN 003: Intermediate Japanese I 
  • JPN 004: Intermediate Japanese II 
  • ME 021: Engineering Computing 
  • SPAN 002: Elementary Spanish II 
  • SPAN 003: Intermediate Spanish I  
  • SPAN 004: Intermediate Spanish II  
  • SPAN 010: Spanish for Heritage Speakers I 
  • SPAN 011: Spanish for Heritage Speakers II 

Completing a specific language and culture program or course through UC Education Abroad Program

Campus-Based Test: Passing the campus-administered Foreign Language test demonstrating proficiency equivalent of one year of college foreign language.

Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate Exams: Earning appropriate scores on an AP/IB Exam.

  • Score of 3, 4 or 5 on one of the following College Board AP exams: Chinese Language and Culture, French Language and Culture, German Language and Culture, Italian Language and Culture, Japanese Language and Culture, and Spanish Language and Culture; or
  • Score of 5, 6 or 7 on one of the Higher Level IB exam in a foreign language or literature; or
  • Score of 5 on the College Board AP Exam in Computer Science A

High School Coursework:  

  • Completing the third year of one language in high school with a course GPA of at least C. 
  • Attaining the California State Seal of Biliteracy (please submit a petition and attach the seal)

Upper Division Common Course Requirements

I. Crossroads Course

Like the Spark Seminar, the Crossroads course will focus on a specific topic but from an interdisciplinary perspective. It emphasizes different, yet complementary, disciplinary approaches, methods, and assumptions, and provides you with an opportunity for research and analysis.

A complete list of courses that satisfy this requirement can be found here.

II. Writing in the Discipline

This upper division requirement can be satisfied either with a designated writing course or a writing-intensive course in the major. The focus is on how to write for a particular field. A one-credit lab course attached to another course may also satisfy this requirement if the primary focus of the lab is writing.

A complete list of courses that satisfy this requirement can be found here

III. Culminating Experience

Intended to be completed as part of your major, the Culminating Experience requirement may be fulfilled through a traditional capstone course, senior or advanced seminar, service-learning course, portfolio, or other methods your faculty choose to integrate learning in the program.

A complete list of courses that satisfy this requirement can be found here.  

Approaches to Knowledge

Courses in this area introduce you to the different ways disciplines (and broad branches of knowledge) ask questions and think about the world. The Approaches to Knowledge requirement is divided into two areas: Area A and Area B. You are required to complete two courses in Area A and three courses in Area B, for a total of five courses. These courses are intended to also count towards major requirements.

I. AREA A: Life and Physical Science

You must take one Life Science course and one Physical Science course, for a total of two courses. A complete list of courses that satisfy this requirement can be found here.   

Approaches to Knowledge: Life Science

Develop understanding of scientific principles that govern living systems and organisms and their interactions with the natural world.  

Approaches to Knowledge: Physical Science

Develop understanding of scientific principles that govern non-living, physical systems and the methods used to characterize the natural world. 

II. AREA B: Social Science, Literary and Textual Analysis, Media and Visual Analysis, Societies and Cultures of the Past

You must take one Approaches to Knowledge: Social Science course and two additional courses from two of the remaining catagories, for a total of three courses. A complete list of courses and experiences that satisfy this requirement can be found here.  

Approaches to Knowledge: Social Science

Learn about societies and the relationship of individuals within societies.

Approaches to Knowledge: Literary and Textual Analysis

Learn how language creates meaning and ambiguity.

Approaches to Knowledge: Media and Visual Analysis

Explore how media and images create, shape, and express meaning. 

Approaches to Knowledge: Societies and Cultures of the Past

Explore the interactions between various aspects of past societies.

Intellectual Experience

These required Intellectual Experiences can be achieved in various courses, including required Quantitative Reasoning, Language, Crossroads, Writing in the Discipline, and Integrative Culminating Experience General Education courses. They can also be achieved in Approaches to Knowledge courses, courses in the major, minor and elective courses. Courses can be used to satisfy more than one Intellectual Experiences Badge, but not more than two.

Courses taken to achieve Intellectual Experiences must be taken for a letter grade and may not be taken on a pass/no pass basis unless the course is only offered on a pass/no pass basis. You must complete all courses with a C-or better.

The required Intellectual Experiences are:

1. Scientific Method

Learn how the scientific method leads to new knowledge about the natural world by collecting and integrating previous knowledge using empirical evidence.

A complete list of experiences that satisfy this requirement can be found here.

2. Diversity and Identity

Consider how multiple kinds of difference—ethnic, racial, gender, and sexual—impact individuals and societies in the past and present.

A complete list of experiences that satisfy this requirement can be found here

3. Global Awareness

Learn about environments, cultures, and issues in nations and regions outside the US.

A complete list of experiences that satisfy this requirement can be found here

4. Sustainability

Explore the ways in which humans affect and are affected by the natural world.

A complete list of experiences that satisfy this requirement can be found here

5. Ethics

Investigate the ethical implications of research, policy, or behavior.

A complete list of experiences that satisfy this requirement can be found here

For catalog years prior to AY23-34, please refer to the catalog.  


*Note: Current students should consult the catalog in the year that they were admitted.