Degree Requirements

The faculty of the College of Arts & Sciences believes each student should strive toward breadth and depth of study, as represented in the formal requirements for each program of study. The faculty also believes that the primary responsibility for the selection of an academic program rests with the student, in consultation with academic advisors. This freedom of choice carries with it a corresponding responsibility for the consequences of such choices, and students are, therefore, expected to familiarize themselves with and meet the requirements detailed below.


The degree requirements for the Bachelor of Arts (AB) degree in Arts & Sciences are designed to provide students with strong and sustained training in writing and numerical applications; to enable students to construct a coherent program in which courses reinforce each other in challenging and productive ways; and to take advantage of two distinctive features of the academic environment at Washington University: the strong tradition of cooperation among faculty working in different disciplines and the fact that teaching and learning at Washington University draw energies from an environment of vigorous and creative research.

The College of Arts & Sciences regards active student engagement in curricular planning as central to successful student learning. Each semester, the student's advisors will help them develop a personalized academic plan that responds to what they have already learned about the university, about the structure and aims of intellectual disciplines, and about themselves.

By the end of the sophomore year, students must have declared a major and constructed and nominated an online curricular plan that will satisfy all of the following General Education requirements:

Core Skills

  1. College Writing (3 units): Students demonstrate proficiency in reading and writing English and begin to develop mature skills in framing and revising arguments by completing course work determined by the College Writing Program with a grade of C- or better. This requirement should be completed during the first year.
  2. Applied Numeracy (3 units): Students develop their skills in numerical applications by completing one of an approved list of "AN" courses with a grade of C- or better. Students often find that there is an AN course in their major field of interest. This course may also satisfy other degree requirements.
  3. Social Contrasts (3 units): Students take one course with primary emphasis on the formation, maintenance or impact of social categories, such as race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, ability status or other categories. This course, which may be taken Pass/Fail, must be selected from an approved list of "SC" courses. It may also satisfy other requirements.
  4. Writing-Intensive Course (3 units): To consolidate their written communication skills, students must take a writing-intensive course, preferably in their major field. The course, selected from an approved list of "WI" courses, must be completed with a C- or better. It may also satisfy other requirements.

Area Requirements

  1. Students must complete course work in each of the following academic areas:
    1. Humanities (HUM): three courses totaling at least 9 units
    2. Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM): three courses totaling at least 9 units
    3. Social Sciences (SSC): three courses totaling at least 9 units
    4. Linguistic and Cultural Diversity (LCD): either three sequenced courses of at least 3 units each in a single foreign language or at least four courses designated "LCD" of at least 3 units each
    Up to 12 units of the area requirements may be taken Pass/Fail.
  2. To achieve depth and coherence, students must complete three integrations in at least two of the four areas of study (HUM, NSM, SSC, LCD). There are four types of integrations:
    • Majors, second majors and minors
    • Ampersand programs
    • Designated study away programs
    • Integrated inquiries
    For a detailed list of Integrations, visit the Course Listings website.

The Major

Students must complete a major by taking no fewer than 18 units of courses numbered 300 or greater and earning grades of C- or better. Degree completion is based on the primary major of record. At least half of the units for the major must be completed in residence. Students are strongly encouraged to complete a capstone experience in their major as a way of culminating their undergraduate education.

For more details regarding majors — including information about second majors, special majors and majors across schools — visit the main Arts & Sciences section of this Bulletin. For more information regarding specific departments' major requirements, visit the Majors pages of this Bulletin.

Additional Requirements

  1. Students must complete 120 units with at least 30 units in advanced courses (numbered 300 or greater). The 30 units in advanced courses may include the number of advanced units required for the major.
  2. Students must have an overall grade point average of at least 2.0.
  3. Students must earn the final 30 units toward the degree at Washington University while enrolled in the College of Arts & Sciences. Students pursuing 3-2 degrees should follow the requirements laid out by their master's programs.
  4. Students must be recommended by the College of Arts & Sciences to the Board of Trustees.


  1. No more than 24 units may be earned using the Pass/Fail option, and no more than 12 of the 24 Pass/Fail units may be for area distribution requirements.
  2. No more than 15 units of pre-matriculation credit may be counted toward the degree. Pre-matriculation sources include Advanced Placement (AP), British Advanced (A) Levels, the International Baccalaureate (IB), and course credit earned by proficiency (i.e., back credit). Pre-matriculation sources may also include college courses taken after the sophomore year in high school but not applied toward the high school diploma. Credits earned via the High School Summer Scholars or High School College Access programs through the School of Continuing & Professional Studies are considered to be pre-matriculation units and are subject to the same regulation.
  3. Students may not earn more than 12 units toward the bachelor's degree (AB) in group and/or individual performance courses. Exceptions may be made for students majoring in departments that require a large number of performance courses for the major, such as dance, drama and music.
  4. No more than 12 units of work may be taken outside the College of Arts & Sciences during the first and sophomore years. Thereafter, additional work may be taken outside the College of Arts & Sciences with the approval of the four-year advisor, provided that the student earns at least 90 units of credit in Arts & Sciences course work.
  5. No more than 18 units of credit in independent study may be applied to the AB; no more than 6 units of independent study may be attempted in a single semester.
  6. No more than 6 units of internship credit may be applied to the AB; no more than 3 units of internship credit may be attempted in a single semester.
  7. A student may receive no more than a total of two majors and one minor or one major and two minors.

Transfer Students

Transfer students will follow the requirements of the Integrated Inquiry Curriculum, outlined above. Where appropriate, previous course work may be applied to the distribution requirements based on the following guidelines:

  1. Transfer students who have not taken a college writing course at their prior school will take College Writing during their first year at Washington University. Students who have taken such a course may be eligible to submit a writing portfolio to the College Writing Program for evaluation. The program will review the portfolio to determine if the College Writing requirement has been satisfied or if the student must complete additional writing course work.
  2. The transfer advisors will evaluate a student's transcript on an individual basis. Generally speaking, a student transferring after one year at another school may count the other institution's course work toward the college's area requirements. However, the three required integrations must be completed through courses taken in residence.
  3. Transfer students must be enrolled for at least four consecutive full-time semesters, which may include an approved semester abroad program, to satisfy the residency requirement. They must complete a minimum number of units at Washington University and a minimum number of units in the College of Arts & Sciences according to the following table. No more than 3 units per semester may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis.
Semesters in Residence Arts & Sciences Units in Residence Total WashU Units in Residence
Seven semesters 78 units 105 units
Six semesters 69 units 90 units
Five semesters 57 units 75 units
Four semesters 45 units 60 units

Finalization of the Transcript

Conferral of the degree finalizes the student's academic record at Washington University. No changes can be made to the student's academic record after conferral of the degree (generally May 31 for a spring degree, October 31 for a summer degree, or January 31 for a fall degree). All students are strongly advised to obtain a copy of their final transcript, which is available for order from the Office of the University Registrar via WebSTAC.

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