University of Massachusetts Amherst

UMass Amherst: General Education

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For Students


Fulfilling the Requirements

For students enrolling FALL 2010 OR LATER

Your completion of Gen Ed will depend on factors such as placement exams and course selections. A Gen Ed Course Planning Guide (PDF format, 53 KB) is available to help you keep track of your courses.

Things to Keep in Mind

The table below outlines the Gen Ed requirements.

NOTE: General Education requirements for transfers enrolled fall 2010 or later may vary from these requirements. Consult your Academic Requirements Report (ARR) and/or an advisor for clarification.

Curriculum Area # of courses required # of credits earned Fulfilling the Requirement
2 courses
6 credits
One course (CW) or exemption (see Writing Program) and one upper level 3-credit course in your major department
Basic Mathematics
1 course
0-3 credits
One course (R1) or a passing score on the Tier 1 Math Exemption Exam
Analytic Reasoning
1 course
3 credits
One course (R2)
Biological & Physical World
2 courses
8 credits
One course (BS) and one course (PS)
Social World
4 courses
16 credits
One course (AL/AT), one course (HS), one course (SB), and one course (AL, AT, SB, I, or SI)
Social & Cultural Diversity
2 courses
  One course focusing on UNITED STATES diversity (U, ALU, ATU, HSU, IU, or SBU) and one course focusing on GLOBAL diversity (G, ALG, ATG, HSG, IG, or SBG)
Integrative Experience
varies by department
3 credits
A variety of options will be offered during junior or senior year in your major department. (*)


For further information about each curriculum area, visit Curriculum Areas and Designations.

Things to keep in mind:

  • As many as 4 courses from a student's major department can be applied to GenEd requirements: Junior Year Writing, Integrative Experience, one course applied to another GenEd requirement, and one course applied to a Diversity requirement.  There is no limit on GenEd or Diversity courses that can be counted toward major requirements.
  • Interdisciplinary (I, IU, IG or SI) courses may only count toward the last Social World requirement. Additional Interdisciplinary courses may count toward the Social & Cultural Diversity requirement. No more than three I or SI courses will count toward Gen Ed and Diversity requirements.
  • Gen Ed courses cannot be taken on a pass/fail basis.
  • The Social & Cultural Diversity requirement can be combined with Social World requirements. An IU or IG course will fulfill only the designated Diversity requirement if the fourth Social World requirement is satisfied by another course.
  • If you entered the University in fall 2010 or later as a freshman, each of your Social, Biological, or Physical World requirements must be satisfied with one 4-credit or two 3-credit courses with the appropriate designation. For example, if you transfer in a 3-credit Sociology course with an SB designation, you would still have to complete one more 3-credit SB course to satisfy the requirement.
  • To monitor your Gen Ed progress, consult your advisor and/or your Academic Requirements Report (ARR) via SPIRE.
  • (*)Students who can complete all other graduation requirements except the Integrative Experience for graduation in February, May or September 2012 may appeal for a waiver of that requirement.  The student should write an appeal letter explaining his or her situation and expected graduation date, and submit the letter to his or her academic dean.

It is important that you plan your Gen Ed courses carefully with the help of your advisor so that you are choosing subjects that interest you and that will create a unifying experience for you. You do not need to complete your Gen Ed courses at the start of your college career; plan to distribute them throughout your four years.