University of Massachusetts Amherst

UMass Amherst: General Education

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For Students


Fulfilling the Requirements

For students enrolling PRIOR TO FALL 2010

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

Things to Keep in Mind

The table below outlines the Gen Ed requirements:

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*
3 courses
9 credits
One course (BS), one course (PS), and one course (BS, PS, or SI)
Social World
6 courses
18 credits
One course (AL), one course (AL, AT, SI, or I), one course (HS), one course (SB), one course (SB, SI, or I), and one course (AL, AT, HS, SB, SI, or I)
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)

* Students who entered the University before Fall 2005 can also satisfy this requirement with an I course.

** Students who entered the University before Fall 2002 can fulfill this requirement with any combination of G or U courses.

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

Things to keep in mind:

  • One course from your major department may count toward General Education requirements, and one course may fulfill a Diversity requirement.
  • No more than three I, IU, SI or IG courses may count toward General Education requirements.
  • Gen Ed courses cannot be taken on a pass/fail basis.
  • The Social & Cultural Diversity requirement can be combined with Social World requirements.  For example, a course that is labeled as ALU will count as an AL in the Social World category and as a U.S. diversity requirement.)
  • To find out whether a course satisfies a General Education requirement (for students entering September 2005 and thereafter), consult SPIRE.
  • To monitor your Gen Ed progress, go to your SPIRE homepage, click Academics, then Degree Progress Report. 

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.

A Gen Ed Course Planning Guide is helpful for keeping track of your Gen Ed courses. The Simplified Course Planning Guide lists the requirements with their designations; the Detailed Course Planning Guide provides explanations of each of the requirements. Please choose from the following formats:

Gen Ed Course Planning Guide
Gen Ed Course Planning Guide
Word Format (50 KB)
Word Format (50 KB)
PDF Format (54 KB)
PDF Format (44 KB)