You are here

Liberal Education Program Overview


This page contains information about the Liberal Education Program at UMD. It provides faculty and staff with information needed to understand the Liberal Education Program mission, categories, and current list of approved courses. It also provides details on the Liberal Education Program approval process, including requirements, processes, forms, and tips. The Liberal Education Program is overseen by the Liberal Education Subcommittee. Contact information is provided at the bottom of the page.

Mission of the Liberal Education Program at UMD

A liberal education prepares individuals to lead productive and socially responsible lives in a diverse and rapidly changing world. Liberal education at UMD helps students develop competencies that can be adapted for use in any occupation and by virtually any individual. Liberal education at UMD is not restricted to any particular part of the curriculum but is woven through each student’s course of study, including core requirements and requirements for the major. Liberally educated students are “Prepared, Informed, and Committed.”


  • To identify, analyze and solve problems, demonstrating critical and analytical thinking competency within and across various fields of knowledge

  • To think creatively, demonstrating intellectual curiosity, imagination and flexibility

  • To communicate effectively through writing and speaking

  • To work productively independently and through collaboration

  • To access, evaluate, and make use of information gathered through multiple methodologies


  • About the foundations of knowledge and inquiry about nature, culture and society

  • About the past and its relevance to the present and the future

  • About controversies and unanswered questions in multiple domains of knowledge


  • To life-long learning

  • To civic engagement and social responsibility

  • To knowledge and competence across cultures

  • To considering ethical implications of ideas and actions

  • To understanding contemporary global issues

Liberal Education Categories

The Liberal Education Program consists of 10 categories across three domains:

Part I. Language and Reasoning Skills (9 credits)

      a. Writing and Information Literacy -WRIT 1120 (3 credits)

      b. Oral Communication and Languages (3 credits)

      c. Logic and Quantitative Reasoning (3 credits)

Part II. Knowledge Domain (21 credits)

      a. Natural Sciences (6 credits, 2 designators, 1 lab)

      b. Social Sciences (6 credits, 2 designators)

      c. Humanities (6 credits, 2 designators)

      d. Fine Arts (3 credits)

Part III. Key Topics (9 credits)

      a. Global Perspectives (3 credits)

      b. Cultural Diversity in the US (3 credits)

      c. Sustainability (3 credits)

The Liberal Education Program requires a maximum of 39 credits of coursework; however, a single course can be used to satisfy multiple requirements, reducing the total number of credits. The following options are available for designing courses to meet multiple requirements.

  • A Liberal Education course that meets the criteria for part II (Knowledge Domain) and part III (Key Topics) may be used to fulfill both requirements.

  • A course in the major that meets the criteria for parts Ib, Ic, II and/or III may be used to satisfy both major and Liberal Education Program requirements.

  • Liberal Education courses offered at the 3000- and 4000-level within the major satisfying the Key Topics requirement will not be required to serve a wide spectrum of students.

  • If approved by the relevant department, a Liberal Education course may also be used to satisfy a requirement in a student’s major or minor.

All courses currently approved in the Liberal Education Program can be viewed at:

Effective Fall 2016, successful completion of one of the following Study Abroad Programs substitutes for the Global Perspectives category within the Liberal Education Program:

  • Approved UMD or UMD-affiliate long-term programs (semester or year-long)
  • Approved UMD short term programs (less than a semester, typically 3 weeks long)
  • Approved UMD-affiliate short-term programs that include a Global Perspectives Education course listed in the UMD Study Abroad Foreign Course database.

Liberal Education Course Approval

Requirements for Approval of a course in the Liberal Education Program

As recommended in the Liberal Education Task Force Final Report (dated 9/4/2009; view full report here), courses approved for liberal education credit must meet the following five criteria:

  • Will be taught by those familiar with the goals and methods of teaching liberal education courses;

  • Will help students to understand the nature and value of a liberal education and to recognize how the course in question contributes to such an education;

  • May be offered at the 1000-, 2000-, 3000-, or 4000-level;

  • Will be offered regularly (at least every other year).

  • Will be suitable for a wide spectrum of students;*

If approved by the appropriate department, a liberal education course may also be used to satisfy a requirement within the major or minor.

* Key Topics courses offered at the 3000 and 4000 level within the major will not be required to serve a wide spectrum of students.



Liberal Education proposal forms may be submitted at any time throughout the year; courses are reviewed on a rolling basis.  Proposals must be submitted to the Academic Affairs office by the following deadlines.  See below for process and instructions.


Effective SemesterDeadline Date*
FallMarch 1
SpringOctober 1
SummerFebruary 1


*If the deadline date falls on a weekend, the proposal(s) are due the next following business day.


  1. Review the categories and descriptions (download PDF).
  2. Choose the category with which you believe your course aligns. If you are submitting the same course for designation in both Parts II (Knowledge Domain) and III (Key Topics), a separate application will need to be completed for each category.

  3. Download the appropriate Microsoft Word proposal form(s) below.

  4. Review tips for and examples of successful proposals.

  5. Thoroughly complete the form(s) using Microsoft Word.

  6. Submit for review/feedback from your department and college curriculum committees.

  7. Forward .docx file to your department head for electronic signature.

  8. Department Head will forward the proposal to the Dean for electronic signature.

  9. Dean will forward the proposal to Nancy Burley( in the Academic Affairs office (review Deadlines section above).

  10. Document is reviewed for use of current form, thorough completion, approvals, and proper submission.

  11. Proposals are forwarded to the Liberal Education Subcommittee in the order they are received.

  12. Proposals are reviewed by the Liberal Education Subcommittee at subsequent meetings in the order they are forwarded.

  13. Once reviewed and voted upon, the applicant will receive e-mail notification of approval or non-approval.

  14. If a course is approved, all UMD record systems and the approved Liberal Education Program list will be updated.

  15. If a course is not approved, the applicant will be directed to communicate with their college representatives for feedback and guidance.

Descriptions & Forms




Language & Reasoning Skills (9 cr)

Writing & Information Literacy


Oral Communication & Languages


Logic & Quantitative Reasoning


Knowledge Domain (21 cr)

Natural Sciences


Social Sciences




Fine Arts


Key Topics (9 cr)

Global Perspectives


Cultural Diversity in the United States





Student Learning Outcomes

Students receive instruction and practice in liberal education student learning outcomes.  Collectively, through the combination of the liberal education core, academic majors and minors and student development program provide students to attain UMD's learning outcomes.   


Program Assessment

Liberal Education Program  assessment and reporting processes are consistent with the standards adopted by  the UMD campus.  Assessment is an ongoing  process for all programs that uses a 3-year assessment cycle and a related reporting  cycle.  The Liberal Education Program  assessment and reporting dates are as follows:


LE    Categories

Assessment           Cycle 1 (partial)

Reporting    Year 1

Assessment           Cycle 2           (full)

Reporting    Year 2


through 2015-16


2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19



through 2016-17


2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20



through 2017-18


2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21


Having partial data in the first reporting  year will demonstrate progress toward campus assessment goals and establish  processes to be used in subsequent years.

Assessment:   Ongoing, 3-year cycles

Faculty who teach one or more  classes in the Liberal Education Program will conduct assessment for each  course throughout a category’s 3-year assessment cycle in order to obtain a  sufficient sample size. Refer to the Frequently Asked Questions document for information about course assessment.  

a. Faculty are to use the  assessment rubric designed for the category’s SLOs.  If a course has been approved for two  categories, assessment must be conducted for both categories.

b. If more than one faculty  member teaches a course, those teaching the course should discuss what the  assessment process will entail and who is responsible for tracking assessment  results.  Any/all faculty teaching the  course may conduct assessment during the 3-year assessment cycle.

c. Faculty should keep a few  examples of student work from each assessment to describe in reports and at  category review sessions.

d. Faculty may choose to  download and keep track of assessment results in the “Course Assessment Results Tracking File.”  See below under Rubrics and Forms.  This is an Excel file that has  the necessary formulas built into the template.   Data includes:       

      • Semester/Year

      • Faculty

      • # of Students Assessed

      • % of Students Achieving  “Beginner” Level of Proficiency for each SLO

      • % of Students Achieving  “Advanced” Level of Proficiency for each SLO

        Note:  4  SLOs are provided in the tracking file, though some categories have only 3 SLOs  to report; use the SLO columns in the file that are applicable to the category.

Reporting:   3rd year of the 3-year assessment cycle

August-September:  Faculty complete the Assessment Plan form for each course in the  category – 1 form/course if multiple faculty teach a course and use the same assessment,  or 1 form/faculty/course (separate forms are available for each category, see below under Rubrics and Forms).

May-August: Faculty  complete the Assessment Results form – 1 form/course if multiple faculty teach  a course and use the same assessment or 1 form/faculty/course (separate forms  are available for each category, see below under Rubrics and Forms).  If the  “Course Assessment Results Tracking File” has been used, provide the values from the  “Total/Average” row in the report.

October: Faculty  participate in category review session.   Bring samples of student work kept from assessment throughout the 3-year  cycle.

Rubrics and Forms


Oral Communication Rubric
Languages Rubric
Natural Sciences Rubric
Global Perspectives Rubric


Information about using the category rubrics


Plan FormsResults Forms
Oral Communication and Languages PlanOral Communication and Languages Results
Natural Sciences PlanNatural Sciences Results
Global Perspectives PlanGlobal Perspectives Results


Sample course assessment plans (forthcoming)

Course Assessment Results Tracking File

      Instructions for using the Course Assesement Results Tracking File    


Liberal Education Subcommittee

The Liberal Education Subcommittee is charged with overseeing the campus’ Liberal Education Program. The Liberal Education Subcommittee works with other educational committees to review and strive toward continuous improvement of liberal education at UMD. The subcommittee will report to as well as act on behalf of the Faculty Senate. Specifically, the subcommittee will: revise and oversee the course submission process for courses to become part of the Liberal Education Program (LEP); review, accept or reject all courses proposed for inclusion in the LEP; monitor the LEP and make recommendations to TLC relative to issues such as: (a) numbers of courses per category; (b) seat availability; (c) representation of courses at 1xxx-4xxx levels; (d) departmental and collegiate representation, and so forth; monitor the patterns of petitions for substitutions and advise EVCAA for future action and maintain channels of communication with the Assessment Subcommittee.

Membership consists of 12 elected voting members: 2 faculty members from each college (CEHSP, CLA, LSBE, SCSE, SFA), 1 staff, and 1 student; and 2 ex-officio non-voting members: 1 academic advisor from one of the five colleges and the Associate Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education. Here is the current subcommittee membership:






Ryan Hjelle

Joanne Itami




2018 - 2021

2018 - 2021


Hairong Feng



2016 - 2019

Ryan Frane



2016  -2019

Ken Gilbertson Member CEHSP 2016 - 2019
 Lisa Kittelson Member Staff 2016 - 2019
Rachel Nunemacher MemberStudents 2018 - 2019
Chad Pierson Member SCSE 2017 - 2020

Maureen Tobin Stanley



2018  -2021

Jason Turkiela Member LSBE2016 - 2019
Junhua Wang Member LSBE 2017 - 2020

Jennifer Webb



2018 - 2021

 Kurt Guidinger

Ex-officio non-voting member



 Jerry Pepper

Ex-officio non-voting member

Associate VC for Undergraduate Education


 Nancy BurleySupport Staffn/a n/a





For feedback or guidance on the Liberal Education proposals, please contact your representative(s) indicated above. Contact information for individuals can be found using UMD e-mail or the UMD directory.  For general Liberal Education inquires, email Nancy Burley