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Liberal Education



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 and Domains

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 Domains (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:

Liberal Education 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;2

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

2Key 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 Semester Deadline Date*
Fall March 1
Spring October 1
Summer February 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 Domains (21 cr)

Natural Sciences


Social Sciences




Fine Arts


Key Topics (9 cr)

Global Perspectives


Cultural Diversity in the United States




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 Student Learning Committee (SL). 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 Student Learning (SL) 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:





Kristen Hylenski




Jennifer Mencl





Jing Bai




Brian Buckstead




Luiggi Donayre




Kurt Guidinger


Academic Advising Committee


Anne Hinderliter




John Keener




Jamie Ratliff




Karen Marsh




Rochelle Zuck




Issac Kraft


Student Body



 Janny Walker

Ex-officio non-voting member



Jerry Pepper

Ex-officio non-voting member

Associate VC for Undergraduate Education


Nancy Burley Support Staff n/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










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Last modified on 11/05/15 09:02 AM
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