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Undergraduate Liberal Education Program

The Undergraduate 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.”

Prepared:

  • 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

Informed:

  • 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

Committed:

  • 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 Program 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 totals 39 credits; however, a single course can be used to satisfy multiple requirements, thereby reducing the total number of credits a student completes for the program. 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 fulfill both requirements.
  • A course in the major that meets the criteria for Parts Ib, Ic, II and/or III may satisfy requirements for both a major and the Liberal Education Program.
  • Liberal Education courses offered at the 3000- and 4000-levels within the major satisfying a Key Topics requirement are not required to serve a wide spectrum of students.
  • If approved by the relevant department, a Liberal Education course may also satisfy a requirement in a student’s major or minor.

All courses currently approved in the Liberal Education Program can be viewed at: http://www.d.umn.edu/catalog/liberal-education


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.