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Sixth College

Sixth College draws on its theme—Culture, Art, and Technology—to meet the lifelong educational needs of students in the twenty-first century. New global challenges demand new approaches to visualization, problem-solving, information handling, and communication across cultural and disciplinary boundaries. Intellectual flexibility; creative, critical thinking; ethical judgment; fluency in assessing and adapting to technological change; and the ability to engage effectively in collaboration with others from a wide range of backgrounds will be critically important to our graduates. To help prepare our students for the future, Sixth College offers an integrated learning environment that emphasizes collaborative learning; creative imagination; interdisciplinary inquiry; and written, visual, kinetic and auditory investigation, argument, and expression. Students will learn to use digital as well as traditional communication and research tools. The college is committed to help students develop skills necessary for lifelong learning, including self-reflection with information technology and the crucial ability to learn from experts.

Sixth College offers students opportunities to explore its theme, Culture, Art, and Technology, both within its academic program and through non-classroom-based programs that provide our students with learning, work, and research experiences both on and off campus.

Sixth College challenges students to examine the multidimensional interactions between culture, art, and technology in order to imagine the future and create new forms of inquiry and communication. Teamwork, artistic expression, interdisciplinary ways of thinking and knowing, and multicultural awareness are core educational goals.

Sixth College students will be encouraged to engage with community through the experiential learning requirement. More than an ethical obligation to service, such an engagement is integral to the process of learning to listen across cultures and to consider implications of diverse agencies of change. Sixth College is committed to pioneer meaningful application of evolving technologies inside and outside the classroom. On campus and off, students will be connected in many ways—by digital media, by team-based course and extracurricular projects and learning exercises, by social and local community engagement, and by diverse cultural and intellectual events that seamlessly connect many aspects of residential life and student affairs programming with the college curriculum. All these connections help ensure that Sixth College students have the opportunity to develop, learn, and act as integral members of a local and larger community.

Culture, Art, and Technology

All students will take a three-quarter core sequence titled Culture, Art, and Technology (CAT). CAT is a highly interdisciplinary sequence that covers the past (CAT 1), present (CAT 2), and future (CAT 3). It introduces students to thinking across disciplines so they can recognize patterns through critical reading (CAT 1), identify interactions by analyzing and creating academic arguments (CAT 2), and pursue independent research inquiry in a collaborative environment (CAT 3). Exercises and instruction that develop literacy and fluency with information technology and media production software, as well as writing and communication skills, will be embedded in the core sequence.

Experiential Learning

The Sixth College experiential learning requirement is an upper-division general-education requirement that embodies the college’s commitment to providing an engaged and immersive education. Students have multiple options to fulfill the requirement by taking a course that incorporates a significant experiential learning component, such as an internship, practicum, research project, artistic performance, community engagement, or study abroad. The purpose of the experiential learning requirement is to provide an opportunity for students to learn through doing in a manner that facilitates their academic and civic engagement as well as meaningful professional development.

General Education

The Sixth College breadth requirements have three primary goals: (1) to produce comprehensive knowledge and connections, (2) to encourage creative imagination, and (3) to accomplish these activities from an ethically informed perspective. The aim is to allow students to discover the richness of UC San Diego’s academic life and to see relationships among the sciences, social sciences, engineering, arts, and the humanities. Because Sixth College emphasizes cross-disciplinary ways of thinking, it is critical for students to appreciate the different modes of inquiry within academic disciplines. For information about courses available to satisfy the general-education requirements, please visit the academic advising office in the Sixth Administration Building or check the website at

  1. Culture, Art, and Technology: Three courses. Core Sequence CAT 1, 2, and 3. Includes two (six-unit) quarters of intensive instruction in university-level writing.
  2. Information Technology Fluency: One course. This requirement may be satisfied with courses from a variety of departments.
  3. Modes of Inquiry: Seven courses. Two courses in social sciences, two courses in humanities, two courses in natural sciences, one course in math/logic. (Options are available for science and nonscience majors.)
  4. Exploring Data: One course in statistical methods. (Options are available for science and nonscience majors.)
  5. Art Making: Two courses in literature, music, theatre and dance, or visual arts.
  6. Experiential Learning: Upper-division students must complete a four-unit experiential learning course.
  7. Upper-Division Writing (CAT 125): Students must also take a four-unit upper-division writing course (CAT 125), in which they study public rhetoric and practical communication.

Transfer Students

Transfer students may meet all or most of Sixth College’s lower-division requirements before entering UC San Diego if they have followed transfer agreements or preparation programs. Specific details regarding appropriate general-education agreements are in the catalog section, “Undergraduate Admissions.” Additional resources of information for transfer students include Transfer Student Success, the Sixth College website, and the student’s community college.

Graduation Requirements

In order to graduate from Sixth College, all students must

  1. Satisfy the UC requirements in Entry Level Writing and American History and Institutions (See “Undergraduate Degree Requirements: UC Entry Level Writing Requirement” and “American History and Institutions”).
  2. Satisfy the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion requirement: A knowledge of diversity, equity, and inclusion is required of all candidates for a bachelor’s degree who begin their studies at UC San Diego in lower-division standing in fall 2011 or thereafter, or in upper-division standing in fall 2013 or thereafter. (See “University-wide Graduation Requirements.”)
  3. Satisfy the general-education requirements, including the experiential learning and the upper-division writing requirement (CAT 125).
  4. Successfully complete a major according to all regulations of that department.
  5. Complete at least sixty units at the upper-division level.
  6. Pass at least 180 units for the BA/BS. Attain a C average (2.0) or better in all work attempted at UC. Departmental requirements may differ. Students are responsible for checking with the department of the major for all regulations.
  7. Meet the senior residence requirement. (See “University-wide Graduation Requirements: Senior Residence.”)

Pass/Not Pass Grading Option

Some general-education requirements may be fulfilled by courses taken on the Pass/Not Pass basis. Sixth College students are reminded that major requirements and prerequisites must be taken on a graded basis. With the exception of units earned in independent study courses (numbered 199), no more than 25 percent of an undergraduate student’s total UC San Diego units may be taken on a Pass/Not Pass basis.


Sixth College students may pursue any of the departmental or interdisciplinary majors offered at UC San Diego. The majority of the academic departments have established lower-division prerequisites. Generally, these prerequisites must be completed prior to entry into upper-division major courses. Many of these courses may count for general-education credit as well. Students are strongly encouraged to work closely with department faculty and college advisers. For details on the specific major departments, refer to the “Courses, Curricula, and Faculty” section of this catalog.

Sixth College Individual Studies Major

Sixth College offers an Individual Studies major (ISM) to meet the needs of students who have unusual and/or multiple academic interests for which a suitable major is not offered at UC San Diego. To apply for the major, students must have completed at least sixty units of work at UC San Diego, including CAT 1, 2, and 3, have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25, and be in good academic standing. Transfer students must have at least one quarter of residence at UC San Diego. Students pursuing this major must be goal oriented and self-directed and must submit a written proposal explaining the merits of the program and why it cannot be accommodated within existing UC San Diego majors. The proposal must first be approved by two faculty advisers (a primary and secondary adviser) to ensure that students will have the opportunity to work closely with a faculty mentor throughout their undergraduate career at UC San Diego.

  • The major program must include a minimum of twelve four-unit upper-division classes from at least two different academic departments at UC San Diego. No more than nine courses can be completed in the same department.
  • With prior approval, students will be allowed to use courses taken abroad under the Education Abroad Program (EAP) and Opportunities Abroad Program (OAP) toward their ISM.
  • All major courses must be taken for a letter grade, and students must earn at least a C– in each course to have it counted toward the major.
  • A grade point average of 2.0 overall and in the major is required for graduation.
  • No more than twelve units of Independent Study (199) may be used toward the major, including CAT 199, CAT 198, and CAT 197.
  • The major must satisfy the residency requirements, which state that nine of the twelve upper-division courses must be completed at UC San Diego.


Minors are optional but provide an excellent opportunity to complement the major field of study. Students are required to complete twenty-eight units of interrelated work, of which at least twenty units must be upper division.

Leadership and Community

Collaboration and connectedness are central values of Sixth College. These values are reflected in Sixth College’s commitment to providing meaningful opportunities for students to contribute to the direction and evolution of the college. Student leadership opportunities include serving on the Sixth College Student Council and Executive Committee, or in campuswide student governance roles. Additionally, students assume leadership through service as resident advisers, orientation leaders, interns, and peer advisers. These opportunities and others not only contribute to shaping what Sixth College is and will become, but also foster the development of life skills that prepare students to be effective citizens and leaders in a world of ever-increasing complexity and diversity.


In addition to the college Honors Program (see under Sixth College), there are many types of honors at UC San Diego.

  • Provost’s Honors—Awarded each quarter based on completion of twelve graded units with a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
  • Departmental Honors—Outstanding students often enroll in Departmental Honors programs, and they may receive university honors at graduation. They may also be eligible to be invited to membership by the UC San Diego chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest, most respected academic honor society.
  • College Honors designation at graduation—College honors awarded include summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude.

Enhancing Your Education

Study Abroad UC San Diego

Through the Study Abroad UC San Diego office, students can take advantage of a variety of international opportunities, including study, work, volunteer, and internship programs. Each year, UC San Diego sends about one thousand students overseas. Students may choose from the University of California’s systemwide Education Abroad Program (EAP) that has educational opportunities in thirty-five countries, or from the Opportunities Abroad Program (OAP) that links students with worldwide opportunities sponsored by organizations and universities other than the University of California.

Research Opportunities for Undergraduates at UC San Diego

UC San Diego encourages all undergraduates to become involved in the research life of the university. Every academic department has opportunities for undergraduates to work with faculty on the cutting-edge research projects for which UC San Diego is world-renowned. Working closely with faculty, students will deepen their knowledge and skills in areas of special academic interest, while experiencing what it means to be part of an intellectual community engaged in research. Information can be found through Undergraduate Research at UC San Diego:, Academic Enrichment Program:, and Summer Research Opportunities.

Qualcomm Institute

The Qualcomm Institute ensures that California maintains its leadership in the rapidly changing telecommunications and information technology marketplace. The institute encourages undergraduate participation in its research activities and provides undergraduate summer research scholarships.

Pacific Rim Undergraduate Experiences (PRIME)

The Pacific Rim Experiences for Undergraduates (PRIME) provides opportunities to participate in an international research and cultural experience that will prepare students for the global workplace of the twenty-first century. Students will live and work at an international host site either in Japan, Taiwan, China, or Australia, and gain greater cultural understanding of a new region.

Community Work

PAL (Partners at Learning)

PAL is the service-learning division of Education Studies at UC San Diego. PAL classes give UC San Diego students meaningful opportunities to learn about and experience issues of equity and education in San Diego’s K–12 schools. Through PAL, UC San Diego students serve as tutors and mentors in K–12 classrooms throughout San Diego County. Each year, PAL students contribute about twenty thousand hours of service to underserved schools.

Teams in Engineering Service (TIES)

TIES is a new and innovative academic program putting UC San Diego undergraduates and their technical and creative skills to work for San Diego nonprofit organizations. Multidisciplinary teams of UC San Diego students design, build, and deploy projects that solve technology-based problems for community partners.

Cultural Enrichment

The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination

Sixth College is an official partner of the Clarke Center, which cosponsors college events to develop more effective ways of using imagination in education and learning. The center also supports research at the neural, behavioral, and social level into how imagination occurs. In supporting outreach to enhance appreciation of imagination in confronting humanity’s problems, the Clarke Center also supports the Sixth College academic plan.

Professional Preparation

Academic Internship Program (AIP)

The program offers qualified juniors and seniors the opportunity to acquire valuable work experience related to academic and career interests. Although most internships are in the San Diego area, the Academic Internship Program is national and international in scope, including the popular Washington, DC program and the London program. An extensive library lists more than two thousand available internships in varied settings including, but not limited to, TV and radio stations; law offices; medical research labs and clinics; government agencies; high-tech and biotech companies; engineering, advertising and public relations firms; and financial institutions. Students can arrange their own internship positions with the internship office.

Departmental Internships

Most departments offer internships for their majors; the courses are numbered 197 (See individual departments for additional information).