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Undergraduate Degree Requirements

Each of the undergraduate colleges on the UC San Diego campus has specific requirements for a degree. (See “Undergraduate Colleges.”)

Changes in Requirements

When a change in graduation requirements is introduced, it is implemented so that continuing students (as defined below) are not substantially hindered in the orderly pursuit of their degrees. Since changes in requirements vary greatly in character, this principle will have different implications for different changes. For purposes of this policy, “continuing students” are those who began higher education at UC San Diego or elsewhere before the change. Colleges and departments may deny protection under this policy to a student who has interrupted his or her education for more than two years.

Students transferring to UC San Diego from another college or university should refer to the “Admission as a Transfer Applicant” section and the undergraduate colleges’ requirements for additional information.

University-wide Graduation Requirements

Undergraduate Major Requirements

All course work required for a degree must be completed by the end of the quarter filed for graduation.

Every candidate for a bachelor’s degree must have completed a major.

  • A major shall require the equivalent of twelve or more upper-division courses (forty-eight or more units).
  • Requirements for majors shall be determined by departments and programs, subject to the approval of the Undergraduate Council.
  • An undergraduate student must have declared a major or pre-major upon completion of ninety units.
  • Other requirements for graduation shall be determined by the colleges in conformity with university-wide regulations and subject to approval by the San Diego division of the Academic Senate.
  • Each college must set a minimum requirement for a bachelor’s degree equivalent to at least 180 units, including not less than 60 units at the upper-division level. The minimum number of units required by a college must be the same for the degrees of bachelor of arts and bachelor of science. Except as may be otherwise provided in the regulations of the Academic Senate or of the San Diego division, no college may set a standard higher than “passing” for the satisfaction of any requirement for graduation.
  • The value of a course in units (“quarter units” or “quarter credits”) shall be reckoned at the rate of one unit for three hours’ work per week per quarter on the part of the student, or the equivalent. See the UC San Diego “Credit Hour Policy.”

Double Majors

With the approval of both departments or programs and approval of the college provost, a student in good standing may declare a double major.

  • A student with a double major must fulfill the separate requirements of each major, and the equivalent of at least ten upper-division courses (forty units) must be unique to each major. Courses taken in fulfillment of lower-division requirements may overlap to any degree.
  • The two majors may not be within the School of Engineering, nor, except with the approval of the Undergraduate Council, within a single department.
  • A student with a double major may graduate only upon completion of all requirements for both majors. Both majors will be noted on the student’s transcript and diploma. If the two majors lead to different degrees (BA and BS), that fact will be noted on the transcript, and the two degree designations will appear on one diploma.
  • A student who has declared a double major may graduate in one major upon completion of all requirements for that major.
  • For students entering UC San Diego in fall 2019: A student with a double major who has reached the quarter limits of Regulation 600(C) and needs additional time to complete all requirements for both majors will be required to submit a completion plan and have it approved by their college prior to enrolling for additional quarters to continue work toward the degree.
  • For students enrolled at UC San Diego prior to fall 2019: A student who has declared a double major is not subject to the maximum unit limitations (see below) and may accrue up to 240 units.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

A knowledge of diversity, equity, and inclusion is required of all candidates for a bachelor’s degree who begin studies at UC San Diego in lower-division standing in fall 2011 or thereafter, or in upper-division standing in fall 2013 or thereafter.

  • This requirement shall be satisfied by passing, with a grade not lower than C– or P, a one-quarter, four-unit course expressly approved by the Undergraduate Council for that purpose.
  • This requirement may be satisfied by presenting proof of having passed a one-quarter, four-unit transfer course, or its equivalent, at a recognized institution of higher education, community colleges included, that has been articulated to one of the courses approved by the Undergraduate Council for the purpose of meeting the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion requirement.
  • Courses fulfilling this requirement must:
      • focus primarily on theoretical and analytical frameworks relevant to understanding diversity, equity, and inclusion in the United States. Among possible frameworks are race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, language, ability/disability, class, age; and
      • pay significant attention to at least one of the following groups: African Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Hispanics or Chicanos/Latinos, and Native Americans; and
      • provide a pedagogical framework for better understanding one’s particular identity in relation to that of other identities discussed in the course.
Definition of terms:
  • Diversity refers to the variety of personal experiences, values, and worldviews that arise from differences of culture and circumstance. Such differences include race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, language, abilities/disabilities, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and geographic region.
  • Equity is the guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all students, faculty, and staff while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of marginalized groups.
  • Inclusion is the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued.

American History and Institutions

A knowledge of American history and of the principles of American institutions under federal and state constitutions is required of all candidates for the bachelor’s degree. This requirement may be met in any one of the following ways:

  • By having passed with a grade of C or better one high-school unit in American history, or one-half high school unit in American history and one-half high-school unit in civics or American government.
  • By completing with a grade of P or C– or better any one-quarter UC San Diego course of instruction accepted as satisfactory by the Undergraduate Council. Any of the following courses are suitable for fulfilling the requirement: HILD 2A-B-C, HILD 7A-B-C, or any course listed under HIUS (other than HIUS Colloquia); ECON 158, 159; ETHN 103A, 112A-B, 120D, 125, 130, 131, 149, 153, 163J, 167, 170A-B; POLI 10, 10D, 100A-B-C, 102C, 102H, 104A, 110EA-EB, 110J, 142A; SOCI 10, 188K; and USP 103, 106, 167.
  • By presenting proof of having received a score of 550 or more on the SAT II subject test of the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) in American history.
  • By presenting proof of having received a grade of 3 or higher on the Advanced Placement test in American history administered by the Educational Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey.
  • By presenting proof of having satisfied the present requirement as administered at another collegiate institution within the state.
  • By presenting proof of successful completion of an acceptable one-quarter or one-semester course, with a grade of C or better, in either American history or American government at a community college within the state.
  • By presenting proof of successful completion of an acceptable one-quarter or one-semester course, with a grade of C or better, in either American history or American government at a recognized institution of higher education, junior college included, in another state.
  • An alien attending the university on an F-1 or J-1 student visa may, by showing proof of temporary residence in the United States, petition for exemption from this requirement through the office of his or her college provost.

The Analytical Writing Program and UC Entry Level Writing Requirement

The University of California requires all undergraduate students (including international students) to demonstrate a minimum proficiency in English composition (the Entry Level Writing Requirement). This proficiency can be demonstrated by any of the means approved by the UC-wide Committee on Preparatory Education and authorized under University-wide Senate Regulation 636. For more information on the various ways to meet the requirement, go to https://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/elwr/.

All students who have not previously satisfied the Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR) must take the UC Analytical Writing Placement Exam (AWPE) or an alternative UC San Diego writing placement exam prior to enrollment at UC San Diego. Students who do not pass are instructed to enroll immediately in the analytical writing course in which they are placed (either AWP 3 or AWP 4A) during their first quarter at UC San Diego. These courses are taught by faculty in UC San Diego’s Analytical Writing Program (AWP).

Students placed in AWP 3 will have up to three consecutive quarters to complete the Entry Level Writing Requirement. If a student’s AWPE test indicates a need for more English language support, they will be placed in AWP 4A, the first of two courses designed to offer students more time to develop their critical thinking and writing abilities. Students who enroll in AWP 4A are required to enroll in AWP 4B in the subsequent quarter. Students who complete AWP 4A-B and who do not produce a passing portfolio in AWP 4B will be instructed to enroll immediately in AWP 3. These students will have up to three more consecutive quarters to pass AWP 3. Students who receive a grade of C or higher in AWP 3 or AWP 4B will satisfy the Entry Level Writing Requirement.

The Entry Level Writing Requirement must be satisfied during a student’s first three quarters in which they are enrolled. Exception: Students placed in AWP 4A-B may have up to three consecutive quarters of AWP 3 after they take AWP 4A-B in which to satisfy the Entry Level Writing Requirement; either way, students must fulfill the ELWR in five quarters.

Students will not be allowed to enroll in the college writing courses at UC San Diego until the Entry Level Writing Requirement has been satisfied.

The Analytical Writing Program also offers courses beyond those that fulfill the English Language Writing Requirement. For more information about the UC Entry Level Writing Requirement, the Analytical Writing Placement exam, or the Analytical Writing Program’s course offerings, please visit the program’s website at http://awp.ucsd.edu/.

Senior Residence

Each candidate for the bachelor’s degree must complete thirty-five of the final forty-five units in residence in the college or school of the University of California in which the degree is to be earned. Under certain circumstances exceptions may be granted by the provost, such as when a student attends classes on another UC campus as an approved visitor or participates in UC Education Abroad, the UCDC Program, or the UC Sacramento Program.

Note: Courses taken through the UC San Diego Extension concurrent enrollment program will not apply toward a UC San Diego student’s senior residency requirement. For further details, see “College General-Education and Graduation Requirements.”

College General-Education and Graduation Requirements

Application for Degree

Undergraduate seniors are required to file a degree and diploma application form with their college academic advising office. Students should check with their college academic advising office for exact deadlines. Advising and counseling sessions should take place well before the quarter of graduation to ensure all degree requirements will be satisfied. Applications not on file by the deadline are subject to special approval. Students who have not completed all degree requirements by the end of the quarter filed for graduation must file a new application. Failure to file this application may delay the receipt of the diploma.

Quarter Limit and Enrollment Beyond the Quarter Limit (for students entering UC San Diego in fall 2019 or thereafter)

  • An undergraduate student who enrolls at UC San Diego as a first-year student in fall 2019 or thereafter is allowed to enroll for twelve quarters to complete all requirements for a bachelor of arts (BA) or bachelor of science (BS) degree; if a student reaches this quarter limit and needs additional time to complete those requirements, they will be required to submit a completion plan and have it approved by their college prior to enrolling for additional quarters to continue work toward the degree.
  • An undergraduate student who enrolls at UC San Diego as a transfer student in fall 2019 or thereafter is allowed to enroll for six quarters to complete all requirements for a bachelor of arts (BA) or bachelor of science (BS) degree; if a student reaches this quarter limit and needs additional time to complete those requirements, they will be required to submit a completion plan and have it approved by their college prior to enrolling for additional quarters to continue work toward the degree.
  • Summer session, as well as quarters during which students are approved for part-time status or have withdrawn from all courses, will not count toward the allowable number of quarters.

Maximum Unit Limitation (for students enrolled at UC San Diego prior to fall 2019)

  • An undergraduate student may register for no more than 200 course units. An exception is permitted for candidates for BS degrees in engineering, for whom the limits are 240 units in Revelle and Roosevelt Colleges and 230 units in all other colleges. Other exceptions will be granted only for compelling academic reasons and only with the approval of the college provost.
  • Transfer units applicable toward general-education requirements or major requirements are included in the maximum unit calculation; all other transfer units are to be excluded. Advanced Placement and international baccalaureate units are to be excluded.

Honors

College Honors at Graduation

The Academic Senate has established the following standards for award of college Honors at graduation:

No more than 14 percent of the graduating seniors on campus shall be eligible for college Honors. Normally, no more than the top 2 percent shall be eligible for summa cum laude and no more than the next 4 percent for magna cum laude, although minor variations from year to year shall be permitted. The remaining 8 percent are eligible for cum laude. The ranking of students for eligibility for college Honors shall be based upon the grade point average. In addition, to be eligible for Honors, a student must receive letter grades for at least seventy-two quarter-units of course work at the University of California. Each college may award Honors at graduation only to those who are eligible to receive college Honors.

Department Honors

Each department or program may award Honors to a student at graduation in accordance with the following criteria:

  • The student must have completed a special course of study within the department or program. The requirements for this special course of study shall be approved by the Undergraduate Council and published in the catalog. The requirements must include eight to twelve units of supervised research or other creative activity leading to the preparation of a paper or other appropriate project. Public presentation of the project, through performance, participation in the undergraduate research conference, or other appropriate means, shall explicitly be encouraged.
  • The department or program shall establish formal procedures and criteria for application and admission to the program, which shall normally include a GPA of 3.5 in the major as a prerequisite. Students with a GPA lower than 3.5 may be admitted by exception if they show promise of success in research or creative activity.
  • Each student whose project earns the equivalent of a grade of B or better and who has maintained a GPA of at least 3.25 in the major shall be entitled to the designation “with distinction” on the diploma after the departmental or program name. Subject to the approval of the Undergraduate Council, each department or program shall establish criteria for the award of the designations “with high distinction” and “with highest distinction.”

Honors awarded by departments may be designated on the diploma by the words with distinction, with high distinction, and with highest distinction after the departmental or program name. Currently the departments and majors listed below are approved to award Honors to graduating seniors: anthropology, biology, chemistry, Chinese studies, classical studies, cognitive science, communication, computer science and engineering, critical gender studies, earth sciences, economics, electrical and computer engineering, ethnic studies, German studies, history, human development, international studies, Japanese studies, Jewish studies, linguistics, literature, management science, mathematics, Muir special project, music, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology, Roosevelt individual studies, sociology, study of religion, theatre and dance, urban studies and planning, and visual arts.

Provost’s Honors (Quarterly)

Provost’s Honors are awarded quarterly based upon the completion of twelve graded units with a GPA of 3.5 or higher with no grade of D, F, or NP recorded for the quarter.

Undergraduate Minors and Programs of Concentration

A minor curriculum—or “minor” for short—is a set of courses on a well-defined subject. A minor is not required for graduation. A student in good standing may declare an optional minor.

  • A minor shall consist of at least twenty-eight units, of which at least twenty units must be upper division. For sound academic reasons and with the approval of the Undergraduate Council, a minor may be established with fewer than twenty upper-division units.
  • All minor curricula must be approved by the Undergraduate Council and be published in the UC San Diego General Catalog.
  • A student may apply the equivalent of two upper-division courses (a maximum of eight units) that have also been used to satisfy the requirements of his or her major curriculum to fulfill the requirements for a minor.
  • A student’s successful completion of a minor curriculum will be recorded on his or her transcript at graduation.

Certain colleges require their students to complete one or more “programs of concentration” before graduation, and the courses or types of courses acceptable for programs of concentration are determined by the faculty of the college or a subcommittee thereof. A program of concentration is not necessarily a minor. Indeed, a program of concentration is a minor only if it meets the criteria above, and only then may it be listed on a student’s transcript as a minor. Otherwise it will be recorded as a concentration at graduation.