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College of Arts and Sciences

School Overview

Robert Stacey
50 Communications

Divisional Deans
Catherine Cole -- Dean, Arts
Suzanne Hawley -- Dean, Natural Sciences
George Lovell -- Dean, Social Sciences
Brian Reed -- Dean, Humanities

The departments and schools of the College of Arts and Sciences offer nearly 100 curricula leading to the degrees of Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Design, and Bachelor of Science, as well as graduate study leading to master's and doctoral degrees.

Undergraduate Study

Graduation Requirements

A liberal arts education entails mastery of certain basic skills, exposure to a broad range of academic disciplines, and concentration in a particular field of knowledge. To be awarded a baccalaureate degree a student in the College must fulfill requirements in the following areas: Language Skills, Reasoning and Writing in Context, Areas of Knowledge, Diversity, and a Major (see table below). All required courses must be taken for a numerical grade. In addition, the student must present at least 90 credits outside the major department and must meet minimum GPA requirements as specified below.

Requirement* Credits
Language Skills


  • English composition (5 credits)
  • Foreign language (0-15 credits, depending on placement or high school background)
  • Reasoning and Writing in Context


  • Quantitative/symbolic reasoning (QSR) (5 credits)
  • Additional writing (W) courses (10 credits)
  • Areas of Knowledge


    General-education courses to include at least 20 credits in each of the following three areas:

  • Visual, Literary, & Performing Arts (VLPA)
  • Individuals & Societies (I&S)
  • The Natural World (NW)
  • Diversity


    Sociocultural, political, and economic diversity (DIV)



    An area of specialization, usually in a single department

    Minor (optional)


    An additional area of specialization



    Free choice; as many credits as necessary to bring the total to 180

    * Requirements of colleges other than Arts and Sciences are based on these, but may differ. Students who have not chosen a major are advised to follow the College of Arts and Sciences requirements.

    Language Skills

    To receive a degree from the College of Arts and Sciences, students whose first enrollment in college (whether at the UW or elsewhere) was in autumn quarter 1985 or later are required to complete 5 credits of English composition with a minimum 2.0 grade. They must also complete coursework through the end of the first-year college sequence in a foreign language, with a 2.0 or higher grade in the third-quarter course, or demonstrate equivalent proficiency through one of the following: successful completion of the third-year or higher level of high school language instruction; by passing a proficiency examination and placing into a course beyond the first year; or by receiving a passing grade in a qualifying course beyond the first-year level. Credits used for these two requirements (including the entire first year of foreign language, if taken) cannot also be applied to the Areas of Knowledge requirements described below.

    Reasoning and Writing in Context

    Students who first entered college autumn quarter 1985 or later must complete a minimum of 5 credits in Quantitative or Symbolic Reasoning (QSR) and 10 credits of additional composition courses or courses that emphasize the development of writing skills in the context of an academic discipline (W courses). QSR and writing courses, if they apply, can also be counted toward Areas of Knowledge or major requirements. The writing requirement is in addition to the English composition requirement mentioned in the preceding paragraph.

    Areas of Knowledge

    The Areas of Knowledge requirement is the means by which the student develops a breadth of knowledge. Undergraduate courses are currently divided broadly into three categories: Visual, Literary, & Performing Arts; Individuals & Societies; and the Natural World. Each student must select at least 20 credits in courses from each of the three fields and an additional 15 credits from any courses in the three fields. Of the 75 total credits required, 15 may be from courses in the student's major department.


    No fewer than 3 credits of courses focusing on the sociocultural, political, and economic diversity of human experience at local, regional, or global scales.

    Course Designators

    The following symbols, included in course descriptions in this catalog, indicate which, if any, of the above requirements are fulfilled by certain courses:

    VLPA -- Visual, Literary, & Performing Arts (Area of Knowledge requirement)

    I&S -- Individuals & Societies (Area of Knowledge requirement)

    NW -- The Natural World (Area of Knowledge requirement)

    QSR -- Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning

    DIV -- Diversity

    Courses that meet the foreign-language requirement and the additional-writing requirement are not marked. The third-quarter (or second-semester) course in any language meets the language requirement, so long as the entire first-year sequence totals at least 12 credits (regardless of whether the student earned credit for the earlier parts of the sequence). Consult the quarterly Time Schedule for writing-intensive courses that meet the additional-writing requirement.


    In fulfilling the requirements for a major, the student engages in thorough study of a discipline or subject, aimed at developing knowledge in depth. This part of the student's program is determined by the department, school, or faculty committee with which the major study is pursued. Measured in academic credits, the "major" required of each student consists of 50 or more prescribed credits in a department of the College or a closely related group of departments. Descriptions of major programs are shown below.


    Completion of a minor, available through many departments, is optional. Requirements are shown under individual department undergraduate programs, below, or in a minors handout available in UAA Advising, 141 Mary Gates Hall. The following interdisciplinary minors are also offered: Arctic Studies; Disability Studies; Diversity; Education, Learning, and Society; Human Rights; Labor Studies; Paleobiology; and Values in Society. Websites for these minors may be found in the alphabetical listing of Arts and Sciences degree programs.

    Credits Required Outside Major Department

    So that the student does not overspecialize, the College limits to 90 the number of credits from a single department that the student may elect to count in the 180 credits required for the baccalaureate degree. A department itself can require no more than 70 credits from courses within the department, and no more than 90 credits from within the department and related fields combined, as constituting its major program for the baccalaureate degree. Exceptions to these restrictions may be granted by the Dean.

    GPA Required for Graduation

    To be eligible to receive the baccalaureate degree, the student must achieve at least a 2.00 cumulative GPA in the major (some departments prescribe a higher minimum GPA for the major), as well as a 2.00 cumulative GPA for all work done in residence through the University.

    Applying for Graduation

    Students should apply for the baccalaureate degree no later than the first quarter of their final year. Seniors who apply by announced quarterly deadlines receive Graduating Senior Registration Priority (GSP), allowing them to register first for the following quarter. GSP status is limited to two quarters.

    All current and past UW students may graduate under the College requirements published in this catalog. Students may use the department requirements in effect at the time they are admitted to the major, if they graduate within 10 years of that time. Otherwise, the department may insist on more recent major requirements. Students wishing to fulfill a previous set of requirements should see an adviser for details and options. All responsibility for fulfilling graduation requirements rests with the student concerned.

    Limits on Physical Education Courses Allowed Toward Graduation

    A student graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences may count a maximum of three credits of 100-level physical-education activity courses taken at the University of Washington, or their equivalents at other collegiate institutions, as elective credits toward graduation. At present, physical-education courses are not offered at the University.

    Graduate Study

    Students who intend to work toward advanced degrees must apply for admission to the Graduate School and must meet the general requirements outlined in this General Catalog, as well as the requirements established by the graduate faculty in the department or unit offering the degree program. Graduate students must satisfy the requirements for an advanced degree in force at the time the degree is to be awarded.