2024-2025 Academic Catalog 
    Jul 14, 2024  
2024-2025 Academic Catalog

Degree Requirements

General Degree Requirements

Pathways for Discovery

Writing Program

Exemptions & Alternates

Fifth-Year Degree Candidates


The Baccalaureate Degree

Students choose a series of courses that will lead them along one of several routes to earn one of the following credentials: either a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or a Bachelor of Science degree (B.S.), or one of various degrees or certifications available through the Division of Graduate and Continuing Education  (GCE).  The Board of Trustees awards degrees upon the recommendation of the faculty.

General Degree Requirements

● Total credits:  Candidates for a degree must earn no fewer than 32 course units, at least 16 of them in courses offered by Muhlenberg.

● Required terms enrolled:  Candidates must normally complete their final two semesters “in residence;” that is, enrolled for three or more course units at Muhlenberg during a traditional academic (fall or spring) semester.  This regulation does not apply to students who have been accepted to degree candidacy through the Division of Graduate and Continuing Education.

● Grade-point average:  To receive a degree, a student must achieve a cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of at least 2.000 in all work attempted at Muhlenberg and in all work used to meet major requirements. If work in the major or minor does not total a 2.000 GPA, it is not complete and must be dropped prior to degree conferral.

● Major field of study:  Candidates complete at least one major leading to a liberal arts degree (B.A., B.S.).  The majors offered by the College can be found under Programs of Study.  Normally at least half of the courses required for a major must be completed at Muhlenberg.  Permission to substitute courses in major requirements may be granted, in exceptional circumstances, by the department chair or program director.  In the case of students with more than one major, the degree is determined by the major the student has chosen to list first.

● Commencement:  Candidates must attend Commencement unless excused by the Office of the Registrar.  See the Commencement Participation policy.

● General education:  All students must complete the Pathways for Discovery curriculum outlined below.  The Pathways for Discovery curriculum applies to all liberal arts degree candidates (B.A., B.S.) who enroll at the College in Fall 2024 or later.  Students who matriculated prior to Fall 2024 will still complete the old curriculum requirement scheme in order to graduate (i.e., the divisional distribution requirements, the integrative learning requirement, and so forth).

Pathways for Discovery

Muhlenberg’s general academic requirements guide students to pursue a pathway from exploration and discovery to depth and integration, challenging students to take risks and cultivate curiosity while supporting them along the way through close mentorship with the faculty and staff.  Students begin at the College by exploring the key values of a liberal arts education to spark zest for learning and to discover a passion for a chosen field of study.  This breadth is followed by depth and integration through students’ majors and real-world, hands-on experiences.  Opportunities for building multiple expertise exist through the pursuit of additional majors and minors, as well as optional micros (forthcoming) that develop key skills for professional trajectories, leadership, and lives of democratic citizenship.  The fourth year provides a final integrative experience in each major and an opportunity to create a digital presence, such as an e-portfolio, to launch students in the next phase of their lives. Through these pathways for discovery, students will be both challenged and supported as they evolve as agile intellectuals, critical thinkers, creative problem-solvers, and informed and responsible citizens, preparing them for the complexities and challenges of the 21st century.

At Muhlenberg, we value the multiple ways of knowing that a broad liberal arts education can provide, creating moments of serendipity as students discover new disciplines or rediscover areas that they may have already studied, taught from alternate perspectives and in new contexts.  We value a sense of flexibility and autonomy as students choose the path that most interests them, guiding and coaching them while helping them become independent thinkers in a complex world, tackling problems from multiple viewpoints.  We value the interdisciplinary connections that students can make by exploring multiple ways of knowing, either through their majors and minors, interdisciplinary programs, integrative learning experiences, or intentional and unintentional connections that students discover between their courses.  We value the outward facing nature of a community-based and globally-focused education, preparing students for lives of civic engagement and service to their communities and the planet.  Perhaps most importantly, we value the close collaborative relationships that develop between students and faculty as a result of the integration of student learning and guidance in and out of the classroom.

Students complete the Pathways for Discovery curriculum by satisfying twelve requirements in three main areas.  Each requirement is satisfied by a single course credit (1.0) or two half-credit courses (0.5).

    (1) Four Academic Skills requirements:
        a.  One First-Year Seminar
        b.  Two requirements embedded in every baccalaureate major:  Writing and
            the Culminating Undergraduate Experience         
        c.  One cross-curricular requirement:  Quantitative & Symbolic Reasoning
    (2) Seven Explore Core requirements:
        a.  Representations & Creative Expression
        b.  Global Perspectives
        c.  Humans, Histories, and Social Structures
        d.  Intercultural Communication
        e.  Meaning & Value
        f.  Natural & Physical World
        g.  Race & Power in the American Experience

    (3) One Integrative & Experiential Learning requirement

Additionally, all students are required to take Personal and Professional Development (either PPD 050 or PPD 060), a non-credit course.

I  Academic Skills (4)

First-Year Seminar
First-Year Seminars promote intellectual discussion and critical thinking, reading, and writing skills.  Offered by faculty members from departments throughout the College, the seminars vary in their subjects and aims. What all of the First-Year Seminars share is an emphasis on thinking critically about the values and assumptions underlying various approaches to knowledge. First-Year Seminars introduce students to the life of the mind–to what it means to think deeply, to talk and write critically about ideas; seminars model and encourage students to participate in thoughtful, critical, and intellectual reflection and conversation.  Students complete one first-year seminar.

In specially designated writing-intensive courses in every major, students attend to writing in context—within particular disciplines—but also with attention to ways in which effective writing shares similar traits across the disciplines. The aim of the program is to equip students to write analytically in a variety of writing situations.  Students complete one Writing designated course in each major they satisfy.

Culminating Undergraduate Experience
The Culminating Undergraduate Experience occurs in a major and provides the opportunity for students to clarify their relationship to a discipline, demonstrate their mastery of content, reflect on accumulated content and experiences, and open new paths for the future.  Students complete one Culminating Undergraduate Experience designated course in each major they satisfy.

Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning
Students learn to understand and utilize quantitative and logical skills to analyze data; build mathematical and/ or symbolic relationships; construct and assess arguments; and make sound judgments.  Students complete one Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning designated course.  Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) credits can be used to satisfy this requirement.

II  Explore Core (7)

Students explore the values of the liberal arts in seven discrete elements.  Each element showcases different ways of asking questions about the world; different ways of fostering creativity and life-long learning; and the different types of durable 21th century skills that will challenge and support students as the foundation for their future civic and professional lives.  Students complete seven Explore Core requirements.

Representations and Creative Expression
Students explore and experience representations and modes of creative expression.

Global Perspectives
Students learn from and engage with human cultural, linguistic, political, religious, and social diversity globally and across broad historical periods.  This requirement is an important part of preparing students to participate in an increasingly diverse and interconnected world.

Humans, Histories, and Social Structures
Students study the actions and/or interactions of humans through examination of their histories, social organizations, societies, institutions, nations, environments, and/or cultures.

Intercultural Communication
Students develop skills of communication between people from different cultures, by learning to interpret, create, and exchange shared meanings.  This requirement will normally be satisfied by a second language course.

Meaning and Value
Students study fundamental issues of meaning, existence, and/or value (including ethics) that underpin human thinking, practices, and ways of living.

The Natural and Physical World
Students learn about the natural and physical world. 

Race and Power in the American Experience
Students develop an understanding of race that also includes recognizing the contributions of racially-marginalized groups to the shaping of American history, politics, culture, art, and innovation.  Students learn that white supremacy has been an enduring force in the shaping of American society, contributing to historic and current disparities in political power, economic wealth and opportunity, health, and the application of law and justice.

Explore Core Academic Policies

● Students fulfill an Explore Core requirement by successfully completing a course that bears one of the seven designations.
● Each element must be satisfied by a course with a different prefix (e.g., ATH, BIO, ENG, etc.).
● Courses that satisfy an Explore Core requirement will typically contain only one designation, with the exception of Race and Power in the American Experience and Global Perspectives.  Courses bearing these designations may also offer one additional designation drawn from the other five Explore Core elements.
● Students enrolled in a course with multiple Explore Core designations will only satisfy one Explore Core element per course.  That is to say, students will complete the seven Explore Core elements with seven unique courses bearing seven unique prefixes.
● Generally, courses counting toward an Explore Core element will not have prerequisites. 
● It is expected that a student will devote at least one course per semester to satisfying an Explore Core element.  New students are especially encouraged to begin their time at the College by exploring within these seven elements.  Ideally, a student will complete most, if not all, of the Explore Core elements by the second semester of their Junior year.  Students who have satisfied the entirety of the Explore Core elements may continue exploring the liberal arts in their ‘open curriculum’ (that is, the courses outside of their major and minor credentials that make up the remainder of the 32 credits that they need to graduate).
● Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) credits cannot be used to satisfy an Explore Core requirement.  A department or program may continue to award credit for a high passing score on an AP test which may exempt a student from certain 100-level and 200-level courses, but not courses counting toward an Explore Core element.

III  Integrative and Experiential Learning (1)

Integrative and experiential learning opportunities offer different ways for students to develop and put into practice key skills that will enable them to succeed in their professional careers; to hone the skills and foster values essential to civic engagement; and to contribute to thinking about and seeking solutions for some of the world’s complex problems.  Both integrative and experiential learning opportunities allow students to engage in learning that extends beyond the classroom.  Students complete one Integrative and Experiential Learning requirement.

Upon completion of this requirement, students will be able to:
1.  Make connections through synthesis or application, and reflection: 
    a) across academic boundaries in at least two areas of knowledge or modes of inquiry;     
    b) across program(s) of study and experiences outside of the classroom.

Examples of course-based experiences:
● Single integrative or experiential learning courses with real-world or experiential components (e.g., service-learning courses; classes linked to community engaged research; Muhlenberg Integrative Learning Abroad courses; for-credit experiences linked to public presentation or performance)
● One team-taught course across boundaries (with or without an experiential component)
● Two linked courses across boundaries (with or without an experiential component)

Examples of individualized learning experience:
● Faculty mentored internships that meet the learning goals of this requirement (permitting pass/fail internships to count in this case for graduation requirements)
● Faculty mentored student independent research/study that meet the goals of this requirement
● Faculty mentored student research assistantship that meet the goals of this requirement
● Course-bound experiences of study abroad that meet the goals of this requirement.
● Profession-based practicum experiences

Integrative and Experiential Learning Academic Policies
● Integrative and Experiential Learning courses may satisfy major or minor requirements.
● Explore Core courses cannot satisfy the Integrative and Experiential Learning requirement.  Integrative and Experiential Learning courses cannot bear an Explore Core designation.
● There is no limit on the number of Integrative and Experiential Learning courses students may take.  Normal rules regarding individualized instruction, however, still apply.
● Integrative and Experiential Learning courses can be rostered as one credit (1.0) or two half-credits (0.5) of the same experience (e.g., two 0.5 semesters in the same lab, or an internship that extends across two semesters).
● Rarely will Integrative and Experiential Learning courses include single-instructor courses without an experiential learning component.
● Not all forms of individualized instruction (internships, independent research) will necessarily count for the Integrative and Experiential Learning requirement.  Faculty will formally demonstrate how an individualized instruction experience satisfies the specific learning goals pertaining to the requirement.
● Integrative and Experiential Learning course enrollments will be capped at a maximum of 20 students.
● Department and program chairs will determine which aspects of study abroad programs meet Integrative and Experiential Learning objectives.  Not all programs will necessarily satisfy these requirements de facto.

IV  Personal and Professional Development

The Personal and Professional Development requirement is a non-credited requirement of all students.  It provides students with an opportunity to develop their identity as students and members of the Muhlenberg campus community, supporting their success in college and beyond.  Experiences that satisfy the Personal and Professional Development requirement focus on aspects of personal and career development, and aim to cultivate one’s understanding of community responsibility, support, and resources on campus. It is expected that students will fulfill the semester long PPD graduation requirement within their first year.

Writing Program

Muhlenberg College offers a cross-curricular writing program in which faculty from almost every department participate.  In order to graduate, students are required to pass a minimum of three officially designated writing-intensive (W) courses: one First-Year Seminar, one W-course designated by the student’s major, and one W-course from anywhere in the curriculum (including the student’s major).  Students who are double-majoring are required to take a W course in each major.  Students in self-designed majors should choose an appropriate W course from across the curriculum that is approved by their advisor to serve as the W in their major.

A writing-intensive course is a regular academic course that privileges writing as a mode of learning.  Enrollment is limited to twenty students. Students complete a minimum of fifteen pages of writing broken into at least three assignments.  One of these assignments should be some kind of re-thinking or extending of an earlier draft. One early assignment should function as a diagnostic.

The basic premise of the writing program is that writing improves thinking and learning; it is an essential way of acquiring knowledge and of arriving at ideas about it.  Another primary assumption of the program is that the ability to write well is not a skill one can acquire in a one-semester course. Instead, students are encouraged to take a number of writing-intensive courses throughout their careers at the College.  The Writing Program is supported by a Writing Center that is staffed by trained peer tutors with majors in a wide range of disciplines.

In exceptional cases, students may appeal to the Writing Program Committee to receive special Writing credit for a course that is not designated as a Writing course. The fact that a student has done a significant amount of writing in a course, however, is not sufficient reason for assigning special W-credit.  A writing-intensive course is a particular kind of collaborative-learning experience, not just a course that includes writing.  Independent studies do not typically count for writing-intensive credit because only regular courses can satisfy graduation requirements.  Guidelines for applying for special Writing credit are available on the website of the Writing Program.  Questions about Writing courses in general – and special Writing credit in particular – should be directed to the Writing Program Committee at WPC@muhlenberg.edu.

Exemptions and Alternates

Exemptions from general academic requirements may be granted to those students who can demonstrate the requisite level of proficiency or understanding by means of an Advanced Placement (AP) examination, the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, a Muhlenberg College exemption test, or a College Level Examination Program (CLEP) test.

Fulfilling the GARs through alternate means that can be demonstrated to satisfy the intent of these requirements is permitted with the approval of the Dean of Academic Life and the faculty’s Curriculum Committee.  Students may submit a proposal for consideration, after consultation with their advisor(s) and the academic department(s) involved.

Fifth-Year Degree Candidate

Students who have not yet graduated, are under the age of 24, and have paid for eight full-time fall or spring semesters at Muhlenberg – regardless of the number of credits remaining to complete degree requirements – may be eligible for Fifth-Year status. During the Fifth Year, students will retain their status as regular, degree-seeking “day” undergraduates, paying a reduced per-unit tuition rate and all applicable fees, and may live in residential housing if space is available. If they register as full-time, they will retain the student services afforded to regular, degree-seeking “day” undergraduates; If they register as part-time, they must follow the regulations governing part-time attendance.

The following conditions apply.

  • Eligibility: Students do not apply for Fifth-Year status. All students who are eligible will be classified as Fifth-Year by the Registrar’s Office. Students will be eligible for the Fifth-Year status for the ninth and tenth semesters (or the fifth year) of their program.
  • The eight semesters: Study abroad or in Washington, DC, are counted, as are terms for which the full-time students withdrew and received withdrawal (W) grades, even if a partial refund was given. Summer terms may not be counted nor may semesters during which students were granted a Waiver of Residency.
  • Transfers: Students who transfer to Muhlenberg must meet the requirement of eight paid Muhlenberg semesters before becoming eligible for the reduced tuition.

Students who have not completed all degree requirements following a tenth semester but have both cumulative and major GPAs of 2.000 or higher will be given a waiver of the senior residency requirement and allowed to take any final credits needed at another institution, subject to the usual faculty approvals. Students who do have the requisite GPAs, must apply to complete their degree through the Division of Graduate and Continuing Education, subject to its policies and guidelines.


Final responsibility for meeting all degree requirements rests solely with the student.