2021-2022 Academic Catalog 
    May 22, 2024  
2021-2022 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

General Academic Requirements

Writing Program


Fifth-Year Degree Candidates

The Baccalaureate Degree

The curriculum at Muhlenberg College permits students flexibility and individual responsibility in their choice of courses. With the help of faculty advisors, 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 or a Bachelor of Science degree, 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.A student may earn one undergraduate bachelor’s degree from Muhlenberg College, either a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or a Bachelor of Science (B.S.), by completing the following faculty requirements. In the case of students with more than one major, the degree is determined by the major the student has chosen to list first.

Students may satisfy requirements in a major or minor field of study and a General Academic Requirement (GAR) concurrently, although only one set of clustered courses may be counted toward a major and a maximum of two courses required for the major may be used to satisfy a distribution requirement.

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

Degree Requirements

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

Grade-point average: To receive a degree, a student must achieve a cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of at least 2.000 in all of the following three categories: in all work attempted at Muhlenberg and in 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: One of the requirements for receiving a degree is to complete at least one major leading to that degree. The majors offered for a bachelor’s degree are listed below. Normally at least half of the courses required for a major must be Muhlenberg courses. Permission to substitute courses in major requirements may be granted, in exceptional circumstances, by the department chair or program director. 

General education: All students must also complete the General Academic Requirements (GARs) along with enough elective units to reach the minimum number of units required. GARs must be completed with one-unit courses, except in the case of dance techniques, applied music, and Intergroup Dialogue courses.

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.

General Academic Requirements

Because of the rapid pace of cultural and technological change in our society, there is no guarantee that highly specialized training will provide the student with the preparation and knowledge required to respond to the future. A broadly based, liberal arts education, however, offers the student the intellectual perspective, problem-solving experience, and communication skills necessary to adapt within a changing world. GARs are designed to furnish the student with the knowledge and skills that an educated person should possess, regardless of personal career goals. Such knowledge and skills include an understanding of the major fields of learning, an ability to express oneself clearly and cogently, an understanding of the values found in religious traditions and philosophical reflection, an understanding of epochs, languages, and cultures other than one’s own, and above all, an ability to see issues from many sides, to question what is taken for granted, and to view particular events in relation to their larger contexts. The Muhlenberg College curriculum provides opportunities for exploring and integrating ideas while challenging students to question, discuss, and think critically about their own beliefs and values. By fostering such skills and perspectives, a Muhlenberg education seeks to provide the student with the insight and flexibility needed to meet the challenges of the future.

The following academic requirements apply to all liberal-arts degree candidates.

I. Academic Skills

Effective writing, speaking, and reasoning are important in all academic disciplines and are hallmarks of the educated person.  The development and utilization of these skills will be evident in courses throughout the curriculum.  Students are also required to have some knowledge of a language other than English - a skill which helps in understanding the structure of language as well as providing access to another culture.  Requirements have been established so that all students may have the opportunity to achieve competency in these skills early in their college experience.

  1. First-Year Seminars (FY) - small, discussion-oriented courses that focus on the development of effective thinking, writing, and reading skills.  Emphasis is placed on analysis, use of evidence, and revision.  All students are required to complete a First-Year Seminar.

  2. Writing (W) - competency in writing clear and cogent expository prose.  Required: First-Year Seminar and two additional writing intensive courses; one of these must be a course designated by the major department.

  3. Second Language (L2) - the development of linguistic skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking) and intercultural competencies that allow students to interact and engage with others in a second language within its cultural contexts. Required: two courses in the same language OR proficiency adequate to prepare students for a 300-level course in the language. Students are encouraged to complete the Second Language requirement by the end of the sophomore year. Initial placement in language study is dependent upon experience and placement test results as recommended by the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.

  4. Reasoning (RG) - the ability to understand and utilize mathematical and/or logical relationships, to analyze data, to construct and assess arguments, and to make sound judgments.  A course used to fulfill the Reasoning requirement may not be double counted for a distribution requirement.  Required: one course. Students are encouraged to complete the reasoning requirement no later than the end of the sophomore year.  Departments: Computer Science, Mathematics, and Philosophy.

II. Intellectual Breadth

The following requirements provide breadth in the academic experience of all students.  Courses meeting distribution designations will introduce students to the different types of assumptions, questions, ways of understanding, and results that characterize various fields of inquiry in the liberal arts.  Within a distribution area each course satisfying that area requirement must have a different prefix.  A maximum of two courses required for the major may be used to satisfy a distribution requirement.

Departments listed with a distribution area below will generally offer courses with that designation, although there may be certain instances where the department may offer a course in another distribution area.  Interdisciplinary Programs that offer a course(s) within a distribution area are listed as well.  Because the nature of interdisciplinary programs is to span several academic areas, an Interdisciplinary Program may be listed in more than one distribution area.

  1. Arts (AR) one course
    At Muhlenberg, creativity is developed and honed in many ways throughout the curriculum.  The distinctive feature of the Arts (AR) requirement is that it places a primacy on the process of artistic creation and the ways of knowing that such activities realize.  Students develop an understanding of theory social reception, and historical practice in relation to discipline-specific content through embodied interaction with artistic practices and the relevant skills and materials.  A student must satisfy the Arts requirement by taking a course that emphasizes encounter-driven sensory engagement with discipline-specific production processes.  Departments and Programs: Art; Creative Writing; Dance; Education; Media and Communications; Music; Theatre.  Two 0.5-unit dance technique courses enrolled in a single semester or two

  2. Humanities (HU) three courses with different prefixes
    Students interpret and evaluate issues of human concern, experience, and expression by means of analysis, critical reasoning, and historical reflection.  They cultivate knowledge and understanding of human activity and world views across time, geography, and cultures.  Departments and Programs: American Studies; Art; English Literatures and Writing; Film Studies; History; Jewish Studies; Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; Philosophy; Religion Studies.

  3. Natural Sciences and Mathematics (SC) two courses with different prefixes
    Courses in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics (SC) help students develop scientific literacy, understand different scientific processes, and critically engage with problems in the natural, physical, and/or abstract world.  Departments and Programs: Biology; Chemistry; Environmental Science; Mathematics and Computer Science; Neuroscience; Physics; Sustainability Studies.

  4. Social Sciences (SL) two courses with different prefixes
    Students investigate how modern institutional structures and social, political, economic, and cultural practices shape and are shaped by individual choices, group behavior, and public policies.  Students develop an understanding of the operations of power and ideology across social contexts, relationships, and practices.  Departments and Programs: Anthropology; Business; Economics; Education; Innovation and Entrepreneurship; International Studies; Media and Communication; Political Science; Psychology; Sociology.

III. Exploration and Integration

Muhlenberg College is committed to the interdisciplinary exploration and integration of ideas throughout the four years of undergraduate education. We strive to enable our students to make connections between various areas of knowledge and approaches to inquiry, to prepare for life as global citizens, and to integrate what they are learning in their major with their broad educational experience at Muhlenberg.

  1. Integrative Learning (IL) one experience: may be satisfied with two linked courses or one course intentionally integrative in nature
    Students must enroll in one designated Integrative Learning experience.  These experiences emphasize making connections that combine disparate disciplinary, methodological, ideological, or epistemological perspectives; entail applying multiple ways of knowing to concepts and experiences; and empower students to recognize and solve problems, address existing questions, and ask new ones in more comprehensive ways. The Integrative Learning curricular requirement provides opportunities for intentionally cultivating this way of thinking in collaborative environments and communities.  IL courses may double count for distribution and HDGE requirements. 
  2. Human Difference and Global Engagement (DE) two courses
    Students must take two designated courses in the areas of Human Difference and Global Engagement.  HDGE courses across the curriculum aim to broaden and deepen students’ understanding of human difference and to develop the intellectual and civic skills students require for participation in an increasingly diverse and interconnected world.  Two 0.5 unit Intergroup Dialogue courses will count as one course for this requirement.  HDGE courses may double count for distribution, IL, and cluster requirements.
  3. Culminating Undergraduate Experience (CUE)
    Culminating Undergraduate Experiences (CUEs) are the capstone experience in a major and provide 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.  They are required for all majors offered by departments and programs at Muhlenberg College and are the purview of the departments and programs.  The CUE can be a credit-bearing course or an assignment embedded within a credit-bearing course.

IV. Personal and Professional Development

The Personal and Professional Development (PD) requirement 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, supports, and resources on campus. It is expected that students will fulfill the Pass/Fail-graded, semester-long PD 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.


Completing a major course of study is one requirement for earning the Muhlenberg College undergraduate degree. The following majors, when listed by the student as the first major, lead to a Bachelor of Arts degree.

American Studies
Art History
Business Administration
Film Studies
French and Francophone Studies
International Studies
Jewish Studies
Media and Communication
Philosophy/Political Thought
Political Economy and Public Policy
Political Science
Public Health
Religion Studies
Russian Studies
Studio Art

The following majors, when listed by the student as the first major, lead to a Bachelor of Science degree.

Computer Science
Environmental Science
Physical Science
Sustainability Studies

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 remiaining 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.