Liberal Education Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Liberal Education Information


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Q: What is the Liberal Education Program requirement?
Q: What is the purpose of Liberal Education Program?
Q: Why are Lib Eds required?
Q: Do I have to complete the Liberal Education requirement?
Q: How do UMD Lib Eds transfer if I plan to finish my bachelor's degree at another school?
Q: When should I take Liberal Education classes?
Q. Should I take all of my Lib Ed courses during my first two years before I begin my major?
Q: Can any course substitute for a course in Liberal Education?
Q: How do Liberal Education courses relate to my major?
Q: In Liberal Education, there are so many courses to choose from. Which should I take?
Q: What does it mean when a course is listed under more than one category?
Q. Additional questions?

Q: What is the Liberal Education Program requirement?

The Liberal Education Program (“Lib Ed”) is an UMD undergraduate degree requirement for students to take (and pass) courses in a variety of 10 academic categories including; Writing & Information Literacy, Oral Communication & Language, Logic & Quantitative Reasoning, Natural Science, Social Sciences, Humanities, Fine Arts, Global Perspectives, Cultural Diversity in the U.S., and Sustainability. At 30-39 credits total, this requirement accounts for a portion of the 120 credits required for graduation. The list of the courses approved for the categories, can be found in the Liberal Education section of the undergraduate catalog: Duluth Catalog 2016 - 2017

Q: What is the purpose of Liberal Education Program?

The idea behind the liberal education program is to develop reflective, informed, and engaged student thinkers. In also helps students identify additional areas of interest. Liberal Education courses help:

  • Develop broad knowledge.

  • Develop foundational knowledge and skills

  • Develop critical thinking, oral and written communication skills

  • Develop abilities necessary to solve problems, deal with change, contribute to the learning environment

Q: Why are Lib Eds required?

Liberal Education courses teaches you to learn, use, and develop your skills and abilities. These will allow you to do well in classes in your major, minor, and in your future career. The Liberal Education lays down a foundation of knowledge, intellectual values, and abilities that will enable you to keep on learning throughout life..

Taking courses in the various academic categories, will help lay a foundation by familiarizing you with their respective ways of information. If you are undeclared. it may also help you decide on a major, or introduce you to a new field of study that you might not have considered pursuing. Liberal education also broadens your college education. It develops abilities that can help you in any professional career that seeks skills such as public speaking, writing, and the ability to hold conversation in social situations.

Q: Do I have to complete the Liberal Education requirement?

The requirement is waived for students who are admitted with an accredited Associate in Arts degree. It is also waived for students transferring in who have completed the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum. Otherwise, yes, you have to fulfill it in order to get a bachelor's degree from UMD.

Q: How do UMD Lib Eds transfer if I plan to finish my bachelor's degree at another school?

We cannot guarantee that completing the Liberal Education requirement, in whole or in part here at UMD, will be counted as satisfying corresponding requirement(s) at another institution. You will have to consult with your intended institution's admissions office. Consult with our advising office in regards to completing the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum. 

Q: When should I take Liberal Education classes?

Start taking Lib Ed courses your first semester. They teach you things you will need to know in order to do well in the courses for your major. Good examples are Writ 1120 College Writing, Comm 1112 Public Speaking or another Oral Communication & Language course, or a course to fulfill the Logic & Quantitative Reasoning category. Pay attention to course descriptions as some courses are to be taken in order and have pre-requisites.  

Q. Should I take all of my Liberal Education courses during my first two years before I begin my major?

There is no right answer to this question, and it depends on your own goals and major. You may take some Major/Minor courses at the same time as Lib Eds courses; in fact we encourage you to do this. How quickly you complete the rest of your Lib Eds will depend on your planned schedule, but needs to be completed in order to graduate. Work closely with your advisor and the advising office to set up a plan that works well for you.

It is CLA’s policy that students either declare a major or file a Plan for Major Declaration form once they have reached 45 or more semester credits. This includes both completed and in-progress credits. 

Q: Can any course substitute for a course in Liberal Education?

Not all courses count towards a Liberal Education category (such as courses transferred in as electives, some course for your major, or even courses taken as a lib ed at another institution). Courses not approved will not be accepted as substitutions for approved Liberal Education courses. Check with your advisor or the advising office for more details.

Q: How do Liberal Education courses relate to my major?

In many cases, some of the introductory courses required for your major may count as a lib ed and draw on abilities developed in other courses. Often, Lib Ed courses develop abilities not specifically addressed in your major but still vital to career success. It is often possible to count the same course towards the requirement in both a major (or minor) and Lib Ed. Your advisor can help you plan both the Lib Ed and major components of your program of study to take full advantage of these possibilities. 

Q: In Liberal Education, there are so many courses to choose from. Which should I take?

The UMD Lib Ed program gives you a lot of flexibility to decide what courses you will use to complete the various categories. If you are pursuing a second major, minor, or simply are interested in pursuing a subject outside your major to a greater extent and you still hope to graduate close to 120 credits, then you may consider picking courses that will meet Lib Ed requirements and your other requirements at the same time. Your advisor can help, but ultimately it is up to you to put together an individual Lib Ed program that is useful and complements your areas of study.

Q: What does it mean when a course is listed under more than one category?

Many courses are listed under two Lib Ed categories we call these “double dippers”. For example, some Natural Science courses are listed under Sustainability, some Social Sciences are listed under Cultural Diversity, and some Humanities are listed under Global Perspectives. Check the catalog for additional examples. In such cases, you can count the course towards fulfillment of the requirements for both categories. Some Lib Ed courses are required in majors, and you may use them to fulfill the requirements in both areas. See an advisor for help with this.

Q. Additional questions?

Please direct any other questions you might have to the CLA Advising office.