General Education | Major Programs | Minor Programs | Electives | Other College Requirements | Physical Education

The University of Chicago College curriculum has three components: general education requirements, a major, and electives.

General education requirements, which are described below, consist of integrated, often interdisciplinary, sequences. They cannot be replaced by other courses (except in the sciences as indicated below) and they should be completed by the end of the second year. Please note that substitutes for general education courses are rarely approved (1) to accommodate a second major or a minor or (2) to avoid curricular and scheduling conflicts that result from postponing general education requirements until a student's third or fourth year.

Majors are described in detail in the Programs of Study section of the catalog.

Electives provide scope to a student's work in the College. Students choose electives to pursue interests, wherever they fall in the College catalog, that are not covered by their general education sequences or their major. Depending on other choices, electives comprise about one-third of the degree program.

Students choose courses across the curriculum in consultation with College advisers and faculty counselors. Credit for forty-two quarter courses is required for the undergraduate degree. Students may count each quarter course only once in the degree program of forty-two courses.

General Education

Humanities, Civilization Studies, and the Arts (6 quarters)

An essential component of general education is learning how to appreciate and analyze texts intellectually, historically, and aesthetically. Through this general education requirement, students at Chicago learn how to interpret literary, philosophical, and historical texts in depth; how to identify significant intellectual problems posed by those texts; and how to discuss and write about them perceptively and persuasively. They also learn how to study a visual or performing art form. Finally, students learn how to study texts and art forms within a specific cultural and chronological frame. Students may choose from many options to meet these requirements.

Students take a total of six quarters in humanities and civilization studies, selecting one of the following three options. The letters in parentheses refer to the sections below.

  1. A three-quarter humanities sequence (A); a two-quarter civilization studies sequence (C); and one course in the dramatic, musical, and visual arts (B).
  2. A three-quarter civilization studies sequence (C); a two-quarter humanities sequence (A); and one course in the dramatic, musical, and visual arts (B).
  3. A two-quarter humanities sequence (A); a two-quarter civilization studies sequence (C); and two quarter courses in the dramatic, musical, and visual arts (B).

A. Interpretation of Historical, Literary, and Philosophical Texts

All humanities courses that meet general education requirements engage students in the pleasure and challenge of humanistic works through the close reading of a broad range of literary, historical, and philosophical texts. These are not survey courses; rather, they work to establish methods for appreciating and analyzing the meaning and power of exemplary texts. In combination with these courses, students take HUMA 19100 Humanities Writing Seminars that introduce the analysis and practice of expert academic writing.

The humanities sequences give students the opportunity to focus on a range of issues and texts. All HUMA 10000-level sequences that meet general education requirements are available as either a two-quarter sequence (Autumn, Winter) or as a three-quarter sequence (Autumn, Winter, Spring). Once students begin a sequence, they are expected to remain in the same sequence.

A three-quarter sequence in humanities is recommended for students who are preparing for medical school or for law school. Students who are unable to complete a three-quarter sequence in their first year should plan to take a writing-intensive English course when their schedule allows. This English course, however, cannot be applied to the general education humanities requirement.

NOTE: Students registered in any of the sequences below must attend the first and second class sessions or their registration will be dropped.

HUMA 11000-11100-11200Readings in World Literature I-II-III300
HUMA 11500-11600-11700Philosophical Perspectives I-II-III300
HUMA 12000-12100-12200Greek Thought and Literature I-II-III300
HUMA 12300-12400-12500Human Being and Citizen I-II-III300
HUMA 13500-13600-13700Introduction to the Humanities I-II-III300
HUMA 14000-14100-14200Reading Cultures: Collection, Travel, Exchange I-II-III300
HUMA 16000-16100-16200Media Aesthetics: Image, Text, Sound I-II-III300
HUMA 17000-17100-17200Language and the Human I-II-III300

B. Dramatic, Musical, and Visual Arts

These courses provide an introduction to methods for analyzing, comprehending, and appreciating works of dramatic, musical, or visual art by examining their formal vocabularies and how these vocabularies are used to create meaning. This objective is met either by the intensive study of selected masterpieces or by producing original works of art, drama, music, or performance.

The courses below are not specialized introductions to one single field or creative practice, but instead are expressly designed to broadly investigate the arts through study and practice. For that reason, only the courses on the list below can be used to satisfy the general education requirement in the dramatic, musical, or visual arts. NOTE: Substitutes will not be approved. Students with expertise in one particular area of the arts should pursue course work in a different area.

ARTH 10100Introduction to Art100
ARTH 14000 through 16999. Art Surveys
ARTH 17000 through 18999. Art in Context
ARTV 10100Visual Language: On Images100
ARTV 10200Visual Language: On Objects100
ARTV 10300Visual Language: On Time and Space100
CMST 14400 through 14499. Introductions to Cinema and Media Studies
CMST 14500 through 14599. Topics in Cinema and Media Studies
CRWR 12100 through 12199. Introduction to Genres or Reading As a Writer
MUSI 10100Introduction to Western Art Music100
MUSI 10200Introduction to World Music100
MUSI 10300Introduction to Music: Materials and Design100
MUSI 10400Introduction to Music: Analysis and Criticism100
TAPS 10100Drama: Embodiment and Transformation100
TAPS 10200Acting Fundamentals100
TAPS 10300 through 10699. Text and Performance
TAPS 10700Introduction to Stage Design100
TAPS 28400History and Theory of Drama I100
TAPS 28401History and Theory of Drama II100

C. Civilization Studies

Each sequence provides an in-depth examination of the development and accomplishments of one of the world's great civilizations through direct encounters with some of its most significant documents and monuments. Students who have completed (or plan to complete) three quarters of a humanities sequence and one quarter of the dramatic, musical, or visual arts and therefore need only two quarters of civilization studies, may take any of the three-quarter sequences as a two-quarter sequence. NOTE: Not all of the sequences that follow are offered every year; consult departmental course listings.

CRES 24001-24002-24003Colonizations I-II-III300
GNSE 15002-15003Gender and Sexuality in World Civilizations I-II200
HIPS 17300-17400-17402-17501-17502-17503Science, Culture, and Society in Western Civilization I-II-II-III-IV-III +600
HIST 10101-10102Introduction to African Civilization I-II200
HIST 13001-13002-13003History of European Civilization I-II-III +300
HIST 13100-13200-13300History of Western Civilization I-II-III300
HIST 13500-13600-13700America in World Civilization I-II-III300
HIST 13900-14000Introduction to Russian Civilization I-II200
HIST 15100-15200-15300-15400Introduction to the Civilizations of East Asia I-II-III-IV400
HIST 16700-16800-16900Ancient Mediterranean World I-II-III300
JWSC 20120 through 20199 OR 20220 through 20299. Jewish Civilization *
LACS 16100-16200-16300Introduction to Latin American Civilization I-II-III300
MUSI 12100-12200Music in Western Civilization I-II200
NEHC 20001-20002-20003Ancient Near Eastern History and Society I-II-III300
NEHC 20004-20005-20006Ancient Near Eastern Thought and Literature I-II-III300
NEHC 20011-20012-20013Ancient Empires I-II-III300
NEHC 20416-20417-20418Semitic Languages, Cultures, and Civilizations I-II-III300
NEHC 20501-20502-20503Islamic History and Society I-II-III300
NEHC 20601-20602-20603Islamic Thought and Literature I-II-III300
SALC 20100-20200Introduction to the Civilizations of South Asia I-II200

Jewish Civilization: This course numbering system is new in 2015–2016. Consult the Jewish Studies page of this catalog for specifics.


This notation indicates sequences with optional courses, and/or those providing students a choice of courses that fulfill the sequence. Review the description for more detail about sequence options and requirements.

Students may also complete their civilization studies requirement by participating in one of the College's study abroad programs listed below. For more information about these programs, see the Study Abroad section of this catalog or visit Eligible Study Abroad programs include:

Athens: Greek Antiquity and Its Legacy I-II-III

Barcelona: Civilization in the Western Mediterranean I-II-III

Barcelona: La Civilization en el Mediterraneo Occidental I-II-III

Beijing: East Asian Civilizations I-II-III

Cairo: Middle Eastern Civilizations I-II-III

Hong Kong: Colonizations I-II-III (new in 2015–2016)

Istanbul: Middle Eastern Civilizations I-II-III

Jerusalem: Jerusalem in Middle Eastern Civilizations I-II-III

Oaxaca: Mexico in Latin American Civilizations I-II-III

Paris: European Civilization I-II-III

Paris: Civilisation Européenne I-II-III

Paris: African Civilizations: Colonialism, Migration, Diaspora I-II-III

Pune: South Asian Civilization in India I-II-III

Rome: Rome, Antiquity to Baroque I-II-III

Vienna: Vienna in Western Civilization I-II-III

Natural and Mathematical Sciences (6 quarters)

Courses and sequences in the natural sciences are designed to explore significant features of the natural universe and to examine the exciting process of scientific inquiry. These courses consider the powers and limitations of diverse forms of scientific observation, scientific reasoning, and natural laws.

The physical sciences sequences are intended to be taught with a high level of intellectual rigor but at a level accessible to students without prior exposure to the physical sciences or mathematics beyond algebra and geometry. A given course should meet at least some of the following goals:

1.  To instill the confidence to be a life-long learner in areas involving numbers, scientific concepts, and technology;

2.  To develop an ability to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of arguments based on the use of data, technical claims, and scientific theories;

3.  To gain an understanding of the intellectual beauty of the subject, that is, understanding why some people devote their life to the field;

4.  In some courses, to master at least one area in real depth.

Mathematical sciences courses may investigate a number of different lines of inquiry, including formal reasoning through use of precise artificial languages, methods for learning about the world using imperfect or incomplete data, and developing approaches to quantifying and characterizing natural processes.

Students take six quarter courses in the following areas: at least two quarters of physical sciences (see section A); at least two in the biological sciences (see section B); and at least one in the mathematical sciences (see section C).

Students may meet the natural sciences requirement with a two- or three-quarter sequence in the physical sciences and a two- or three-quarter sequence in the biological sciences. Students meet the mathematical sciences requirement with one or two quarters of computer science, mathematics, or statistics. Students should choose among the following options based on their major and/or preparation for the health professions. General education courses in the sciences are sometimes available abroad. See for details.

A. Physical Sciences Sequences

Students are required to take at least two courses in the physical sciences to satisfy the general education requirement. This requirement may be met by taking an introductory sequence in Chemistry, Geoscience, or Physics, or by taking an acceptable pairing of Physical Sciences (PHSC) courses, which generally have a broader focus than the disciplinary sequences.

Detailed course and sequence descriptions may be found in the Physical Sciences section of Programs of Study.

B. Biological Sciences Sequences

Detailed course and sequence descriptions may be found in the Biological Sciences section of Programs of Study. The requirement should be completed by the end of the second year.

Students choose one of the following options to meet the general education requirement for the biological sciences:

1. For nonmajors: A two-quarter general education sequence. Students may choose to take BIOS 10130 Core Biology as their first course. For their second quarter, students choose from a menu of topics courses (BIOS 11000–19999) that are comprehensive reviews of specialized topics in the biological sciences. Nonmajors are encouraged to enroll in additional biological sciences courses that cover topics of interest to them.

Multiple sections of BIOS 10130 Core Biology are taught throughout the year. Sections are taught from a different perspective based upon the specialty of the instructor. The student should register for the section that best suits his or her interests based upon the descriptions in the Biological Sciences section.

2. For nonmajors preparing for the health professions: A Fundamentals Sequence or the Pre-Med Sequence for non-science majors described in the Biological Sciences section.

3. For students majoring in the Biological Sciences: BIOS 20150 How Can We Understand the Biosphere? and BIOS 20151 Introduction to Quantitative Modeling in Biology (Basic) or BIOS 20152 Introduction to Quantitative Modeling in Biology (Advanced).

C. Mathematical Sciences Courses and Sequences

These courses develop the powers of formal reasoning through use of precise artificial languages found in mathematics, computer science, statistics, or formal logic. They present broadly applicable techniques for formulating, analyzing, and solving problems, and for evaluating proposed solutions.

Only courses beyond the level of precalculus may be used to meet the mathematical sciences requirement. Students may select from the following list of courses to fulfill the requirement in the mathematical sciences.

Students must meet this requirement with the first two quarters of a calculus sequence if they are preparing for the health professions or if they anticipate majors in the physical or biological sciences, Economics, Psychology, or Public Policy Studies. Other restrictions may apply. Students should consult their College adviser or departmental counselor about course choices.

CMSC 10200Introduction to Programming for the World Wide Web II100
CMSC 10500-10600Fundamentals of Computer Programming I-II200
CMSC 11000-11100Multimedia Programming as an Interdisciplinary Art I-II200
CMSC 12100-12200Computer Science with Applications I-II200
CMSC 15100-15200Introduction to Computer Science I-II200
CMSC 16100-16200Honors Introduction to Computer Science I-II200
MATH 11200-11300Studies in Mathematics I-II200
MATH 13100-13200Elementary Functions and Calculus I-II200
MATH 15100-15200Calculus I-II200
MATH 16100-16200Honors Calculus I-II200
STAT 20000Elementary Statistics100
Statistics AP credit (score of 4 or 5)
Calculus BC AP credit (score of 5); or placement into MATH 15300 through placement test
Calculus BC AP credit (score of 4); or placement into MATH 15200 through placement test*
Calculus AB AP credit (score of 5); or placement into MATH 15200 through placement test*

 * MATH 13100 Elementary Functions and Calculus I, MATH 15100 Calculus I, and MATH 16100 Honors Calculus I may be used to meet the mathematical sciences requirement only if MATH 13200 Elementary Functions and Calculus II, MATH 15200 Calculus II, or MATH 16200 Honors Calculus II is also taken. Statistics AP credit may not be used in combination with a calculus course, with STAT 20000 Elementary Statistics, or with STAT 22000 Statistical Methods and Applications.

Social Sciences (3 quarters)

These sequences cultivate an understanding of fundamental concepts, theories, and philosophies in the social sciences and demonstrate how the social sciences formulate basic questions and inquire about the nature of social life through acts of imagination as well as through systematic analysis. All of the sequences present some of the main ideas, theories, and inquiries of the social sciences and show how they enhance our understanding of central issues facing the world. Classical social-scientific texts and methodologies are given close attention in discussion and lecture settings. Courses must be taken in sequence.

NOTE: Students registered in any of the sequences below must attend the first and second class sessions or their registration will be dropped.

"Power, Identity, and Resistance" concentrates on various aspects of power, from the roles of markets and states to the social structures that determine individual, class, and gender inequalities.

"Self, Culture, and Society" studies problems basic to social, cultural, and historical existence. The sequence starts with the conceptual foundations of political economy as well as theories of capitalism and modern society. Students then consider the relation of culture, society, and lived experience. Finally, students consider the social and cultural constitution of the person, with examination of race, gender, and sexuality.

"Social Science Inquiry" explores classic and contemporary points of view about ways of gathering, analyzing, and interpreting information about public policy issues. The course aims to provide the student with an introduction to the philosophy of social science inquiry, a sense of how that inquiry is conducted, and an understanding of how policy implications can be drawn responsibly from evidence provided by empirical social science. The course's objective is to convey both the promise and the pitfalls of social science and a sense of its uses and abuses.

"Mind" explores subjective experience and behavior through the lens of underlying mental processes, biological mechanisms, and social context. Drawing from research in the social sciences and beyond, the course broadly considers how empirical approaches can shape our understanding of long-standing questions about human experience.

"Classics of Social and Political Thought" reads classic texts from Plato and Aristotle to Nietzsche and DuBois in order to investigate criteria for understanding and judging political, social, and economic institutions. What is justice? What makes a good society? This sequence examines such problems as the conflicts between individual interest and common good; between morality, religion, and politics; and between liberty and equality. We examine alternative conceptions of society, law, authority, consent, and dissent that underlie continuing controversies in contemporary political life.

SOSC 11100-11200-11300Power, Identity, and Resistance I-II-III300
SOSC 12100-12200-12300Self, Culture, and Society I-II-III300
SOSC 13100-13200-13300Social Science Inquiry I-II-III300
SOSC 14100-14200-14300Mind I-II-III300
SOSC 15100-15200-15300Classics of Social and Political Thought I-II-III300

Major Programs

(9 to 19 quarter courses)

Majors complement the breadth of the Chicago general education requirements with an opportunity to come to grips with the depth of knowledge and the complexities of developing knowledge in a particular area of inquiry. More than a set of course credits, a sound major is an effort to understand the methods and experience of a discipline or interdisciplinary field. Majors range from nine to thirteen courses, and in special cases up to nineteen courses.

The number of courses required for a major determines the number of electives; together they total twenty-seven courses. Programs that specify thirteen courses require fourteen electives; programs that specify twelve courses require fifteen electives, and so on.

More than half of the requirements for a major must be met by registering for courses bearing University of Chicago course numbers. Courses used to meet general education requirements cannot also be counted toward a major. Students declare a major by meeting with their College adviser and with the director of undergraduate studies in the department. Unless otherwise specified by the department, the deadline for declaring a major is Spring Quarter of a student's third year.

The following major programs are available:

In the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division (BSCD)

Biological Sciences

Biological Sciences

Biological Sciences with Specialization in Cancer Biology

Biological Sciences with Specialization in Cellular and Molecular Biology

Biological Sciences with Specialization in Ecology and Evolution

Biological Sciences with Specialization in Endocrinology

Biological Sciences with Specialization in Genetics

Biological Sciences with Specialization in Immunology

Biological Sciences with Specialization in Microbiology

Biological Sciences with Specialization in Neuroscience

In the Humanities Collegiate Division (HCD)

Art History

Cinema and Media Studies

Classical Studies

Comparative Literature

East Asian Languages and Civilizations

English Language and Literature

Gender and Sexuality Studies

Germanic Studies

Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities

Jewish Studies


Medieval Studies


Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations



Philosophy and Allied Fields

Romance Languages and Literatures

Russian and East European Studies

South Asian Languages and Civilizations

Theater and Performance Studies

Visual Arts

In the New Collegiate Division (NCD)

Fundamentals: Issues and Texts

Law, Letters, and Society

Religious Studies

Tutorial Studies

In the Physical Sciences Collegiate Division (PSCD)

Biological Chemistry


Computational and Applied Mathematics

Computer Science

Environmental Science

Geophysical Sciences


Applied Mathematics


Mathematics with Specialization in Economics



Physics with Specialization in Astrophysics


In the Social Sciences Collegiate Division (SSCD)


Comparative Human Development

Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies


Environmental Studies

Geographical Studies


History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine

International Studies

Latin American Studies

Political Science


Public Policy Studies


Minor Programs

Some majors offer minors to students in other fields of study. For requirements, see descriptions elsewhere in this catalog of programs listed below. A minor requires five to seven courses. Courses in a minor cannot be (1) double counted with the student's major(s) or with other minors or (2) counted toward general education requirements. Courses in a minor must be taken for quality grades, and more than half of the requirements for a minor must be met by registering for courses bearing University of Chicago course numbers. Courses taken to complete a minor are counted toward electives. Students declare a minor by meeting with their College adviser and with the director of undergraduate studies in the department. Students submit to their College adviser the director's approval for the minor on a form obtained from the adviser. The deadline for declaring a minor is Spring Quarter of a student's third year.

Minor programs are offered in the following areas:

Art History

Biological Sciences

Biological Sciences

Computational Neuroscience

Cinema and Media Studies

Classical Studies

Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies

Computer Science

East Asian Languages and Civilizations

English and Creative Writing

Environmental Studies

Gender and Sexuality Studies

Germanic Studies


History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine

Human Rights

Jewish Studies

Latin American Studies



Medieval Studies

Molecular Engineering


Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Norwegian Studies



Religious Studies

Romance Languages and Literatures

Russian and East European Studies

South Asian Languages and Civilizations


Theater and Performance Studies

Visual Arts


(8 to 18 quarter courses)

Elective courses may be taken in any subject matter or discipline, including the same discipline as the student's major. They provide each student the opportunity to shape their studies toward their distinctive curiosities and interests. At their broadest, they provide an opportunity to explore freely across the richness of opportunities for learning at Chicago.

Courses taken in exploration of alternative majors and in study abroad programs, as well as course requirements completed by examination, are often included in electives. Some students also choose to use groups of electives to create minors or second majors. These options, though suitable ways to formalize students' interests outside their major, should not be undertaken in the mistaken belief that they necessarily enhance a student's transcript. Courses taken as electives should not displace courses in, and should not displace attention to, the student's general education program and major.

Language credit, whether it is earned by course registration or petition, is usually counted toward electives, unless a major requires or permits language courses or credit as part of the major. Courses taken to complete a minor are counted toward electives.

Up to six credits earned by examination (Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Programme tests taken in high school, and placement tests taken during Orientation) may be used as electives. For more information, see the Examination Credit and Transfer Credit section elsewhere in this catalog.

Other College Requirements

Language Competence

Students in the College are required to possess understanding of more than one culture and to demonstrate competence in a language other than English. The language competence requirement must be met by demonstrating linguistic proficiency equivalent to one year of college-level study. For information about which languages are currently being taught and which may be used to meet the language competence requirement, visit

Students who matriculate in or after September 2009 may meet the language competence requirement in one of the following ways:

  • passing a College-administered competency examination;

  • completing (with a quality grade) a first-year language sequence or higher-level course offered at the University of Chicago;

  • receiving a score of 3 or higher on an AP examination in French, German, Italian, Latin, or Spanish; or receiving a score of 4 or higher on an AP examination in Japanese. (To meet the language competence requirement using IB test scores, students should consult with their advisers or with the assessment director regarding individual languages.);

  • placing into the second year or higher in a foreign language offered at the University of Chicago, then participating in one of the College's Civilization Studies Abroad programs (visit for more information) where that language is spoken, and completing (with a quality grade) the language course offered in the program; or

  • participating in a College-approved one-quarter foreign language study abroad program and completing all required courses with a quality grade (visit for more information).

Students who are foreign nationals may meet the language competence requirement if their formal schooling experience in a country other than the United States enables them to demonstrate the criteria of cultural understanding and language competence described above. They must submit a petition to Catherine Baumann (C 502, 702.8008, Supporting documentation must also be provided.

Students fulfill requirements that are in place when they enter the College. For more information on the requirements for students who entered the College between 1999 and 2010, refer to the appropriate archived editions of Courses & Programs of Study (

NOTE: Students are strongly urged to complete the language competence requirement in their first two years in the College.

After meeting the language competence requirement, students may work toward an Advanced Foreign Language Proficiency Certificate. For more information, visit

Physical Education

Physical education is not required for an undergraduate degree. However, students are encouraged to pursue physical fitness as part of their College experience. For course descriptions and further information on the physical education program, visit

Physical education courses are not included among the forty-two academic courses counted toward a degree, and they are not counted toward the number of courses that determine full- or part-time status.