General Education Requirements

 UC Santa Cruz's General Education (GE) requirements are meant to accomplish several goals:

  • Provide students with a base of knowledge and skills that future learning can build on.
  • Expose students to a broad range of disciplines and methodologies, to better prepare them for a world of complex problems and rapid changes.
  • Enhance the abilities of students to approach problems in appropriately analytical ways.
  • Prepare students to function as responsible and informed participants in civic life, considering pressing societal issues (such as the environment, the economy) productively and from a variety of perspectives.

Each area has a general education code, and only courses with that code satisfy the requirement. Codes appear in the course descriptions in this catalog and in the “General Education” field on the MyUCSC Class Search page.

Reference: Complete List of Courses That Fulfill General Education Requirements by Course Title

Students should review the requirements for their proposed or declared major(s) to ascertain whether some of their general education requirements will be fulfilled by completing their major.

General Education Requirements
Category General Education Code Number of Required Credits
Cross-Cultural Analysis CC 5
Ethnicity and Race ER 5
Interpreting Arts and Media IM 5
Mathematical and Formal Reasoning MF 5
Scientific Inquiry SI 5
Statistical Reasoning SR 5
Textual Analysis TA 5
Perspectives (choose one from the following three categories)
Environmental Awareness
Human Behavior
Technology and Society

Practice (choose one from the following three categories)
Collaborative Endeavor
Creative Process
Service Learning

Composition C 5
Disciplinary Communication DC 5*
*Students satisfy the Disciplinary Communication (DC) requirement by completing one to three upper-division courses required for their major, totaling a minimum of five credits. The DC requirement must be completed at UCSC—transfer and EAP courses do not apply to this requirement.

Cross-Cultural Analysis

CC code: one 5-credit course or equivalent. Courses that carry the CC GE designation aim to prepare students for a globalizing world, with increased interaction and integration among peoples, economies, and governments. These courses aim to encourage a broader and deeper understanding of cultures and societies outside the United States. Such courses might provide an in-depth examination of one culture, or one aspect of such culture (for example, art, music, history, language). Alternatively, these courses might aim to help students develop skills of cross-cultural comparison and analysis. A third option is courses that explore topics that are inherently cross-cultural such as international relations or the processes of economic globalization. Whatever the approach, these courses all aim to help students develop the openness and critical perspective necessary for cross-cultural understanding. Although themes of privilege and oppression are centrally relevant to the history and current experience of many cultures, such themes are not required to be addressed in cross-cultural awareness courses.

Ethnicity and Race

ER code: one 5-credit course or equivalent. Courses that carry the ER GE designation prepare students for a state and a world that are increasingly multiethnic and multiracial. Beyond familiarizing students with the culture and/or history of one or more ethnic or racial groups, these courses also aim to develop theoretical and practical understanding of questions such as (but not limited to):

  1. how categories of ethnicity and race are constructed
  2. the role that ethnicity and race can play in identity formation
  3. how ethnicity and race have historically been used to justify forms of enforced inequality
  4. contributions of people of various ethnicities to society and to political change

Whatever the approach, these courses are particularly concerned with how ethnicity and race may intersect with other categories such as gender, class, or sexual orientation, to shape self-understanding and patterns of human interaction. While such courses may often adopt an historical perspective on the issues they consider, they will provide a critical perspective on race/ethnicity relevant to the present.

Interpreting Arts and Media

IM code: one 5-credit course or equivalent. Courses that carry the IM GE designation explore the complex ways in which information of all kinds is represented by visual, auditory, or kinesthetic means, or through performance. Contemporary life bombards us with visual and auditory media, often in the form of advertising or advocacy. These courses build an in-depth understanding of one or more forms of artistic media: that is, media in which non-textual materials play primary roles. They offer skills in the practice, analysis, interpretation, and/or history of one or more of these media, as well as the ability to analyze the means by which these media encode and convey information.

Mathematical and Formal Reasoning

MF code: one 5-credit course or equivalent. Courses that carry the MF GE designation emphasize university-level mathematics, computer programming, formal logic, or other material that stresses formal reasoning, formal model building, or the application of formal systems. These courses generally focus on one of the following:

  1. mathematical reasoning and proof
  2. formal logic
  3. computer programming
  4. other formal systems (e.g., generative grammars, economic models, formal music theory)

Whichever particular approach is used, these classes aim to teach students to think with rigor and precision, using formal or mathematical models to teach the value of logical reasoning and dispassionate analysis.

Scientific Inquiry

SI code: one 5-credit course or equivalent. Courses that carry the SI GE designation teach students about the essential role of observation, hypothesis, experimentation and measurement in the physical, social, life, or technological sciences. Students should acquire key concepts, facts, and theories relevant to the scientific method. By the end of the course they should be able to articulate an understanding of the value of scientific thinking in relation to issues of societal importance. Such courses would allow students to acquire key concepts, facts, and theories relevant to the:

  1. physical scientific method

  2. social science aspect

  3. life sciences

  4. technological method

Statistical Reasoning

SR code: one 5-credit course or equivalent. Courses that carry the SR GE designation focus on developing skills in approaching quantitative data and statistical reasoning. These courses help students interpret quantitative claims and make judgments in situations of statistical uncertainty. Such courses might include topics such as:
  1. ways of presenting and misrepresenting data
  2. statistical inference
  3. experimental design and data analysis

Textual Analysis and Interpretation

TA code: one 5-credit course or equivalent. Courses that carry the TA GE designation have as their primary methodology the interpretation or analysis of texts. The aim of these courses is to develop higher-order reading skills and to train students how to read attentively, to think critically and analytically, to produce and evaluate interpretations, to assess evidence, and to deploy it effectively in their own work. These abilities are not only necessary for academic success, but also for full participation in civic life at every level. Textual analysis is the examination of how and whether a piece of writing or speaking achieves its aims, whether these are rhetorical and persuasive or aesthetic. Such courses should pay substantial attention not only to what information a poem, political speech, or scientific essay conveys, but to how it goes about doing so (by mobilizing particular metaphors, through plain speaking, via flowery language, by calling on scientific authority, or other mechanism). Please note that close reading leading to summary does not on its own constitute textual analysis.

Perspectives (one 5-credit course or equivalent from any one of the three following categories)

Perspectives: Environmental Awareness (PE-E code). Courses that carry the PE-E GE designation teach students about the complexity of particular ecosystems and/or people’s interactions with nature so that students will better understand the environmental issues and trade-offs that are likely to arise in their lifetimes. The interactions between people and the Earth’s environment are subtle, complex, and influenced by a variety of natural, scientific, economic, cultural, and political factors. Courses deal with one or more of the following topics:
  1. The study of particular ecosystems or environments
  2. Natural forces, processes, and their effect on ecosystems
  3. Climates, climate models, and climate change
  4. Evolution and adaptation to the environment
  5. Bio-diversity and/or the robustness of nature and its feedback mechanisms
  6. How cultures relate to their natural environments
  7. Human efforts to create, preserve, and modify environments
  8. Management of natural resources (such as fossil fuels, forests, and fisheries)
  9. Issues of sustainability (such as sustainable agriculture or renewable energy)
  10. Pollution and its effect on ecosystems
  11. Ecological impacts of non-native species and other ecological disasters

Perspectives: Human Behavior (PE-H code). Courses that carry the PE-H GE designation help students to prepare for a world in which many of the most pressing challenges (such as genocide, environmental degradation, poverty) are impacted by human thoughts, decisions, or practices. As well, they provide a kind of “owner’s manual” for students to assist them in understanding themselves, their roles (for example, parent, partner, leader), and their social groups (family, workplace, neighborhood, nation). These courses impart specific knowledge about some aspect of individual human behavior or the operation of human groups. As well, they are likely to provide an introduction to one or more specific methodologies, such as ethnography, longitudinal analysis, or experimentation. A central aim, however, is to help students appreciate that better solutions to problems (whether global or personal) can often be found by incorporating information about how humans think, feel, and act.

Perspectives: Technology and Society (PE-T code). Courses that carry the PE-T GE designation focus on understanding technological advances, how they are developed, and their impacts on society. Imparting a basic understanding of the dynamic technological society in which we live is an essential goal of academic institutions. The study of technology helps satisfy the need of society for knowledgeable people able to understand, participate, and guide the rapid technological advances that play such a vital role in our world.

Practice (one minimum 2-credit course from any of the three following categories)

Practice: Collaborative Endeavor (PR-E code). Courses that carry the PR-E GE designation teach students strategies and techniques for working effectively in groups to produce a finished product. For example, students might learn specialized practical information, such as how to use change-management software to monitor and manage changes initiated by multiple group members. Alternatively, they might learn basic information about leadership, teamwork, and group functioning, which they can incorporate into their own group process. What is common to all courses that carry the PR-E general education requirement is that some instruction regarding the process of collaboration is provided in addition to instruction specific to the academic discipline and the products being produced. In other words, assigning group work is not sufficient; explicit instruction in techniques of collaboration is required.

Practice: Creative Process (PR-C code). Courses that carry the PR-C GE designation teach creative process and techniques in a context of individual or collaborative participation in the arts, including creative writing. For creative writing, students will publish an informal group collection or individual dossier of their successful writings. Courses may combine theory and experiment in the creation of a new artwork, or new interpretation(s) of an existing artwork. Creative Process courses include studies in individual or group creativity or improvisation, and/or ensemble rehearsal and performance. Students who elect to satisfy this requirement will take at least two credits of individual or group creative work; however, the requirement may be satisfied within courses of greater than two credits. Where appropriate, sponsoring units may require a sequence of two or three 2-credit courses with the PR-C designation assigned to the final quarter. For sequences culminating in a semi-professional public performance, an audition at which students demonstrate aptitude and a foundation of skills will be required.

Practice: Service Learning (PR-S code). Courses that carry the PR-S GE designation provide supervised learning experiences where students reflect on, communicate, and integrate principles and theories from the classroom in real-world settings. Service learning provides students with an opportunity to integrate their academic coursework with community involvement. Students gain valuable practical skills while giving back to the community.


The general education writing requirements at UCSC consist of the Entry-Level Writing Requirement (ELWR), and Composition (C). Successful completion of College 1 and ELWR are prerequisites for students' enrollment in the C course (Writing 2). Students must successfully complete Writing 2 before the seventh quarter of enrollment.

Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement

The goal of this requirement is to ensure that students acquire the skills in writing and other forms of communication appropriate for their discipline. As such, the DC is automatically fulfilled by the completion of major requirements. Students satisfy the DC requirement by completing between one and three upper-division courses required for their major, totaling a minimum of 5 credits. The DC requirement must be taken at UCSC. Any exceptions or substitutions to the Disciplinary Communication requirement must be approved by the Committee on Courses of Instruction.

Disciplinary Communication requirements from 2019 onward are compiled here.