Distribution Requirement

To develop a broad familiarity with the range of human knowledge, you must complete, or earn transfer credit for, certain courses in four broad areas of study:

  • arts and humanities (AR and HU)
  • social and behavioral sciences (SB)
  • natural sciences and mathematics (NS and MT)
  • world languages and world cultures (WL and WC) 

These two-letter codes are used to denote courses that have been approved by the faculty as distribution courses.  Only courses with these codes will meet distribution requirements.

The different distribution areas have been defined as follows:

Arts and Humanities

  • develop an informed appreciation of the arts and humanities, which encompass philosophy, literature, the fine arts, and the performing arts. 
  • learn how people have come to understand and express artistic, aesthetic, moral, spiritual, and philosophical dimensions of the human condition.

Social and Behavioral Sciences

  • learn about the nature and development of human behavior and institutions through time

  • become aware of the complex and ambiguous nature of changing human experience

Natural Sciences and Mathematics/Technology

  • learn how the laws of the physical and biological world are derived through observation, theory, and experiment

  • expand your scientific knowledge and knowledge of powerful technologies

  • understand the importance of falsifiable hypotheses, the nature of scientific "truth," and the impact of science on society

World Languages and Cultures

  • learn how language and culture impose their own structurings of knowledge

  • pursue intensive study of unfamiliar cultures, or study a foreign language or foreign literature in translation

Only certain courses satisfy a distribution requirement. To meet the requirement, a course must provide in-class instruction and practice in at least two general education capabilities, aiming at mid-level competence appropriate to the discipline.  A department offering the course must present an acceptable proposal to the distribution subcommittee of the Faculty  Council General Education Committee before the course can be given a specific distribution status.   See more information in the For Faculty section.

What are the Specific Distribution Requirements?

Distribution requirements depend on degree program and college.  The following chart provides a brief outline; for further information, see the general education booklet.

Distribution Area

BA students in the Colleges of Liberal Arts, Science & Math, Education & Human Development, and Public & Community Service

BS students in the Colleges of Liberal Arts, Science & Math


Students in the College of Management

Students in the College of Nursing & Health Sciences

Arts (AR)

Humanities (HU)

3 courses, including one Arts course and one Humanities course

1 Arts course and 1 Humanities course 2 courses (Arts and/or Humanities) 2 courses (Arts and/or Humanities)


Natural Science (NS)

3 courses, with at least one Natural Science course

Any mathematics course must be at the level of Math 125 or higher

4 courses, with at least one Natural Science course

Any mathematics course must be at the level of Calculus II or higher

2 courses (Math and/or Natural Science)

Any mathematics course must be above the level of Math 134

2 courses in Natural Science
Social and Behavioral Science (SB) 3 courses 2 courses 2 courses 1 course
World Culture/World Languages (WC/WL) 2 courses in World Cultures or World Languages (or both)  1 World Culture course or 1 World Language course at the 102 level or higher 1 course (World Culture or World Language) 2 courses (World Culture or World Language)
Elementary Language Proficiency Follow this link for an explanation of how to meet this requirement not required not required not required