College of Arts & Sciences General Requirements

In addition to the course requirements for the major, students must complete general CAS requirements, summarized below. Complete information about these requirements is available from (and in case of any inconsistencies, it is the College Bulletin that is the definitive source of information).

College Writing Requirement

There are TWO PARTS to the College Writing Requirement, and both must be fulfilled.

[1] The first can be satisfied by either of the following:

  • CAS WR 100 Writing Seminar
  • CAS CC 101 and 102 (Humanities core curriculum first-year sequence)

AND [2] the second can be satisfied by any of the following:

  • CAS WR 150 Writing and Research Seminar
  • CAS CC 201 and 202 (Humanities core curriculum second-year sequence)
  • CAS CC 203 and 204 (Social Science core curriculum second-year sequence)

Students entering CAS in their junior year from the College of General Studies may use CGS RH 101 and 102 to satisfy this writing requirement.

Mathematics Requirement

satisfied by any one of the following:

  • one semester of a CAS Mathematic course numbered CAS MA 113 or higher
  • SAT Math score of 580 or above
  • an ACT Math score of 23 or above
  • a score of 3, 4, or 5 on the Advanced Placement Exam in Calculus or Statistics

Students must fulfill EITHER the Core curriculum OR the Divisional Studies program.

General Education Requirement

[1] Core Curriculum

All of the following eight courses:

Freshman year semester 1

  • CAS CC 101 Core Humanities I: The Ancient World
  • CAS CC 105 Core Natural Sciences I: The Evolution of the Physical Universe and of the Earth (lab)

Freshman year semester 2

  • CAS CC 102 Core Humanities II: Late Antiquity and the Medieval World
  • CAS CC 106 Core Natural Sciences II: The Evolution of Intelligent Life and Beyond (lab)

Sophomore year semester 1

  • CAS CC 201 Core Humanities III: The Renaissance
  • CAS CC 203 Core Social Sciences I: The Shaping of Societies

Sophomore year semester 2

  • CAS CC 202 Core Humanities IV: From the Enlightenment to Modernity
  • CAS CC 204 Core Social Sciences II: The Individual and the World

Successful completion of one of the following

[2] Divisional Studies Program (adapted for students with a major in the Department of Romance Studies, which is in the Humanities division)

Six courses, including:

  • 2 divisional studies courses in the Social Sciences
  • 2 divisional studies courses in the Natural Sciences (one of which must be designated as including a laboratory component)
  • 2 divisional studies courses in Mathematics or Computer Science

Courses in the core curriculum program may alternatively be counted as divisional studies courses in the pertinent division.

      It is important to note the following:
      • Divisional studies courses consist only of those on the official approved list of courses.
      • A student may not use two courses from the same department to count toward more than one division (even if these courses might otherwise count in two different divisions). This is particularly relevant for Anthropology, Archaeology, and Geography courses. To give an example, a student would not be allowed to count CAS AN 102 as a Natural Science course and CAS AN 101 as a Social Science course.
      • Courses taken toward a major or minor in Linguistics (Humanities) cannot be used for credit toward the Divisional Studies Requirement in a different division.

Courses that count toward divisional requirements:

See CAS Bulletin listing:

For students who have a major in a division outside of the Humanities:

For students who have a major in Linguistics (which is in the Humanities):

There is no need to take additional courses in the Humanities to satisfy the Divisional Requirements.

Courses taken as part of the degree requirements for the Linguistics major can also count toward the College foreign language requirement.

Foreign Language Requirement

The College of Arts and Sciences requires that all degree candidates demonstrate proficiency at an advanced level (equivalent to 4 semesters of college-level study) in a foreign language. The Departments of (1) Romance Studies and (2) Modern Languages Comparative Literatures (formerly both constituting the Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures) offer courses in many languages for fulfillment of this requirement. Students are encouraged to choose a language that will complement their current interests, fields of study, and future career plans. Languages that have been offered include the following:

African Languages (Hausa, Mandinka, Sesotho, Swahili, Yoruba, Zulu), Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish

In some languages, there is a choice between a four-skills approach and a reading sequence. The sequence emphasizing all four skills--reading, writing, listening and speaking--is taught in the language being studied. The reading sequence courses are taught in English using a traditional grammar and translation approach enhanced by the study of texts from a wide variety of authentic sources: literature, advertising, the press, and cinema. Both sequences contain civilization and culture components. Because of the intrinsic differences between the two sequences, students are allowed to transfer from one sequence to the other only after either the first or second semester. Students are encouraged to read the complete descriptions of the courses in the bulletin. Students who would like to do this should contact the Deaf Studies Program for further information.

Students who have previously studied a language outside of Boston University must take a placement exam, so that they can be placed at an appropriate level. Please call (617) 353-2642 for more information.

The Foreign Language Requirement may also be satisfied by courses in Latin or Ancient or Modern Greek; these courses are offered through the Department of Classical Studies.

Courses in American Sign Language (ASL) are also offered at Boston University, through the Deaf Studies Program. Students may now also use ASL to fulfill the CAS Foreign Language Requirement. Students who would like to do this should contact the Deaf Studies Program for further information.

For further information about any of the above, see this page about Foreign Language Learning.