2018-2019 Catalog 
    Jul 19, 2024  
2018-2019 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

General Education Requirements


The general education (GE) requirements provide opportunities for students to develop their writing, speaking, analytical, and interpretive skills, and to familiarize themselves with important divisions of knowledge. Only the Academic Standards Committee (ASC) can waive a general education requirement.

Individual departments determine which courses meet the general education requirements in their discipline. Normally general education requirements are completed at Claremont McKenna College. Students must obtain approval from the appropriate department chair to use a non-CMC course toward a general education requirement. General education requirements in humanities and social sciences must be met by courses outside a student’s major(s). Students with individualized or interdisciplinary majors at CMC, except for Economics and Engineering  and Science Management  majors, must complete at least 6 general education requirements in the humanities and the social sciences. Off-campus majors must complete at least 3 CMC social science GE courses and at least 2 CMC humanities GE courses, all of which must be outside the major. Students with dual or double majors in the humanities or social sciences will usually be required to complete an additional course for general education requirements in appropriate disciplines.

Students entering the College as first year, first-time degree seeking students may not complete more than 4 general education requirements through transfer credit, including summer school, Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) examinations, study abroad, etc. Transfer students must consult the Registrar if they wish to complete any general education requirements off campus after enrolling at CMC. An overview of CMC’s current general education requirements is provided in the chart below, followed by additional information on each requirement.

Chart of the General Education Requirements

Students entering CMC may use the chart below as guide for their general education requirements. The course numbers refer to CMC or Keck Science Department courses, and the rules and numbers do not apply to courses at the other Claremont colleges.

GENERAL   Courses to be completed by all students

Freshman Writing Seminar   FWS 010 CM 
Must be completed within the first or second semester

Freshman Humanities Seminar   FHS 010 CM 
Must be completed within the first or second semester

Foreign Language   3rd college semester of a foreign language
May be waived based on a placement exam or demonstrated native proficiency

Mathematics or
Computer Science
  Any CMC mathematics course, or any computer science or calculus course offered within The Claremont Consortium

Lab Science  
One laboratory science course offered by Keck Science Department or elsewhere within The Claremont Consortium
Must be completed by the end of the second year at CMC

Physical Education   3 physical education activity courses, or 2 seasons of a sport
Must register for activities and sports to count

Senior Thesis   To be completed in the senior year; related to the student’s major(s)


HUMANITIES   Courses in 2 areas outside the student’s major(s) are required
For the general education requirement in the humanities, all students must complete a designated course in 2 of the following 4 fields of study outside of their major(s): literature in a foreign language, literature, philosophy, and religious studies. Students who major in one or more of these fields must complete courses in 3 of the 4 fields.

Foreign Literature   The 4th semester of a European or classical language,
the 5th semester of Korean or Arabic, or the 6th semester of Chinese or Japanese

Literature   Any CMC literature course numbered 50 or above

Philosophy     Any CMC philosophy course numbered 59 or below

Religious Studies   Any CMC religious studies course numbered 180 or below


SOCIAL SCIENCES   Courses in 3 areas outside the student’s major(s) are required
For the general education requirement in the social sciences, students must complete at least one designated course in 3 of the following 4 fields of study outside of their major(s): economics, government, history, and psychology. Students majoring in one or more of these fields must complete an appropriate course in each of the 4 fields.

ECON 050 CM     Principles of Economic Analysis

GOVT 020 CM     Introduction to American Politics

History   Any CMC history course

Psychology   Any CMC psychology course numbered under 100

Description of the General Education Requirements

Freshman Writing Seminar

This one-semester requirement is met by completing FWS010 CM - Freshman Writing Seminar , and must be taken during the first year. Students who earn a score of 5 on one of the English Advanced Placement (AP) exams may seek permission from the chair of the literature department to take another CMC literature course numbered 60 or higher to fulfill this requirement. Students who receive approval to substitute another course for FWS may not double count it for any other general education or major requirement. Click here  for more information and a sampling of topics.

Freshman Humanities Seminar

All CMC students are required to take the foundational course FHS010 CM - Freshman Humanities Seminar . The courses of the FHS program give new students an introduction to some of the questions fundamental to individuals in their relationship to society and the world. Sections are offered by faculty members teaching in the different disciplines at CMC. Students must complete this course at CMC during the first or second semester in residence at the College. Click here  for more information and a sampling of topics.

Foreign Language

This requirement is met by passing the third college semester of a foreign language. The foreign language requirement can also be completed by earning a score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement (AP) examination or a score of 6 or 7 on a Higher Level International Baccalaureate (IB) examination in a foreign language. Students who earn a score of 650 or higher on a College Board SAT Subject Test in French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, or Spanish will also have completed the foreign language requirement. Students cannot complete the foreign literature requirement through tests or competency.

All new students, except for students who have provided the registrar with official copies of appropriate AP, IB, or SAT2 test scores, take a language placement examination designed by the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures prior to registration. Students who through this examination are placed in the fourth semester (or higher) of a foreign language will have completed the foreign language requirement. These students are encouraged, but not required, to continue their language study. The placement exam is only given to new students prior to enrollment at CMC. Students who have studied a foreign language not offered at The Claremont Colleges should contact the chair of the department to arrange for testing.

Students with demonstrated native proficiency in a language which is not offered for testing at The Claremont Colleges may satisfy the foreign language requirement by one of the following methods: 

  • Graduation from high school where the primary language of instruction was a language other than English. (For Chinese, graduation from middle school is acceptable.)
  • Successful completion of the 10th-year exam in Hindi or another language of the Indian Subcontinent
  • A certified statement from a tenured modern or classical language faculty member from another regionally accredited American college or university which attests to the student’s ability to read, write, and speak a non-English language with native proficiency.

Students seeking to satisfy their foreign language General Education Requirement by examination or demonstration of native proficiency must provide appropriate original documentation to the CMC Registrar’s Office within one year of matriculation to CMC.

Mathematics/Computer Science

Any course offered by the CMC Department of Mathematical Sciences may satisfy the general education requirement. Any computer science course or calculus course offered at the other undergraduate Claremont Colleges may also satisfy the general education requirement. Students may take a pre-calculus course either in Claremont or off-campus for credit towards graduation but not for the general education requirement in mathematics. All new students will have the opportunity to attend a mathematics and computer science information session prior to registration in the fall.


Every CMC student must complete one laboratory science course offered by Keck Science Department or elsewhere within The Claremont Consortium by the end of the second year at CMC.

Physical Education

The College requires all students to complete three semesters of physical education. Two seasons of participation in a team or club sport will also fulfill the physical education requirement. All students are expected to complete this requirement during their first two years, except for those excused by the Chair of the Department of Physical Education for medical reasons or because of prior military service.

Senior Thesis

The senior thesis should serve as a capstone experience to a student’s undergraduate education. Students must complete a senior thesis in at least one of their majors, under supervision of a faculty reader who teaches within that major, unless granted a special exception. CMC students with an off-campus major may register for a senior thesis in that major under the appropriate course number at the major’s sponsoring college. CMC students may use this thesis in lieu of the senior thesis at CMC. If the off-campus major does not offer a senior thesis under its own course number, students must register for the senior thesis at CMC. Students who have a CMC major and an off-campus major may choose to complete the senior thesis in one or both majors. Students who wish to do a 2-semester, 2-credit project register for a senior research course in the first semester and for senior thesis in the second semester. Neither the senior thesis nor the research course may be counted as a course for the major.