General University Requirements

A strong, general education foundation is built through work in a variety of interconnected elements. The fundamental goals of the program are to improve students' abilities to integrate knowledge from different fields; to provide opportunities for the acquisition and development of writing, oral communication, analytical, linguistic and quantitative skills; and to facilitate flexibility in the scheduling of degree requirements throughout the undergraduate career.

The basic outline of the requirement structure is as follows:

University Writing and Oral Communication

First-year students entering in the fall of 2007 and thereafter must satisfactorily complete one University Writing Seminar (UWS) course, one writing-intensive course and either a second writing-intensive course or an oral communication course.

Students will take an online writing assessment to determine their level of writing proficiency. Upon evaluation of the writing assessment, some students may be placed in Composition, a course taken in their first semester. These students must then take a UWS in their second semester.

Certain students whose native language is not English may be required to have their English writing skills evaluated and to have an interview during Orientation, before the beginning of classes. On the basis of this evaluation, students may be eligible for university-funded individual or group tutorials in the English as a Second Language Program to supplement their work in composition, UWS or other writing or oral communication courses.

Transfer students may have their credits evaluated to see if they have successfully completed the necessary course to satisfy the first-year writing requirement. If they have not, they should take the online writing assessment or contact the University Writing Program for ways to complete this requirement.

The writing-intensive or oral communication components of this requirement are normally completed in a student's second or third year. Writing-intensive and oral communication courses, which are offered in departments throughout the university, are based in academic disciplines and include writing or oral communication as an integral part of the course work. Writing-intensive courses involve frequent writing assignments, opportunities for rewriting and consultations with the instructor. Oral communication courses involve instruction, feedback and at least two assignments to develop oral communication skills.

Writing-intensive and oral communication courses may serve multiple purposes, advancing students toward majors, minors, non-Western and comparative studies or distribution requirements. Courses numbered in the 90s are not eligible for a writing-intensive or oral communication designation.

Quantitative Reasoning

All students will take one course that is designated as meeting the quantitative reasoning requirement. These courses from various disciplines share a commitment to enabling students to understand, interpret, analyze and evaluate numerical data and other quantitative information.

Foreign Language

The foreign language requirement is met by successful completion of a third semester course (normally numbered in the 30s) in the introductory language sequence. No more than one course (and never the final one) in the sequence may be taken on the pass-fail grading option.

The foreign language requirement at Brandeis reflects a belief in the importance of understanding language—our own and the language of others—as central to society and culture. The goal of the foreign language requirement, therefore, is to prepare students to understand better and to participate in a different culture by developing basic skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) in another language.

Alternatively, the requirement may be satisfied by achieving a score of 4 or 5 on an appropriate Advanced Placement Test, by a score of 620 or more on the appropriate CEEB SAT II test, or by a satisfactory score on a foreign language placement test administered on campus in the fall. Local placement exams may be taken only at the time of matriculation at Brandeis. SAT II test scores are not accepted in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean to satisfy the foreign language requirement.

Students for whom English is a second language may be exempted from this requirement. Students who satisfy the requirement by means of an advanced placement score shall be accorded, upon request, appropriate credit toward the Brandeis degree. Students may also fulfill this requirement by demonstrating proficiency in American Sign Language through testing at a site approved by Brandeis.

Individual placement decisions vary depending on the quality of high school training, the level of performance and how recently the language was studied. Foreign language placements are valid for one year only; subsequent placements are based on the mandatory placement examinations and consultation with the appropriate language coordinator. Students are urged to begin fulfilling the foreign language requirement as soon as they matriculate and to complete the required sequence without interruption.

Non-Western and Comparative Studies

Students will complete one semester course that examines some particular culture, society or region of the non-Western world, or that systematically makes comparisons across cultural barriers. This requirement aims to enlarge students' understanding of human achievements and potentialities beyond the Western tradition.

School Distribution

Students will complete one semester course in each of the four schools of the university: creative arts, humanities, science and social science. Because "double-counting" generally is encouraged, most students will satisfy the school distribution requirement in the context of others, for example, in satisfying the requirements of a major or a minor.

Between and among general university requirements, the only limitations on double-counting are as follows: The three-course foreign language sequence may not be applied toward the humanities component of this requirement. No single course in a student's program may satisfy both the quantitative requirement and the science component of this requirement. No courses numbered in the 90s may apply toward this component. Finally, a single course may be used toward school distribution in only one school.