CLA Degree Requirements

Below are the basic requirements for a typical bachelor of arts (BA) degree. There are exceptions and variations on these requirements based on the degree and/ or major that you are pursuing. (In addition to the BA, CLA students may also receive bachelor of music, bachelor of science, bachelor of individualized studies, and bachelor of fine arts degrees.) Talk to your academic advisor for an explanation of the requirements for your degree and major.

Liberal Education Requirements

Students must complete the University of Minnesota liberal education requirements.

Second Language Requirement

Students must earn one of the following:

  • A grade of C- or better or an S in a fourth semester University of Minnesota language class or equivalent transfer course of at least four credits
  • A passing score on the Language Proficiency Exam (LPE), which tests reading, listening, writing, and speaking skills at the fourth semester level
  • Official documentation of an award of a gold or platinum bilingual seal in the MN Bilingual Seal program

See more information on the second language requirement.

Credit Requirements

If you have questions about the number or type of credits that are required for your degree, you should talk to your academic advisor. Most degrees require:

  • A minimum of 120 total semester credits accepted by CLA.
  • If you are pursuing a B.A. degree you will need to take 18 credits of upper level credits outside of your major designator. This requirement assures breadth of learning showing that you have studied advanced level coursework in more than your major field. The 18 credits of upper division coursework outside the major designator may not include courses cross-listed with the major designator.
    • For example: if you are majoring in Studies in Cinema and Media Culture, the major designator is SCMC. Any upper division course (3000, 4000 or 5000 level) that does not begin with SCMC or is not cross-listed with an SCMC class will count as those 18 credits.

Residency Requirements

  • A student must present at least 30 semester credits awarded by the University campus from which he or she is seeking to graduate.
  • At least 15 credits of the last 30 credits earned prior to the awarding of a University degree must be awarded by the University campus from which the student is seeking to graduate.
  • The maximum number of University S/N credits permitted within the total University credits in the degree is 20.
    • For a student who completes only the minimum number of 30 credits at the University, no more than 8 of the 30 credits may be taken S/N.
  • No unit will allow S/N grading in major or minor course work unless the S/N grading system is preset by the unit for specific courses.


In order to graduate with a degree from CLA, you will need to complete the requirements for one or more major(s). You will be required to declare a major by the time you have earned 60 credits (usually at the end of your second year).


All CLA majors require a capstone experience. The capstone will be a defining feature of the major experience and rely in some way on the culmination of knowledge or skill, whether it is in terms of content, methodology, critical thinking, writing skills, performance, etc. The capstone must be completed in your primary major.  

For example, a student with a BS Economics major and a second major in Political Science must complete their capstone project in Economics. Please check with the major department and your academic advisor for additional information regarding the capstone.

First Year Experience (FYE)

The First Year Experience consists of a required online 2-credit (CLA 1001 and 1002) program that all first-year CLA students take during their initial fall and spring semesters. CLA students who are part of the President's Emerging Scholars Program or the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Program take a specialized version of the FYE courses.

Second Year Experience (SYE)

All incoming CLA first-year students must complete the second-year career management course CLA 3002 during their second year. The Second Year Experience consists of an in-person 1-credit course.  


If you would like to supplement your major program, you may choose to complete one or more minor(s); however, a minor is not required.