Degree and General Education Requirements

General Education Requirements

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign requires that all undergraduate students take General Education - or "Gen Ed" - courses to gain and use broad knowledge beyond the specialized learning they will do in a major field of study. These Gen Ed requirements cover the kinds of knowledge all students should have: the humanities and arts, social and behavioral sciences, natural sciences and technology, quantitative reasoning, composition/writing, and cultural studies.

General Education courses at Illinois are mindful of our students' diverse backgrounds, needs, and interests, and are an essential component of the transformative learning that prepares our graduates to become alumni who make a significant societal impact. These courses build students' abilities to think critically, solve problems, generate new ideas and create knowledge, make connections between academic disciplines, respect and understand differences, and develop as citizens and leaders.

General Education at Illinois is more than a set of required courses; it is a gateway into the Illinois experience.

Courses are noted as fulfilling one or more of the following categories:

  • Composition I​
  • Advanced Composition
  • Humanities and the Arts: Literature & the Arts or Historical & Philosophical Perspectives
  • Natural Sciences and Technology: Life Science or Physical Science
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Cultural Studies: Western/Comparative Cultures, Non-Western Cultures, and US Minority Cultures

For a list of current courses approved for General Education credit, please visit the Course Explorer.

Written Communication Requirement

Undergraduate Students:
  • Satisfactory proficiency in written communication is a requirement for all undergraduate degrees awarded at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This proficiency can be certified by the satisfactory completion of the “Composition I” general education requirement via the one-semester, four-hour course Rhetoric 105 (Writing and Research); the two-semester, eight-hour sequence of Rhetoric 101 (Principles of Writing) and 102 (Principles of Research) with Rhetoric 100 tutorials in both semesters; or the two-semester, six-hour sequence Communication 111 and 112 (Oral & Written Communication I and II).
  • A student who achieved, prior to enrolling in college-level coursework, a sufficiently high score on either the appropriate college-preparatory English exam (currently ACT, SAT, AP, or IB) will earn course credit that fulfills the general education “Composition I” requirement and thus will satisfy the Written Communication requirement for graduation. More information can be found under “Proficiency Testing” at
  • Non-native English-speaking students who are mandated to take the English Placement Test (EPT) and given an English as a Second Language (ESL) placement must fulfill their Written Communication requirement by taking the two-semester, six-hour sequence of ESL 111 and 112 or the one-semester, four-hour ESL 115 course. They might also be required to take ESL 110 (Pronunciation). Non-native English-speaking students who are not required to take the EPT due to sufficiently high TOFEL iBT or IELTS scores may elect to satisfy the Written Communication requirement by taking the ESL, or the Rhetoric, or the Communication sequences. Students in this category who wish to take ESL must take the EPT to determine correct placement.
  • If the academic credentials of a transfer student do not indicate fulfillment of coursework equivalent to fulfill the Written Communication graduation requirement, the student will need to do additional coursework to satisfy this requirement. Non-native English-speaking transfer students may be required to take the English Placement Test (EPT).
Graduate Students:
  • Satisfactory proficiency in academic writing in English is a requirement for all graduate degrees awarded at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
  • Graduate students who are admitted on limited status because they do not meet this proficiency requirement prior to admission may be placed into mandatory ESL courses based on the results of the EPT exam.
  • Proficiency can then be certified by the satisfactory completion of a one-semester course (ESL 515) or the two-semester sequence (ESL 511 and 512). Students may also select equivalent coursework from the "English for specific purposes" tracks available through ESL (e.g., business track ESL 521, 522). International graduate students may also be required to take ESL 510 (Pronunciation).
  • Mandatory ESL course assignments must be fulfilled in order to be eligible for graduation.

Kinesiology, Language Other Than English, and Undergraduate Open Seminar Credit

Credit for Kinesiology

Kinesiology courses numbered from 100 through 110 are activity courses. Credit earned in kinesiology activity courses may be included in the grade point average at the discretion of the individual colleges and may, at the discretion of the individual colleges, be included in the total hours required for graduation. 

Language Other Than English Credit
  • Except as prohibited or limited by the established policy of the student's college, credit in University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign language courses other than English taken to remove high school entrance deficiencies may, at the discretion of the college:
  1. be counted in the total hours required for graduation, or
  2. be accepted in partial or complete satisfaction of the language other than English requirement for the degree.
  • Normally no more than ten hours of proficiency credit for the study of a single language other than English at the elementary and intermediate level shall be counted for graduation in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Additional credit may be granted for advanced courses emphasizing literature and language structure rather than communicative competence in the language.
  • Students who have earned the State Seal of Biliteracy will earn eight hours of credit, which will appear on their transcript as eight total hours of 100-level language credit (UFL1 1-- for four hours and UFL2 1-- for four hours).
Credit for Undergraduate Open Seminar Courses
  • Credit in each 199 course shall not exceed four credit hours per semester.
  • A student may accumulate an unlimited number of credit hours in 199 courses, but no more than 12 such hours listed on the student’s transcript may be counted toward fulfilling graduation requirements, except in cases in which a larger number of credit hours in 199 courses is an integral part of a formal, college-approved program of study (e.g., Individual Plans of Study).
  • A 199 course appears on a student's transcript with the departmental rubric and the title "Undergraduate Open Seminar" when a specific section title has not been assigned by the department offering the course.