CAS Requirements - Class of 2027 and earlier

The requirements listed below apply to students in the College of Arts & Sciences pursuing a degree in the Class of 2027 or earlier. 

Please refer to the online catalog for additional information about college and degree requirements.

The College of Arts & Sciences has a set of basic requirements all students must complete regardless of their major program(s). A student in the CAS must complete the following, and can perform a degree audit to review progress toward completion.  


Requirements for the first year:

Distribution requirements that must be met prior to graduation:
Other requirements:
Students and advisors should monitor closely the progress toward completion of requirements. Courses taken to satisfy a major program may be used to satisfy distribution requirements in only one distribution area. AP credits may be applied to the requirements. Please refer to the course catalog for a complete discussion of distribution requirements and AP credits.
Lehigh does not have a foreign language requirement.
Most courses in the College of Arts and Sciences are 4 credits, but quite a few are 3 credit courses. In general, courses range from 1 to 4 credits. The typical term load is 14 to 17 credits. 12 credits are required for full-time status, and anything over 17 credits for a first semester, first year student is considered an overload. After the first semester, 18 credits is the maximum number of credits allowed, and students would need to fill out an Overload Request Form to request permission to register for more than 18 credits. Credits are assigned to a course on the basis of an estimate of  'normal' student effort, figuring 3 to 4 hours of effort per week for each credit, including the hours actually spent in class ('contact' hours). Accordingly, a typical term load of 16 credits would require something like 50 to 60 hours per week of effort, including contact hours. Naturally, there will be some variability from week to week and some variability from course to course.
A word about completing the requirements... Because the requirements are so flexible, we urge students to avoid the mistake of "getting required courses out of the way" early. That approach has two problems. For one, it defers an exploration of options, which is important for all students. It is possible, however, to use the requirements as a map to the broad, undiscovered territory of one's options, and that's a healthy alternative to the notion of "getting the requirements done." Another problem with "getting the requirements out of the way" is that it sets up a self-defeating expectation about the nature of the requirements. Far from being drudgery, the required courses open up to the student the full range of human knowledge and develop cross-disciplinary understanding and communication skills that are among the hallmarks of a liberal arts education.
First-Year Writing
Lehigh is highly committed to the development of communication skills along with kindred skills in rhetoric. We expect students to think clearly and to articulate their thoughts persuasively. ENGL 001 and 002, our two-semester sequence of first-year English composition and literature, is the foundation for building critical thinking and communication skills across the entire curriculum. ENGL 003 and 005 are appropriate substitutes for non-native English speakers. 
College First-Year Seminar 
All first-year students in the College of Arts and Sciences must take a First-Year Seminar during the first fall semester. The Seminar provides an intimate and supportive environment that facilitates the transition to university academic work. Students begin to develop many of the skills that serve as a framework for their future scholarly work--how to read closely, think critically, write clearly, learn cooperatively, speak persuasively, and solve problems creatively. First-Year Seminars give students an excellent way to explore a subject that may be new or to enter more deeply into an area of interest. Many of the seminar topics are non-tranditional or cross-disciplinary subjects of special interest to the instructor.
Courses for the Mathematics (MA) requirement can be found in the mathematics department (with the exception of MATH 000), as well as certain courses offered through Philosophy, such as PHIL 014: Symbolic Logic. 
Arts & Humanities 
Courses designated for the Arts and Humanities (HU) requirement are found in Art, Architecture, Design, English (but not ENGL 001 or 002), the foreign languages, History, Music, Philosophy, Religion Studies, and Theatre. Many of the interdisciplinary programs, such as Africana Studies, Film, Latin American and Latino Studies, Jewish Studies, Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, etc, also offer courses designated for the Arts and Humanities.
Social Sciences 
Social Science (SS) courses are found in Anthropology, Economics, History, International Relations, Journalism, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology. Many of the interdisciplinary programs, such as Health, Medicine, & Society, Cognitive Science, Environmental Studies, etc, also offer Social Science courses.
Natural Sciences 
Astronomy, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Physics are the typical places to look for Natural Science (NS) courses. One of the courses taken for the Natural Science requirement must have a lab. You may also find NS courses offered through Cognitive Science, Anthropology, and Psychology. 
Writing Intensive requirement 
The Junior-year Writing Intensive course is a continuation of our commitment to develop students' writing skills. Writing Intensive courses are identified in the semester schedule of classes and are regular courses in which the instructor follows a set of guidelines (see below) for writing assignments that emphasize editing and revision. Some major programs require the writing-intensive course be taken in the major field, while others allow it to be chosen freely from writing-intensive courses offered by any department or program. Students must follow the guidelines for this requirement set up by their major department. Courses that satisfy the writing-intensive requirement may also be used to fulfill major or distribution requirements. Please note: only courses designated as "WI" on the course schedule, or select independent studies may be used to fulfill this requirement. Transfer credits may not be used to meet the Writing Intensive requirement.  Please contact with any questions regarding the Writing Intensive requirement. 
Guidelines for Writing Intensive Courses

A writing-intensive (WI) course should:

  • require at least 30 pages of writing (including drafts and revisions).

  • require at least 5 writing assignments (drafts and revisions may count as separate assignments).

  • provide the instructors response to one assignment by the end of the third week of classes; this assignment should provide an early assessment of skills the student should address in subsequent assignments.

  • stress revision and provide ample opportunities for students to develop skill in revising their own work; in most cases, one assignment should consist of a revision of a previous assignment.

The instructor will indicate whether the student has passed the writing-intensive requirement for the course.  Because course-content and writing assignment may be assessed separately, it is possible to pass the course but fail the writing-intensive requirement and vice versa.

Other established policies governing the WI requirement and courses designated as WI:

  • Students can earn WI credit in a given semester only in courses designated as WI when rostered for the semester.

  • The WI designation is not a permanent property of a course. Rather the department or program rostering the particular course and section attaches the designation when rostering it for a particular semester.

  • Independent study courses may be rostered as WI courses.

  • WI credit will not be awarded retroactively for work done in courses not identified as WI when rostered.

  • WI requirements apply to all students in a WI course.

  • A course designated as WI must be at least 3 credits.

The residency requirement 
Students must earn a minimum of 120 credits to be eligible for a BA or BS in the College of Arts and Sciences. Many students will transfer credits from another institution to Lehigh. To be eligible to receive a Lehigh baccalaureate degree, the candidate must have completed either a minimum of 90 credit hours, or 60 of the last 75 credit hours at the University or in residency programs.