CAS Academic Requirements - Class of 2028

The College of Arts & Sciences has a set of basic Distribution 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.  Please refer to the online catalog for additional information about college and degree requirements.

Requirements for the first year:

  • 2 semesters of First-Year Writing: WRT 001 & 002 (or WRT 003 & 005)
    • Students who bring in credit for WRT 001 & 002 from AP or IB scores will take WRT 011 to fulfill this requirement
  • a Big Questions Seminar (3-4 credits) 
Requirements that must be met prior to graduation:

Other requirements:

  • satisfy the University residency requirement
  • earn a minimum 2.0 GPA both overall and in the major
  • earn minimum of 120 credits 
Most courses in the College of Arts & Sciences are 3 or 4 credit courses, but may range from 1 to 4 credits. The typical term load is 14 to 17 credits. 12 credits are required for full-time status, and first semester, first-year students have a maximum of 17 credits. 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.
Additional Details: There is no limit to the number of Distribution Requirements that may be fulfilled by courses taken to satisfy major requirements. Big Questions Seminars and courses offered for 1-2 credits may satisfy up to one Encounter. All other courses offered for 3-4 credits may satisfy up to two Encounters. 
First-Year Writing
Students take two designated courses in their first year that focus on pre-disciplinary writing, including engaging thoughtfully with the writing process, practicing clear academic writing and argument, analyzing and practicing persuasive strategies and critical thinking, and developing information literacy skills. These courses are WRT 001: Academic & Anayltical Writing and WRT 002: Research & Argument. Students who earn credit for WRT 001 & 002 from AP or IB Exam scores will be required to take an honors path, which consists of one designated advanced first-year writing course, WRT 011: Advanced Writing: The Rhetorical Self. Multilingual learners who qualify based on testing conducted by the International Center for Academic and Professional English take two courses taught by language specialists and tailored specifically for multilingual learners, WRT 003 and 005.
Big Questions Seminar 
Students take one Big Questions Seminar in the first semester. Big Questions Seminars are designated by course number '090' and focus on complex questions that have no simple or obvious answers. These can include, but are not limited to, the deep enduring questions that humanity has grappled with for ages or emerging questions of today. Big questions often transcend disciplinary boundaries. Thus, many Big Questions Seminars illustrate how multiple disciplines or multiple fields within a discipline approach the seminar's focal question, and some are co-taught by faculty from different fields. These seminars are designed to facilitate students' transition to the intellectual environment of a college classroom and to develop students' intellectual and practical skills (e.g., inquiry and analysis, critical and creative thinking, written and oral communication, quantitative reasoning, information literacy, teamwork, problem solving).
Students take one course in mathematics that focuses on developing logical skills, problem solving, and/or computation. Example courses include logic, proof writing, discrete mathematics, calculus, linear algebra, and statistics. 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 & Language (AL)
Courses in this category utilize creative and/or expressive forms of inquiry and focus on communication and artistic practice. Courses designated as AL may be found in Art, Architecture, Design, English, Film, the foreign languages, Music, Theatre, and more. 
Human Experience (HE)
Courses in this category utilize analytical, critical, and interpretive forms of inquiry and focus on the human condition in different historical, cultural, linguistic, religious, philosophical, artistic, and literary contexts. 
Social World (SW)
Courses in this category utilize social scientific modes of inquiry and focus on human behavior, culture, and society, and forms of social, political, and economic organization.
Natural World (NW) + Lab Science (LS)
Courses in this category utilize scientific forms of inquiry and focus on natural phenomena in the world around us and the nature of life, matter, and the universe. The lab enables students to practice scientific forms of inquiry and gain firsthand experience with natural and physical phenomena. NW courses may be found in Astronomy, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Physics, in addition to Anthropology and Psychology. One of the courses taken for the Natural World requirement must have a lab (LS), which is often taken through Astronomy, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Chemistry, or Physics.
Contemporary Challenges Encounters (CC)
Through courses designated as Contemporary Challenges Encounters (CC), students grapple with complex, large-scale challenges of the modern world, including the themes of social difference and power, sustainability, and conflict and security.
Quantitative Reasoning Encounters (Q)
Through courses designated as Quantitative Reasoning Encounters (Q), students practice interpreting quantitative information, learn about applications of quantitative reasoning within disciplines, and build confidence in their own quantitative abilities.
Writing Encounters (W)
Through courses designated as Writing Encounters (W), students practice engaging thoughtfully in the process of writing, learn about discipline-specific styles of writing, and build confidence in their own writing abilities.
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. 

If you are a student pursuing a degree in the Class of 2027 or earlier, please click here to review your college requirements.