Degree Requirements

Berea’s curriculum offers the advantage of interdisciplinary general study coupled with intensive study in 33 major fields (some of which have multiple concentrations) and 34 minor fields of study. In all academic disciplines, students acquire knowledge and deepen their understanding of the subject area, while gaining competency in applying the content and methods of inquiry to daily life. A degree is conferred upon the completion of both the General Education curriculum and the curriculum of a selected major, provided the student has earned the minimum number of credits (including 20 outside the major), and has earned a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.00 or higher in all courses, as well as in the major course work. (Please be aware that some academic departments require a GPA higher than the College requirement of 2.00.)  A minimum of 32 earned course credits (typically 34 in Nursing) is required for graduation, with at least 20 credits taken outside the major discipline.

General Education Requirements

Berea College's curriculum includes an interdisciplinary General Education curriculum in addition to intensive study in a major. As an institution with a liberal arts foundation and outlook, the College has a responsibility to educate the whole person. Berea College's General Education curriculum addresses Berea's Great Commitments and is designed to help students develop important knowledge, skills, and habits of mind. The curriculum extends from the first year through the senior year and includes, in addition to course work, convocations and other experiences.

All Berea College degrees include the following General Education Requirements

  • GSTR 110: Writing Seminar I: Critical Thinking in the Liberal Arts
  • Note: credit for this course cannot be transferred in; however, transfer students who took College Composition while attending a regionally-accredited college or university as a degree-seeking student—and who earned a grade of B or higher in the course—can waive this requirement and take GSTR 210 in their first term of attendance.

  • GSTR 210: Writing Seminar II: Identity and Diversity in the United States (credit cannot be transferred in or waived)
  • GSTR 310: Understandings of Christianity (credit cannot be transferred in or waived)
  • GSTR 332: Scientific Knowledge and Inquiry  OR the optional alternative of two approved Natural Science courses in two different disciplines, at least one of which must be approved as a Natural Science Laboratory course. To date, the following courses have been approved to meet this alternative (all of them approved to meet a Natural Science Laboratory course)—ANR 110, ANR 130, BIO 100, BIO 101, BIO 110, CHM 101, CHM 113, CHM 131, CHM 134, PHY 111, PHY 127, and PHY 221.
  • GSTR 410: Seminar in Contemporary Global Issues (credit cannot be transferred in or waived)
  • Practical Reasoning Requirement (two approved courses, at least one of which must be firmly grounded in mathematics or statistics)
  • Six Perspectives Areas—Arts; Social Science; Western History; Religion; African Americans', Appalachians', Women's; and International (Language or World Culture option)
  • Lifetime Health and Wellness: WELL 101, WELL 102 and Physical Activity Requirement
  • Active Learning Experience (ALE)
  • Developmental Mathematics Requirement
  • Twenty (20) courses taken outside the major
  • Convocation Requirement

NOTE:  Some Berea College courses can be used to fulfill more than one requirement. When a course is used to satisfy both a General Education requirement and a major requirement (i.e., PSY 100: General Psychology, which meets the General Education Social Science Perspective, as well as the requirement for the Psychology major), the credit is counted only once and in the major discipline. No single course may fulfill more than two General Education requirements and no single transfer course can fulfill more than one General Education requirement. The required General Studies courses (GSTR 110, GSTR 210GSTR 310, GSTR 332, and GSTR 410) cannot be used to fulfill any additional requirements.

The Aims of General Education


The General Education Program will help students understand:

  1. aesthetic, scientific, historical, and interdisciplinary ways of knowing;
  2. religion, particularly Christianity, in its many expressions;
  3. Berea College’ s historical and ongoing commitments to racial (traditionally black and white) and gender equality, as well as to the Appalachian region;
  4. the natural environment and our relationship to it;
  5. the roles of science and technology in the contemporary world;
  6. U.S. and global issues and perspectives.


The General Education Program will help students develop the abilities to:

  1. read and listen effectively; write and speak effectively, with integrity and style;
  2. think critically and creatively, and reason quantitatively;
  3. develop research strategies and employ appropriate technologies as a means to deepen one’s knowledge and understanding;
  4. work effectively both independently and collaboratively;
  5. resolve conflicts nonviolently.

Habits of Mind

The General Education Program will help students:

  1. deepen their capacities for moral reflection, spiritual development, and responsible action;
  2. develop an openness to and knowledgeable appreciation of human diversity in terms of race, gender, class, religion, sexuality, language, and culture;
  3. cultivate their imagination and ability to discern connections, consider alternatives, and think about topics and issues from multiple perspectives;
  4. think and act in ways that promote peace with justice;
  5. develop habits leading to lifetime health and fitness.

Learning Experiences

The above aims of General Education Program will be achieved through a combination of learning experiences designed to help students become independent learners and thinkers.  Such learning experiences are likely to include:

  1. Discussion and lecture;
  2. Student-initiated learning;
  3. Experiential learning (for example, service-learning, travel, internships, etc.);
  4. Collaborative learning.

Core Competencies

To determine the extent to which students have attained the Aims of General Education, Berea College will regularly asses student achievement in five areas:

  1. Critical Thinking 
  2. Communication 
  3. Research and Information Literacy 
  4. Quantitative Literacy 
  5. Intercultural Competence

Practical Reasoning Requirement--Two Courses

The Practical Reasoning Requirement is met through the satisfactory completion of two courses, at least one of which must be firmly grounded in mathematics or statistics. Courses meeting this requirement are intended to help students discern connections, consider alternatives, and think about topics and issues from multiple perspectives.

Designations for Practical Reasoning Courses

An approved Practical Reasoning course that is "firmly grounded in mathematics or statistics" is called "Practical Reasoning with Quantitative Emphasis" and is given the designation "PRQ." Other approved Practical Reasoning courses are given the designation "PR."

The Committee on General Education (COGE) has approved the following courses to meet the Practical Reasoning Requirement. COGE continues to review departmental proposals for additional courses to meet this requirement in the General Education curriculum.

NOTE: Transfer credit for PSY 100 General Psychology does not meet the Practical Reasoning requirement but meets the Social Science Perspective.

Six Perspective Areas--All Six Areas Required

Individual courses may be approved to satisfy more than one Perspective Area; however, no single course will be designated to satisfy more than two Perspective Areas. Each course counts only once in the earned-credit minimum needed to graduate. The six Perspective Areas are:


develops an understanding and appreciation of artistic form and creation through the study and/or practice of the visual arts, creative writing, literature, music, dance, and/or theatre.

Social Science

develops a scientific understanding of human behavior at the individual, group, or community level.

Western History

develops an understanding and appreciation of history as a way of knowing through the study of one or more major traditions, institutions, events, or achievements of Western Civilization. The “West” denotes those regions in which the primary influence has been European in origin.


develops an understanding and appreciation of the role of religion in human experience through the study of one or more major religious traditions, institutions, or ideas.

African Americans’, Appalachians’, Women’s

develops an understanding and appreciation of diversity through the study of one or more of those groups central to Berea’s Commitments: African Americans, Appalachians, and/or Women.


develops an understanding and appreciation of world citizenship through the study of languages or world cultures. This perspective area may be met by the completion of either:

  1. two courses in the same, non-English language, one of which may be waived by a placement examination (i.e., at least one language course must be taken after entering Berea College).

    NOTE: Some majors require study in a foreign language. Students should check requirements for the department(s) they wish to pursue before deciding which option in the International Perspective to complete.


  2. two world culture courses, one of which must be Non-Western; one or both of which may be met by approved courses taken abroad.

Lifetime Health and Wellness

As of Fall 2017, all incoming students are required to complete WELL 101 and WELL 102 in their first year of attendance.  Students not successfully completing WELL 101 and WELL 102 in the first year must complete the sequence in the second year. Students who do not complete the sequence by the 5th term are subject to suspension.  Students admitted on previous catalogs must complete HLT 100 (prior to 2016-17) or WELL 101 (2016-17 catalog).

Berea College offers courses, programs, and facilities intended to promote the wellness and personal well-being of students and employees.  This commitment is reflected in the adoption of the FRESH Start Quality Enhancement Plan.  In addition to WELL 101 and WELL 102, each student must complete two 1/4-credit activity courses chosen from the 200-level HHP activity courses (from two different areas).  Waivers from the 1/4-credit activity courses are provided for students awarded a letter in an intercollegiate sport.  Students who are awarded one letter in each of two different sports may waive both of the 1/4-credit requirements.  If the student’s swimming skills are below the minimal safety/survival levels, students are required to complete HHP 200 and this may count as one of the two 1/4-credit activity courses.

Active Learning Requirement

The Active Learning Experience (ALE) is an opportunity for students to explore interconnections among various venues for learning—courses, labor, service, research, internships, etc. All ALEs must include: a) learning through sustained, continual engagement in, reflection on, and assessment of experiences; b) the use of knowledge, imagination, and judgment to address questions in novel contexts; and c) the exploration of connections between theory and practice, and between learning in courses and from experiences outside the classroom. When the experience has a strong Service-Learning component, it is designated as ALE-SL which indicates that the course is an active learning experience as a result of its incorporation of Service-Learning. Students must complete one approved ALE or ALE-SL.

Developmental Mathematics Requirement

The Development Mathematics Requirement must be waived on the basis of test scores OR met by completing MAT 010, MAT 011, and MAT 012. Each of these full-term courses carries one full load term credit but not earned credit toward graduation. The grades for these courses are “satisfactory,” “satisfactory completion,” or “unsatisfactory.”

Students are required to enroll continuously--Fall-Spring-Summer--in MAT 010, 011, and 012 until their Developmental Mathematics requirement is competed.  Those students not completing their Developmental Mathematics requirement by the beginning of their third regular term are subject to suspension for two regular terms. 

By policy, students initially placed in MAT 010 are required to attend the summer session following their first year in order to complete MAT 012. Students placed in MAT 011 who do not successfully complete in their initial attempt are required to attend the summer session following their first year in order to complete MAT 012.   

Incoming Student Requirements (GSTR, WELL, and Developmental Math)

GSTR 110 and GSTR 210 must be completed by the end of the third regular term of enrollment. GSTR 110 must be taken in the first regular term of enrollment and GSTR 210 in the second regular term. GSTR 210 may be delayed until the third regular term only if a student re-takes (and passes) GSTR 110 in the second term, or if a student takes (and passes) GST 150 for additional writing instruction. WELL 101 and WELL 102 must be taken in sequence during a students first year. 

Students who do not waive Developmental Math must maintain continual enrollment until the sequence is completed (see Developmental Math Requirement)

Twenty Earned Course Credits Outside the Major Requirement

Students must complete 20 earned course credits outside the core and distribution requirements of their major. GSTR courses are counted outside the major.  When a course is used to satisfy both a General Education requirement and a major requirement, the credit is counted only one time, and in the major discipline. Collateral courses are included in the 20 credits outside the major.

Note: If a collateral course or a substitution for a collateral course is within the major rubric, it does not count in the 20 credits outside the major.

Collateral courses are included in the major’s GPA calculation. Cross-listed courses may be counted as being outside the major if the course does not count toward any requirement for that major—including collateral courses—and if it is taken under the non-major rubric.

Residency Requirement

To earn a Berea College degree, students must complete a minimum of four (4) regular (fall and spring) terms as a degree-seeking student at Berea College.


All full-time and part-time students are expected to attend Convocations each term of attendance at Berea minus one (usually the last term of attendance). A grade of CA (Convocation 'A') is recorded for all students who are marked as attending 7 Convocations by the Convocations program. No more than 8 CA (Convocation 'A') grades may count towards the student's cumulative GPA. Convocation credit is only GPA credit and does not count towards the total credits required for graduation. Exceptions are detailed below:

  1. Students doing a Study Abroad term are exempt from the Convocation requirement during that term.
  2. Students engaged in student teaching are exempt from the Convocation requirement during that term as well as during the preceding term (generally the student's 8th term).

See the Convocations program website for specific details about participation in the Convocation program.

Note: Participation in the Convocations program is not technically a degree requirement. Students are expected to participate. A grade of CF (Convocations Fail) is recorded and averaged in to a student's GPA each term a student is expected to participate and is not marked in attendance for 7 or more Convocation events. A grade of CA (Convocations 'A'') is recorded otherwise and averaged into the GPA.