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Graduation Requirements

Graduation Requirements

These requirements apply to students entering Fall 2016 and after. They include two new distribution requirements: Global Learning and Power, Privilege and Diversity and the new requirements for the 21st Century Music programs offered by the School of Music.


Curricular programs at DePauw University lead to the Bachelor of Arts degree, the Bachelor of Music degree, the Bachelor of Musical Arts degree or the Bachelor of Music Education degree. The curricula are developed through departmental and interdisciplinary programs and the School of Music.

Students are subject to the graduation requirements that are in effect when they first enroll at DePauw. If graduation requirements are subsequently changed, students have the option of graduating under the new requirements. Students who require more than four and one-half courses to complete their degree and interrupt their studies for more than a total of five years must meet the graduation requirements currently in effect when they graduate. Coursework more than 10 years old will be reviewed by the appropriate department and the Office of the Registrar to determine whether courses are still applicable toward the degree within the current academic catalog. 

Graduation Rate

DePauw graduates an average of 80 percent of first-time degree students in four years. An additional 3-4 percent will graduate within 6 years of enrolling at DePauw.

Academic Expectations

DePauw has considerably different academic expectations than those of high school, and it is important that students adjust to these new expectations early in their college careers.

1. College is not the end of the educational process but a foundation for a lifetime of continued learning and growth. Therefore, two of the central goals of college are to help students develop a sense of responsibility for their own learning and the ability to learn on their own.

2. Accordingly, college students spend much less time in class than they did in high school; but are correspondingly expected to do much more work outside of class than they did in high school.

3. Full-time students should plan to spend between 40 and 50 hours a week (or more) on their academic work, the equivalent of a full-time job.

4. Students are responsible for learning a great deal of the material on their own outside of the classroom.

5. Students should expect that course material will be covered at a much more rapid pace than they have experienced before. This expectation is partially based on the assumption that students are preparing carefully for class so that more material can be covered in class.

6. Students are expected to come to class prepared and ready to participate actively in the class session. They are expected to have read the texts and used other required materials carefully and comprehensively before the class session.


The policies and requirements below apply to all students earning a bachelor's degree at DePauw. Although faculty advisors and others assist in academic planning, students are responsible for planning their programs and meeting all requirements for graduation.

  • Graduation requirements for students earning a B.A. degree are the same regardless of the school or college of the student's major(s).

  • Thirty-one courses are required for students earning Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree. The Bachelor of Music (B.M.), Bachelor of Musical Arts (B.M.A.) and Bachelor of Music Education (B.M.E.) degrees require 36 courses. 

  • Each student must complete a major and achieve a 2.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) in that major and satisfy the senior major requirement. See Majors, for more information.

  • B.A. students must have 19 course credits outside the major subject and 16 outside the major area.

  • Fifteen courses, including six of the last eight courses leading to a bachelor's degree, must be completed in residence at DePauw or in a DePauw University-approved program.

  • Students must attain a cumulative GPA of 2.0. Students in the B.M.E. program need a minimum 2.8 GPA.

  • All first time degree students must enroll in a first-year seminar.

  • Students in a B.A. degree program must complete all distribution requirements. Students in the B.M., B.M.A., and B.M.E. degree programs complete distribution requirements as required by their degree program and should consult the SOM Graduation Requirements for more information. 

  • Students in a B.A. degree program must demonstrate competence in writing (W), quantitative reasoning (Q) and oral communication skills (S). Students in the School of Music B.M., B.M.A., and B.M.E. degree programs complete W and S certification.

  • Students must complete two Extended Studies experiences with passing or satisfactory grades.

Transfer students must earn a 2.0 grade point average (GPA) for all courses taken at DePauw and meet the requirements of the class with which they expect to graduate.

Maximum Limits

  • Physical Education: A maximum of one course credit of physical education (PE) activities is applicable toward the bachelor's degree. 

  • Applied Music: Students in a B.A degree program may apply up to four course credits of participatory courses in music toward the 31 course credits required for graduation. Participatory courses include applied music lessons (MUS BAS-VOC), applied music classes (MUS 901-908), dance classes (MUS 171-180), and ensembles (MUS 271-289). In any semester, credit for only one large and one small ensemble may count toward the course credit total required for graduation.

  • ROTC: A maximum of four course credits in ROTC may be applied toward an undergraduate degree at DePauw.

  • Pass/Fail: Students may take up to three Pass/Fail courses, excluding physical education activities and English 120. See Pass/Fail for additional information. 

  • Internships: A maximum of three internship course credits and five internship experiences (including Extended Study experiences) may be applied toward the bachelor's degrees.

Grade Requirement

The minimum cumulative GPA required for graduation is 2.0 for all courses in which a final grade has been recorded and which count toward the degree. See Repetition of a Course, for details about how repeated courses affect the GPA. Transfer students also must earn a cumulative 2.0 average for all courses taken at DePauw. Courses taken elsewhere do not affect the grade average at DePauw. The Bachelor of Music Education program requires a 2.8 GPA.

Residence Requirement

Fifteen courses applicable toward the degree, including six of the last eight, must be completed in residence at DePauw University or in a DePauw University-approved program. Second semester seniors are not, however, eligible to participate in off-campus or internship programs.



First-Year Seminars introduce students to college work and prepare students for the courses they will take later at DePauw. As seminars, these courses emphasize and nurture discussion and other skills essential to active student participation in their own educations. They are also each student’s gateway into DePauw’s writing curriculum and emphasize writing skills that will be taken up and built upon across the curriculum. Seminars are offered as full credit courses to first-year students in the fall term. While First-Year Seminars differ from one another in topic and in the kind of assignments they ask students to complete, they are similar in the following ways. Each seminar:

  • creates a sense of intellectual community for the students and faculty member involved;

  • uses discussion as the primary basis for classroom learning;

  • emphasizes critical writing, thinking and reading;

  • encourages the academic growth and development of individual students; and

  • uses a variety of writing assignments, along with research, or problem-solving assignments, designed to give students skills and modes of analysis that will serve them well in their other courses at DePauw.

Effective Fall 2021: Students may withdraw from the First-Year Seminar only under exceptional circumstances, but may not drop the course during the initial registration adjustment period. Students who fail or withdraw from their First-Year Seminar will be required to pass a designated spring term writing course in the semester following their First-Year Seminar. This course, to be indicated by the Writing Curriculum Committee, will fulfill the writing goals of First-Year Seminar. Matriculated students entering in the spring term and transfer students do not take First-Year Seminars.


In their first and second years at DePauw students experience multiple modes of inquiry, cultivate rhetorical, analytical, and problem-solving skills, and explore the different realms of human knowledge. Subsequent off-campus experiences (Winter Term, off-campus study, internships) help students develop intellectual and personal maturity, as well as a spirit of independent inquiry. The increasingly complex courses within the major field of study during their first three years provide students with a deep knowledge of a particular area and an understanding of its fundamental questions and methodologies. The senior year at DePauw University represents the culmination of students’ curricular experience. Seniors use this time to draw together and synthesize these various threads of study and experience through a variety of intellectual activities: senior seminars, comprehensive exams, theses, projects, performances and/or exhibitions. Satisfactory completion of a senior capstone is required to complete a major at DePauw. Departments, schools, and programs are responsible for determining that each student in the major is sufficiently prepared in the field as a whole, and for certifying that the student has satisfied the senior capstone requirement. Departments, schools, and programs must notify students of their senior capstone requirements by the seventh week of the first semester each year. 

In the senior capstone experience, students intentionally integrate, interpret, and create knowledge in their chosen fields through scholarly or artistic exploration and expression. This is both the challenge and the reward of their four years spent in the intellectual life of the University. Capstone experiences also prepare students for the intellectual, ethical, interpersonal, and professional challenges that lie ahead after graduation, whether or not they go on to formal graduate study. Academic disciplines vary, so each department, school, and program has designed its own senior capstone requirements. These are described in detail in this catalog under the requirements for each department, school, or program, and on the department, school, or program website. 

A number of departments, schools, and programs offer students a senior seminar that provides a summative experience of the discipline. Some senior seminars focus on particular topics or themes. Senior seminars often require completion of a substantive piece of original work.

A department, school, or program may require students to complete a senior thesis or project over the course of one or both semesters of their senior year. Some departments, schools, and programs provide an option for students who have completed the core senior requirement to pursue additional independent work. All seniors with appropriate academic credentials, as determined by each department, school, or program, may apply for the opportunity to conduct a departmental or interdisciplinary capstone project or thesis by contacting a faculty member of their choice.

Departments, schools, or programs may require examinations that serve as a comprehensive review and synthesis of crucial material in the discipline as a component of the senior capstone. Satisfactory performance on these exams is required to earn a major. Students who do not perform satisfactorily on a comprehensive examination the first time have the right to be reexamined once. Students must pass the comprehensive examination within one academic year after the first commencement date following the initial examination. At the discretion of the department, school, or program, a student may take a maximum of two re-examinations.


DePauw University is proud of the work done by our senior students. To express this pride, and to recognize student work, the university sets aside time in the Spring semester for campus-wide celebration of senior accomplishments. The university encourages departments, schools, and programs to highlight or display the work of all successful senior capstone students in ways that are most appropriate for the discipline (e.g., public poster presentations, performances, exhibitions, readings, etc.). In addition, the university publicly honors the best senior work in various ways such as a special awards ceremony, a senior honors booklet, and/or on the university website.


The sought-after skills employers seek from graduates include the ability to write in every discipline; the ability to reason; and the ability to speak coherently and persuasively.  DePauw is one of the few liberal arts universities in the nation that builds these key competencies throughout its curriculum, in every major.  Our alumni tell us time and again that knowing how to write, reason and speak well have been keys to their success.  Learn more about Writing (W), Quantitative Reasoning (Q) and Speaking/Oral Communication (S).

Students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree must earn certification in all three competencies. Students pursing the Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Music Arts, or Bachelor of Music Education must earn certification in the Writing and Oral Communication competencies. Students must demonstrate their competence in these areas by satisfactorily completing courses that integrate these skills with academic subjects. Competence course offerings may not be taken Pass/Fail unless the student has previously established competency and has the permission of the instructor.



Writing at DePauw is taught across the curriculum on the assumption that skill in written communication is intimately connected with clear thinking in all subjects. We believe that writing is an essential means for thinking and learning across the University. Writing requirements are also premised on the idea that students do not learn to write in any one particular course, that is, no single course completes one’s growth and development as a writer and thinker. Rather, writing is a skill that must be nurtured and developed throughout one’s intellectual journey.

DePauw’s writing program begins with a writing intensive First-Year Seminar, builds with a required writing-competency or ‘W’ course during the sophomore year, and culminates with demonstrated writing competency within the major. This last feature in particular marks DePauw’s embrace of the idea that the nature and role of writing varies across disciplines. Writing for different purposes and audiences must be tailored to demands inherent in the disciplines themselves. Regardless of one’s chosen major, a DePauw education emphasizes the importance of writing to thinking and learning.


As part of the writing program, each student takes a writing intensive First-Year Seminar (described in detail above). First-Year Seminars introduce students to skills essential for success at DePauw generally, but focus on writing and oral communication specifically given their centrality to everything we do. The course begins nurturing essential skills in writing, thinking and speaking with the expectation that these skills will be reinforced and further developed throughout students’ time at DePauw both in courses specific to the writing curriculum and in broader general education and departmental/program curricula.

As part of the developmental approach DePauw embraces, students must complete a course with a W designation during their sophomore year. Sophomore W courses are offered across the curriculum each semester; enrollment is limited to approximately 18, with sophomores receiving first priority during registration. The sophomore W combines an emphasis on academic content with practice in writing. Such courses encourage:

  • the logical development of argument, clear and precise diction and a coherent prose style;

  • the development of general skills of expository writing as they apply in the academic disciplines; and

  • the responsible, appropriate and effective use of sources and special or technical language.

Students in a B.A degree program must achieve W certification during their sophomore year. (Students in the B.M., B.M.E., and B.M.A. degree programs have until the second semester of their junior year to complete the W requirement.) If certification is not attained by the appropriate deadline for their degree program, students must complete a W course each succeeding semester until they achieve certification.

DePauw’s writing curriculum also includes requirements–developed by each department or program–that focus on the skills, methodologies, and types of writing specific to one’s chosen major. The writing curriculum thus sharpens skills throughout the college career, culminating in explicit focus on the role of writing within specific academic fields.


Writing and the teaching of writing are emphasized in many courses at DePauw, far more than will be listed specifically here. Still, certain courses deserve special attention.

Writing Seminar for Non-Native Speakers of English I and II (ENG 110 and ENG 115) are offered for students whose first language is not English. English courses for non-native speakers of English are aimed at strengthening existing language skills and developing new skills necessary for academic success. Placement in the appropriate English courses is made based on three criteria: 1) English language assessments administered on campus during orientation, 2) recommendation from the English language coordinator, and 3) confirmation by appointed faculty representing the English department (department chair, W Center director, etc.). Students are expected to complete ENG 110 or 115 in the semester assigned. Students placed in ENG 110 in the Fall Semester will be expected to take ENG 115 in the Spring. They may withdraw from these courses only under exceptional circumstances, such as extended illness, with the permission of the Petitions Committee.

College Writing I (ENG 120) stresses the development of writing skills fundamental for expressing ideas, imagination and opinion. By means of short essay assignments, some of which may be reflections on their own experience, students will build fluency in written expression, clarity of style and proficiency in the use of language. ENG 120 is offered to first-year students in the fall semester as an elective on a Pass/Fail basis.

Writing Intensive Topics (WIT) courses are offered for first-year students who enjoy writing and seminar-style discussion, and/or who seek to sharpen their skills in college writing. WIT courses are offered in the spring semester as electives, with priority given to first-year students; other interested students may enroll as space permits.

Quantitative Reasoning

Courses designated as fulfilling the quantitative reasoning (Q) competency requirement encourage:

  • understanding quantitative concepts, representational formats and methodologies of a particular discipline;

  • evaluating quantitative evidence and arguments;

  • making decisions based upon quantitative information; and

  • learning through problem-solving, laboratory experiments and projects.

Students must achieve Q certification by the end of their junior year. If students do not achieve certification by the end of the first semester of the junior year, they must complete a Q course each succeeding semester until certification is achieved. Q courses are offered in several academic subjects each semester, subject to approval by the Q committee, and normally carry one course credit each. They emphasize both quantitative reasoning and mastery of course content.

Based on standardized test scores and other evidence of preparation, incoming students may be invited to take Introduction to Quantitative Reasoning (UNIV 101) as preparation for a Q course. UNIV 101 reviews and develops quantitative reasoning skills through problem-solving and the application of mathematical concepts (such as measurement, geometry, statistics and algebra) in various contexts.

Under unusual circumstances, students may receive Q certification in a non-Q course taken at DePauw that includes substantial quantitative work. Contact the director of the Quantitative Reasoning program for more information on "alternate Q."

Oral Communication

Effective expression in speech as well as writing has been perennially at the core of liberal education. The competent expression, exchange and examination of facts and ideas remain vital to the educational process itself. It is also essential for service and achievement in professional, civic and personal life.

To satisfy the oral communication requirement, students must demonstrate such competence in an S course or in a designated alternative. S courses are offered in many departments at the 300-400 level.

S courses help students develop:

  • the presentation of logical arguments and refutation;

  • the ability to distinguish and identify important substantive arguments;

  • the ability to skillfully analyze, evaluate, and integrate of supporting material;

  • the selection and implementation of effective presentation style(s);

  • the ability to adapt the manner of delivery to specific audiences and situations;

  • the demonstration of techniques for leading and participating in discussion(s);

  • the demonstration of critical listening skills;

  • the demonstration of effective and reflective listening; and

  • the knowledge of the ethical obligations of speakers, discussants, and listeners.

Under unusual circumstances, students may receive S certification outside of an S course, while enrolled at DePauw. Contact the director of the Speaking and Listening program for more information on "alternate S."


DePauw University’s general education requirements produce both an exciting and fulfilling undergraduate educational experience and prepare our students for a life of engaged, thoughtful, reasoned choices. The University’s Competency Requirements (in Writing, Quantitative Reasoning, and Speaking and Listening) develop students’ abilities in overarching skills of analysis and communication, while the distribution requirements allow students to investigate a broad range of means of inquiry and look critically at the world.

The General Education program creates a network of skills and abilities that successful students will draw on throughout their college experience and their careers after DePauw.

The Distribution Requirements are organized into two overarching umbrellas:

  • Liberal Arts Foundations
  • Global and Local Awareness

The University holds an abiding belief in the value of the core liberal arts and that students learn best when they are able to approach problems from a variety of perspectives. In their lives after DePauw, students will constantly draw upon their liberal arts training. The Liberal Arts Foundations, in which students complete six courses, provide a crucial foundation for life and for a dynamic undergraduate curriculum.

At the same time, students broaden their Global and Local Awareness. We live in a world that feels more or less natural to us, but that world is constructed by, among other things, the language or languages we speak, the exercise of power, and attitudes and prejudices we inherit from friends, family, teachers, and the media. To begin seeing beyond our limited perspectives, students will study foreign language and foreign cultures and how inequities of power shape the world.



Students earn two course credits in the arts and humanities. These courses explore fundamental questions of experience, belief, and expression. Through critical observation, textual analysis, and creative engagement, they consider the realms recalled or imagined in the arts, history, literature, philosophy, and religion.


Students earn two course credits in the behavioral, computational, mathematical, and natural sciences. These courses explore the physical, mechanical, and quantitative working of numbers, matter, and life. Through observation, experimentation, and scientific and mathematical reasoning, they seek to comprehend the world and model its operations.


Students earn two course credits in the social sciences. These courses explore cultural, economic, political, and social questions. Through observational, comparative, and analytic methods, they seek to understand human identities and interactions at the personal, local, and global levels.



Effective Fall 2019, students enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts will complete two semesters of a language other than English. To fulfill the requirement, both semesters must be taken in the same language. Students may choose to complete this requirement with a language they have studied previously or they may choose to begin a new language at the first-semester level. Students taking a language studied previously should begin their language study at the appropriate level, according to a placement exam and in consultation with the director of the appropriate language program. Students may fulfill part of the requirement by taking one semester in an off-campus program with advance approval of the relevant language program director. International students whose first language is not English may be certified as meeting this requirement through the Office of the Registrar, and in consultation with the director of English for Academic Purposes. With approval of the relevant language director, students who transfer to DePauw may fulfill one semester of the language requirement through transfer credit (this is in addition to the maximum of four credits that transfer students may apply to distribution requirements). Students in the B.M., B.M.A., and B.M.E. degree programs should consult the SOM graduation requirements, which are different from those required of students earning a B.A. degree). Please visit the Language Requirement and Placement page for more information on placement exam procedures, first-semester language courses, as well as information and contacts for specific languages. 



Students earn one course credit through the study of a culture or cultures distinct from US culture. This may be earned in DePauw courses focusing on the politics, society, religion, history, or arts of a foreign culture or through a DePauw-approved study-abroad experience. International students fulfill this requirement through their study at DePauw. Students who earn at least 0.75 course credit in an off-campus course pre-approved as a Global Learning course will satisfy this requirement.

Global Learning (GL) Goals:

  1. Engagement with cultural difference: Gain a critical understanding of perspectives and voices of specific people and places outside of the U.S.
  2. Historical/structural analysis: Understand and analyze the complex historical relationships between cultures and identities in a globalized framework.
  3. Recognition and development of cross-cultural skills: Develop a self-reflective sensibility towards cultural difference through the critical understanding of your globally-situated identities and responsibilities.

Power, Privilege AND DIVERSITY

Students earn one course credit in courses that have as a major component the analysis of the interplay of power and privilege in human interactions. Such courses will frequently focus on the experience of non-dominant members of political or social groups. They might also emphasize the dynamics of inequality from a more theoretical perspective.

Power, Privilege and Diversity (PPD) Learning Goals:

  1. Recognition: Demonstrate your recognition of the barriers to inclusion for groups that experience marginalization in the United States.
  2. Historical/structural analysis: Understand and analyze the structures and institutions of power that have historically created and sustained marginalization in the United States.
  3. Lived experiences: Understand and assess inequities, perspectives, and lived experiences for groups that experience marginalization in the United States.



Courses that meet the distribution requirements are listed in the Courses section of this Catalog and in the Schedule of Classes each semester, with the abbreviation of the area of study following the course title.

  1. Working closely with their academic advisors, students should, as far as possible, complete these requirements within the first two years. If the requirements have not been completed by the end of sophomore year, students must enroll in at least one eligible course in each succeeding semester until they complete the requirements.
  2. Each of the six course credits used to complete the Arts and Humanities, Science and Mathematics, and Social Science distribution requirements must be from different subject areas. The subject area is denoted by the text code preceding the course number in the schedule of classes and on the transcript.
  3. For students who enter DePauw as first-time degree seeking students, course credit used to fulfill distribution requirements in Arts and Humanities, Science and Mathematics, Social Science, and Power, Privilege and Diversity must be earned through courses offered at DePauw. All levels of "Advanced" placement and transfer credit (dual enrollment credit) do not apply to completing distribution requirements. With approval of the Registrar and the chair of the relevant department, students who transfer to DePauw may count transfer courses toward distribution requirements in the areas of Arts and Humanities, Science and Mathematics, and Social Sciences. A maximum of four distribution requirement credits may be earned by transfer credit.
  4. Courses used to fulfill distribution requirements may not be taken on a Pass/Fail basis.
  5. No course may be used to satisfy more than one of a student’s distribution requirements.
  6. Individual departments, programs, and the School of Music, with the guidance and approval of the Course and Calendar Oversight Committee, determine which of their courses meet distribution requirements.


Every DePauw student must complete at least two Extended Studies opportunities with a passing or satisfactory grade. Options for completing the Extended Studies requirement include:

  • credit-bearing Winter Term or May Term course

  • approved non-credit-bearing course, internship, travel experience or service learning program

  • semester-long off-campus study opportunity or internship

  • independent study, research  project or creative  project

Each of these experiences must be pre-approved to count toward the Extended Studies requirement. At least one of these opportunities must be completed through participation in a DePauw-led Winter Term or May Term course, group travel experience or service learning program. (For students entering before Fall 2015 the requirement is that at least one ES experience be in a Winter or May term.)

Students who receive incomplete (I) grades in an Extended Studies opportunity must complete the course by the end of the following semester or the grade will automatically convert to grade of failure (F) or unsatisfactory (U). Students who have a deficient number of Extended Studies opportunities may petition to make up a course in an alternative way. Graduating seniors who receive a failing or unsatisfactory Extended Studies grade during the senior year may petition to make up the course during the final spring semester if appropriate arrangements can be made. Tuition is charged to enroll in a make-­up Extended Studies opportunity that is credit-bearing course.