Bachelor of Arts Degree Overview

All students in College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) undergraduate degree programs are subject to the general Boston University policies and regulations governing undergraduates stated in the Bulletin. In addition, CAS students are subject to the specific policies and regulations governing CAS degree programs. All CAS students are responsible for understanding these policies and acting in accordance with them. Further information and assistance is available in CAS Academic Advising at 100 Bay State Road, on the fourth floor.

College Program for the Liberal Arts & Sciences

Students in the College of Arts & Sciences earn the degree Bachelor of Arts (BA). The CAS College Program for the Liberal Arts & Sciences is designed to ensure that all students acquire the broad and deep base of skills, competence, and knowledge that is the mark of a liberally educated person and that prepares them for a successful and creative life. It provides ample opportunity for students to design their degree program in a manner that suits their particular interests, abilities, and aspirations. All degree requirements listed below reflect specific essential principles and goals of the CAS College Program.

Degree Requirements

The CAS College Program requires a minimum of 128 credits, excluding PDP, ROTC, and CAS FY and SY courses.

The following table outlines the substantive requirements for the BA and the principles and goals with which each is aligned. Follow links for specific information about how to fulfill each requirement.

Goal Requirement
Foundational Skills

  1. English writing and related communication skills
  2. Foreign language competence for communication in a global world
  3. Basic competence in mathematics
  1. Two semesters of instruction in academic reading, writing, and research
  2. Study of a foreign language through the intermediate (fourth-semester) level, or equivalent proficiency
  3. Completion of a mathematics course numbered CAS MA 109 or higher
General Education
Acquisition of a breadth of knowledge and ways of knowing across the:

  • humanities (HU)
  • mathematical and computational sciences (MCS)
  • natural sciences (NS)
  • social sciences (SS)
Core Curriculum
Completion of the integrated Core program (eight courses, which also fulfill the writing requirement)
Divisional Studies
Two courses in each of the three divisions outside the division (HU, MCS, NS, or SS) of the student’s major
In-depth study leading to significant skills and understanding in an area of the student’s choice
Completion of an existing 9-16-course Major
Independent Major

Continuing students in the College of General Studies (CGS) will be credited with having satisfied certain CAS requirements; full information is available from CGS or in CAS Academic Advising.

CAS students in the Kilachand Honors College (KHC) complete their CAS degree requirements through a combination of coursework in Kilachand and in the College of Arts & Sciences. Advising of CAS/KHC students is coordinated between the two Colleges.

Additional Requirements for Graduation from CAS

Minimum Grade Requirement

A grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.0 in academic coursework is required for graduation. Students may offer for the degree no more than four courses (16 credits) with a grade of D. Courses taken to satisfy major and minor requirements must receive a grade of at least C.

Seven-Year Rule

The BA program must be completed within seven years after a student first matriculates, either at Boston University or at another institution.

Residency Requirement

All Boston University students must complete a minimum of 48 Boston University credits for the undergraduate program. More than that minimum may be required for completion of a student’s chosen program of study. For CAS students, courses used to satisfy specific Foundational Skills, General Education, and Major requirements of the CAS College Program must either be taken within the College of Arts & Sciences or be completed at another accredited college or university and approved by the corresponding department of the College of Arts & Sciences. Further, CAS students must complete at least four principal courses for the major at the College of Arts & Sciences; some departments may require more. “Boston University credits” include those earned in Boston University summer courses and Boston University study abroad programs.

The student is also advised to review Academic Progress and Graduation.

Additional Options


CAS students are not required to have a minor field of study. But they may choose to take advantage of the many optional Minors (usually 5-6 courses providing a systematic introduction to a discipline or interdisciplinary field) that are offered both within CAS and across Boston University’s undergraduate professional schools and colleges.

Directed Study

Directed study allows the advanced undergraduate student to pursue independent research under the guidance of a faculty specialist. Ordinarily, directed study proposals are developed in consultation with a faculty advisor and are submitted for approval not later than the week preceding registration to the Directed Study Committee in CAS Academic Advising. Directed study projects may be undertaken for variable credit (1-6 credits) and are well suited for internships that have an academic foundation. Students may complete a maximum of 12 credits of directed study while at the College of Arts & Sciences. Further information and applications are available in CAS Academic Advising or on the CAS website.

Honors in the Major

Qualified CAS students may apply to pursue a course of study leading to graduation with honors in their chosen major. More information can be found in the Honors in the Major portion of this bulletin.

Study Abroad

Study abroad in academic and combined academic/internship programs is strongly encouraged for students in all CAS majors.

Other Opportunities

Other special opportunities that applicants to CAS and continuing students may wish to consider include the following:

Planning a Degree Program in CAS

Informed decision-making is an essential key to completing degree requirements in a timely way and taking best advantage of the academic opportunities available to CAS students. In working with academic advisors to design their degree programs, students should take particular note of the following:

Freshman Course Selection

Freshmen normally are guided in the selection of courses in their first semester by a special registration and orientation process that takes place over the summer. Freshmen who offer advanced placement or other special qualifications may register for more advanced courses with the permission of the appropriate departments.

Freshmen and sophomores are generally advised to complete requirements in writing, mathematics, foreign language, and general education in their first two years.

Advanced Placement

Students entering the College of Arts & Sciences who offer satisfactory scores in advanced placement examinations may receive advanced placement and credit. No advanced standing is granted to seven-year medical or dental students. However, advanced placement exam results may be used to meet non-science departmental requirements if approved by the department.

For specific information about advanced placement or credit by examination, see the Advanced Credit Guide from BU Admissions.

Course Credits

Most CAS courses carry 4 credits; a few carry half or variable credit. Many CAS students achieve the total of 128 credits required for graduation by taking 32 distinct (4-credit) courses. A 3-credit course taken in another college at Boston University or elsewhere, or a 5-credit course taken in the quarter-hour system, is not equivalent to a 4-credit semester course in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Course Load

Students are expected to be enrolled on a full-time basis. Students ordinarily are expected to proceed at the rate of four (4-credit) courses per semester. To be considered a full-time degree candidate, a student must be registered in a minimum of three 4-credit courses (12 credits).

Students wishing to register for 19 or 20 credits, but not more than 20, may do so without prior College approval if they are in good academic standing and their advisor approves; however, first-semester freshmen and first-semester transfers may not take five 4-credit courses, Additional tuition will be charged for all credits in excess of 18, except to students with a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher, or students in their senior year who have accumulated at least 88 credits. Additional tuition will be charged to all students for credits in excess of 20. Course overload fee waiver forms should be submitted in CAS Academic Advising.

Intra-University Transfer

Students in other schools and colleges within the University wishing to transfer into the College of Arts & Sciences may obtain information in CAS Academic Advising at 100 Bay State Road, on the fourth floor. College of Arts & Sciences students wishing to transfer to another school or college within the University must consult that particular school or college.

Visiting Students

A CAS student wishing to spend a semester at another institution as an unmatriculated student should first inquire in CAS Academic Advising for information on the appropriate procedure. A student from another college or university wishing to spend a semester or two as an unmatriculated student in CAS should contact the Admissions Office for guidelines and applications.