- General (Divisional) Distribution
- United States Identities and Differences
- Quantitative Thinking
- Second Language Proficiency
- Language Placement
- Complete list of graduation requirements in the College Catalog
Breadth is essential for a liberal arts education. The distribution requirements ensure students take some courses in each of our four academic divisions. It’s a good idea to complete these distribution requirements early in your college career, but you won’t complete them all in your first semester, or even your first year. College courses taken prior to entering Macalester will automatically be reviewed and applied toward this requirement. Credits earned through AP and IB tests may not be applied to this requirement.
- Social Sciences (8 semester credits required):
Courses with a Social Sciences designation may be found in American Studies, Anthropology, Asian Languages and Cultures, Economics, Educational Studies, Environmental Studies, Geography, International Studies, Linguistics, Media and Cultural Studies, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.
- Natural Sciences and Mathematics (8 semester credits required):
Courses with a Natural Sciences and Mathematics designation may be found in Anthropology, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Studies, Geography, Geology, Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, Philosophy, Physics and Astronomy, Psychology and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.
- Humanities and Fine Arts (12 semester credits required; with at least 4 credits in Humanities and at least four credits in the Fine Arts):
- Courses with Humanities designations may be found in American Studies, Asian Languages and Cultures, Classics, Educational Studies, English, Environmental Studies, French and Francophone Studies, German and Russian Studies, Hispanic Studies, History, International Studies, Linguistics, Media and Cultural Studies, Philosophy, Religious Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.
- Courses with the Fine Arts designations may be found in American Studies, Art and Art History, Asian Languages and Cultures, Classics, English, International Studies, Media and Cultural Studies, Music, Theatre and Dance, and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality
More information about course designations is available in the College Catalog and in the class schedule.
By recognizing that all lives are shaped by historical dynamics and contemporary structures that operate on transnational, international, and global levels, the Internationalism Requirement contributes to Macalester’s commitment to preparing a thoughtful and principled citizenry that takes account of the complexities of a global society. An understanding of these complexities dislodges presuppositions about what is universal and what is particular, informs thoughtful consideration of how to address pressing issues, places persons and nations in context, and encourages reflection about one’s identity, agency and responsibility in the world. One course with the "I" designation is required for graduation. College courses taken prior to entering Macalester may be applied to meet this requirement on a petition basis. Forms are available from the Registrar's website.
Social groups and identities emerge from complex cultural, economic, political, social and institutional processes. The United States Identities and Differences Requirement focuses on the historical origins and contemporary implications of these power-laden processes. While this requirement focuses on the United States as an exemplar, the knowledge and skills it fosters are transferable to other national and international contexts. One course with the "USID" designation is required for graduation. College courses taken prior to entering Macalester may be applied to meet this requirement on a petition basis. Forms are available from the Registrar's website.
Many policy debates, scientific discussions, political issues, and personal and organizational decisions involve judgments about claims based upon quantitative evidence. To critically evaluate these claims, the individual must have basic familiarity with such concepts as counting, measurement, estimation, and data analysis. Equally important is the capacity to ask and answer questions in a manner appropriate to these quantitative tools and to understand when the use of quantitative tools is or is not appropriate. The purpose of the Quantitative Thinking requirement is to ensure that students have the opportunity to develop such skills.
Students must take one or more courses with a Q3, Q2, or Q1 designation. A single Q3 course completely satisfies the requirement; alternatively, a Q2 course together with another Q2 or Q1 course, or three Q1 courses, can meet the requirement. College courses taken prior to entering Macalester may be applied to meet this requirement on a petition basis. Forms are available from the Registrar's website.
Macalester seeks to ensure all students receive writing instruction, experience writing as a process, and receive feedback on the mechanics and substance of their writing. To meet our Writing Requirement students will take three courses designated as argumentative writing (WA), writing as craft (WC) or writing as practice (WP). Of the three at least one must be WA and no more than one WP. College courses taken prior to entering Macalester may be applied to meet this requirement on a petition basis. Forms are available from the Registrar's website.
Check out the list of all the Fall 2017 courses approved to meet the general education (GenEd) requirements in Internationalism, US Identities and Differences, Quantitative Thinking and Writing.
In order to graduate from Macalester all students must demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English equivalent to four semesters worth of college level instruction in that language. This level of proficiency enables students to meaningfully engage both the language itself as well as the cultures connected to it. Most students meet this requirement by completing Intermediate II in their chosen language at Macalester. Students who receive college credit for Intermediate II through a qualifying score on the AP exam, or take Intermediate II at another college and receive transfer credit, or earn a qualifying score on the SAT II exam (620 with listening or 700 without listening) will have this requirement marked as met once we receive the official scores or transcripts.
Students whose native language is not English should submit appropriate documentation to Academic Programs and Advising to have their proficiency in reading, writing, listening and speaking in more than one language verified. The most common means of demonstrating proficiency is a transcript from high school that indicates the language of instruction in the student’s secondary school was a language other than English or that the student took courses in a native language as well as in English. Students who do not have such documentation should contact Academic Programs and Advising once on campus to discuss other options for demonstrating multilingual proficiency.
Students who have met our four semester proficiency requirement are welcome to take advanced level courses in that language or to pursue a new language at the appropriate level based on their preparation. Learn more about the World Languages Macalester offers.
Students who have previously studied another language have several options for determining placement.
Students who have a college level course in the language are free to register for the next course in the sequence.
Those who have taken a qualifying exam (i.e., SAT, AP, IB) may submit test scores to determine where in the language sequence they should begin.
Students who have not taken these exams, but will continue studying a language they pursued in high school, should place themselves in the course they feel is appropriate given their experience, course work, ability and the guidelines provided by the corresponding language department.
Students without college credit who wish to continue in the study of French, German or Spanish are required to take an online placement test, offered through a program called WebCape. The test is offered free of charge and will help students decide which course to take.
Students who have previously studied Japanese or Chinese are invited to take a placement test during orientation to confirm which course is most appropriate. The placement test will be on Friday, September 1, 8:00 a.m.
Instructions for taking the WebCape exam are as follows:
Enter the password: learninglanguages17 (all lower case)
Select the appropriate language.
Follow the instructions on screen. (For your ID number, use your student ID number, if known. If not, use 5551.)
The test takes approximately 15-20 minutes. At the end of the test the main screen appears indicating your score and the corresponding course to take.
The purpose of this test is to help you decide what level of language course to register for with a degree of confidence that you will complete the course successfully. Accordingly, we require that you take this test closed-book, with no assistance from others.