Liberal Education Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the Liberal Education Program (LEP) requirement?

The Liberal Education Program (“Lib Ed”) is an UMD undergraduate degree requirement for all students to take courses in a variety of academic categories including; Logic & Quantitative Reasoning; Oral Communication & Languages; Theorizing, Race, Power and Justice; Writing & Information Literacy, Fine Arts, Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Global Perspectives, Cultural Diversity in the U.S., and Sustainability. This program accounts for a portion of the minimum 120 credits required for graduation. LEP is woven throughout each term a student is enrolled.

The list of the courses approved for the categories, can be found in the Liberal Education section of the undergraduate CATALOG.

Guide for the Lib Ed Program for 2023-24 (faculty reference).

Q: What is the purpose of the LEP?

The idea behind the liberal education program is to develop reflective, informed, and engaged student thinkers. In also helps students identify additional areas of interest. Liberal Education courses help:

  • Develop broad knowledge.

  • Develop foundational knowledge and skills

  • Develop critical thinking, oral and written communication skills

  • Develop abilities necessary to solve problems, deal with change, contribute to the learning environment

Q: Why is the LEP required?

LEP courses teach you to learn, use, and develop your skills and abilities. These will allow you to do well in classes in your major, minor, and in your future career. LEP lays down a foundation of knowledge, intellectual values, and abilities that will enable you to keep on learning throughout life. LEP broadens your college education. It develops abilities that can help you in any professional career that seeks skills such as public speaking, writing, and the ability to hold conversation in social situations.

Taking courses in the various academic categories, will help familiarize you with their respective ways of information. If you are undeclared, it may also help you decide on a major, or introduce you to a new field of study that you might not have considered pursuing. Go ahead and take a course that you are interested in and it will apply towards graduation.

Q: Do I have to complete the LEP requirement?

The requirement is waived for students who are admitted with an accredited Associate in Arts or Science degree or the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum. Otherwise, yes, you have to fulfill it in order to get a bachelor's degree from UMD.

Q: How do UMD Lib Eds courses transfer if I plan to finish my bachelor's degree at another school?

We cannot guarantee that completing the UMD's LEP, in whole or in part here at UMD, will be counted as satisfying corresponding requirement(s) at another institution. You will have to consult with your intended institution's admissions office. Consult with our advising office in regards to completing the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum

Q: When should I take LEP classes?

Start taking LEP courses your first semester. They connect and teach you knowledge that will assist you to deciding your major and/or minor. They are provide you opportunities to enhance or polish your skills. Good examples are SOC 1101 Intro to Sociology, COMM 1112 Public Speaking or another Oral Communication & Languages course, or a course to fulfill the Logic & Quantitative Reasoning category. Pay attention to course descriptions as some courses are sequential and may have pre-requisites.  

Q. Should I take all of my LEP courses during my first two years?

No, it is recommended to weave LEP courses throughout your undergraduate years. You may take some Major/Minor courses at the same time as LEP courses; in fact we encourage you to do this. How you complete your LEP will depend on your planned schedule. Work closely with your advisor and the advising office to assist with your plan that works well for you.

It is our policy that students either declare a major or file a Plan for Major Declaration form once they have reached 45 or more semester credits. This includes both completed and in-progress credits. 

Q: Can any course substitute for a course in the LEP?

No, not all courses count towards a LEP category (such as courses transferred in as electives, some course for your major, or even courses taken for LEP at another institution). Courses not approved will not be accepted as substitutions for approved LEP courses. Check with your advisor or the Advising Office for more details.

Q: How do LEP courses relate to my major?

In many cases, some of the introductory courses required for your major may count as a course within LEP and draw on abilities developed in other courses. Often, LEP courses develop abilities not specifically addressed in your major but still vital to career success. It is often possible to count the same course towards the requirement in both a major (or minor) and LEP. Your advisor can help you plan both the LEP and major components of your program of study to take full advantage of these possibilities. 

Q: In LEP, there are so many courses to choose from. Which should I take?

The LEP gives you a lot of flexibility to decide what courses you will use to complete the various categories. If you are pursuing a second major, minor, or simply are interested in pursuing a subject outside your major to a greater extent and you still hope to graduate close to 120 credits, then you may consider picking courses that will meet LEP requirements and your other requirements at the same time. Your advisor can help, but ultimately it is up to you to put together an individual plan that is useful and complements your areas of study.

Q: What does it mean when a course is listed under more than one category?

Courses listed under two LEP categories are called “double dippers”. For example, some Natural Science courses are listed under Sustainability, some Social Sciences are listed under Cultural Diversity in the U.S., and some Humanities are listed under Global Perspectives. In such cases, the course satisfies the requirements for both categories. Some LEP courses are required in majors, and you may use them to fulfill the requirements in both areas. See an advisor for help with this.

Q. Additional questions?

Please direct any other questions you might have to the our Advising Office or other UMD Advising office.