Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degree Requirements (pre-2024)


Degree Requirements for students who enter the program in 2023/24 or earlier

In order to earn your degree, you must complete at least 120 BA-eligible credits. For most programs, at least 72 credits must be taken within the Faculty of Arts.

Did you begin your BA Degree in Winter 2024 or later?

If you began your Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in the 2024/25 Winter Session or later, please refer to the new degree requirements.

Overview of BA requirements

  • Degree credit minimum (120 credits)
  • Writing and Research (6 credits)
  • Language (3 options)
  • Science (6 credits)
  • Literature (6 credits)
  • Major (42+ credits)
  • Outside the field of study (60* credits)
  • Upper-level credits (48* credits)
  • Arts credit minimum (72* credits)

Degree credit minimum

In order to earn a Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degree, you must complete a minimum of 120 credits. A minimum of 50% of total degree credits, 50% of upper-level degree credits, and 50% of upper-level credits for each program (honours, major, or minor) must be completed while registered as a student in the Faculty of Arts at UBC.

Writing and Research requirement

As an Arts student, you must fulfill six credits towards the writing and research requirement, comprised of three credits in a writing-focused course and three credits in a research-intensive course. Plan to take your writing course at the start of your studies, and your research-intensive course near the end.

Writing component

Being able to read, write, and research at the university level is fundamental to your future academic success. Your writing course will prepare you with skills you will need and use throughout the remainder of your degree, regardless of your academic focus. Take a course that fulfills the writing component in your first year at UBC, or within your first 30 credits.

If you do not complete a course that fulfills the writing component within either your first 54 credits or, for transfer students, your first year in the Faculty of Arts, your registration will be blocked. If this happens to you, you will receive an email notifying you that you will not be able to advance in your degree or register for more courses until Arts Academic Advising approves your plan to complete a writing course.

To satisfy the writing component, complete one of the following:

If you fail a writing component course, you’ll either need to repeat it or take a different writing course as you cannot graduate without satisfying this requirement. Before you register again, reflect on why you struggled, and think about what you need to do to succeed in your second attempt. As part of this process, consider accessing UBC resources like Arts Academic Advising, the Learning Commons, or Arts Peer Academic Coaches for learning and planning support.

If you fail the writing component twice, but otherwise meet continuation requirements, you may continue your studies but will be restricted to a reduced credit load of nine credits maximum per term (Winter session) and nine credits over the entire Summer session with no more than six credits per term. These credit restrictions remain until the writing component is successfully completed. You will not be able to graduate if you do not satisfy the writing component.

Research component

Your research component course is your opportunity to contribute to knowledge in your field and to engage with the scholarly community.

You must successfully complete three credits in a research-intensive course between 30 and 120 credits of your Arts degree. Typically, you will register in a research-intensive course specified for your program (major).

Research-intensive courses often have prerequisites and some will be restricted to majors in the discipline. Be sure to investigate your options early so you can ensure you will be prepared.

Qualifies as a research-intensive course:

Beginning Winter 2023-2024, all previously approved GERM course codes will be GERN (taught in German+) or GMST (taught in English+). Please refer to the GERM to GERN/GMST Course Equivalencies table for the corresponding new course codes and numbers.

  • Asian Studies (ASIA) 443 “National Narratives in Chinese Literature and Film”
  • Asian Studies (ASIA) 447 “Korean Women’s Literature”
  • Asian Studies (ASIA) 490A 001 “Asian Classics: Partition of India in Film and Narrative” taught in 18W
  • Asian Studies (ASIA) 490H 001 “Asian Classics: Representations of the Chinese Ghost” taught in 20W Term 2, 21W Term 2 (section 002), 23W Term 2, and 24W Term 2
  • Central, Eastern and Northern European Studies (CENS) 303D “Representations of the Holocaust”, taken as part of the “Witnessing Auschwitz” Global Seminar (other sections of CENS 303 do not qualify)
  • Computer Science (CPSC) 436 “Topics in Computer Science – Video Game Programming” taught in 17W and 18W
  • Computer Science (CPSC) 455
  • Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice (GRSJ) 401 “Body, Gender, and Society”
  • Haida Gwaii Semesters (HGSE) 350 “Case Studies in Haida Gwaii”
  • MATH 344 taught in 2020W only
  • NEST400A "Interconnections in the Late Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean" (taught in 2020W)
  • Public Policy and Global Affairs, PPGA591I and PPGA591J, taught in 2021W
  • ASTU 401D "Special Topics in Arts Studies - DIRECTED STUDY" (taught in 2022W, 2023W, 2024W)


Does not qualify as a research-intensive course:

  • Asian Studies (ASIA) 478
  • Linguistics (LING) 447H “Topics in Linguistics – American Sign Language” taught in 17W and 18W
  • JAPN 452 taught in 16W
  • 400-level Political Science (POLI) courses taught as Student-Directed Seminars

Language requirement

As an Arts student, you are encouraged to fulfill the language requirement within your first 60 credits.

To fulfill the language requirement, you must complete one of the following:

Prior to admission, and while still in secondary school, you can complete a language course (excluding English) at a level equivalent to BC Grade 12.

  • This option is particularly recommended for students who have knowledge of a language but no secondary school or university transcript to prove competency.
  • If you are planning on completing a proficiency examination to meet the language requirement, plan well-ahead.
  • Arrangements for proficiency testing must be made through the department providing instruction in the language.
  • If a language is not taught at UBC (e.g. modern Arabic, Greek, or Hebrew) contact Arts Academic Advising in your first year of study to confirm the possibility of testing in your language.

  • View a list of UBC courses that fulfill the language requirement.
  • Most of these courses have prerequisites, so we strongly advise that you begin working towards this requirement in your first year.
  • Some courses have placement tests and may not be offered every session, so be sure to plan ahead and check the course schedule or contact the department.

Qualifies as a language requirement:

  • Middle East Studies (MES) 450B “Directed Studies Project”

Science requirement

In order to ensure the development of an understanding and appreciation of scientific methods, applications, and reasoning, you must complete six credits chosen from approved courses administered by the Arts, Science, Forestry, Land and Food Systems, Medicine, or Applied Science faculties.

You are not permitted to earn credit for two or more courses with significant overlap, so consult the credit exclusion list to see which courses overlap before registering.

Qualifies as a science requirement:

  • SPPH 381C, Environmental Impacts on Human Health, taught in 17W, 18W, 19W, 20W, 21W, 22W, 23W
  • SPPH 381E, Work & Health
  • ARCL 325, Paleoanthropology
  • ASIC 220, Introduction to Sustainability
  • APBI 100, Soil and the Global Environment

The following courses satisfy the science requirement and are well suited for students with little or no science background.

Anthropological Archaeology

  • ARCL 140: Bones: The Origins of Humanity
  • ARCL 203: Archaeological Methods
  • ARCL 228: Forensic Anthropology
  • ARCL 235: Controlling Nature: Plant and Animal Domestication
  • ARCL 326: Primatology
  • ARCL 345: Molecular Archaeology


Applied Science

  • APSC 366: The Art of the Possible: An Introduction to Engineering for Non-Engineers


Arts and Science Interdisciplinary

  • ASIC 200: Global Issues in the Arts and Sciences
  • ASIC 220: Introduction to Sustainability



  • ASTR 310: Exploring the Universe I: The Solar System
  • ASTR 311: Exploring the Universe II: Stars and Galaxies


Atmospheric Science

  • ATSC 113: Applied Meteorology



  • BIOL 343: Plants and Peoples
  • BIOL 344: Human Heredity and Evolution
  • BIOL 344: Human Heredity and Evolution
  • BIOL 345: Human Ecology
  • BIOL 346: Microbes and Society


Cellular, Anatomical, and Physiological Sciences

  • CAPS 210: Exploring the Human Body: How does the body work?


Earth and Ocean Sciences

  • EOSC 310: The Earth and the Solar System
  • EOSC 311: The Earth and its Resources
  • EOSC 312: The Earth System and Environmental Evolution
  • EOSC 314: The Ocean Environment
  • EOSC 315: The Ocean Ecosystem


Food, Nutrition, and Health

  • FNH 200: Exploring Our Food
  • FNH 250: Nutrition Concepts and Controversies



  • GEOS 102: Introduction to Geographical Biogeosciences: Climate and Vegetation
  • GEOS 103: Introduction to Geographical Biogeosciences: Water and Landscapes


Land & Food Systems

  • LFS 340: First Nations Health and the Traditional Role of Plants



  • MATH 335: Introduction to Mathematics


Natural Resource Conservation

  • CONS 127: Observing the Earth from Space



  • PHYS 340: Revolutions in Understanding the Universe
  • PHYS 341: Physics of Music
  • PHYS 343: Physical Science by Inquiry


Population and Public Health

  • SPPH 301: Understanding the Sociocultural Determinants of the Health of Populations
  • SPPH 381C: Environmental Impacts on Human Health

Literature requirement

As an Arts student, you must complete six credits in literature.

All incoming students who wish to take any Chinese, Japanese, Hindi-Urdu, or Korean literature courses are required to complete a placement test with the Department of Asian Studies to obtain placement approval for registration. Students without this approval should deregister before the first withdrawal deadline.

Qualifies as a literature requirement:

Beginning Winter 2023-2024, all previously approved GERM course codes will be GERN (taught in German+) or GMST (taught in English+). Please refer to the GERM to GERN/GMST Course Equivalencies table for the corresponding new course codes and numbers.

  • African Studies, AFST 370
  • Asian Studies ASIA 336, 366B, 395, 412, 413, 431, 443 and 461
  • Central, Eastern, and Northern European studies, CENS 201 Section 004, taught in 20W term 2 only
  • Central, Eastern, and Northern European studies, CENS 304
  • Chinese CHIN 467, 468, 470, 486, 489
  • English ENGL 200
  • English ENGL 409K taught in 17W
  • German GERM 206
  • German GERM 404 Religion and German Literature
  • History HIST 403E Seminar in the History of International Relations – Graphic Novel. Section 101, Term 1 2023W
  • History HIST 403F Seminar in the History of International Relations – Graphic Novel. Section 201, Term 2 2020W
  • Italian Food Cultures ITST 380
  • Near Eastern Studies NEST 401
  • Nordic Studies NORD 338, 339
  • Persian PERS 451
  • Romance Studies RMST 350 Special Topics in Italian Studies
  • Scandinavian Studies SCAN 332B (taught in 18S and 19S only)
  • Scandinavian Studies SCAN332A (taught in 2021W only)


Does not qualify as a literature requirement:

  • Asian Studies ASIA 444-001 (taught in 2019W only).
  • Chinese CHIN 2nd transfer credit preclusions for CHIN 431 and 433
  • Chinese CHIN 3nd transfer credit preclusions for CHIN 481, 483, 491 and 493
  • English ENGL 112 and ENGL 229
  • French FREN 401 and FREN 402 (2021W and onward)
  • Sanskrit SANS 300 taught in 16W

Requirements for your major

Your major is the focus of your degree. Completion of a major requires at least 42 credits in one field of study. Some majors permit admission only through a competitive application process, while others may be self-declared via Workday Student. The number of credits required for admission and the admission process is determined by each department.

Outside requirement

You must complete a minimum number of credits outside of your field of study. Courses that satisfy the outside credit requirement are often fulfilled with elective courses. If you have a single major, your outside requirement is 60 credits. Adding a minor or enrolling in honours, combined major, double major or double honours programs will reduce your outside credit requirement.

Upper-level requirement

You must complete a minimum number of upper-level credits (courses numbered 300 and above). If you are enrolled in a single major, a combined major or the Interdisciplinary Studies (IDST) program, your upper-level requirement is 48 credits. Enrolment in honours, double major, major/honours or double honours programs will increase your upper-level credit requirement.

Arts credit minimum requirement

A minimum of 72 of the 120 credits required for the Bachelor of Arts degree must be Arts credits, except when the completion of your program requires more than 48 credits outside of Arts.

Arts credit courses are identified in the UBC Calendar course descriptions as those offered by the Faculty of Arts, or as transfer credit deemed to be Arts. Consult Arts Academic Advising if you are unsure about how your credits are classified.

In order to accommodate required program credits, the Arts Credit Minimum for students who complete a BA Major or Honours program in Mathematics or Computer Science is reduced, but students are expected to complete as many Arts credits as possible within the 120 credits required for the degree.

Bachelor of Arts (BA) second degree studies

As a second degree student, you must complete a minimum of 60 UBC credits in order to earn your degree. These credits must include no fewer than 48 upper-level credits, all of which must be taken while registered in the Bachelor of Arts degree program. A minimum of 36 credits must be taken within the Faculty of Arts.

Students are not permitted to undertake a second-degree program that overlaps significantly with studies undertaken for a previously granted degree. Contact the department to find out if your second degree focus is possible.

Faculty of Arts will accept 12 previously completed unclassified credits, but these will not apply to the requirement of 48 upper-level credits.

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