Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degree Requirements


Degree Requirements for students who enter the program in 2024/25 or later

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 prior to Winter 2024?

If you began your Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree prior to the 2024/25 Winter Session, you must complete the pre-2024 degree requirements.

Overview of BA requirements

  • Degree credit minimum (120 credits)
  • Writing and Research (6 credits)
  • Ways of Knowing Breadth Requirement (21* 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) and 23W 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)


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

Ways of Knowing Breadth requirement

The Ways of Knowing Breadth requirement is made up of 21 credits distributed across two components: Place and Power (3 credits) and Areas of Breadth (18 credits).  Completing the  Areas of Breadth requires coursework across four areas of study: Humanities and Creative Arts, Language as Meaning, Natural and Physical Sciences, and Social and Behavioural Systems. To fulfill the requirement, you must complete:

  • Coursework in your major or honours program will satisfy at least one of the Ways of Knowing breadth areas;
  • 9 credits (in one course code) from a second Ways of Knowing breadth area;
  • 6 credits (in one course code) from a third Ways of Knowing breadth area;
  • 3 credits from the remaining Ways of Knowing breadth area; and
  • 3 credits for Place and Power (which may also fall in one of the above or your major)

Place and Power

Place and Power introduces you to the history and current realities of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam) and the land on which UBC is situated, along with the history and contemporary conditions of Vancouver and British Columbia. This requirement encourages you to place yourself “inside the story” in order to comprehend the systems of power, social relations, structures of inequality, and the diversity of cultural identities and communities at play.

To fulfill this component of the requirement, you must complete 3 credits from the approved course list. These credits do not need to be outside of your degree or program requirements and may be met in any of the disciplinary areas, including your program of study. These credits may be completed at any point in your degree. 

Review the 2024 approved course list below which will be updated on a regular basis. Over time, Place and Power courses will be available in most Faculty of Arts units/departments.

The following Place and Power courses have been approved for the 2024/25 academic year. Please check back regularly to view more approved courses.

  • ACAM 300: Dis/Orienting Asian Canada: Asian Canadian Histories for Our Times
  • ANTH 329: Contemporary Indigenous Issues in a Global Perspective
  • ARTH 262: Indigenous Arts of North America
  • ARTH 377: Arts of the Northwest Coast Peoples: The South
  • ASIA 220: Indigeneities in Asia and Asian Diaspora
  • ASIX 300B: Indigenous Environmentalisms in Asia (Topics in Asian Studies Crossings)
  • ASTU 200: Special Topics Place and Power
  • ASTU 399: Special Topics Place and Power
  • CENS 203: Arctic Art & Activism
  • CENS 319: Languages, Place, and Power
  • CRWR 220: Introduction to Creative Writing with an Indigenous Focus
  • ENGL 228: From Literary Criticism to World Literatures: Introduction to Reading Place and Power in Vancouver and BC
  • GEOG 328: Constructing Canada
  • GEOG 355: Geographies of Urban Indigeneity
  • GEOG 446B: Oceanic Geographies: Migration, Mobility, and Diaspora
  • HIST 305: History of British Columbia
  • HIST 400: The Practice of Oral History
  • NORD 340: Sámi Histories and Cultures
  • NORD 341: Indigenous Activism
  • PHIL 102: Introduction to Philosophy II (Section 004, Place and Power)
  • POLI 304: British Columbia Government and Politics
  • RMST 326:  Francophone Indigenous Literatures and Cultures
  • SOCI 295: BC Disasters, Power, and Inequality
  • SOCI 364: Built Environments

Last updated: April 2024

Areas of Breadth

To fulfill this component of the requirement, you must complete 18 credits of coursework across four areas of study. Your major or honours program will encompass deep engagement in one of these areas. To complement this, you may choose how many credit hours – nine, six, or three – to spend in each of the three remaining Areas of Breadth, for a total of 18 credits. These credits may be completed at any point in your degree. 

Humanities and Creative Arts introduces you to interpretive inquiry and methods of analysis (e.g., textual, auditory/sonic, and visual) that enables you to assess how knowledge, world views, identities, and values are shaped and created within specific contexts and by institutions, ideologies, and media.

Language as Meaning asks you to engage deeply with language study to build a foundation for long-term proficiency and/or mediate between languages in order to strengthen intercultural awareness in personal and professional contexts. Visit the Arts Language Hub to read more about why language learning matters.

Natural and Physical Sciences introduces you to disciplines that examine or utilize principles underlying the physical or natural world. In addition to understanding the central classifications and processes that animate a particular scientific field, you will gain an understanding of the scientific method applied in an exclusively positivist manner.

Social and Behavioural Systems, which draws from social science disciplines, introduces you to methods of analysis (e.g., scientific, interpretive, applied mathematics) that enables you to assess how individuals interact with each other through a host of social, economic, and political systems, as well as how the structure of these interactions impact societies.

  • Asian Canadian Asian Migration Studies (ACAM)
  • African Studies (AFST)
  • Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies (AMNE)
  • Art History (ARTH)
  • Asian Studies (ASIA)
  • Asian Studies Crossings (ASIX)
  • Canadian Studies (CDST)
  • Central, Eastern and Northern European Studies (CENS)
  • Cinema Studies (CINE)
  • Creative Writing (CRWR)
  • Critical Studies in Sexuality (CSIS)
  • English (ENGL*)
  • Film Production (FIPR)
  • First Nations and Indigenous Studies (FNIS)
  • German Studies (GMST)
  • Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice (GRSJ)
  • History (HIST)
  • Journalism (JRNL)
  • Latin American Studies (LAST)
  • Media Studies (MDIA)
  • Medieval Studies (MDVL)
  • Middle East Studies (MES)
  • Music (MUSC)
  • Nordic Studies (NORD)
  • Philosophy (PHIL)
  • Study of Religion (RGST)
  • Romance Studies (RMST)
  • Scandinavian (SCAN)
  • Slavic Studies (SLAV)
  • Theatre and Film (THFL)
  • Theatre (THTR)
  • Visual Arts (VISA)
  • Writing Studies (WRDS*)

*Credits from these course codes can be applied towards this Breadth area with the exception of courses that satisfy the Writing Component.

  • Classical Arabic (ARBC)
  • Modern Standard Arabic (ARBM)
  • American Sign Language (ASL)
  • Asian Languages (ASLA)
  • Chinese (CHIN)
  • Cantonese (CNTO)
  • Catalan (CTLN)
  • Danish (DANI)
  • First Nations and Endangered Languages Program (FNEL)
  • French (FREN)
  • German (GERN)
  • Greek (GREK)
  • Hebrew (HEBR)
  • Hindi-Urdu (HINU)
  • Indonesian (INDO)
  • Italian (ITAL)
  • Japanese (JAPN)
  • Korean (KORN)
  • Latin (LATN)
  • Nepali (NEPL)
  • Persian (PERS)
  • Polish (POLS)
  • Portuguese (PORT)
  • Punjabi (PUNJ)
  • Russian (RUSS)
  • Sanskrit (SANS)
  • Southeast Asian Languages (SEAL)
  • South Asian Languages (SOAL)
  • Spanish (SPAN)
  • Swahili (SWAH)
  • Swedish (SWED)
  • Tibetan Languages (TIBT)
  • Ukrainian (UKRN)
  • Yiddish (YDSH)

  • Astronomy (ASTR)
  • Atmospheric Science (ATSC)
  • Biochemistry (BIOC)
  • Biology (BIOL)
  • Biotechnology (BIOT)
  • Cellular, Anatomical and Physiological Sciences (CAPS)
  • Chemistry (CHEM)
  • Cognitive Systems (COGS)
  • Computer Science (CPSC)
  • Data Science (DSCI)
  • Engineering Physics (ENPH)
  • Environmental Science (ENVR)
  • Earth and Ocean Sciences (EOSC)
  • Biochemistry and Forensic Science (FSCT)
  • Geographical Sciences (GEOS)
  • Integrated Sciences (ISCI)
  • Marine Science (MRNE)
  • Mathematics (MATH)
  • Microbiology (MICB)
  • Neuroscience (NSCI)
  • Pharmacology and Therapeutics (PCTH)
  • Physics (PHYS)
  • Statistics (STAT)

  • Anthropology (ANTH)
  • Anthropological Archaeology (ARCL)
  • Economics (ECON)
  • Environment and Sustainability (ENST)
  • Family Studies (FMST)
  • Geography (GEOG)
  • Information Studies (INFO)
  • Law and Society (LASO)
  • Linguistics (LING)
  • Political Science (POLI)
  • Public Policy and Global Affairs (PPGA)
  • Psychology (PSYC)
  • Sociology (SOCI)
  • Social Work (SOWK)
  • Urban Studies (URST)

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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