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Guidelines for Liberal Education Petitions

Students who wish to fulfill the College of Engineering Liberal Education requirement by taking courses that are not presently on the campus General Education lists or the college Liberal Education list may petition the college to have those courses accepted as Liberal Education Electives.  This page tells you how to do that.   

Choose courses that match the intent of the Liberal Education Electives 

The College of Engineering Liberal Education Electives are intended to develop an understanding of human culture and society, to build skills in inquiry and critical thinking, and to lay a foundation for civic engagement and lifelong learning.  Your petition is more likely to be successful if you choose courses that are closely tied to one or these purposes.   

Courses in the humanities, the fine and applied arts, social sciences, behavioral sciences, and business are often acceptable.  Courses in the physical and life sciences, technology, engineering, or mathematics are typically not acceptable. However, courses that explore the historical, societal, or economic aspects of science and technology could be acceptable. 

The course content, not the name of the department offering the course, is what matters here.  Thus, ECE 316, Engineering Ethics, would be acceptable (in fact it is already a campus GenEd course), while PSYC 235 Introduction to Statistics is a mathematics course, and would not be acceptable.   

Any course required for your major (other than the Liberal Education requirement) will not be accepted.   Courses used to satisfy a minor (and that are not part of your major) will be considered.

Re-check the campus and college lists 

The campus GenEd lists and the college Liberal Education list are extensive, and the college list is updated each semester.  Re-check these lists to make sure that your course is not already approved, before starting the petition process.   

Know what you cannot do 

While the college tends to interpret its liberal education requirement broadly, there are some petitions that will be routinely denied: 

  • You cannot petition to substitute courses for the campus General Education requirements.  With careful course selection, these requirements can be completed with twelve hours of course work.  This leaves up to six hours of courses that you can petition for. 
  • Kinesiology skill courses (course numbers 100 through 110) will not be accepted.
  • Remedial courses (course numbers 000 through 099) will not be accepted.
  • Military science courses will not be accepted. 
  • Courses that have been petitioned and denied previously will not normally be accepted.  You can see a list of those courses here

Obtain a Curriculum Modification Form

Copies of this form, often called a petition, can be obtained from 206 Engineering Hall.  Here is what the form looks like:


You should attach a description of the course to your petition, and a short statement explaining why you believe this course satisfies the intent of the Liberal Education requirement.  If the course you are requesting is a special topics course, obtain a description of the offering from the course instructor and attach that.   

Submit your form and supporting materials at 206 Engineering Hall.  (Petitions for Liberal Education courses do not need to go to your departmental office).  You will typically receive a response in a week. 

Start early 

It is your responsibility to seek and gain approval for courses you want to count towards your Liberal Education requirement.  Thus, you should start the petition process as soon as you start planning your courses for the next semester.  It is best to know that your petition is approved before you start taking the course, and the approval process will be slower during peak registration times and the first week of class. 

Don't hesitate to ask 

There are thousands of courses on our campus, with dozens of new courses developed every semester. The petition process is intended to allow you to take advantage of these courses, so don't hesitate to submit a petition.  If you would like to ask about a particular course before doing the paperwork, come in to 206 Engineering Hall and ask to speak to a dean.  We will be happy to talk with you. 

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