Policies Governing Foundational Approaches

foundational Courses

  • With the exception of the Foreign Language Requirement, none of these requirements may be satisfied with advanced placement credit (including A-Levels, I.B., and other similar credit based on external examination). In addition, credit awarded by departmental exam can also not be used to fulfill any Foundational Approach.
  • The same course cannot be used to satisfy more than one Foundational Approach. However, courses taken to satisfy Foundational Approaches may also be used to satisfy the Sector and/or Major Requirement.
  • Non-College courses used to fulfill the Foundational Approaches are counted as College courses in calculating total credits needed for graduation.
  • Courses taken to satisfy these requirements must be taken for a letter grade, not pass/fail.
  • Each of the requirements that make up the Foundational Approaches is satisfied by taking a single course from a list of requirement courses, with the exception of the Foreign Language Requirement (which may require anywhere from 0 to 4 c.u. depending on the student's background in the given language).

Courses may be double counted between a Foundational Approach and the Sector Requirement, and between a Foundational Approach and the major, but not among two or more Foundational Approaches.

This means that the Writing, Quantitative Data Analysis, Formal Reasoning and Analysis, Cross-Cultural Analysis, Cultural Diversity in the U.S. and Foreign Language Requirements must all be fulfilled using separate courses.

Students fulfill the Writing Requirement by taking a critical writing seminar, and are strongly encouraged to do so during their freshman year.

  • Seminars must be taken for a letter grade, not pass/fail.
  • To satisfy the Writing Requirement, students must earn a minimum grade of C- in the seminar.
  • Seminars may not be used to fulfill any other College General Education Requirement.

Students who transfer to Penn as juniors are eligible to request transfer credit for a writing seminar. The Critical Writing Program’s website will help students determine how to fulfill the Writing Requirement and if credit from a previous institution is likely to be applicable.

Students fulfill the Cross-Cultural Analysis Requirement by taking a course from the list of approved courses.

  • Courses taken to satisfy the Cross-Cultural Analysis Requirement must be taken for a letter grade, not pass/fail. Any passing grade, from A+ through D, is acceptable in order for a course to fulfill the Cross-Cultural Analysis Requirement.
  • A course used to satisfy the Cross-Cultural Analysis Requirement may not be double counted toward the Cultural Diversity in the U.S., Writing or Foreign Language Requirements. A few courses are approved for both the Cross-Cultural Analysis and the Cultural Diversity in the U.S. Requirements; students may count such a course toward either requirement but will still have to take a second course to fulfill the other one. However, a course fulfilling the Cross-Cultural Analysis Requirement may be double counted toward any other General Education Requirement and toward requirements for a major or minor.
  • Pre-college credit, transfer credit, credit away and credit earned studying abroad may be counted toward the Cross-Cultural Analysis Requirement. Advanced Placement credit may not be used to fulfill the Cross-Cultural Analysis Requirement.

Students fulfill the Quantitative Data Analysis Requirement by taking a course from the list of approved courses.

  • The Quantitative Data Analysis Requirement can only be satisfied by courses taken at Penn. In some cases exceptions to the restriction on transfer credit may be made for transfer students.
  • Courses taken to satisfy the Quantitative Data Analysis Requirement must be taken for a letter grade, not pass/fail. Students must earn a minimum grade of C- in courses taken to fulfill the Quantitative Data Analysis Requirement.
  • A course used to satisfy the Quantitative Data Analysis Requirement may be double counted toward other requirements in the General Education Curriculum (except for the Writing and Foreign Language Requirements) as well as toward the Major Requirement and requirements for a minor.

A transfer student who wishes to count a course taken prior to matriculation at Penn toward the Quantitative Data Analysis (QDA) Requirement may petition the committee. The committee turns down more petitions than it accepts. To file a petition, the student should:

  • Read the criteria for QDA Requirement courses.
  • Send an email to the chair of the Quantitative Data Analysis Education Committee (c/o Kent Peterman in the College Office) stating why, based on these criteria, you believe the course should qualify for QDA credit;
  • Using attachments or links, include with your email as much relevant documentation as possible, including exams or assignments, that support your claim that the course is suitable for the requirement. The syllabus should already have been submitted with your request for basic course credit via XCAT.

Transfer students with credit for STAT 111, CHEM 053, or CHEM 054 will receive QDA credit without having to petition. Departments evaluating courses from other institutions for transfer students assign these course numbers only if they meet the criteria for the QDA Requirement.

Students fulfill the Cultural Diversity in the U.S. Requirement by taking a course from the list of approved courses.

  • Courses taken to satisfy the Cultural Diversity in the U.S. Requirement must be taken for a letter grade, not pass/fail. Any passing grade, from A+ through D, is acceptable in order for a course to fulfill the Cultural Diversity in the U.S. Requirement.
  • A course used to satisfy the Cultural Diversity in the U.S. Requirement may not be double counted toward the Cross-Cultural Analysis, Writing or Foreign Language Requirements. However, a course fulfilling this requirement may be doubled counted toward any other General Education Requirement, toward the Major Requirement and toward requirements for a minor.
  • Pre-college credit, transfer credit, credit away and credit earned studying abroad may be counted toward the Cultural Diversity in the U.S. Requirement. Advanced Placement credit may not be used to fulfill the Cultural Diversity in the U.S. Requirement.

Students fulfill the Formal Reasoning and Analysis Requirement by taking a course from the list of approved courses.

  • Courses taken to satisfy the Formal Reasoning and Analysis Requirement must be taken for a letter grade, not pass/fail. Any passing grade, from A+ through D, is acceptable in order for a course to fulfill the Formal Reasoning and Analysis Requirement.
  • A course used to satisfy the Formal Reasoning and Analysis Requirement may be double counted toward other requirements in the General Education Curriculum (except for the Writing and Foreign Language Requirements) as well as toward the Major Requirement and requirements for a minor.
  • Pre-college credit, transfer credit, credit away and credit earned studying abroad may be counted toward the Formal Reasoning and Analysis Requirement only when departments award credit using the number of a Penn course approved for the Formal Reasoning and Analysis Requirement.
  • Neither advanced placement credit nor credit by departmental exam may be used to fulfill the Formal Reasoning and Analysis Requirement. However, students who receive credit for MATH 104 in either of these ways and who take any Arts and Sciences course that has calculus as a prerequisite or co-requisite may use that course to fulfill the Formal Reasoning and Analysis Requirement.
  • The Foreign Language Requirement is normally fulfilled by completing the fourth-semester level course in a particular language or by demonstrating equivalent competency through language placement. Policies may vary by language program; students with questions should contact the relevant department.
  • Foreign Language Requirement courses may not be used to fulfill any other General Education Requirement.
  • Pre-college credit, transfer credit, credit away and credit earned studying abroad may be counted toward the Foreign Language Requirement only when departments award credit using the number of a Penn course approved for the Foreign Language Requirement.
  • All courses taken to satisfy the Foreign Language Requirement must be taken for a letter grade, not pass/fail. The final course in the competency sequence must be completed with a minimum grade of C- in order to fulfill the Foreign Language Requirement.

If not yet completed, students should plan to fulfill the Language Requirement as soon as possible. Language department websites provide information about placement exams offered in September for students who plan to continue with a previously studied language and/or receive credit for language courses taken at their previous institution.

Language Requirement Substitution

Students who believe that they have a documented disability that precludes learning a foreign language should contact the Student Disabilities Services Office (SDS). A member of their professional staff will explain the assessment procedure, which requires up-to-date neuropsychological testing.

If a student’s disability is verified by SDS, the student should call 215.898.6341 and make an appointment to meet with Dr. Niel McDowell in the College Office to confirm approval of the substitution and to select appropriate substitution courses. The number of courses each student will require will depend upon the number of foreign language classes he or she has completed before applying for the substitution. A full substitution will require four substitute courses.

Substitution courses are selected as follows: The student must choose one geographical area in the world where English is not the primary language and take at least one course in cinema or literature in translation from that country or region. The remaining courses will focus on the culture or literature of that same geographical area. If the student has not taken any foreign language courses at Penn, she or he must also take one class in linguistics or anthropology of language. All classes for the language substitution must be approved in advance by Dr. McDowell.

Courses used as part of the Language Requirement substitution may not also be used to fulfill any major requirement, nor to fulfill any part of the Sector Requirement.