Undergraduate and Precollege Programs

I. Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies
II. Summer Study at Georgetown
III. Summer Programs for High School Students
IV. Academic and Administrative Policies



The Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies (BALS) was designed for non-traditional students interested in an values-based interdisciplinary education. The BALS program helps students build a multidimensional understanding of a complex world. Courses explore topics related to major themes in both academia and life in general: the human and the divine; the individual and society; individual identity; gender; exercising and challenging authority; ethics; and justice. Curricular fields are interdisciplinary in nature. Students can choose individualized study or select one of fifteen fields: American Studies, Catholic Studies, Classical Civilizations, Communications, Entrepreneurship, Ethics in the Professions, Humanities, International Affairs, Leadership, Literature and Society, Organizational Leadership, Religious Studies, Social/Public Policy, Theory and Practice of American Democracy, and Urban Analysis and Community Development.


The program is designed to meet the unique needs of working adults. Students can complete their entire degree part-time and without ever setting foot in a classroom during traditional working hours. Acceptance to the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies program does not guarantee or imply acceptance into another undergraduate program within the School or University. Students admitted to the BALS program, who wish to transfer to one of the four undergraduate schools, must apply through the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

A student is officially admitted to the BALS program when a notice of acceptance has been received and registration has been completed. All new students are encouraged to attend New Student Orientation and register online through MyAccess prior to the beginning of their first semester on the designated date for that term. 

Transfer Credit

Many BALS students have already completed some college study, and Georgetown is pleased to offer transfer credit for as many as 64 credits. Courses must have been completed for grades and credits to be considered for transfer. A minimum grade of "C" (2.000) or higher is required for a course to be eligible for transfer review. Additional transfer criteria will be provided by the program. Admitted students will receive notification of the program’s transfer-credit decisions within their first semester of study.

The BALS program maintains three articulation agreements with two-year colleges in the area: Montgomery College, Northern Virginia Community College, and Prince George's Community College. Please note that these agreements are exclusively between these institutions and the BALS program and do not apply to other undergraduate programs or Schools at Georgetown. Details of each agreement are outlined on the BALS Admissions page. 

Transfer credit ordinarily is not awarded for study at other institutions after you have started study at Georgetown. However, students sometimes seek to take summer classes at institutions outside the Washington DC area. Consult with the BALS program before registering for such classes, so you can be sure that they will apply to your academic program.

Students applying to the BALS program who have previously attended another Georgetown University undergraduate program should be aware that their entire undergraduate academic record will be reflected on their transcript.  This means that all courses, grades, and credits earned at Georgetown University will be factored into the cumulative GPA and credit totals, without exception.  While all previously completed undergraduate coursework will be reflected on the transcript and will be applied towards the cumulative GPA and credit totals, students are still responsible for completing all of the BALS program requirements, including a minimum of 57 credits within the BALS program and all required courses.  

Advanced Placement/CLEP Credit

The BALS program offers Georgetown credit for students who have completed certain Advanced Placement examinations and College Level-Examination Program examinations with qualifying scores. These credits count against the 64-credit maximum for transfer credits. In awarding credit for Advanced Placement, the BALS program follows the standards outlined in the university’s Undergraduate Bulletin Advanced Credit section. Credit for CLEP examinations is offered only for scores equal to a course grade of B or higher. Please note that it is the student’s responsibility to arrange for the College Board to send the AP or CLEP scores directly to the BALS program; AP or CLEP scores listed on another college’s transcript will not be evaluated.

Military Training

The BALS program follows recommendations from the American Council on Education to grant transfer credit, on a case-by-case basis, for certain military training. The student should have the Joint Services transcript sent directly to the BALS program office for evaluation. These credits count against the 64-credit maximum for transfer credits.

Part-time Student Status

Inasmuch as this program is designed for adult students with existing occupational and/or family responsibilities, the normal course of studies each semester, including the summer semester, is limited to 14 credits. With special permission of the BALS program, a student may enroll in more than 14 credits. In some cases, capacity limits may restrict the school’s ability to permit students to take more than 14 credits in a semester.

Prospective students on J-1 or F-1 student Visa status must enroll full-time. Please consult with the SCS Assistant Dean for Student & Scholar Services when making enrollment decisions that could affect your Visa status.

Academic Advising

The BALS program offers extensive academic advising for students in the program. The advising staff of the BALS program help students to make wise choices in their academic programs and to navigate through difficulties that they may encounter. Students are encouraged to develop advising relationships with BALS faculty members as well.

Advising of all BALS students is handled by the BALS Program Director located in the SCS Office Suite at 640 Massachusetts Avenue. Approval of student petitions (such as overloads and non-BALS coursework) should be submitted to the Program Staff as well. Incoming students are encouraged to make an appointment to meet with the Program Staff as soon as possible after they receive notice of admission. 

Continuing students are encouraged to meet with Program Staff at least once each semester prior to the start of registration for the following semester’s courses. The Program Staff is also available to meet with students who are encountering difficulty in their studies. As needed, Program Staff may refer individual students to support services throughout the university, including the Academic Resource Center, the Writing Center, the Career Center, and Counseling and Psychiatric Services.

Students with disabilities are strongly encouraged to contact the Academic Resource Center before the start of classes to allow that office time to review their documentation and to make recommendations for appropriate accommodations, including note takers, audio books, extended time on tests, interpreting services and enlarged texts, among others. There is a formal procedure for requesting an accommodation as well as a list of possible accommodations available. Instructors are not permitted to make accommodations until a student has completed this process through the Academic Resource Center.

Each semester, the BALS program offers a Writing Boot Camp to help students hone their research and writing skills. Throughout the semester, the BALS program may offer a variety of other workshops that can further assist students. Students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of these support programs.

Learning Objectives

A graduate of the BALS program will be able to:

  • formulate and defend a coherent intellectual argument in oral and written form;
  • collect, assess, and synthesize evidence relevant to an issue or question;
  • act with intellectual integrity;
  • identify and evaluate the ethical dimensions of an issue;
  • describe principal elements of the Western intellectual tradition;
  • apply the Western intellectual tradition in analyzing current issues;
  • identify the key intellectual contributions of non-Western societies;
  • relate the principal academic tenets of the student’s chosen degree concentration.

Degree Requirements

Core courses

The 13 core courses provide the foundation for successful undergraduate study from the liberal studies perspective. The bulk of the core courses is comprised of a set of 10 interdisciplinary courses that acquaint students with the evolution of Western civilization from ancient times to the third millennium.

The core courses are:

  • BLHS-100: Introduction to Ethics
  • BLHS-101: Introduction to the Social Sciences
  • BLHS-102: Greeks and Romans
  • BLHS-103: Biblical Literature and the Ancient World
  • BLHS-104: Medieval Thought and Culture
  • BLHS-105: Faith and Reason in the Middle Ages
  • BLHS-106: The Renaissance
  • BLHS-107: The Early Modern World
  • BLHS-108: Enlightenment, Revolution and Democracy
  • BLHS-109: The Nineteenth Century
  • BLHS-110: War and Peace
  • BLHS-111: The New Millennium
  • BLHS-120: Writing in an Interdisciplinary Environment

Detailed descriptions of the course are available online in the university’s course catalog here .

A student’s first core course should be one of the following:

  • BLHS-100: Introduction to Ethics
  • BLHS-101: Introduction to the Social Sciences
  • BLHS-102: Greeks and Romans

Also, all new BALS students should plan to take BLHS-120 (Writing in an Interdisciplinary Environment) during the first two semesters.

Program Concentrations

In addition to completing the core courses, students must complete 48 credits (16 three-credit courses) in one of the program's concentrations.  

American Studies

Three major dimensions of American culture are explored through American Studies: the historical origins and development of the nation; the political and philosophical ideas which brought about the United States Constitution and an evolving political system; and the religious beliefs, cultural traditions, and literary texts which, for more than three centuries, have shaped the nature and direction of American society and civilization. The goal is for students to develop a critical, balanced, and integrated view of American life and society, and in the process to answer the question posed by Hector St. John de Cecoeur in the eighteenth century, “What, then, is the American, this new man?”

Catholic Studies

Courses in Catholic Studies focus on both the theological and the cultural dimensions of Catholicism, showing the connections between Catholic faith and life. Students explore the theological development of Catholicism from the biblical world through major thinkers of the past to contemporary thought. They also examine the many ways in which Catholicism has shaped a view of God, world, and human experience as manifested in art, literature, ethics, and spirituality.

Classical Civilizations

Classical Civilizations explores many aspects of the ancient Mediterranean cultures of Greece and Rome which present a continuous, constantly developing tradition from the earliest surviving poetry (Homer, about 800 B.C.E.) to the rise of Medieval Europe some 1500 years later. Included are history, literature, art history and archaeology, philosophy, and myth. From this variety of disciplines the goal is a synthesis leading to a more comprehensive view of culture itself, and to an understanding of how ancient Greece and Rome have so profoundly influenced Western thought, art, and politics.


Communications provides students with a broad foundation in the basic skills and knowledge required for success in a wide variety of mass communications related professions. It promotes an understanding of the complexities of the communications industry and introduces students, through interdisciplinary study, to the major roles found in the communications industry. Students take courses in general communications, journalism, media studies, and public relations.


In today’s ever-changing business climate the Entrepreneurship concentration provides students a strong foundation to become leaders within their local, national and international communities. This concentration will address the human and social factors that shape innovation and entrepreneurship through courses based in leadership and social justice. At the same time, students will build a solid base of practical business knowledge from identifying business opportunities, to the application of accounting, marketing, finance and management skills.


In Humanities, students have the opportunity to shape an integrated, interdisciplinary program of study in art, philosophy, theology, literature, and history. In the course of their studies they will come to appreciate the distinct ways in which each discipline seeks to know and reflect the world in which we live. At the same time they will examine and evaluate the enduring insights of these disciplines in an effort to answer for their own lives the abiding private and public questions no person should escape or avoid.

International Affairs

International Affairs courses assist the student in forming a critical awareness of the complexity of issues in foreign policy and international affairs and an ethical framework for making informed decisions about these issues. Besides examining basic value conflicts in international relations such as questions about war and peace, human rights, nationalism and democracy, courses will be offered in international politics, business, economics; defense issues; the developing countries; and special geographic regions.


Leadership focuses on the analytical and practical skills necessary for effective leadership. The integration of practical skills with moral purpose is the defining characteristic. The concentration emphasizes leadership in organizations, whether business, nongovernmental, or governmental, while the educational focus is on developing the leadership capabilities of individuals. Courses are organized around theories of leadership and motivation, team and group dynamics, critical thinking, and ethical decision making.

Literature and Society

Literature and Society offers courses on traditional historical periods, major authors, and the genres of literature. Grounded in a careful reading of texts, the courses also offer students the opportunity to explore the relationship of literature to such disciplines as art, film, theatre, photography, theology, and cultural history. These courses give particular attention to the human values implicit in literature.

Organizational Leadership

The Organizational Leadership concentration provides an interdisciplinary and holistic approach to developing skills in managing and leading within an organizational context. Students develop their skills in negotiating, managing workplace diversity, resolving conflict and setting strategic goals. This concentration builds practices needed to compete in today’s competitive business environment.

Religious Studies

Through a variety of courses in the field of Religious Studies, students are invited to deepen their understanding of religion by asking such questions as, Why have humans been so habitually religious? Is religious understanding compatible with reason and science? Can one retrieve anything of significance from ancient religious texts and traditions? What is the relationship between religion and culture? What is theology? What is the status of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other kinds of theology in a religiously plural world?

Social/Public Policy

Social/Public Policy courses analyze the political process; the role of government, private and public organizations/institutions in public policy decisions; national problems such as crime, poverty, and social inequality; and issues such as the role of the media, the intelligence community, and the impact of war. Special attention is focused on scientific discoveries and technological innovations that dramatically affect every aspect of society’s choices regarding science and technology including issues such as bioethics, computerization, privacy and genetic engineering.

Theory and Practice of American Democracy

History, philosophy, and social science combine in this field of Theory and Practice of American Democracy to describe the origins and distinctive character of the American form of democracy; to analyze the political processes by which the consent of the governed is achieved; to confront issues which reflect the ever present struggle to make democracy work for all elements of the society; to consider the continuing influence of the Constitution on American society and movements for change or reinterpretation; and to review institutional or international influences on government such as the media and foreign relations.

Urban Analysis and Community Development

This interdisciplinary concentration provides students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences to better appreciate the challenges and opportunities facing people in urban areas. One goal is to understand oneself in the context of the larger community. A second is to explore the range of communities found in postindustrial and developing countries. A third is to provide a vision of social justice to guide social change so that people work together in constructing communities to make them more just, equitable, and humane. Students learn qualitative and quantitative methods and theoretical frameworks.

Individualized Study

For those who wish to design their own field within the broad scope of courses in Liberal Studies rather than concentrating in one of the defined fields, students may choose Individualized Study. With the advice and direction of the program they will select courses to meet their special needs and interests.


In addition to completing the core and concentration, a student must complete 21 credits (7 three-credit courses) in BALS courses outside of the student’s curricular field. The student’s concentration and elective courses together must include two courses in non-Western studies.

Other Georgetown Courses

With the approval of the BALS program, students may take a limited number of courses from other units of Georgetown University. Ordinarily these will count toward the elective requirement unless otherwise approved by the program.

Independent Study

A BALS student may design an independent study project with any willing Georgetown faculty member. Instructions and forms are available at the BALS program website. The completed proposal must be submitted to the BALS program at least one week before the first day of class.

Courses at Other Institutions

BALS students may take a limited number of courses at other local educational institutions. The student pays the usual Liberal Studies tuition rate, to Georgetown, for such arrangements. Information on the Washington Consortium is available in this Bulletin, and the necessary forms are available from the BALS office.

Thesis Option

Optionally, a student may complete a thesis, which counts toward credits required in the curricular field. The student must have a minimum letter grade average of C and a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 quality points.

There is no across-the-board minimum length for a BALS thesis. The thesis should be a substantial work exceeding the length of customary term papers. The appropriate length will be determined by the faculty mentor, with the approval of the Associate Dean, taking into account the content of the thesis.

The student’s Thesis Committee is made up of the thesis mentor chosen by the student, the student’s Thesis Proposal Workshop professor, and the Associate Dean. Successful completion of the thesis proposal and its approval will result in a Pass (“S”) grade for the Workshop. Students who must Withdraw (“W”) from the course or Fail (“U”) the course may only register for the course one more time.

Before writing the thesis, the student completes the Thesis Proposal Workshop in the semester in which the student plans to prepare and submit for approval a thesis proposal (the semester before the student enrolls in the Thesis Research/Thesis Writing courses). This is a non-credit, zero-tuition course. Please note: The Thesis Proposal Workshop taken in conjunction with a three-credit course constitutes half-time status. During this Workshop the student joins with other students and the professor offering the Workshop to do the research necessary to create a statement of the nature, purpose, theme of the thesis; an outline of its parts; and a schedule of accomplishing these goals and completing the thesis.

Following the approval of the thesis proposal, a student registers in the three-credit Thesis Research/Thesis Writing courses offered during the fall or spring semesters. Enrollment in these two courses constitutes half-time status. The Thesis Writing course is the final three-credit course for Bachelor’s candidates who choose the three-credit thesis option. Students must also register at the same time for the Thesis Research course, which is for 0 credits, $0 tuition, and carries no grade. The Thesis Writing course is for the actual production of the thesis and carries three credits with regular semester tuition charges and is assigned a letter grade by the student’s mentor reflecting the work on the thesis.

All theses not completed during the first term in which the student enrolls in the Thesis Research and Thesis Writing courses MUST be submitted and accepted by the established deadlines of the following semester (fall or spring, summer not included).

Thesis final deadlines are: May 1 for students enrolled in Thesis Writing/Research in the Fall semester Dec. 1 for students enrolled in Thesis Writing/Research in the Spring semester Failure to complete the thesis by the final deadline results in the grade of “F” for the course and termination of degree candidacy. (If these dates fall on a weekend, the following Monday will be the deadline.)

Undergraduates who receive an “N” for the first semester of the thesis course may request a letter from the Program Director explaining their student status so that they may continue using the library.

Degree Audit

At least annually, each student also is encouraged to review his or her Degree Audit, a computerized analysis of the student’s progress toward the degree that will indicate which requirements remain to be completed. The Degree Audit is available on MyAccess. Every BALS student majors in liberal studies, and each must also have a concentration. An admitted BALS student is initially enrolled in the concentration that he or she declared in the admissions application. The student can change curricular field at any time by supplying written notice to the Program Director. It usually is prudent to first meet with the Program Director to consider whether changing concentrations will necessitate additional coursework by the student.

Degree Conferral Timeline

In addition to completing the Core courses and Concentration requirements, all students must complete 120 credits with a cumulative GPA of 2.000 or better to qualify for graduation. In some cases, students may need to complete more than 120 credits in order to satisfy all Core and Curricular Field requirements. The BALS degree must be completed within 10 years of first registration. The BALS program can grant extensions with documentation of exceptional circumstances; however, students must submit requests for such extensions in advance or risk being withdrawn from the program. 

Enrollment Requirements

A BALS student who does not register for class in either the fall or spring semester will be involuntarily withdrawn from the program.  In these cases a notation of "Withdrawn for Failure to Register" will appear on the official transcript. A student can avoid being withdrawn by instead requesting an official Leave of Absence during a fall or spring semester. Contact the Program Director or SCS Office of Academic Affairs & Compliance for information on requesting a Leave of Absence and for deadlines for requesting return from leave. The student is well advised to consult with the Office of Financial Aid on the consequences of a leave of absence.

Please Note: The above policy does not apply to summer semesters. Students need not request a leave in order to avoid taking classes during summer.


Earning the Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree requires a total of 120 credits, earned at Georgetown or elsewhere (depending upon transfer credits), with a minimum GPA of 2.000. These are divided among Core courses, curricular field courses, and electives. The GPA only reflects coursework completed at Georgetown (or through the Consortium with prior approval). Courses accepted for transfer are not factored into the Georgetown GPA. 

BALS degrees are granted in May, August, and December. BALS students should contact the Program Director in their final semester to review their remaining requirements and ensure that they are on track for degree completion. Students must apply online in MyAccess to graduate by the deadline for the semester in which they intend to complete all requirements.

Financial Clearance

BALS students must settle all financial obligations to the University—e.g., overdue tuition, library fines, and late fees—so that their account balance is $0 before submitting their thesis or completing their last course to be eligible to graduate and receive a diploma and final transcript. The financial clearance deadlines are Dec. 1 if completing the degree in December, May 1 if completing the degree in May, or August 1 if completing the degree in August.

Graduation Ceremonies

All graduates are awarded their degrees and diplomas at Commencement Exercises scheduled in May. Students whose degrees were posted earlier are encouraged to participate in the formal graduation ceremony in May of each year.

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II. Summer Study at Georgetown

Each year, Summer at Georgetown University offers more than 250 courses and more than 25 programs for high school, undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students.

Enrollment in summer courses is open to: (1) newly admitted or matriculated Georgetown undergraduate and graduate students in good standing with permission of their academic deans; (2) undergraduate and graduate students in good standing at other colleges and universities; (3) high school students who have been admitted through the Summer College program; (4) foreign students who can provide documentation of a TOEFL score of 550 and above or 600 for Linguistics courses; and (5) individuals whose educational background and experience qualify them for the courses they wish to take.

The School offers three distinct summer sessions: the presession, first session, and second session. The presession, which starts in mid-May, allows students to take courses during a four week period. Because of the presession’s compressed and intensive nature, students are permitted to take only one course. The first and second summer sessions run consecutively, the first beginning in June, the second in early July; each session lasts five weeks.

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III. Summer Programs for High School Students

The School of Continuing Studies offers a diverse series of programs for high school students. Students can participate in non-credit programs from eight days up to three weeks, depending on the programs. The School of Continuing Studies offers the following non-credit programs: Medical Institute; American Politics; College Preparatory; Creative Writing, Entrepreneurship; Forensic Science; International Relations; Broadcast Journalism; Law Institute; Leadership; Medicine; National Security and Counterintelligence; Sports Industry Management.

The School of Continuing Studies also offers the following credit programs during the five week Summer Sessions to high school students: Summer College I; Summer College II; Fundamentals of Business, English, Economics, Law, Medicine and American Government.

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IV. Academic and administrative policies

Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with all academic and administrative policies, procedures, and deadlines. Questions about any policies should be directed to the BALS Associate Dean or to the SCS Office of Academic Affairs & Compliance. In addition to the BALS policies described in Academic Policies, additional academic and administrative policies, procedures, rights, and responsibilities (including the Code of Student Conduct; the Honor Code; Disability Support; Immunization Requirements; Tuition Refund Guidelines; and others) that apply to all SCS and University students can be found online at: <a href="http://Academic and administrative policies Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with all academic and administrative policies, procedures, and deadlines. Questions about any policies should be directed to the BALS Associate Dean or to the SCS Office of Academic Affairs & Compliance. In addition to the BALS policies described in Academic Policies, additional academic and administrative policies, procedures, rights, and responsibilities (including the Code of Student Conduct; the Honor Code; Disability Support; Immunization Requirements; Tuition Refund Guidelines; and others) that apply to all SCS and University students can be found online here.

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