Undergraduate and Precollege Programs
- Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies
- Summer Study at Georgetown
- Summer Programs for High School Students
- Academic and Administrative Policies
1. Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies
The Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies (BALS) was designed for non-traditional students interested in a values-based interdisciplinary education. The BALS program helps students build a multidimensional understanding of a complex world. The Core Area curriculum brings together work from a variety of integrated disciplines in the areas of Culture, Humanities, Natural Sciences, Philosophy, Social Sciences, and Writing. Additionally, students choose one or more of the following Concentrations: Business and Entrepreneurship, Humanities, Individualized Study, International Relations, Professional Media and Communication.
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.
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 (new window) 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 all Core Area and Concentration 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.
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.
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.
Advising of all BALS students is handled by the Liberal Studies 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 Director as well. Incoming students are encouraged to make an appointment to meet with the Program Director as soon as possible after they receive notice of admission.
Continuing students are encouraged to meet with the Liberal Studies Program Director at least once each semester prior to the start of registration for the following semester’s courses. The Program Director is also available to meet with students who are encountering difficulty in their studies. As needed, Program Director 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 seeking accomodations are strongly encouraged to contact the Academic Resource Center before the start of classes to discuss the documentation guidelines and accommodation process. There is a formal procedure for requesting an accommodation that must be completed before accommodations can be implemented. Instructors are not permitted to make accommodations until a student has completed this process through the Academic Resource Center.
A graduate of the BALS program will be able to:
- crtically anlayze and engage with historical, contemporary, and enduring questions of the human experience;
- understand fundamental concepts and methodologies in the humanities, the sciences and mathematics/statistics, and the social sciences; apply these methods to the analysis of complex problems;
- discover and analyze primary and secondary sources relevant to specific research questions in particular academic disciplines;
- recognize and respond to social justice issues, locally and globally; enact ethics-based approaches in study and work;
- write well and present information clearly for specific audiences in appropriate forms and media;
- demonstrate the ability to apply intercultural knowledge and competence by meaningfully and ethically engaging others.
BALS Degree Requirements
All BALS students are required to take one course from each Core Area (3 credits each/18 credits total); multiple courses will fulfill each core area requirement. Each Core Area required course will be interdisciplinary.
- Culture – Integrated disciplines include, but are not limited to, Classics, Non-Western, Ancient Civilizations and Cultural Studies
- Humanities – Integrated disciplines include, but are not limited to, Literature, History, Art and Art History
- Natural Sciences – Integrated disciplines include, but are not limited to, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Geology
- Philosophy – Integrated disciplines include, but are not limited to, Philosophy, Theology and Ethics
- Social Sciences – Integrated disciplines include, but are not limited to, Economics, Psychology and Sociology
- Writing – Integrated disciplines include, but are not limited to, Writing, Rhetoric, Communication and Technology
Detailed descriptions of the course are available online in the university’s course catalog here (new window).
In addition to completing the core courses, students must complete 48 credits (16 three-credit courses) in one of the program’s concentrations.
Business and Entrepreneurship
The Business & Entrepreneurship concentration will prepare you with the skills you need to become an ethical leader in a variety of professional environments. You’ll build a foundational understanding of practical business knowledge, including techniques for identifying business opportunities and effectively applying skills in the areas of accounting, marketing, finance, and management. This concentration is ideal for students who work in business or those who want to pursue a career in business.
In the Humanities concentration, you’ll examine human values and complexities from a range of academic perspectives—leading to a broad comprehension of philosophical, religious, literary, and artistic movements in human history. You’ll consider the human experience, which will influence your understanding across the intersections of history, culture, politics, and religion in the modern world.
The individualized study concentration provides you with the unique opportunity to combine multiple disciplines of interest, choosing from a broad selection of courses offered within the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies program. This concentration offers the flexibility to study under multiple concentrations without fully committing to a single degree path. The individualized study concentration is a good fit for students who would like exposure to a variety of academic disciplines. Additionally, the concentration is suitable for students who are considering a graduate degree and who would like to explore more than one academic discipline within liberal studies.
In the International Relations concentration, you’ll form a critical awareness of the complex issues in foreign policy and international relations, as well as an ethical framework for making informed decisions about these issues. You’ll identify and characterize the major social, political, and economic developments in a specific country or regional grouping while drawing from the body of Western intellectual and moral tradition. Throughout the program, you’ll analyze global issues and international relations with an emphasis on questions of global social justice.
Professional Media and Communication
The Professional Media & Communication concentration is interdisciplinary in design, incorporating media theory and history, ethics, the social sciences, digital media practices, and technological and cultural perspectives. This concentration prepares you for the contemporary and evolving media landscape. Through a blend of theory and practical application, you’ll explore modern-day industry challenges while examining the intersections between media and organizations in both the public and private spheres.
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.
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.
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 Faculty Director, 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 Faculty Director. 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.
At least annually, each student is encouraged to review his or her MyDegree Audit, a computerized analysis of the student’s progress toward the degree that will indicate which requirements remain to be completed. The MyDegree Audit is available on MyAccess (new window). 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 Area 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 Concentration 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.
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 (new window) 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, concentration 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.
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.
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 commencement ceremony in May of each year.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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 Liberal Studies Program Director. In addition to the BALS policies described in Academic Policies, students are responsible for additional academic and administrative policies, procedures, rights, and responsibilities (including the SCS Academic Rules and Regulations, 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. Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with all academic and administrative policies, procedures, and deadlines. Questions about any policies should be directed to the Liberal Studies Program Director 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 (new window).