Revelle College

Revelle College, the first college on the UC San Diego campus, was named in honor of Roger Revelle, former University of California dean of Research and director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Revelle is perhaps best known for his plenary research on greenhouse gases and his predictions of their effects.

The initiation of Revelle College in 1964 provided the faculty with the opportunity to design a complete undergraduate curriculum for some of the country’s best-prepared students. The faculty asked the fundamental question: What should an educated person know? The Revelle College general education requirements offer a specific but broad introduction to the academic disciplines of the university. A student graduating from Revelle College will have attained

  1. a basic knowledge of calculus; foreign language; the physical, biological, and social sciences; the fine arts; and the humanities
  2. a high level of competence in an academic discipline

General Education

Students are encouraged to meet the general education requirements and the prerequisites to the major early in their university career.

Freshman students with advanced placement credits can use many of these credits to meet general education requirements (see Advanced Placement chart). Transfer students may meet all general education requirements before entering by following articulation agreements with community colleges and taking, at any institution, courses that Revelle College judges approximately equivalent in content to those at UC San Diego.

The general education requirements are

  1. Five courses in an interdisciplinary humanities sequence that includes two six-unit courses with intensive instruction in university-level writing and three four-unit courses with less intensive writing instruction.
  2. One course in the fine arts—music, theatre and dance, or visual arts.
  3. Two courses from the social sciences, chosen from an approved list.
  4. Three courses in mathematics, which shall include two courses of integral and/or differential calculus, and one course chosen from an approved list.
  5. Five courses in the physical and biological sciences to include one course in biology, one course in chemistry, one course in physics, and two courses from biology, chemistry, physics, or environmental science.
  6. The language requirement may be satisfied by 1) passing a foreign language proficiency exam, which consists of a satisfactory score on a standard reading examination and conversational proficiency in an oral interview; 2) completion of a fourth quarter (or higher level) college language course (completion of a third semester intermediate-level course if taken outside of UC San Diego; 3) appropriate AP or IB score; 4) score of 700 or higher on the SAT Subject Test in a foreign language; and/or 5) being a native-speaker of a language other than English and having attended at least one year of high school taught in that language.  

1. Humanities

The humanities requirement confronts students with significant humanistic issues in the context of a rigorous academic course. It is also an introduction to the disciplines of history, literature, and philosophy and provides training and practice in rhetorical skills and particularly persuasive written expression. Students may satisfy this requirement by completing the five-quarter interdisciplinary (history, literature, and philosophy) humanities sequence.

For course descriptions, see “Courses, Curricula, and Faculty: Humanities.”

2. Mathematics

Three quarters of mathematics are required, including two courses in calculus and one additional course chosen from an approved list. Freshman placement in mathematics courses depends upon the student’s mathematics preparation and choice of major. Students are urged to keep their mathematical skills at a high level by taking mathematics during their senior year in high school. (See “Courses, Curricula, and Faculty: Mathematics.”)

3. Natural Sciences

Natural sciences courses present current developments in the fundamental concepts of modern physics, chemistry, biology, and environmental sciences.

Students choose their five required natural science courses from the sequences depending upon their interests, prior preparation, and intended majors.

Students planning to major in a science must consult the appropriate departmental listing under “Courses, Curricula, and Faculty” to find the additional preparation needed for their major.

4. Social Sciences

Two courses from the social sciences chosen from an approved list.

5. Fine Arts

One course is required. It serves as an introduction to creativity in theatre and dance, music, or visual arts. (See “Courses, Curricula, and Faculty: Theatre and Dance, Music, and Visual Arts.”)

6. Foreign Language

Revelle College students are required to demonstrate basic conversational and reading proficiency in any modern foreign language, or advanced reading proficiency in a classical language, or complete the fourth quarter of foreign language instruction with a passing grade.

Modern foreign language programs are currently offered in American Sign Language, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and heritage languages, and classical language programs are offered in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. Students who have preparation in other languages should contact the Revelle College academic advising office for information on the possibility of a proficiency examination.

Sample Program (does not include all general-education requirements)

UC Entry Level Writing Requirement or fine arts Humanities 1 Humanities 2
calculus calculus mathematics
natural science natural science natural science
foreign language
foreign language
foreign language
Humanities 3 Humanities 4 Humanities 5
natural science natural science fine arts or major
social science social science major
major major major

Science majors may want to take part of the social science requirement in the junior year to allow time for additional science laboratories and/or calculus.

Transfer Students

Transfer students may enter Revelle College by following community college articulation agreements, which can be viewed at or by following the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC). However, Revelle College does not accept IGETC as satisfaction of all lower-division requirements. Revelle College accepts IGETC courses to meet requirements with additional classes in science and calculus. Science and mathematics majors will need these additional classes in preparation (or to meet prerequisites) for their major. The additional math and science classes can be taken at the community college or after transfer to UC San Diego. See details on our website at

Graduation Requirements

To graduate from Revelle College, a student must

  1. Satisfy the UC Entry Level Writing Requirement.
  2. Satisfy the American History and Institutions requirement.
  3. Satisfy the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion requirement. (See “University-wide Graduation Requirements”).
  4. Satisfy the general education requirements.
  5. Successfully complete a major according to all requirements of that department.
  6. Complete a minimum of sixty upper-division units.
  7. Pass at least 180 units for the BA/BS. (No more than three units of physical education transferred from another institution may be counted toward graduation.)
  8. Attain a C average (2.0) or better in all work attempted at the University of California (exclusive of UC San Diego Extension). Students are responsible for checking with the department of the major for all major-specific policies.
  9. Meet the senior residence requirement. (See “Senior Residence.”)

Pass/Not Pass Grading Option

  1. No more than 25 percent of an undergraduate student’s total course units taken at UC San Diego may be graded on a Pass/Not Pass basis.
  2. Courses taken as electives may be taken on a Pass/Not Pass basis.
  3. The following general-education courses may be taken Pass/Not Pass: fine arts and language. Nonscience majors may take courses for the natural science requirement Pass/Not Pass.
  4. Most majors require students to take courses for a letter grade in order to apply the course toward the major’s requirement. Please check with the department or program regarding their policy on P/NP grades.


All undergraduate majors offered at UC San Diego are available to Revelle College students. An exceptional student who has some unusual but definite academic interest for which a suitable major is not offered at UC San Diego may, with the consent of the provost of the college and with the assistance of a faculty adviser, plan his or her own major. The Revelle College individual major must be submitted no later than three quarters before the student’s intended graduation and be approved by the executive committee of the college before it may be accepted in lieu of a departmental or interdepartmental major. The faculty adviser will supervise the student’s work, and the provost must certify that the student has completed the requirements of the individual major before the degree is granted.

For a list of majors requiring additional screening for acceptance into the major, visit the Revelle College website at


A minor is not required at Revelle College. However, if a student wishes to complete a department minor or a project minor and have it posted to the transcript, he or she may do so.

There are two types of minors available at Revelle College:

  1. Department Minor—All courses for the minor are taken in one department and they are chosen with the advice and approval of a minor adviser in that department.
  2. Project Minor—A project minor focuses on a topic or period chosen by the student. The project is often interdepartmental and interdisciplinary. The program must have the approval of a minor adviser.

The current university guidelines for the minor require seven courses (twenty-eight units), of which twenty units must be upper division. (See “Undergraduate Minors and Programs of Concentration.”)


Particularly well-prepared students are invited to join a freshman honors program, which includes weekly participation in small faculty seminars (Revelle 20). Acceptance into the honors program at admission is automatic for Regents Scholars, Jacobs Scholars, and Chancellor Scholars. New freshmen entering with a high school GPA of 3.8 or higher; reading and writing new SAT scores of 37; and math new SAT score of 35 or higher, will be invited to enroll. Admission to the program’s winter and spring quarter seminar is offered to those freshmen who achieve a 3.7 GPA in at least twelve graded units per quarter, taken at UC San Diego during the previous quarter.

Quarterly provost honors, honors at graduation, departmental honors, and Phi Beta Kappa honors are awarded. Outstanding graduating seniors are honored at graduation each year. An honors reception and awards ceremony are held in spring quarter for the top two hundred Revelle students (from all class levels). For additional information, see “Revelle Honors Programs” and “Honors.”

Study Abroad

Students may participate in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP) and Opportunities Abroad Program (OAP) while still making regular progress toward graduation. Information on EAP/OAP is detailed in the Education Abroad Program section of the UC San Diego General Catalog. Interested students should contact the Study Abroad UC San Diego office in the Matthews Quad Building and visit the website at Financial aid recipients may apply aid to the program and special study abroad scholarships may be available.

Programs are now available for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. With careful planning students should be able to fulfill some general-education, major, and/or minor requirements while studying abroad.