Distinctive Features of a CSUMB Undergraduate Degree

Students completing an undergraduate degree at California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) share a number of common requirements with students across the the CSU system. All CSU students must:

  • complete 48 units of General Education (GE) which includes a minimum of 9 upper division GE semester units taken no sooner than the term in which the student achieves upper division status (60+ units)
  • complete a minimum of 24 units in a BA program and 36 units for a BS
  • be knowledgeable about the Constitution of the United States, American history, and state and local government
  • satisfy a Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)
  • complete a minimum of 120 total units

Building on these essential requirements, there are a number of features of a CSUMB degree that are distinct to our campus, reflecting its founding Vision Statement and informed by a collective goal that students need to be prepared for the complex, interconnected world of the 21st century.  Distinctive features of a CSUMB undergraduate degree include:

  • A curriculum organized around an outcomes based education (OBE) model at all levels which guides students’ educational experience with an organizing framework focusing on "what students should learn" as opposed to "what students should study.”
  • First Year Seminar (FYS) focusing on the building blocks needed to sustain a successful undergraduate experience. Students entering CSUMB as Freshman or Lower Division Transfer Students with fewer than 30 units are required to complete an FYS course which also meets one of the A-E GE requirements.
  • A distinct approach to General Education (GE) which not only focuses on areas common to GE in the CSU including the arts, humanities, math and the physical, life and social sciences, but also specific focus on ethics, community engagement through service learning, and critical thinking, oral and written communication at the advanced collegiate level (incorporating the CSU GWAR requirement). The result is firm grounding for whatever major area of study a student chooses as well as solid preparation for the complexities of life in an increasingly global, interconnected, and cross-cultural world.
  • A Language Proficiency Requirement through which students demonstrate competency in a language other than English at the intermediate level, enabling communication in a culturally appropriate manner informed by a basic understanding of cultural customs and practices. Four units of language will count toward Area C GE units. Students transferring into and graduating from an approved high-unit major who are either A-E complete or who have 60+ units are exempted.
  • A distinct approach to the American Institutions Requirement in the CSU that each student receiving a baccalaureate degree to be knowledgeable about the Constitution of the United States, American history, and state and local government. At CSUMB, courses which fulfill the American Institutions Requirement (GE area D2), combine the study of U.S. history, state and local government, the California and U.S. Constitutions and include an applied component where students employ the tools of political action in an historically informed political project informed by ethical reflection and practice.
  • A focus on community engagement through service learning to enhance students’ critical thinking abilities and sense of social responsibility in reciprocal partnership with community. All lower division students fulfill this requirement through 2 units of lower division GE in Area D-3 combined with additional units in an affiliated Area A-E GE-certified course. Upper division students also complete a service learning requirement which must be taken no sooner than the term in which the student achieves upper division status (60+ units). These courses offer 2 units of upper division GE in Area D-4 combined with additional units counting toward another GE area or the major. More details about and a list of approved courses are available here for GE area D3 (lower division service learning) and here for GE area D4 (upper division service learning).
  • Senior Capstone, required of all graduating seniors since the founding of CSUMB. Capstone provides students an unparralleled opportunity to highlight knowledge, skills and abilities achieved during their undergraduate career. Typically, students complete culminating projects reflecting their major, projects which may include oral presentations, original poetry, oral histories, installation art, murals, photography, performances, original research, films and videos, multimedia works, computer simulations and community-based projects. Every semester CSUMB celebrates and showcases students’ capstone work at a Capstone Festival.