Programs and Requirements

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The University offers undergraduate bachelor's degree programs in liberal arts and in professional studies, and bachelor of science degrees in education for teacher certification. Visit Programs and Degrees for the list of programs and areas of concentration and minors.


Southern offers post-baccalaureate certificates that are undergraduate programs of study requiring a bachelor's degree for admittance.  These certificate programs offer a defined set of courses beyond the undergraduate degree that focus on an academic specialty to update or expand skill sets though they do not lead to a degree.  Courses used to satisfy a degree may be used to satisfy the requirement of a certificate. 


Guiding Principles

The Southern community values education for its ability to enrich and change students' lives. We want our students to embrace their own principles from a knowledgeable position and to carry their University experience beyond the boundaries of Southern's campus. Consequently, we aspire to graduate enthusiastic and serious learners who, as critical inquirers, can find and evaluate evidence, can articulate and examine their own evolving values, and can continue to transform their lives by pursuing lifelong learning.

As a means to these ends, Southern's liberal education program promotes active student learning in an environment that demands intellectual honesty and rigor. It requires students to analyze and solve complex problems, and to express themselves cogently and articulately, both in speaking and in writing. While exposing them to issues from different disciplinary perspectives, the program encourages students to integrate their learning throughout the curriculum and to carry the learning process beyond the confines of any one particular course of study. It challenges students to confront unfamiliar ways of looking at themselves and others, to grapple with new ways of apprehending the world, and to make thoughtful choices with an informed understanding. By fostering independent, creative, and innovative thinking, Southern's liberal education program encourages a curiosity and respect for learning. Finally, we at Southern envision liberal education as liberating; therefore, we ask students to think independently and vigorously and to expand their viewpoints in order to prepare them to function as intelligent, discerning, and responsible citizens in our global society.


The Liberal Education Program (LEP) is designed to help each student become an educated person in the contemporary world. It focuses on competencies (What should an educated citizen be able to do?), areas of knowledge (What should an educated citizen know?),and discussions of values (How do values inform one's perspective and decisions?). Students in the Liberal Education Program progress through three tiers, each one focusing primarily on one of the three goal groups, while addressing the other two groups as well. Tier 1 provides foundations for learning,Tier 2 expands students' knowledge of the world, and Tier 3 integrates skills, knowledge, and values discussion with high-level critical thinking.

The LEP is a 15 course requirement in three tiers that is 45-50 credits, depending upon restrictions in a particular major. Tier 1 (18-19 credits) emphasizes college-level Competencies that form the foundation of a liberal education. Tier 2 (24-28 credits) explores Areas of Knowledge needed by educated people in the twenty-first century. The Tier 3 (3 credits) capstone seminar emphasizes Discussions of Values in the context of LEP Areas of Knowledge and a related contemporary issue.

LEP courses are offered by a variety of departments across the university. Many majors and programs require students to select specific courses offered within the categories of the three LEP tiers. Students should plan their course work with their adviser in order to ensure that they meet the appropriate requirements needed for their intended major.

Tier 1

In the first tier, small classes help students develop foundational competencies essential to academic discourse. These classes also introduce students to areas of knowledge and discussions of values. Tier 1 foundations prepare students to have a rich experience and to perform to high standards in the rest of their university education. As students progress from Tier 1 into Tiers 2 and 3, their liberal education continues to build upon and strengthen these competencies. 

Waiver policies based on transfer credits are based on "initial transfer credits," which are the number of credits taken and transferred prior to the first semester that a student is matriculated at SCSU.

  • Critical Thinking — Waived for transfer students with 30 or more credits and an overall transfer GPA greater than or equal to 2.5 and at least three Tier 2 equivalent transfer classes.  Students can contact the LEP director if they believe they are eligible for the waiver. 
  • INQ 101— Intellectual and Creative Inquiry
  • Multilingual Communication — Third semester course or waiver.  Waived for transfer students with 60 or more credits.  Waived for transfer students with 30-59 credits and who took up through Level 3 of a language in high school.  Otherwise, transfer students with 30-59 credits can complete this requirement with a second-level college course. 
  • Quantitative Reasoning (MAT)
  • Technological Fluency
  • Written Communication (ENG)

Tier 2

Areas of knowledge prepare students for active citizenry and serve as the basis for lifelong learning. Tier 2 courses continue to develop and reinforce the competencies introduced in Tier 1. All courses in this tier incorporate Intellectual Foundations and must include at least one primary expository text.

All students must complete both Natural World I and II and are required to complete any 6 of the 7 remaining areas of knowledge.  However, students are required to complete all Tier 2 areas that are restricted by their major.

  • American Experience
  • Creative Drive
  • Cultural Expressions
  • Global Awareness
  • Mind and Body
  • Natural World I: Physical Realm
  • Natural World II: Life and the Environment
  • Social Structure, Conflict and Consensus
  • Time and Place

All students who study abroad for the span of a semester or year shall have the opportunity to use two of their successfully completed courses from their study abroad experience to waive up to two Tier 2 requirements.  Students, however, may not waive departmental degree requirements, unless authorized by the department, nor may they waive both of the Natural World science requirements.

Tier 3

The LEP Capstone Seminar integrates all three goal categories of the general education program: competencies, areas of knowledge and experience, and discussions of values. It addresses both the role of values in decision-making and relationships among the values. Particular focus is on a substantial contemporary issue and how values inform one's perspectives on the issue. The course emphasizes all competencies but especially critical thinking with analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. The LEP seminar allows students to integrate their liberal education learning experiences and may involve a community or service component. Some Tier 3 capstone seminars integrate the major capstone with the LEP. The values emphasized in all tiers, but especially in Tier 3, are:

  • Aesthetic Sensitivity
  • Civic Engagement
  • Environmental Awareness
  • Ethical Judgment
  • Human Diversity
  • Rational Thought

Students may take a Tier 3 seminar after completing 6 Tier 2 courses. Tier 3 courses will be open to all LEP students unless otherwise designated. Some majors will offer Tier 3 for their students only.

Students may replace a Tier 3 course with the completion of a departmental honors thesis, HON 495.  This option is available to all students and not only those in the Honors College.  If Tier 3 is restricted for the student's major, the department chairperson can decide whether to allow HON 495 to replace the required departmental Tier 3 course.

LEP Requirements for Students with Previous Earned Degrees

Students who have earned a previous Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university are exempt from LEP requirements with the exception of specific requirements associated with their chosen SCSU major.

Students who have earned an Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences from Gateway Community College with TAP-compliant Quantitative Reasoning and science courses since May 2011 are exempt from LEP requirements with the exception of Multilingual Communication, the Capstone, and any specific requirements associated with their chosen SCSU major. 

Students who have earned an Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences:  Humanities/Behavioral and Social Sciences Concentration from Housatonic Community College with TAP-compliant Quantitative Reasoning and science courses since May 2012 are exempt from LEP requirements with the exception of Multilingual Communication, the Capstone, and any specific requirements associated with their chosen SCSU major.

First-Year Experience at Southern

Based on a rich body of literature about the challenges faced by students during their first year in college, Southern has designed a program which reflects the best practices nationally. The kick-off to this first-year experience is a well- planned, two-day New Student/Parent Orientation which introduces students and parents to the administration, faculty, and staff, allows them to tour the campus, and gives students a preview of academic and student life.

All students entering the University now are placed in learning communities of students who take 2 or 3 courses together. The learning communities provide students with ready-made academic and social support groups. The First-Year Experience is designed to ensure that every student is introduced to the academic expectations of the University and shown the tools and resources that will help to ensure success.

In INQ 101 (Introduction to Intellectual and Creative Inquiry), students learn the fundamental principles that undergird all scholarly work and how to nurture the life of the mind. The course emphasizes excellent communication and critical thinking skills. Co-curricular and extracurricular activities serve to reinforce what is taught in the classroom.

Students seeking additional information about Southern's First-Year Experience Program, should call the First-Year Experience Program office at (203) 392-6671.

Multilingual Communication Requirement

Students fulfill the LEP Tier 1 multilingual communication requirement by successfully completing a World Languages and Literatures (WLL) course at the 200-level, an American Sign Language course at the intermediate level, or by passing the Standards-based Measurement of Proficiency test (STAMP) for Western languages at the intermediate low level or non-Western languages at the novice high level. All students are required to take the STAMP upon completion of a 200 level WLL course; however, students who feel that they can demonstrate proficiency prior to this may choose to take a STAMP at any time.

The Department of World Languages and Literatures offers the following courses at the introductory and intermediate levels:

Arabic 100, 101, 200, 210
Chinese 100, 101, 200, 210
French 100, 101, 106, 200, 206, 210
German 100, 101, 200, 201, 202, 203
Hebrew 100, 101, 200, 210
Italian 100, 101, 200, 210
Japanese 100, 101, 200, 210
Latin 100, 101, 200, 210
Portuguese 100, 101, 200, 210
Russian 100, 101, 200, 210
Spanish 100, 101, 106, 200, 210, 220

Waiver of Multilingual Communication Requirement:

In order to waive the multilingual communication requirement, students who are proficient in a language other than English must take the STAMP test. For languages that are not offered by STAMP, students will be required to take the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Oral Proficiency Interview and Written Production tests and pass them at the required proficiency levels outlined above.

Transfer students should check the Liberal Education Program for the waiver policy.

Placement Exam:

Students who plan to continue the study of the same world language that they started in high school will be required to take an electronic placement exam. The STAMP does not serve as a placement exam.

"W" Courses Requirement

So that all students continue to strengthen their ability in written language, they are required to select and pass a minimum of three "W" courses. These may not be taken until after a student has passed ENG 112 — Writing Arguments.

"W" sections of courses are specifically designated each semester and are offered by various departments as electives, part of major programs, and as options to fulfill the Liberal Education Program requirements. Students who transfer to SCSU with 60 to 89 credits are required to pass two "W" courses while students who transfer 90 credits or more must pass one "W" course.


Most degree programs require 120 credits but some require more.

Every student who graduates from the University must have satisfactorily completed a major (except in the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies or the Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies) in a B.S. or B.A. degree program. A student who is undecided or uncertain about his choice of major should explore different fields of potential interest through selections from the varied offerings within the Liberal Education Program and through electives.

The "Major" is a planned sequence of a minimum of 30 credits in one discipline; various options are available with departmental consent, and electives may be utilized to enhance the basic requirements. Courses used to satisfy the Liberal Education Program may not be used as courses in the major area.

Students may attain additional breadth or depth in the curriculum in several ways:

  • The "Minor" is a planned sequence, usually of 18 credits, typically earned in addition to one's major requirements, with options available under departmental or minor program advisement. Courses in a cognate or courses used to satisfy the Liberal Education Program may be used as courses in a minor.
  • The "Concentration" is a required set of courses within a major that define a specific area of study.
  • The "Cognate" is a supplement of credits in a related discipline (or disciplines), outside of one's major or minor, planned with departmental or program advisement. Courses in a cognate may be used to fulfill requirements for a minor.
  • The "Electives," which vary in number depending upon the major degree program being pursued and the student's degree of commitment to the foregoing options.
  • The University offers undergraduate degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts, a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies, a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts, a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies, and a Bachelor of Science in professional areas. Each of these is further broken down on a student's transcript as a degree in a particular academic or professional area (e.g., B.A. degree in history; B.S. degree in earth science, B.S. degree in education, B.S. degree in nursing). Each of these degrees is described below.


Bachelor of Arts degrees are awarded to students who fulfill all of the requirements of a major in an academic discipline, usually specified at approximately 30 credits. There will be at least 28 credits of electives which may be used at the student's choice for a second major, one or two minors, a concentration, or for completely free electives. This degree program provides a broad and flexible liberal arts background and prepares a student to enter a variety of careers.


Southern offers a B.A. degree in interdisciplinary studies for students whose objectives are not met by the University's established liberal arts majors. This approach is especially attractive to part-time students, older, returning students, and full-time students who either have non-professional goals or who want to combine two minors in different areas of study to create individual programs that suit their own personal needs. For details, see Interdisciplinary Studies.


This degree is awarded to students who fulfill all major requirements, usually specified, in an academic discipline, and in greater depth than the B.A. degree program. In addition to the major and the Liberal Education Program, students pursuing a B.S. degree program take a sequence of courses in a field or fields related to their chosen major. An internship or other professional application is also required. A minimum of 12 credits is reserved to the student for electives. This program therefore guarantees depth in the major and related fields and prepares a student for entry into specific career possibilities. Requirements for each B.S. degree program in the liberal arts are found in the appropriate departmental offerings listed in this catalog.


Southern offers a B.S. degree in interdisciplinary studies for students whose professional objectives are not met by the University's established majors. This approach is also attractive to students who want to combine three minors in different areas of study to create personalized programs of study. For details, see Interdisciplinary Studies.


The B.S. degree is awarded to students who have fulfilled requirements of a major in a professional area. Specific knowledge, understanding, and technique are acquired relating directly to preparation for adequate performance as a member of a particular profession. In addition to these professional and Liberal Education Program requirement, certain cognate requirements must be met. Some of the professional programs allow a student to develop a minor or a concentration in addition to the major. This program is oriented to a particular professional career or a set of related professional careers.


The candidate for a Bachelor of Arts degree may elect a double major. In this case the requirements of both majors must be satisfied, and courses used to satisfy one major cannot be used to satisfy a requirement of the other major.


The graduation requirements of the University as published in the catalog in effect at the time of the student's initial enrollment are those which must be met for completion of an undergraduate program provided that the student maintains a continuous matriculating status. For all students, the initial enrollment shall be the first day of classes following matriculation (or re-admission) in a regular semester at the University. Subsequent changes in program requirements, as published in the catalog, or amended by proper authority, may be substituted at the option of the student.

For graduation, a student must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 and complete a minimum of 120 credits for a bachelor's degree; for transfer students, at least 30 of these credits must be taken at Southern; and for certificate students, at least 25% of these credits must be taken at Southern.

Students should be acquainted with the Programs and Degrees section of this catalog and with the requirements of their degree program. Students are responsible for maintaining regular contact with their academic advisers. Students are responsible for fulfilling the specific program requirements for their own degree program.

Departmental requirements for graduation are those in effect at the time the student is accepted by the department as evidenced by a properly authorized Selection of Degree/Certificate form with the Registrar's Office. Changes in departmental requirements after that point will apply provided they do not require a student to enroll in more than a normal complement of credit hours in any semester and do not prolong time required to complete degree requirements. The department chairperson has the authority to waive or provide substitute course work for departmental requirements.

Students should be aware that additional requirements may be imposed for certification or licensure (even once a plan of study has been prepared) if such requirements are imposed by outside licensing or accrediting agencies. A plan of study may be subject to revision to reflect such additional requirements.

Courses listed in this catalog are subject to change through normal academic channels. New courses and changes in degree requirements are initiated by departments and approved by the Undergraduate Curriculum Forum and the provost.


Degrees are awarded upon program completion following the fall, spring, and summer semesters.  There is a formal commencement annually at the end of the spring semester.  Students must apply for graduation online one year prior to their anticipated graduation date.  For current information, please visit the Registrar's Office website and refer to the Apply to Graduate link.  Diplomas are mailed approximately two months after the degree has been awarded. 


Students in the certification program in education, including the B.S. degree in education/special education collaborative and bilingual education, must complete two majors. One major is a B.S. in education and the second major is a B.A., or B.S. degree in a subject area in a program outside of the School of Education. Therefore, these students will receive a double baccalaureate and apply for a B.S. degree in education as well as a B.S. or a B.A. degree in the subject area major they choose.

To receive two degrees, students should obtain a form from the Education Department verifying their formal acceptance by that department and authorizing them to apply for a double baccalaureate. The double baccalaureate form must then be signed by both the student's adviser in Elementary Education and by the student's adviser in the subject area major. Then the form must be filed in the Registrar's Office.

All requirements in each degree program must be fulfilled. However, a course taken to meet a Liberal Education Program requirement in one program may fulfill the same requirement in the other program. Should a question arise concerning Liberal Education Program, the departments involved should be consulted.

Completion of the required double major may take more than four years.


By the end of the junior year, the student who wishes to be a candidate for a double baccalaureate (a B.A. degree and a B.S. degree, or two B.S. degrees) should file with the Registrar's Office a Contract for Double Baccalaureate approved by the chairperson of both departments concerned, and by the academic vice president.

The contract form is available in the Registrar's Office, Wintergreen Building, and on the Registrar's Office website. Approval to attempt this extraordinary program is granted only to students whose cumulative GPA is 3.300 or higher at the time of application. To graduate with both degrees, the student must agree to complete a minimum of 150 credits, maintain a GPA of at least 3.300, and satisfy the Liberal Education Program for both degrees (the higher foreign language requirement, if there is a difference).

Courses used for the Liberal Education Program may not be used for courses in a major area. In addition, courses used for one major area cannot be used in the other major area. Completion of this program ordinarily takes five years.


High School students with outstanding academic ability may request to apply to the Honors College. Admissions deadlines and information about the application process may be viewed on-line at the Honors College website.  

The Honors College is a small, dynamic learning community of exceptionally motivated, high-achieving students. The Honors College features small class sizes that encourage seminar-style discussions, faculty mentors that work with students inside and outside of the classroom, a cutting edge curriculum, and a transdisciplinary course of study that examines knowledge from multiple perspectives. Students in the Honors College may select a major in any department and may be enrolled in any school of the University. They must complete the same requirements set by their major as would students not in the Honors College.

The Honors College offers two levels of study: Honors Foundations, and the Honors Minor in Transdisciplinary Concepts and Perspectives. Students who wish to graduate from the Honors College complete both levels of study. Freshmen accepted into the Honors College enroll in Level One: Honors Foundations, a 16-credit program taken during freshman and sophomore years that includes small, seminar-style classes that investigate a broad range of topics across multiple disciplines. Students continue on to Level Two: Honors Minor in Transdisciplinary Concepts and Perspectives, culminating in an Honors College Capstone experience.

Qualified students (including transfer students) who do not enter the program as first semester freshman are invited to transfer into the program. Transfers into the program who wish to graduate from the Honors College enter the Honors Foundations level, and will have some Honors Foundations courses waived, as determined by the Director. All students who wish to graduate as an Honors College student must complete a minimum of 5 credits from Level 1, and must complete all requirements from Level 2. Transfers who do not wish to complete the Honors College curriculum but who wish to complete the Honors Minor in Transdisciplinary Concepts and Perspectives apply to Level 2 of the program; successful completion of the "Honors Minor" will be designated on their transcripts.

The Honors College curriculum serves as an alternative to the University's LEP program. Students who complete both the Honors Foundations Level and the Honors Minor Level complete the University's LEP requirement (including the W-course requirement), with the exception of the Quantitative Reasoning requirement appropriate to their major and the Multilingual Communication requirement. It is imperative that Honors College students confer with an adviser in their major to determine if any additional Liberal Education Program requirement normally covered by the Honors College curriculum is required for their major. Students who complete only Level 1: Honors Foundations will receive credit for 2 W-courses, as well as 16-credits towards the LEP program. Students who complete only Level 2: Honors Minor in Transdisciplinary Concepts and Perspectives, do not receive LEP credit.

Level 1:Honors Foundations Core Courses (16 credits)
All students in Honors Foundations complete the following courses:
HON 100 - First Year Leadership Colloquium
HON 102 - First Year Research Colloquium
HON 150 - Introduction to Critical Inquiry
HON 200 - Conceptions of Self and Community Seminar
HON 201 - Conceptions of Self and Community Plenary Session
HON 202 - Conceptions of Community and Context Seminar
HON 203 - Conceptions of Community and Context Plenary Session
HON 270 - Scientific Investigation and Civic Engagement

Level 2: Honors Minor in Trandisciplinary Concepts and Perspectives (18 credits)


Course listings include those courses which have been offered within the past five years.  The subject abbreviations for undergraduate courses are:

Accounting ACC
Anthropology ANT
Arabic ARB
Biology BIO
Chemistry CHE
Chinese CHI
Communication Disorders CMD
Computer Science CSC
Cooperative Education CTR
Communication COM
Counseling and School Psychology CSP
Earth Science ESC
Economics ECO
Education EDU
English ENG
Engineering EGR
Environmental Studies ENV
Exercise Science EXS
Finance FIN
French FRE
Geography GEO
German GER
Hebrew HBR
History HIS
Honors College HON
Information and Library Science ILS
Inquiry INQ
Interdisciplinary IDS
Italian ITA
Japanese JPN
Journalism JRN
Judaic Studies JST
Latin LAT
Literature LIT
Management MGT
Management Information Systems MIS
Marine Studies MAR
Marketing MKT
Mathematics MAT
Media Studies MDS
Music MUS
Nursing NUR
Philosophy PHI
Physics PHY
Political Science PSC
Portuguese POR
Psychology PSY
Public Health PCH
Reading RDG
Recreation and Leisure Studies REC
Respiratory Therapy RSP
Russian RUS
School Health Education SHE
Science Education and Environmental Studies SCE
Social Work SWK
Sociology SOC
Spanish SPA
Special Education SED
Sport Management SMT
Theatre THR
Teaching English Learners TSL
Women's Studies WMS
World Languages and Literatures WLL