Understanding A-G

“The intent of the “a-g” subject requirements is to ensure that students have attained a body of general knowledge that will provide breadth and perspective to new, more advanced study.” – University of California Website

At-a-Glance Visual

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The A-G Courses (Short Version)

  • History/Social Science (“a”) – Two years, including one year of world history, cultures and historical geography and one year of U.S. history, or one-half year of U.S. history and one-half year of  American government or civics.
  • English (“b”) – Four years of college preparatory English that integrates reading of classic and modern literature, frequent and regular writing, and practice listening and speaking.
  • Mathematics (“c”) –Three years of college-preparatory math, including or integrating the topics covered in elementary and advanced algebra and two- and three-dimensional geometry.
  • Laboratory Science (“d”) – Two years of laboratory science providing fundamental knowledge in at least two of the three disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics.
  • Language other than English (“e”) – Two years of the same language other than English or equivalent to the second level of high school instruction. (Ex: Spanish, French, German, Chinese)
  • Visual and performing arts (“f”) – One year chosen from dance, music, theater or the visual arts.
  • College-preparatory elective (“g”) – One year chosen from the “a-f” courses beyond those used to satisfy the requirements above, or courses that have been approved solely in the elective area.


The A-G Courses (Long Version)


History / Social Science (“a”)

Two units (equivalent to two years or four semesters) of history / social science required, including:

  • One year of world history, cultures and historical geography, and
  • One year of U.S. history, or one-half year of U.S history and one-half year of civics or American government.

Goals of the requirement

The goal of the history / social science requirement is to ensure that students arrive at UC ready to undertake college-level study in history. Historical thinking distinguishes itself from other modes of thought in that it sees the objects of its analysis as situated in a particular time and place, and as having emerged from a particular nexus of developments. This approach to the world should be introduced to students through the history / social science requirement. Thus, more important than content coverage is the set of attitudes and habits of mind that foster historical literacy.

The “a” subject requirement therefore seeks to give students a repertoire of historical concepts and skills through exploration of particular historical and geographical periods, and through the repeated engagement with historical practices. These competencies, which may not be weighted equally in a given course, are:

  1. An understanding of the significance of time and place as variables in shaping culture, politics and social arrangements.
  2. Comprehending and evaluating a wide range of historical evidence across a variety of cultures and time periods, and constructing narratives and arguments based on that evidence. This includes understanding not only that all evidence is partial, but also that different and even conflicting perspectives do not necessarily invalidate each other.
  3. Offering multiple explanations of causality − social, political, economic and environmental −  as well as the shifting relationship between determinism and contingency.
  4. Knowledge of a variety of social, economic and political practices across time and space, including the building blocks of different societies, the distribution of resources within societies and the variety of political systems.
  5. Being aware of the contingent nature of our knowledge of the past, as it is shaped by the vagaries of evidence survival and changes in interpretation.
  6. Communicating historical knowledge in oral and written formats.

Course Criteria & Guidance

All history / social science (“a”) courses will expose students to primary sources and secondary literature, and promote critical thinking and questioning regarding historical events and perspectives. The guidelines cover both the skills expected in all courses and the content requirements for different types of courses.

Skills Guidelines

Because the “a” subject requirement seeks to ensure that students have a repertoire of skills for historical analysis, courses that fulfill this standard will require students to do all of the following (though the balance may vary from course to course):

Research and Inquiry
  1. Formulate research questions, which can provide the basis for productive investigation.
  2. Develop library skills, including use of online databases and other research tools.
  3. Examine the nature of evidence and the ways in which evidence is created, identified, curated and accepted or rejected.
  4. Undertake a research project so that students learn fundamental elements of historical practice, namely: formulating a question they wish to answer, identifying primary and secondary historical sources, analyzing those sources, and using them to create a narrative and an analytical argument. These projects may vary in depth and extent as students build skills for research over the high school years.
  1. Evaluate the quality of information in the primary and secondary sources they have identified.
  2. Compare and contrast different perspectives on particular events, based, for example, on status, location, time period or national context.
  3. Explore multiple causal explanations of events and changes in ideas, societies or cultures.
    1. Engage in writing exercises of different lengths, including at least one longer (depending on grade level, 1,000- to 2,000-word) writing project. These exercises may also include visual or web-based presentations of evidence.
    2. Develop confidence in oral presentation through regular practice.

Content Guidelines

Courses meeting the “a” subject requirement will do at least three of the following, in varying degrees of depth:

  1. Examine how and why societies change and the different ways (economic, political, cultural, social) we can explain those changes, including the relationship between contingency and determinism.
  2. Explore the building blocks of different societies (for example: family, tribe, caste, class, religion, citizenship, ethnicity) and what cultural norms shape how these units relate to, and interact with, each other.
  3. Examine how societies obtain, produce and distribute the resources and services they need to continue to exist.
  4. Identify the defining features of different political systems by answering such questions as: Where does political power originate and how is it exercised? How do political practices and institutions relate to other aspects of historical development?
  5. Analyze the impact of environment—physical geography and climate—and environmental change on societies.
World History, Cultures and Historical Geography

World history courses do not need to cover every culture or period in the history of humankind. A suitable course could be an in-depth study of a single culture over an extended period of time (at least three centuries), such as Chinese history from the Tang dynasty to the present, as long as other world cultures are regularly included as comparisons. Alternatively, several cultures might be studied and compared, as in a more traditional world history, cultures or historical geography course.

  • An important element of appropriate courses is that the focus be outside the United States and, whenever possible, away from contemporary cultures very similar to our own, e.g., England and Canada.
  • At least some time should be spent examining historical periods in the more distant past — before the 18th century.
  • May be a single yearlong course or two one-semester courses.
U.S. History

Courses will:

  • cover a substantial period of U.S. history (at least 200 years),
  • examine U.S. history in its wider international context, and
  • avoid examining particular groups isolated from the larger society of which they are a part.
  • U.S. history courses may have a particular emphasis, such as business and economy, ethnicity, immigration, gender and family, or science and technology. In this case courses should place that emphasis area in a broader context, either within U.S. history or in a comparative framework.
American Government / Civics
  • Focus may be on the U.S. federal government or U.S. politics.
  • Both yearlong and semester courses are acceptable.


English (“b”)

Four units (equivalent to four years or eight semesters) of college-preparatory English composition and literature required, integrating:

  • Extensive reading of classic and modern literature and content-rich works of non-fiction,
  • Frequent writing, from brainstorming to final paper, and
  • Practice listening and speaking with different audiences.

Goals of the requirement

The English subject requirement seeks to ensure that incoming college freshmen are prepared to undertake university-level study; to acquire and use knowledge in critical ways; to think, read, write and speak critically; and to master literacy skills for classes in all University subjects.

More important than the specific topics covered are the more general abilities and habits of mind students should acquire through reading, writing, speaking and other course activities. As indicated in the Academic Literacy Statement of Competencies [PDF] from the Intersegmental Committee of the Academic Senates of the California Community Colleges, the California State University and the University of California (ICAS) and the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts [PDF], these include the following:

  1. Students are well-informed, thoughtful and creative readers, writers, listeners and thinkers who incorporate the critical practices of access, selection, evaluation and information processing in their own original and creative knowledge production.
  1. They comprehend and evaluate complex texts across a range of types and disciplines and can construct effective evidence-based arguments and convey intricate or multifaceted information.
  1. They engage with major works of literature, expanding their sense of the variety of human experience in historical and ethical contexts and the range and complexity of human written expression.
  1. They respond to varying demands of audience, task, purpose, genre and discipline by listening, reading, writing and speaking with awareness of self, others and context.
  1. They analyze and evaluate a range of informational and literary texts by asking thoughtful questions and generating hypotheses based on the form and validity of evidence, seeing other points of view and effectively citing specific sources when offering an oral or written interpretation of a text.
  1. They use technology and digital media to access and evaluate a wide range of information and use digital platforms to write, to collaborate, and to publish their work.
  1. They understand the ethical dimensions of academic work as grounded in the respect for other informed viewpoints and the body of knowledge that makes up a scholarly discipline. They have a capacity to question and evaluate their own beliefs; to participate in, and contribute to, intellectual discussions; and to advocate for their own learning needs.

Course criteria & guidance

True academic competence depends on a set of interactive insights, perceptions and behaviors acquired while preparing for more advanced academic work. Good writers are most likely careful readers and critical thinkers—and most academic writing is an informed and critical response to reading. Courses will, at each level, give students full awareness and control of the means of linguistic production, orally, in writing and using a range of technologies.

Regardless of the course level, all approved courses are expected to stress the reading and writing connection, address each of the abilities and habits of mind outlined above and address all of the Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards in Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking [PDF].They must also satisfy these criteria:

  1. Reading. Acceptable courses require extensive reading of a variety of genres, non-literary as well as literary, including informational texts, classical and contemporary prose and poetry, and literary fiction and non-fiction. Excerpts from longer works are acceptable, but reading will include some full-length works. Reading activities and assignments will promote literal comprehension and retention, depth of understanding, awareness of the text’s audience, purpose and argument, and textual analysis.
  2. Writing. Writing is a way of learning and should enhance students’ understanding of a topic. Courses require substantial, recurrent practice in writing extensive, structured papers directed at various audiences and responding to a variety of rhetorical tasks using evidence taken from complex written sources. Assignments and activities will support understanding of rhetorical, grammatical and syntactical patterns, forms and structures by asking students to respond to texts of varying lengths in unassisted writing assignments. Assignments reflect the idea that writing is a recursive process involving invention, drafting, revision and editing. Courses will address basic issues of standard written English, including style, cohesion and accuracy. Project-based English courses are acceptable, but must include substantial writing assignments for a variety of purposes and audiences.
  3. Listening and speaking. Courses will allow students to develop essential critical listening skills and provide them ample practice speaking in large and small groups. Assignments and activities give students opportunities to be active, discerning listeners, make critical distinctions between key points and illustrative examples, develop their ability to convey their ideas clearly, and listen and respond to divergent views.

For additional information on expected competencies in English reading, writing, listening and speaking, consult the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts [PDF]. Further information is also available in the following resources:

English as a Second Language (ESL) /

English Language Development (ELD)

Advanced-level English courses for second language learners may be approved to meet the English (“b”) subject requirement. Courses must allow students to develop fluency in academic language. Assignments and activities require students to accomplish a variety of intellectually challenging tasks, calling on them to demonstrate, at an advanced linguistic level of competence, their ability to use a variety of writing techniques, modes of development and formal conventions. Courses at this level must include college-preparatory composition and literature comparable to other mainstream college-preparatory English courses described above.

When applying to the University, students may use only one year of English coursework for second language learners to meet their four-year English requirement for UC admissions.

Mathematics (“c”)

Three units (equivalent to three years or six semesters) of college-preparatory mathematics are required (four units are strongly recommended) including or integrating topics covered in:

  • Elementary algebra
  • Advanced algebra
  • Two- and three-dimensional geometry

Also acceptable are courses that address the above content areas, and include or integrate:

  • Trigonometry
  • Statistics

Goals of the requirement

High school mathematics courses should prepare students to undertake freshman-level university study. In these courses, students should acquire not only the specific skills needed to master this subject’s content, but also the general abilities – in the case of mathematics, proficiency in quantitative thinking and analysis – to engage with coursework in other disciplines.

Courses in the “c” subject area recognize the hierarchical nature of mathematics, and advanced courses should demonstrate growth in depth and complexity, both in mathematical maturity as well as in topical organization. Although many schools may follow the traditional Algebra 1 – Geometry – Algebra 2 format (e.g., as outlined in Appendix A of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics [PDF]), other sequences may treat these topics in an integrated fashion. Combinations of some integrated courses, algebra, geometry and other courses that integrate the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice [PDF] for high school, including courses that rigorously apply these standards in the development of career-related skills, can also satisfy the “c” subject requirement. Appendix A of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics [PDF] offers a starting point for developing courses that align with these standards.

All approved mathematics courses should be designed to give students the following competencies and should demonstrate how students will acquire them (merely listing standards to be covered is not sufficient):

  1. A view that mathematics is not just a collection of definitions, algorithms and/or theorems to memorize and apply, but rather is a coherent and tightly organized body of knowledge that provides a way to think about and understand a broad array of phenomena.
  2. A proclivity to put time and thought into using mathematics to grasp and solve unfamiliar problems that may not match examples the student has seen before. Students should find patterns of reasoning, make and test conjectures, try multiple representations (e.g., symbolic, geometric, graphical) and approaches (e.g., deduction, mathematical induction, linking to known results), analyze simple examples, make abstractions and generalizations, and verify that solutions are correct, approximate or reasonable, as appropriate. Students should also be encouraged to see the purpose behind each concept and skill. For example, why take up the concept of rational exponents? Why prove the angle-angle criterion for triangle similarity?
  3. A view that mathematics models reality and students should have the capacity to use mathematical models to guide their understanding of the world around us.
  4. An awareness of special goals of mathematics, such as clarity and brevity (e.g., via symbols and precise definitions), parsimony (removing irrelevant detail), universality (claims must be true in all possible cases, not just most or all known cases) and objectivity (students should ask “Why?” and accept answers based on reason, not authority).
  5. Confidence and fluency in handling formulas and computational algorithms: understanding their motivation and design, predicting approximate outcomes and computing them – mentally, on paper or with technology, as appropriate. Among its many functions, mathematics is also a language; fluency in it is a basic skill, and fluency in computation is one key component.

Perspectives regarding the nature of how students may acquire the above competencies can be found in the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice [PDF]. Additional guidance can be found in the Statement on Competencies in Mathematics Expected of Entering College Students [PDF], from ICAS, the Intersegmental Committee of the Academic Senates of the California Community Colleges, the California State University and the University of California.

Course criteria & guidance

  1. Regardless of the course level, all approved “c” subject area courses are expected to be consistent with the goals described above as well as in the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice [PDF].
  2. Most courses receive full 1.0 unit value with a few exceptions. A course covering only trigonometry, for example, would be 0.5 units, but a single course covering trigonometry with significant integration of other advanced math content related to pre-calculus could receive a full 1.0-unit value.
  3. One-year mathematics courses taken over three or four semesters are acceptable to meet the mathematics (“c”) subject requirement, but credit will be granted for only one year (or two semesters) of work. For students using this pattern, all grades awarded by the school are averaged in the GPA calculation.
  4. One yearlong course (1.0 unit value) must be either a course in geometry or part of an integrated sequence that includes sufficient geometry.
  5. Other rigorous courses that use mathematical concepts, include a mathematics prerequisite, and are intended for 11th and 12th grade levels, may also satisfy the requirement. Such courses may incorporate math in an applied form in conjunction with science, career technical education or other rigorous content, or may consist of pure mathematics. They must deepen students’ understanding of mathematics by incorporating the depth described in the ICAS Statement on Competencies in Mathematics Expected of Entering College Students [PDF]. Examples of such courses include, but are not limited to, trigonometry, linear algebra, pre-calculus (analytic geometry and mathematical analysis), calculus, discrete math, probability and statistics, and computer science. For instance, a computer science course with primary focus on coding methods alone would not fulfill the mathematics requirement, whereas one with substantial mathematical content (e.g., mathematical induction, proof techniques or other topics from discrete mathematics) could satisfy the requirement.
  6. Courses that are based largely on repetition of material from a prerequisite or prior course (e.g., as test preparation or pre-college review) will not be approved.


Laboratory Science (“d”)

Two units (equivalent to two years or four semesters) of laboratory science are required (three units are strongly recommended), providing fundamental knowledge in two of the following disciplines:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics

A yearlong interdisciplinary, or integrated, or earth and space science course can meet one year of this requirement.

Goals of the requirement

The overarching goal of the subject requirement in laboratory science is to ensure that entering college freshmen are adequately prepared to undertake university-level study in any scientific or science-related discipline. The term “laboratory” is intended to signify an empirical basis of the subject matter, as well as inclusion of a substantial experimental and/or observational activity in the course design. The requirement emphasizes biology/life sciences, chemistry and physics because these subjects are preparatory to university-level study in all science-based disciplines. However, coverage of these foundational subjects in suitable breadth and depth can potentially be found in a wide range of science courses, including those with an interdisciplinary, engineering or a career technical education focus, provided the courses conform to the criteria described in the Course Criteria & Guidance section below.

All courses approved in the laboratory science subject area should be designed with the explicit intention of developing and encouraging scientific habits of mind important for university-level studies, and aligned with the eight practices of science and engineering identified by the National Research Council Framework and detailed within the Next Generation Science Standards:

  1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering). Students should develop a perception of science or engineering as a way of understanding the world around them, not as a collection of theories and definitions to be memorized.
  2. Developing and using models. Students should understand that scientific models are useful to represent phenomena in the physical world, and should routinely develop or use multiple representations and models to solve scientific problems and to communicate science concepts. They should appreciate that models and theories are valuable only when rigorously tested against observation.
  3. Planning and carrying out investigations. Students should emerge from high school embracing an ease in using their scientific knowledge to perceive patterns and regularity, make predictions, and test those predictions against evidence and reason.
  4. Analyzing and interpreting data. This includes developing and maintaining openness to using technological tools appropriately, including graphing calculators and computers, in gathering and analyzing data. Students should be aware of the limitations of these tools, and should be capable of effectively using them while making sound judgments about when such tools are and are not useful.
  5. Using mathematics and computational thinking. In particular, students should recognize that measurements and observations are subject to variability and error, and that these must be accounted for in a quantitative way when assessing the relationship between observation and theory.
  6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering). Students should recognize that abstraction and generalization are important sources of the power of science.
  7. Engaging in argument from evidence. Students should understand that assertions require justification based on evidence and logic, and should develop an ability to supply appropriate justifications for their assertions. They should habitually ask “Why?” and “How do I know?”
  8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information. Student should be able to read a variety of domain-specific scientific and technical texts and to write using the language conventions of scientific discourse, including but not limited to laboratory reports. Useful guidelines for promoting scientific literacy can be found in the Common Core State Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects [PDF].

Course criteria & guidance

Regardless of the scientific subject, all courses approved for the “d” subject area are expected to satisfy these criteria:

  1. Courses will be consistent with and illustrate the goals described above. Courses that integrate these eight practices of science and engineering with course content will be taking a substantial step toward achieving these goals.
  2. Courses will provide rigorous, in-depth treatments of the conceptual foundations of the scientific subject studied based on the appropriate underlying biological, chemical and physical principles.
  3. Courses will afford students opportunities to participate in all phases of the scientific process, including formulation of well-posed scientific questions and hypotheses, design of experiments and/or data collection strategies, analysis of data, and drawing of conclusions. They will also require students to discuss scientific ideas with other students, differentiate observations from interpretations, engage in critical thinking and write clearly and coherently on scientific topics.
  4. Courses will specify, at a minimum, elementary algebra as a required prerequisite or co-requisite, and will employ quantitative reasoning and methods wherever appropriate.
  5. Courses will include teacher-supervised, hands-on laboratory activities that are directly related to, and support, the other class work, and that involve inquiry, observation, analysis and write-up. These hands-on inquiry-based activities will constitute a significant portion of the instruction and account for at least 20 percent of class time. Hands-on laboratory activities must explicitly address safe and ethical practices with respect to experimenters, society and the environment.
  6. Courses will be explicit about the formative and summative assessment practices that will be used throughout to assess student development of deep content understanding as well as mastery of scientific practices and skills. Courses will include a variety of assessments to ensure the teacher is able to determine that the course learning objectives have been met, as well as challenge students to defend their ideas and conclusions and demonstrate higher-order thinking skills. These measures could include, but are not limited to, multiple choice, short answer, laboratory reports, essay, projects, poster presentations and videos.
  7. Courses will include culturally relevant topics and activities, real-world problems and applications that are appropriate for the context of the school community and the course content. The activities should be aimed at engaging all students in science learning and understanding the role of science in their lives.
  8. Courses will include the use of technology to increase access and computer-based skills for students. This could include visualization programs that provide scientific animations and 3-dimensional modeling; data collection and analysis tools; graphing calculators and other tools for mathematical representations; a variety of digital tools for encouraging multiple verbal and visual representations of scientific phenomena; and computer coding exercises. Courses that give students the opportunities to experience learning in evidence-based, non-traditional ways such as a flipped classroom are encouraged.
  9. The content for biology/life sciences, chemistry and physics courses in grades 9 through 12 will generally be drawn from the Science Content Standards for California Public Schools [PDF], the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core State Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects [PDF]. For success in college, secondary science teachers should help students learn to assimilate the major ideas and principles that encompass the standards rather than explore the breadth of all the standards. Equally important to the topics covered, or to the skills directly used in class, are the more general abilities and attitudes gained through the effort of mastering the course content. These general abilities and attitudes are outlined in the goals section above.


Language (other than English) (“e”)

Two units (equivalent to two years or four semesters, or through the second level of high school instruction) of the same language other than English (three units recommended) including:

  • Emphasis on speaking and understanding
  • Development of awareness and understanding of the cultural context around the target language
  • Practice with reading and composition
  • Instruction on grammar and vocabulary

Goals of the requirement

Learning a foreign language exposes students to new cultures and new horizons; as such, the study of languages is an essential element of preparation for a life lived within increasingly globalized communities. The successful course approved in the language other than English (LOTE) subject area expands the student’s view of the world, exposing her or him to diverse modes of thought. It improves knowledge of language structure as a whole, including the structure of English, while increasing cultural awareness and literacy. Similarly, the World Language Content Standards for California Public Schools [PDF] underscores the significance of students developing cultural and linguistic literacy in a second language in an effort to develop the global awareness necessary for success in an interconnected world.

Given that language acquisition develops over a time frame that differs from one target language to the next, specific communicative outcomes of LOTE (“e”) courses are not as important as the continued development of the following proficiencies:

  1. Language and Communication
    Effective communication requires focused effort applied to the structural components of the language: phonology, orthography, American Sign Language (ASL) parameters, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics. Appropriate acquisition of these structures must be anchored in real communication that improves competence in listening, reading, viewing, speaking, signing and writing. The student should demonstrate an understanding of how linguistic choices depend on the setting, goals and participants in communicative interactions (e.g., choosing between familiar and polite forms). Achievement in language acquisition is measured in terms of comprehensibility, comprehension, language control, vocabulary use, communication strategies and cultural awareness.
  2. Culture
    An appropriate World Language curriculum will emphasize the relationship between language and culture, calling for a more complex view of communities that moves beyond “tokens” and isolated facts. Knowledge of cultures associated with the target language, including the shared perspectives, social institutions, practices, products and geographical factors affecting the relevant speech communities, is essential. Students should emerge from instruction with a developing knowledge of literary and cultural texts and traditions, including major literary figures, works and intellectual movements. These texts should, over time, fuel students’ understanding of the target culture, broadening their views on cultural difference.
  3. 21st Century Skills
    A World Language classroom should integrate the 21st Century Skills [PDF] jointly spearheaded by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. These practices ensure students develop language and communicative proficiency through real-life communication, authentic tasks and resources, a keen understanding of culture and language, and a strong emphasis on interpersonal, interpretive and presentational modes. Therefore, learning a language should not be confined to a decontextualized classroom space. Rather, World Language instruction should emphasize purposeful opportunities to use the language beyond the classroom. Current digital technology and communication tools can make such opportunities available, and should be integrated skillfully and purposefully. The effective use of technology can foster access to resources and information in the target language, as well as enable students to communicate and share with authentic audiences, rather than just producing language tasks for the teacher.

For a more in-depth discussion of World Language courses in the 21st century, please consult the 2007 Modern Language Association’s ad hoc committee report, “Foreign Languages and Higher Education: New Structures for a Changed World.”

Course criteria & guidance

A World Language, or LOTE, classroom should integrate 21st century skills for students to develop language and communicative proficiency that moves beyond a focus on listening, viewing, speaking, signing, reading and writing as mutually exclusive skills. True language proficiency is best measured in accordance with the guidelines established by the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Language. Courses following such guidelines will be taking a substantial step toward meeting the goals of the “e” subject requirement. Regardless of the specific language, all approved LOTE (“e”) courses are expected to fulfill these criteria:

  • Courses will align with the goals described above, and will prepare incoming college freshmen to demonstrate competence in the three language modes as follows:
  1. The Interpersonal Mode is characterized by the active negotiation of meaning and stance among individuals. Participants observe and monitor one another to see how their meanings, stances and intentions are being communicated. Adjustments and clarifications can be made accordingly.Students will be given ample opportunity to express their own meaning and stances in the target language, working on speaking and listening in a variety of contexts. Additionally, these student interactions will provide opportunities for the acquisition of cultural norms associated with the target language and progress in difficulty as contact hours with the language increase.LOTE (“e”) course submissions should be sure to indicate how students will be encouraged to improve speaking and listening skills. Examples of methods and resources include: language lab, pair work, online activities, discussion with peers or instructor, call and response, total physical response (TPR), recitation or signing. In addition, courses must provide evidence of what students do to routinely practice these skills, and specify how listening and speaking will be evaluated, formally and informally, at levels of difficulty appropriate to the language level.
  2. The Interpretive Mode focuses on the appropriate cultural interpretation of meanings that occur in written, spoken and signed (ASL) form where there is no recourse to the active negotiation of meaning with the writer or the speaker. Reading, listening and/or viewing (ASL) comprehension will be incorporated into the proposed curriculum in keeping with the language level. These activities will be based on authentic source materials from the target culture, which might include poetry, screenplays, blogs, web pages, lyrics, advertisements, journalism, short stories and novels.
  3. The Presentational Mode refers to the creation of oral, written and signed (ASL) messages in a manner that facilitates interpretation by members of the other culture where no direct opportunity for the active negotiation of meaning between members of the two cultures exists.Language skills are interrelated. In keeping with the Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards in Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening [PDF], World Language classes must stress formal and authentic written, oral and signed (ASL) assignments as part of the curriculum.
  • LOTE (“e”) courses will provide a detailed account of what students are reading and writing. Specify the source of the authentic literature, its genre or topic, and include the length of the passages/texts as well as relevance to unit or lesson. Written assignments should also be described in terms of topic, length, type of composition (descriptive, reflective, interpretive, analytical, etc.) and intent of the assignment. Sentence writing, dictation, journal entries and paragraphs pertinent to the linguistic and cultural topics of the course would all be acceptable types of writing practice.
  • At the third/fourth-year level, students are expected to have some exposure to works of literature written and read in the target language. Literature taught at this level helps to demonstrate the rigor of the course. Associated writing assignments should also demonstrate appropriate levels of difficulty.

Other options for satisfying the “e” subject requirement

Completion of higher-level language other than English (LOTE) coursework with a grade of C or higher may validate D or F grades earned in lower-level courses or when a lower-level course is skipped. A complete description and matrix of the validation rules is available for download.

UC-transferable college courses or satisfactory scores on SAT Subject, AP or IB exams can also be used to fulfill the LOTE subject requirement.


Proficiency in a language other than English

Generally, bilingual students are considered to have met the “e” subject requirement and may choose not to enroll in language other than English courses. Students who elect not to take courses in a language other than English may satisfy the “e” requirement by one of the following methods:

  • Formal schooling in a language other than English – Students who have completed two years of formal schooling at the sixth-grade level or higher in a school where a language other than English was used as the medium of instruction have met the LOTE requirement. A school transcript or other official document is required.
  • Assessment by a recognized test or University – Earning a satisfactory score on a SAT Subject, AP or IB exam, or a proficiency test administered by a UC campus or other university can demonstrate a student’s proficiency in a language other than English. Most language departments at universities will conduct an assessment and issue a statement of competency on official letterhead serving as certification.
  • Certification by high school principal – In cases where the options above are not available, certification by the high school principal is acceptable. Principals should develop and maintain clear standards for providing this certification. Certification should be based on the judgment of language teachers, advice of professional or cultural organizations with an interest in maintaining language proficiency, or other appropriate sources of expertise. The principal notes the certification of competency on the student’s transcript with the language and level of proficiency.


Visual & Performing Arts (“f”)

One unit (equivalent to one year) required, chosen from one of the following categories:

  • Dance
  • Music
  • Theater
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Visual arts (e.g., painting, web/graphic design, film/video, inter/multimedia arts)

Two one-semester courses from the same discipline is also acceptable.

Goals of the requirement

The arts enable personal, intellectual and social growth by nurturing creativity and providing opportunities for expression beyond the limits and boundaries of written language. Therefore, the intention of this requirement is to provide a meaningful experience with both depth and breadth of knowledge in the arts, so that students may apply their newly gained understanding to the appreciation and creation of art in its diverse forms. UC-approved visual and performing arts (VPA) courses must be directed at acquiring concepts, comprehensions and skills in the arts disciplines, rather than utilizing artistic activities to fulfill non-artistic course objectives.

The overarching goal of the VPA (“f”) subject requirement is to ensure that incoming college freshmen are adequately prepared to undertake university-level study. Courses in the “f” subject area recognize the common connections, as well as independent elements, in the different arts disciplines, and address the non-verbal and non-discursive aspects of each form while developing the ability to mediate complex artistic issues through language. Engagement in the arts includes the creative process of persisting, envisioning, observing, analyzing, reflecting, exploring new ways of working or thinking. As part of this process, students develop and present analyses of works of art from structural, historical, cultural and aesthetic perspectives. This provides the foundation necessary for engaging in multiple opportunities for self-expression, and more deeply understanding a variety of creative efforts. Moreover, in the California of the 21st Century, a focus on the arts may better prepare students to participate in the social, cultural and intellectual interplay among people of differing cultural backgrounds and national origins.

All courses approved in the “f” subject area will be designed with the explicit intention of developing and encouraging artistic habits and dispositions important for university-level studies, and aligned with the five strands of the Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools [PDF] summarized below:

  • Artistic Perception. Students will engage in processing, analyzing and responding to sensory information through the skills, methods and language appropriate to the specific arts discipline. They should understand that the arts provide alternative, often non-linguistic strategies for examining meaning that can guide our understanding of the world around us.
  • Creative Expression. Students will develop confidence and fluency in working within an art form by acquiring the skills required to create, produce, perform and present works of art. This involves learning through active practice, rehearsal and creation as well as performance and exhibition work.
  • Historical and Cultural Context. Students gain an understanding of the historical contributions and cultural dimensions of the arts. This includes knowledge of the multiple cultural and social meanings inherent in creative works, an awareness of how art forms evolved and function in different cultures and time periods, and recognition that ways of knowing in one culture may or may not be applicable to understandings in the art forms of another culture.
  • Aesthetic Valuing. Students emerge from high school with fluency in responding to, analyzing and making judgments about works in the various arts disciplines through appropriate behavioral and linguistic responses. They should develop a proclivity for using artistic processes and a variety of theoretical perspectives to examine the new and unfamiliar to determine the imaginative purpose as well as the multiple cultural and social meanings inherent in creative works.
  • Connections, Relationships, Applications. Students will be able to apply understandings developed within an art form to the other arts and academic disciplines. Students should develop enduring artistic values allowing them to relate knowledge acquired in the arts to understanding the world around them.

Course criteria & guidelines

Regardless of the artistic discipline, all approved VPA (“f”) courses are expected to satisfy these criteria:

  1. Courses will be consistent with and illustrate the goals described above. Courses that integrate these artistic practices into the key activities planned for each course, as outlined in the National Core Arts Standards: A Conceptual Framework for Arts Learning [PDF], will be taking a substantial step toward achieving these goals.
  2. Courses will address the major components of the National Core Arts Standards [PDF], which include Philosophical Foundations and Lifelong Goals; Artistic Processes; Enduring Understandings and Essential Questions; and Model Cornerstone Assessments.
  3. Courses will afford students opportunities to participate in all aspects of the artistic process, including creation, presenting, producing, performing, responding, critiquing and connecting. They will also, when appropriate, provide opportunities for students to discuss artistic ideas with other students, to read texts within the art discipline studied (including art works but also written critiques, etc.) and to write clearly and coherently on artistic topics.
  4. Courses teaching a specific set of skills that must be developed outside of class time (e.g., portfolio/performance preparation, reading, writing, instrument practice, research projects and/or critical listening/viewing) will have students document and summarize their work in an appropriate written format. For example, to gain proficiency on a band or orchestral instrument, once a week, students post on the classroom blog their own practice recordings demonstrating they have practiced reading Western staff notation.
  5. Courses will include a variety of assessments of conceptual artistic understanding as well as mastery of creative practices, skills and artistic literacies, and describe corresponding parameters to measure the course learning objectives. These measures could include, but are not limited to, authentic performance and/or exhibition opportunities, discipline-appropriate creative projects, collaborative projects, student portfolios, written exams, research and written projects, and multimedia presentations.
  6. Courses will include culturally relevant topics and activities, real-world problems and applications that are appropriate for the context of the school community and the course content. Maintaining a balance of theoretical and historical/cultural context with skills-based content is essential, especially in regard to production courses that primarily serve school events (e.g., newspaper, yearbook, broadcast). Each course must demonstrate how it provides ample opportunities for self-expression and the creation of individual as well as collaborative VPA projects. The activities should be aimed at engaging all students in artistic learning and understanding the role that the arts play in their lives.
  7. Introductory VPA courses need not have any prerequisite coursework.


College-preparatory elective (“g”)

One unit (equivalent to one year or two semesters) of college-preparatory coursework is required. Courses must be:

  • One year (or two semesters) of a course approved specifically in the “g” subject area, including courses that combine any of the “a-f” subject areas in an interdisciplinary fashion; or
  • One year (or two semesters) of an additional approved “a-f” course beyond the minimum required for that subject area.

Goals of the requirement

The intent of the college-preparatory elective requirement is to encourage prospective UC students to fill out their high school programs with courses taken in grades 9-12 that will meet one or more of the following objectives:

  • Strengthen general study skills, particularly analytical reading, expository writing, and oral communications;
  • Provide an opportunity to begin work that could lead directly into a major program of study at the University; and
  • Experience, at some depth, new areas of academic disciplines that might form the basis for future major or minor studies at the University.

Course criteria & guidance

Beginning with the 2016-17 submission period, the following course criteria are effective for courses seeking approval in the college-preparatory elective (“g”) subject area:

All elective courses must satisfy the following general criteria to meet the area “g” requirement:

  1. Be academically challenging;
  2. Involve substantial reading and writing;
  3. Include problem-solving and laboratory work, as appropriate;
  4. Show serious attention to analytical thinking, as well as factual content;
  5. Develop students’ oral and listening skills; and
  6. Incorporate learning to develop skills and cultivate interest in the academic enterprise.

Courses specifically approved in the “g” subject area include those such as political science, economics, geography, humanities, psychology, sociology, anthropology, journalism, speech or debate, computer science, computer programming and others. In addition, courses that are interdisciplinary in nature, drawing knowledge from two or more fields, are also acceptable.

Approved “g” courses that cannot be categorized in any of the “a-f” areas must provide academically challenging study at the same level of rigor as courses in the “a-f” subject matter fields. These elective courses must have appropriate prerequisites and present material at a sufficient depth to allow students to achieve mastery of fundamental knowledge that prepares them for University work or a future career path.