The UAB Undergraduate Academic Experience

Shared Vision for a UAB Graduate

The Shared Vision for a UAB Graduate reflects high expectations in the areas of Communication, Knowledge, Problem-Solving, and Citizenship.

Communication - A UAB graduate

  • Participates effectively in the world of ideas and information.
  • Reads with comprehension, attention to detail, and an awareness of context, tone, and interconnections with other texts, life experiences, and public events.
  • Writes correctly and effectively in response to specific needs and for diverse audiences and contexts.
  • Speaks effectively as determined by audience, setting, and circumstances.
  • Uses information technology effectively for professional communication.

Knowledge - A UAB graduate

  • Possesses a depth and breadth of knowledge sufficient for informed decision-making.
  • Demonstrates substantial knowledge in a disciplinary major.
  • Differentiates among methodologies, major ideas and figures, and specific information or issues relevant to the sciences and humanities.
  • Uses effectively the technology appropriate for one’s discipline.

Problem-Solving - A UAB graduate

  • Collects and evaluates data and analyzes complex issues, using appropriate methods.
  • Demonstrates critical thinking skills by synthesizing information, making reasonable arguments, and arriving at logical conclusions.
  • Demonstrates quantitative reasoning by interpreting data in multiple formats and applying quantitative methods to solve complex problems.
  • Demonstrates the ability to achieve goals through collaboration.

Citizenship - A UAB graduate

  • Is aware of contemporary issues and prepared to engage responsibly in the community.
  • Understands civic responsibility and engages in informed decision-making with respect to social and political issues.
  • Recognizes that values and ethics are integral to one’s academic, personal, and professional life.
  • Respects the significant role of diversity in the contemporary world.

The Shared Vision for a UAB Graduate is achieved through the UAB Undergraduate Academic Experience, which begins with the first year experience and the core curriculum; continues with major courses, elective courses, and perhaps courses required for a minor or certificate; and culminates in a capstone experience.

First Year Experience

Every UAB first year student will share a common foundation for learning, whatever their majors or professional goals. This common foundation is found in the Discussion Book and the First Year Experience (FYE) course.

Discussion Book

Since 2005, UAB has selected an annual UAB Discussion Book as one focal point for uniting first year students with the returning students, faculty, and staff of this research extensive campus. In addition to providing all UAB community members with a common ground for discussion, the Common Reading program provides a contextualized foundation upon which students, faculty, and staff may explore personal and shared interests in issues related to civic engagement and social awareness. The Discussion Book has literary merit, raises complex questions, is relevant to contemporary issues, and broadens the reader's understanding of diversity in a meaningful way. Students are able to purchase the book at the UAB Bookstore during New Student Orientation.

Intentionally designed to foster a sense of community among all participants, programming related to UAB’s Common Read includes activities throughout the academic year in courses, residence hall  activities, and student life.  The Common Read provides a focus point for students to explore and discuss their transitional experiences during their collegiate journey and is integrated into First Year Experience courses that are taught by the Vulcan Material Academic Success Center team as well as other core curriculum courses.  Partnerships among colleagues within the Division of Student Affairs increases the diversity of events offered that connect curricular engagement through co-curricular activities in students’ residence halls and social space as well as the classroom.  


Your journey to graduation and the fulfillment of your academic goals all begins with New Student Convocation, the official start of the academic year and a chance for the entire UAB community - students, faculty and staff - to welcome the incoming class.  Convocation is the first of many memorable moments for you at UAB and the only time prior to graduation that your entire class is gathered.  The President, Provost, Undergraduate Student Government President, along with UAB students, faculty and alumni will all welcome the new class to UAB.

First Year Class Photo

This is one of UAB’s newest traditions!  Each year, more than 2,000 incoming freshmen each year line the practice field and collectively form the shape of their graduation year.  Since 2017, new students have smiled for the camera to show their UAB pride.  The Class Photo cements the start of your UAB journey.

First Year Experience Course Requirement

Students entering UAB with fewer than 24 hours of college credit must enroll in and pass a first year experience (FYE) course in their first 24 credit hours at UAB.

FYE courses are the gateway to undergraduate education at UAB. FYE courses improve student success by helping to bridge the gap between high school experiences and university expectations and enhance successful progress towards graduation by establishing the foundations for academic achievement and holistic development. FYE courses include: CAS 112, BUS 101, EDU 100HRP 101, NUR 100, PUH 101, UASC 101, UASC 105.

Core Curriculum Requirements 

Sometimes called general education courses, the core curriculum is a selection of required and elective courses that together promote six competencies which build the foundation for attainment of the Shared Vision for a UAB Graduate. 

A graduating student should be able to demonstrate the following core competencies:

  • Reading and writing skills sufficient to ensure access to information and ideas in the institution’s curriculum as well as in society at large.
  • An ability to make aesthetic judgments in the arts, literature, and humanities based on relevant historical, social, or philosophical contexts.
  • The ability to collect and evaluate information within the context of the scientific method and to use this ability to further one’s understanding of the natural world.
  • The ability to apply mathematical skills and quantitative reasoning to solve problems and interpret information.
  • The ability to reason and evaluate information within the context of the social and behavioral sciences and to use this ability to further one’s understanding of the social, economic, and political environment.
  • Knowledge of contemporary and/or historical issues.

Who is required to fulfill the Core Curriculum Requirements?

  • First time college freshmen who have no credit for college work (excepting credit earned while still enrolled in high school).
  • Those returning UAB students or transfer students who are enrolling as a degree student after an absence from college of more than 12 months.
  • Students who enrolled for the first time in any institution of higher education in Fall 1998 or later and who subsequently transferred to the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Any student with a valid articulation contract from an Alabama two-year school will be able to enroll under the terms of the contract. Contracts prior to Fall 1998 must have been submitted to UAB’s Office of Admission according to the procedures in place at the time.

Since Fall Term 2000, all undergraduate students entering UAB have been subject to the 1998 Core Curriculum requirements.

Can One Satisfy Core Curriculum Requirements with Alternative Credit?

Students may satisfy certain Core Curriculum requirements by presenting credit earned through the following: Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), College Level Examination Program (CLEP), and Credit by Examination (CBE). Students with AP, IB, or CLEP credit must have official documents sent to the Office of Enrollment Management, ATTN: Alternative Credit, 1605 Building, 1605 11th Avenue South, (205) 934-8228 for evaluation and acceptance before credit can be posted on the UAB transcript. 

What Courses Satisfy Core Curriculum Requirements?

Core curriculum requirements are divided into four areas, and all students must fulfill requirements in each area. See Collat School of Business and School of Engineering sections of this catalog for their specific variations. Majors may also have specific requirements in each area, as indicated in this catalog.

Core CurriculumHours
On Ramp 0 Credits

The on-ramp is not a course and does not offer course credit, but is rather a series of exciting events that are designed to immerse students in the values and principles of UAB and kick-start their engagement in the UAB and Birmingham community.

Local Beginnings 3 Credits

Students begin locally in a community of learners that is developed through our innovative First Year Experience courses. These courses provide students with a meaningful introduction to academic study at UAB that engages them in the process of designing pathways for both their future careers and future engagements as citizens.

Local Beginnings3
Introduction to Business
Business Foundations
Biology's Guide to Surviving Stress
Success in College
Touch the Future
Introduction to Engineering
Experience the University Transition
Student Success in Nursing
Transitioning to College, Exploring Public Health
Psychology of Adjustment
Exploring UAB
Success and the City
Keys to Academic Success
Lost in Translation: Navigating College and Beyond
Academic Foundations 15 Credits

Intellectual foundations provide students with opportunities to develop and apply processes of print and digital communication, quantitative literacy, and critical and ethical thinking to real-world issues. Courses such as our innovative place-based Freshman English courses foster students’ awareness of how foundational knowledge directly impacts the lives of those in our community and world.

Writing 6
Freshman Writing I and Freshman Writing II provide students with strong writing processes that enable students to become adaptable writers who can communicate in a variety of different media for different audiences.
English Composition I
Introduction to Freshman Writing I
English Composition I for Second Language Writers
English Composition II
Introduction to Freshman Writing II
English Composition II for Second Language Writers
Quantitative Literacy 3
Courses in quantitative literacy provide students with central conceptual knowledge of numbers, formulas, data, and probabilities, and encourage students to apply this knowledge to address real-world problems.
Pre-Calculus Algebra
Pre-Calculus Trigonometry
Pre-Calculus Algebra and Trigonometry
Mathematics of Social Choice
Finite Mathematics
Calculus I
Calculus II
Mathematics of Biological Systems I
Introduction to Statistics
Calculus I - Honors
Calculus II - Honors
Introduction to Differential Equations
Introduction to Linear Algebra
Understanding the World Through Data
Reasoning through Modeling and Simulation of Data
Data, Politics and Policy
Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences
Courses in reasoning teach logic and reasoning processes, including ethical thinking processes that enable students to understand the critical dialogues and discourses that shape our world.
Introduction to Peace Studies
Principles of Ethics
Artificial Intelligence and Society
Biology of Sex
Honors Seminar in Health Professions
Honors Seminar
Honors Seminar in Reasoning
Contemporary Moral Issues
Practical Reasoning
Introduction to Symbolic Logic
Foundations of Comparative Politics
Foundations of Political Theory
Introduction to Public Health
Cross-Cultural Perspective on Child Development
Communicating in the Modern World 3
Courses in communicating the modern world expand students’ understanding of verbal and visual forms of communication and empower them to become effective and adaptive communicators.
Introductory Arabic I
and Introductory Arabic I Lab
Introductory Arabic II
and Introductory Arabic II Lab
Foundations of Business Communications
Contemporary Issues in Science Policy
Introductory Chinese I
and Introductory Chinese I Lab
Introductory Chinese II
and Introductory Chinese II Lab
Intermediate Chinese I
Public Speaking
Introduction to Human Communication
Computer Aided Graphics and Design
Engineering Design & Innovation I: Design Thinking
Introductory French I
and Introductory French I Lab Practice
Introductory French II
and Introductory French II Lab Practice
Intermediate French I
Introductory German I
and Introductory German I Lab Practice
Introductory German II
and Introductory German II Lab Practice
Intermediate German I
Honors Seminar in Engineering
Honors Seminar in Business
Leadership Skills
Introductory Italian I
and Introductory Italian I Lab
Introductory Italian II
and Introductory Italian II Lab
Introductory Japanese I
and Introductory Japanese I Lab
Introductory Japanese II
and Introductory Japanese Lab II
Intermediate Japanese I
Introductory Portuguese I
and Introductory Portuguese I Lab Practice
Introductory Portuguese II
and Introductory Portuguese II Lab Practice
Public Service
American State and Local Government
Introductory Spanish I
and Introductory Spanish I Lab Practice
Introductory Spanish II
and Introductory Spanish II Lab Practice
Intermediate Spanish I
Introductory World Language I
Introductory World Language II
Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies
Total Hours15
Thinking Broadly 20 Credits

To respond to the opportunities of tomorrow, students need the ability to think from a range of different disciplinary and cultural perspectives, recognize and value the diversity of human culture and identity, perceive the vital importance of intellectual and public knowledge of scientific inquiry in our society, understand the historical development of the cultures, communities, and networks that shape our world, and critically understand how narrative, visual art, and design shape our contemporary experience of the world.

History & Meaning3
Courses in this section will explore the ways that human beings have sought to understand, organize, and interpret the human experience and to give it meaning.
Introduction to African-American Studies
Introducing Archaeology
Explorers, Mummies, Hieroglyphs
Peoples of the World:Mediterranean
Art and Medicine: A History
Interpreting Film
Forms of Literature
Ideas in Literature
Honors Seminar in History & Meaning
Honors Seminar in Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Honors Seminar in Social and Behavioral Sciences
Honors Seminar
Honors Seminar History & Meaning
Western Civilization I
Western Civilization II
World History to 1600
World History 1600 to the Present
World History and Technology I
World History and Technology II
The United States To 1877
The United States Since 1877
Reacting to the Past
Introduction to Philosophy
Introduction to Ethics
Philosophy of Religion
Meaning of Life: Perspectives
Urban Politics
Afrodocs: Afro-Iberian and Caribbean History through Film
The International Biopic
The Creative Arts 3
Courses in this section will explore the imaginative and creative arts.
The Art Experience
Modern Visual Culture
Ancient and Medieval Art
Early Modern-Contemporary Art
Survey of African Art
Survey of Asian Art
Creativity and Imagination
Introduction to Creative Writing
Honors Seminar in Public Health
Honors Seminar in Creative Arts
Honor Seminar in Arts and Humanities
Music Appreciation
Jazz Styles: History and Appreciation
African-American Music 1619-Present
Introduction to the Theatre
Introduction to Cinema
Introduction to Dance
Plays on Film
Worlds of Anime and Manga
World Literatures in English Translation
Scientific Inquiry 8
Courses in this section will teach students the processes of scientific inquiry and the uses of scientific evidence and challenge them to think about the importance of scientific inquiry for understanding and addressing our world’s key challenges. These courses will be accompanied by labs.
Introduction to Biological Anthropology
and Laboratory in Biological Anthropology
Astronomy of the Universe
and Astronomy of the Universe Laboratory
Stars and Galaxies
and Stars and Galaxies Laboratory
Astronomy of the Solar System
and Astronomy of the Solar Systems Laboratory
Extraterrestrial Life
and Extraterrestrial Life Laboratory
Topics in Contemporary Biology
and Topics Contemporary Biology Laboratory
Oceans and You
and Oceans and You - Laboratory
Human Population and the Earth's Environment
and Laboratory in Environmental Science
Introductory Biology I
Introductory Biology II
Introductory Chemistry I
and Introductory Chemistry I Laboratory
Introductory Chemistry II
and Introductory Chemistry II Laboratory
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry I Laboratory
General Chemistry II
and General Chemistry II Laboratory
General Chemistry I HONORS
and General Chemistry I HONORS Laboratory
General Chemistry II HONORS
and General Chemistry II HONORS Laboratory
Data Science for All
Physical Geology
Physical Geology Laboratory
Honors Seminar: Scientific Inquiry
College Physics I
College Physics II
General Physics I
General Physics II
Physical Science
Physical Science II
Humans and their Societies3
Courses in this section look at the ways that human beings behave in the social world and how they have organized their societies.
Introducing Cultural Anthropology
Language and Culture
Crime and Everyday Life
Media, Culture and Society
Principles of Microeconomics
Principles of Macroeconomics
Honors Seminar: Special Topics
Honors Seminar in Education
Honors Seminar Humans & their Societies
Honors Seminar in Business
Extreme Teaming in Healthcare
History and Society
Art and Science of Language
Well Being and You
Healthy People, Healthy Planet
Nutrition and Health
Social and Political Philosophy
Science, Knowledge, and Reality
Foundations of American Government
Foundations of International Relations
Introduction to Global Health
Social and Behavioral Determinants of Health
Introduction to Psychology
Honors Introduction to Psychology
Developmental Psychology
Honors Developmental Psychology
Introduction to Sociology
Social Change
Sociology of Sex and Gender
Contemporary Social Problems
Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
Our Interconnected World: International Sociology
Introduction to Medical Sociology
World Cultures
Songs of Social Change through World Cultures
Additional Selection3
Select one additional course from History & Meaning, The Creative Arts, or Humans & Their Societies
Total Hours20
City as Classroom 3 Credits

A signature initiative of Blazer Core, City as Classroom courses will be taught by faculty across the many disciplines at UAB and will immerse students in undergraduate research, experiential learning, or other high-impact practices that enable them to see the role of knowledge in addressing the challenges and opportunities of our city. Here are just a few possible examples:

City As a Classroom3
Taxation and the Working Poor
Financial Oversight for Not-for-Profit Organizations
City as Culture
Protecting Starry Skies in Birmingham and Beyond
Urban Neighborhood Revitalization and Community Development/CAC
CAC: Climate Change and the Environment
CAC: Aging: From Cells to Society
Sustainable Cities
Lifelong Health & Wellness
Economic Impacts, Equity and History of Birmingham
Disability in Society
Writing in Birmingham
Reading in Birmingham
Urban Geology
Investigations into Financial Inclusion
Intro to Geography
Honor Seminar - City as a Classroom
City as Classroom
Dialect and Language Diversity in the South
Data Dive Into Birmingham
Health in the City
Community Data Research
Philosophy Service Learning
Political Science City as Classroom
Health Equity, Disparities, and Social Justice in Alabama
Introduction to Sustainability: Shaping Our Shared Future
Community Service Practicum
Sociology in the City
Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
Experiencing Japanese Culture in Birmingham
Eating in Birmingham: From Food Banks to Fine Dining
My Global Birmingham
Multicultural City: Heritage through Festivals

Flags (5 minimum):

As students progress through Blazer Core, they will develop key skills and capabilities that sometimes are not reflected on their transcripts. Our innovative flagging program allows students to earn flags for course work and co-curricular activities that cultivate specific skills, perspectives, and habits of mind that reflect the goals of the core and ideals of UAB. Here are just a few of our important flags.

  • Justice
  • Wellness/Wellbeing
  • Sustainability
  • Civic Engagement
  • High-Impact Practices
    • First Year Experiences
    • Common Intellectual Experiences
    • Collaborative Assignments and Projects
    • Service Learning/Community Based Learning
    • Undergraduate Research
    • Post-Freshman Writing
    • Global/Multicultural Perspectives
Total Semester Hours:41

Capstone Requirement

UAB’s undergraduate programs culminate in a capstone requirement. The capstone provides a summative opportunity for students to draw upon, synthesize, and apply what they have learned to an original project and/or real life application. Depending on the discipline, the capstone may involve such components as collaborative projects, internships, service learning, fieldwork, independent research, community outreach, and/or thesis writing. In every case capstones include a set of well-defined learning outcomes, significant writing, and integration of discipline-specific competencies in quantitative literacy and in ethics and civic responsibility. Most importantly the capstone provides an enriching bridge experience for students between their undergraduate education and post-graduation lives.

All UAB students must successfully complete the capstone course or experience required by their major program or school in order to graduate.