Jul 17, 2024  
CURRENT 2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
CURRENT 2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog

Degree & Program Requirements


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Programs of Study Information

The university offers programs leading to bachelor’s, master’s, education specialist, and doctoral degrees as well as pre-professional, inter-institutional, and certification curricula. All of the bachelor’s-level programs, including the course requirements for the various majors, minors, and concentrations offered by the colleges and departments, are described in the sections that follow. Programs of interest to graduate students are presented in the graduate catalog of The Record.

Guide to Majors and Degrees

The following table lists alphabetically the university’s principal academic programs and indicates the college offering the programs. The colleges are:  Arts and Sciences (A&S); Business (BUS); Education and Allied Professions (E&AP); Fine and Performing Arts (FPA); Health and Human Sciences (HHS) and College of Engineering and Technology (E&T).


Undergraduate Major College Degree
Accounting BUS BSBA
Anthropology A&S BA
Biology A&S BS
Birth-Kindergarten E&AP BS
Business Administration and Law BUS BSBA
Chemistry A&S BS
Communication A&S BS
Communication Sciences and Disorders HHS BS
Computer Information Systems BUS BSBA
Computer Science A&S BS
Construction Management E&T BS
Criminal Justice A&S BS
Economic Analysis BUS BS
Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology E&T BS
Electrical Engineering E&T BSEE
Elementary Education E&AP BSEd
Emergency and Disaster Management A&S BS
Emergency Medical Care HHS BS
Engineering E&T BSE
Engineering (Mechanical, Electrical Power, and Manufacturing Concentrations) E&T BSE
Engineering Technology E&T BS
English A&S BA
Innovation Leadership and Entrepreneurship BUS BSBA
Entrepreneurship BUS BS
Environmental Health HHS BS
Environmental Sciences A&S BS
Finance BUS BSBA
Forensic Science A&S BS
Geology A&S BS
Health and Physical Education E&AP BSEd
Health Information Administration HHS BS
History A&S BA
Hospitality Tourism Management BUS BSBA
Integrated Health Sciences IHS BS
Interior Design FPA BS
International Studies A&S BA
Management BUS BSBA
Marketing BUS BSBA
Mathematics A&S BS
Middle Grades Education E&AP BSEd
Motion Picture and Television Production FPA BFA
Music FPA BA
Natural Resources Conservation and Management A&S BS
Nursing HHS BSN
Nutrition and Dietetics HHS BS
Parks and Recreation Management E&AP BS
Philosophy A&S BA
Political Science A&S BA
Psychology E&AP BS
Recreational Therapy HHS BS
Secondary and Special Subject Teaching E&AP BSEd
Science Education E&AP BSEd
Social Sciences E&AP BSEd
Social Work HHS BSW
Sociology A&S BA
Spanish A&S BA
Special Education (General) E&AP BSEd
Special Studies   BA
Sport Management BUS BSBA
Stage and Screen FPA BA
Theatre FPA BFA

General University Degree Requirements

To be awarded a bachelor’s degree, the student must meet the following general requirements:

  1. Completion of a minimum of 120 semester hours to a maximum of 128 semester hours under requirements outlined for one of the degree programs.
  2. A minimum GPA of 2.00 on all work attempted at Western Carolina University and on all courses in the major. ** Students must have a 2.00 in coursework required to complete a minor and a minimum of 5 credit hours earned through regular enrollment in Western Carolina University courses.
  3. A minimum of 25 percent of semester hours applied toward a bachelor’s degree must be earned through regular enrollment in Western Carolina University junior-senior level courses, including a minimum of 12 hours in junior-senior courses in the major field.
  4. Fifty percent or more of the credits in the major presented for graduation on the junior/senior level unless the degree program is completed by the student is specifically exempted from the requirement.
  5. Be enrolled at Western during the intended graduation semester, or complete a Transient Permission Form.
  6. To participate in a commencement ceremony, a student must be eligible for degree completion at the conclusion of that semester.

** See graduate catalog for graduate degree requirements.

In addition to the minimum number of hours specified, all bachelor’s degree programs require the completion of all of the following:

  1. The liberal studies program
  2. A major as prescribed by each of the departments
  3. Elective courses.

Unless specifically provided for in the catalog description, credit for any course may be applied only once toward the required hours for graduation.

Posthumous Degrees

The criteria for consideration for a Posthumous Degree or Certificate of Achievement are as follows:

  • A student who dies while actively pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree may be considered for a posthumous graduate degree if he or she has completed 75% or more of the program credits.
  • Students must be in good standing and must have been enrolled at WCU at the time of death.
  • Students who do not qualify for a posthumous degree may be awarded a Certificate of Achievement if the student was in good standing.


  1. The process for awarding a posthumous degree or Certificate of Achievement is initiated with a letter from the major program to the Provost identifying the student and requesting action.
  2. The Provost or his/her designee will review requests from the major programs and determine if the application satisfies the criteria and then authorize the Posthumous Degree if warranted under the terms of this policy.
  3. In the case of a student who does not have a major or other circumstances that make it difficult for the program faculty to initiate the process, the Provost may determine that the situation warrants a Certificate of Achievement and issue one independently.
  4. The Provost or designee will communicate with the family to determine the optimal way to confer the Posthumous Degree or Certificate of Achievement (in person or by mail).
  5. The Provost or designee will submit a form for appropriate signatures.

The Western Carolina University Provost reserves the right to award a Posthumous Degree or Certificate of Achievement at the Provost’s discretion, even in the event the criteria and process outlined above are not met.

College/Department Degree Requirements

Majors. A major consists of a group of prescribed and elective courses (totaling at least 27 hours) providing breadth and depth in an academic discipline, in two or more closely related disciplines, or in an interdisciplinary field of study. The requirements for a major in one discipline may include supporting courses selected from other disciplines.

In degree programs that include a major of 27-45 hours, a minor, second major, or other approved program also is required.

In degree programs that do not require a minor or second major, 46-64 hours are required in a major, including any concentrations, emphases, or specialization options that may be a part of the major.

Concentrations. A concentration is a student option within a major that consists of a group of prescribed courses designed to provide preparation in a specific professional specialty within the major discipline. Ordinarily, degree programs in which the major includes a concentration do not require a minor or second major. Concentrations are required in some majors and cannot exceed 26 hours.

Minors. A minor consists of a group of prescribed and elective courses in an academic discipline, two or more closely related disciplines, an interdisciplinary field of study, or a specially designed individual program. It differs from a major principally in requiring fewer courses (16-24 semester hours) and providing less depth. Students must earn a minimum of 5 credit hours through regular enrollment in Western Carolina University courses. Students must have a 2.00 in coursework to complete a minor.

A student may not major and minor in the same field.

Second Academic Concentration. A second academic concentration is an 18 hour course of study in an academic discipline required of education students enrolled in a Bachelor of Science in Education (BSEd) program in elementary education. The concentration areas available are the following: anthropology, art, biology, Cherokee, communication training and development, English, health promotion and wellness, history, mathematics, natural science, philosophy, political science, psychology, social sciences, sociology, Spanish, and theatre.

Second Majors. A second major, often called a double major, is completed at the student’s option by taking the course requirements specified in the major component of the applicable degree program. The hours earned in completing a second major apply to the minimum 120-128 hours required for any bachelor’s degree and do not lead to the award of a second degree. Students interested in earning a second bachelor’s degree must meet the additional requirements stated below for second degrees.

General Electives. Unless a program has been specifically exempted, each degree plan includes a minimum of 12 hours of general (free) electives. These electives are exclusive of the following:

  1. Hours earned in meeting the requirements of the other components of a degree program
  2. Any remedial or developmental work a student may take
  3. Elective hours may become available to a student through the application of the liberal studies waiver policy.

Waivers and Substitutions. Waivers and substitutions of courses, other degree requirements, and academic regulations may be made only with adequate cause. Exemption from, or substitutions in, requirements established by an academic department must be approved by the department head. Liberal studies requirements may be waived or altered only with the approval of the Director of Undergraduate Advising (or designee) or the Provost (or Associate Provost responsible for liberal studies). College-wide requirements may be waived or altered only with the approval of the dean of the college. Waivers of, and substitutions in, university-wide regulations and requirements must be approved by the Office of the Provost. All requests must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar on the Waiver and Substitutions Form.

Academic Advisors. Students that enter the university undeclared are advised by a professional advisor. Upon declaring a major, students are advised by a faculty advisor in their major department.

Students Undecided about a Major. Through the Academic Advising Center, the university provides a specific program of academic advising to assist the undecided student in course selections and career decisions. When an undeclared student does select a major, the declaration or change of major/adviser procedures should be observed.

Policy on Declaring a Major. Freshmen students are encouraged to declare a major at any time, but they must declare a major prior to the completion of 45 credit hours. Transfer students with 45 or more credit hours must declare a major before registering for their second semester. To encourage students to comply with the stated policy, a “hold” will be placed on registration until the student officially declares a major.

Declaration or Change of Major/Advisor Procedure. A student who decides to declare or change a major must complete the declaration process to be assigned a new advisor in the appropriate department and to change the official records of the university. The student secures the declaration form from the present advisor or department head and completes the procedure by following the instructions on the form. The new program of study should appear on the next transcript issued after the completed form has been submitted to the Office of the Registrar.

Curricular Check Sheets. Departments maintain a supply of curricular check sheets on each of their degree programs. Students should secure copies of the sheets for their programs to use as supplementary aid in complying with catalog requirements. However, in the event of a conflict between requirements as listed on a check sheet and as stated in the catalog, catalog requirements shall prevail.

Second Bachelor’s Degree. Students already graduated from accredited four-year institutions and who are admitted to work toward another bachelor’s degree must meet the university’s regular graduation requirements. The student must meet the requirements in liberal studies and in the major as specified by the department head and dean. A student may obtain from the university a second bachelor’s degree provided the degree is in a different major (students may not earn a second degree in the same major).

Students enrolled at the university who wish to work toward two bachelor’s degrees simultaneously may do so. Students must meet the university’s regular graduation requirements for each degree.

 In addition to the curricula offered by a department or jointly by two departments, the university provides a number of special-purpose programs in which students may participate either as a part of the regular degree programs of their choice or as alternatives to them. These opportunities include the following programs:

Special Studies Programs

In addition to the curricula offered by a department or jointly by two departments, the university provides many special-purpose programs in which students may participate either as a part of the regular degree programs of their choice or as alternatives to them. These opportunities include the following programs:

An Approved Program

An approved program is a selection of courses designed to take the place of a minor or second major in cases where a student has a secondary interest in an area not covered by a recognized second major or minor. The program must consist of 16-24 credit hours of courses, developed in consultation with the major advisor and appropriate faculty advisor(s) in the relevant department(s). After consultation with an academic advisor and head(s) of the department(s) that offer(s) the courses in the approved program, the approved program must be approved by the department head of the major department, the head of the approved program department, and the dean(s) of all involve the college(s) in which the primary major is housed, upon consultation with the head of the department(s) that offer(s) the courses in the approved program.

Interdisciplinary Studies Programs

An Interdisciplinary Studies program takes the place of a recognized major program in cases in which a student wishes to earn a degree in a specialized area not covered by recognized majors, or an area that intersects two or more recognized majors and cannot be accommodated by a combination of a recognized major and minor, second major, or approved program.

An Interdisciplinary Studies Program is developed by the student in consultation with an academic advisor (referred to as the Interdisciplinary Studies Primary Advisor) in one of the primary departments and in consultation with advisors/faculty from all involved departments. The college to which the Primary Advisor belongs is designated as the college for which the College Curriculum Committee approves the plan of study.

The program should include completion of the liberal studies program and any other applicable college and university requirements. It should include the distribution of courses, in place of a recognized major, to complete the Interdisciplinary Studies program, plus a minor, second major, or approved program (as needed). It should include a plan for a senior project, capstone course, or final assessment component.

The Interdisciplinary Studies Program will be approved by the primary department’s college curriculum committee and dean, with consultations attached from all departments involved in the program of study. The consultations/reviews should specifically address the assessment component(s) of the proposed program and should indicate approval or disapproval of the special studies program. Once approved at the college level, the plan is forwarded to the Office of the Provost for processing.

The Interdisciplinary Studies Proposal form can be obtained from the Office of the Provost.

Study Abroad

Undergraduate students can apply their financial aid to study in 37 countries worldwide through the following programs offered by the Office of International Programs and Services: The University of North Carolina Exchange Program (UNC-EP), the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP), and several Western Carolina University exchanges. Students with a 2.75 GPA and higher can study internationally for a semester or a year by paying the Western Carolina University rate for tuition and fees and comparable room and board charges. Students pay tuition and fees to WCU and comparable room and board charges to the host institution. Financial aid assists students with study abroad costs, and scholarships are available through external grant agencies. Some summer programs include intensive language courses, and internships are available through many of our overseas partners. Financial aid, grants, and scholarships are also available. For more information call the Office of Global Engagement at (828) 227-7494.

For summer abroad programs sponsored by Western Carolina University faculty, contact the Division of Educational Outreach at (828) 227-7397.

Cooperative Transfer Agreements with Community Colleges

Western Carolina University participates in the general transfer agreements developed by the University of North Carolina General Administration in cooperation with the North Carolina community colleges. The university is developing additional agreements and transfer guides with individual community colleges in all academic areas. For additional information, contact the transfer coordinator in the Western Carolina University admissions office or a local community college.

Experiential Programs

Western Carolina University endorses the concept of education as a multidimensional process of learning that incorporates study and practice. To that end, its curricula are designed to provide for acquisition of knowledge and understanding of theory combined with opportunities for experience in practical applications in real settings. Many of the degree programs include required work in professional situations specific to the positions and career areas for which their students prepare. At the student’s option, a variety of other work opportunities deriving from and related to academic study are available. To further its commitment to the preparation of well-qualified graduates, the university provides various types of support to departmentally developed experiential activities. It also operates university-wide programs that make work opportunities directly related to their fields of study available to all students.

Western Carolina University has the following guidelines for enrolling students in external instruction courses/programs. External instruction programs are defined as instruction received at a site(s) to which the student is sent by the enrolling institution to participate in instructional activities. Encompassed in the scope of external instruction are programs referred to as cooperative education, practical training, independent study, and open-circuit televised instruction.

  1. All courses are bona fide approved: by all required college, university, state, regional, and national regulatory agencies. Courses are also approved to meet all certification and licensing requirements.
  2. All courses are an integral part of the student’s program; credit will apply toward graduation and/or will be required for a particular degree program.
  3. All courses are appropriately rigorous with credit assigned proportionately to the amount of instructor involvement and control (course credit is determined by university and state requirements).
  4. The university/college has an agreement on file with specific work sites assuring that the experiences will provide opportunities for the application of the knowledge, skills, and competencies gained from on-campus academic programs.
  5. All courses have regularly employed faculty members responsible for all students participating in external instruction courses.

Cooperative Education Program. Cooperative education (co-op) is a program in which students combine academic study with career-related work experience while pursuing a degree. Designed to be an integral part of the educational experience, the program offers experiential learning in both full-time and part-time positions in virtually all majors. Participants are primarily undergraduates, but some graduate programs offer co-op to their students. Information about eligibility for the program, work opportunities, and requirements for credit is available from the Career Services/Cooperative Education Office, Room 237, Killian Annex.

Internships Practica. A broad range of full-time and part-time learning opportunities are provided through internships, practica, field courses, and clinical affiliations for periods of one or more terms. The courses allow students to gain experience in the actual practice of a profession and to develop mastery of the tasks, skills, and theory applications in career fields pertinent to their majors. The experiences gained are well integrated into curricula and are frequently included in the requirements for a degree.

Independent Study. Independent study courses are offered by several departments at Western Carolina University. The content and criteria for each course are determined by each academic department. Credit for these courses ranges from one to six semester hours credit as determined by the department. Students must be juniors or seniors to take an independent study course.

Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s (ABM) Track

Western Carolina University (WCU) offers an Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s (ABM) track. The ABM track allows qualified undergraduate students to complete the requirements for both a bachelor’s and master’s degree at an accelerated pace, in approved, participating programs, by double-counting up to 12 graduate-level credit hours taken after admission into the ABM track.

ABM Student Eligibility Requirements

  1. Undergraduate students must have completed a minimum of 60 credit hours in their undergraduate degree program.
  2. Transfer students must have earned a minimum of 24 credit hours at Western Carolina University.
  3. Students must have a minimum cumulative WCU grade-point average (GPA) of 3.00 at the time of application to the ABM track and must maintain the 3.00 GPA through the completion of their bachelor’s degree.
  4. Individual departments may impose stricter eligibility requirements for the ABM track.

Application to the Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s (ABM) Track

  1. Prospective ABM students who meet the eligibility requirements above should schedule a meeting with their undergraduate and graduate program directors to develop a tentative plan of study for their bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, and to discuss the ABM requirements.
  2. Prospective ABM-track students should be given a copy of the program-specific ABM guidelines at that meeting.
  3. The student must submit, while still an undergraduate, the standard application for admission to the Graduate School including an application, application fee, and all required admission materials.
  4. Upon review of the submitted application materials, the graduate program director, in consultation with the appropriate undergraduate advisor, department head, or school director for the student’s program will make a recommendation to the Graduate School to accept or deny a student admission to the master’s program, contingent on meeting the ABM eligibility and participation requirements.

Requirements for ABM Participation and Graduation

  1. Students must complete their bachelor’s degree prior to entering a master’s degree program. Consequently, ABM students may not elect to bypass the bachelor’s degree.
  2. Students must receive a grade of B or higher in the double-counted graduate-level courses. Graduate courses with a grade below a B can count toward the bachelor’s degree but cannot be double-counted between the two degrees.
  3. No more than 12 credit hours of graduate-level work may be counted towards the requirements of both degrees, and no more than 12 graduate-level credit hours may be taken before the conferral of the bachelor’s degree.

Continuing ABM Eligibility

  1. Students are responsible for understanding and recognizing eligibility requirements.
  2. Students who complete the bachelor’s degree requirements with a cumulative GPA of less than 3.00/4.00, must obtain program approval to continue to pursue the master’s degree. Individual departments may have higher requirements, and a failure to meet these requirements will make a student ineligible to participate in the ABM track.
  3. Students who become ineligible to participate in the ABM track must be informed by the program director of their ABM ineligibility. A copy of this letter to the student must be sent to the Graduate School.
  4. A student who is ineligible to participate in or withdraws from the ABM cannot double-count any courses for both the bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Withdrawal from the ABM Program

A student may withdraw at any time from an approved ABM program by informing the graduate program director in writing. A copy of this request must be sent to the Graduate School.

After being admitted into graduate school and upon conferral of the student’s bachelor’s degree with a 3.00 GPA or higher, the student’s records will be updated to reflect graduate-level enrollment. At that time, the student will be officially considered to be a graduate student at WCU and may be eligible for fellowships, assistantships, scholarships, and financial assistance available for graduate students.