Critical Bases

The courses for Critical Bases provide a range of the conceptual and skills foundations that are either necessary for, or beneficial to, a Guilford College student’s subsequent coursework and beyond. This general education curriculum roots the standard breadth courses (arts/humanities, social/behavioral science, natural science/mathematics) firmly in Guilford’s Quaker values, to motivate student interests in issues while at and beyond Guilford.

The three discrete Base C requirements satisfy the accreditation requirements of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC). Note on double-counting of courses: double-counting permitted with the exception of any course with a (*). Starred courses may not double-count to fulfill a second requirement.

Base Requirements
Base A
Skills to engage and communicate knowledge English 101*/ENGL 101 Plus
English 102*/ENGL 102 Plus
Historical Perspectives
Modern Language 101*
Modern Language 102
Base Requirements
Base B
Ways of understanding knowledge Embodied and Creative Engagement
Evaluating Systems and Environments
Numeric/Symbolic Engagement
Sociocultural Engagement (2 courses)
Base Requirements
Base C
Ways of creating knowledge Social/Behavioral Science
Natural Science/Mathematics


ENGL 101. Writing Seminar
ENGL 102. College Reading and Writing: Many Voices 3.HP. Historical Perspectives
ML 101. Modern Language (Communicating 1)
ML 102. Modern Language (Communicating 2)

Students are strongly encouraged, but not required, to complete as many courses within this category as possible within their first two years at Guilford College.

ENGL 101 and ENGL 102 (First-Year Writing Sequence)

ENGL 101 (or ENGL 101 Plus) and ENGL 102 (or ENGL 102 Plus) make up the First-Year Writing sequence. All courses are designed to strengthen students’ understanding and capability in rhetorical knowledge; critical reading, writing, and thinking; writing/research processes; and knowledge of conventions. ENGL 101 and ENGL 101 Plus (Writing Seminar) introduces students to writing for specific audiences and purposes in genres that value the students’ experiences and observations, reading actively, developing writing over time as part of an ongoing process of revision, moving nimbly between different writing purposes and audiences, and strengthening their organization and writerly voices. ENGL 102 and ENGL 102 Plus (College Reading and Writing) invites students to move beyond their own experiences to listen to the voices of authors from diverse backgrounds; examine the contexts in which these authors share their voices; and create texts in genres that value the use of multiple, credible sources. PLUS courses are five credits and meet for one extra day per week with a professional tutor. PLUS courses offer students more structured guidance and practice to complete the work of the course. 

We use an informed Self-Placement model at Guilford College. With guidance, students choose among the following options to begin their writing sequence: English 101, English 101 Plus, English 102, English 102 Plus. Students complete this sequence with one of the following paths:

  • Path 1: ENGL 101 in  the first semester, followed by ENGL 102 in the second semester.
  • Path 2: ENGL 101 Plus in the first semester, followed by ENGL 102 in the second semester.
  • Path 3: ENGL 101 Plus in the first semester, followed by ENGL 102 Plus in the second semester.
  • Path 4: ENGL 101 in the first semester, followed by ENGL 102 Plus in the second semester.
  • Path 5: ENGL 102 in the first semester. 
  • Path 6: ENGL 102 Plus in the first semester. 

 Note: Students with scores of three on an AP English exam will be exempt from ENGL 101 and ENGL 101 Plus, and those with scores of four or five on an English AP exam are exempt from ENGL 101 and ENGL 101 Plus and will be given credit for ENGL 102. Historical Perspectives completes the foundational writing sequence allowing students to transition into further writing instruction in their majors and academic disciplines. 

Minimum grade to satisfy these requirements is a C- in ENGL 101 and ENGL 101 Plus, and a D- in ENGL 102 and ENGL 102 Plus.

HP. Historical Perspectives

The final course in the foundational writing sequence, HP introduces students to academic writing and research through sustained work in the discipline of History, developing process-oriented reading and writing skills through work with primary and secondary sources, reflection and collaboration, and conducting academic research and writing for academic audiences. HP helps students continue to develop the first-year writing outcomes (rhetorical knowledge; critical reading, writing and thinking; process; knowledge of conventions) through the study of historical change and continuity and how individuals and groups respond to social, economic, political, and other forces. Courses meeting this requirement are offered by a variety of departments across the college.

Historical Perspectives courses are indicated with the letters “HP” at the beginning of the course title. Courses without this designation will not satisfy this requirement.

Note: Students who enter with appropriate credit for a post-ENGL 102 level composition course may take either a history course or a designated Historical Perspectives course to complete the Historical Perspectives requirement.

Minimum grade to satisfy this requirement: D-.

ML 101 and ML 102. Modern Language

The Modern Language requirement is a two-course or equivalent sequence that prepares students to be lifelong learners of languages and cultures. Modern language courses are taken in order (the language 101 course, followed by language 102 or the approved study away or immersive experience) and focus on learning through developing novice-level skills in comprehending and producing speech and writing in a non-English natural language, and familiarity with some of the communities for whom that is a first or primary language. A student may also satisfy this requirement through one of the following means, all subject to final approval by the Department of Modern Language Studies:

  • Pass two semesters of a modern, spoken or signed language at another accredited university. The chosen language must have cultural components. ASL can satisfy the language requirement.
  • Place into language 201 (German, Japanese, & Spanish), 203 (French) or higher on one of Guilford’s language placement tests.
  • Score four or higher on an AP modern language exam.
  • Provide documentation of completion of at least one year of high school (9th or 10th grade)  in a non-Anglophone country with all instruction in a language other than English. Completion of lower levels of education in another language is not sufficient.

Placement scores from exams at other universities do not meet this requirement.

All incoming students without relevant transfer credits who have taken three or fewer years of French, German, Japanese or Spanish in high school, and who want to continue studying the same language, must sign up for 101, unless they believe they have sufficient proficiency to take 102 and want to confirm this by taking our placement test in the fall. All incoming students without relevant transfer credits who have taken more than 3 years of French, German, Japanese or Spanish in high school, and who want to continue studying the same language, must sign up for 102 and take the placement test in the fall to confirm their placement.  Students who place out of the modern language requirement are encouraged to continue their studies of language according to their placement. Students who score below the minimum (see below) must satisfy the modern language requirement by taking a 102-level course. Such courses are offered in French, German, Japanese and Spanish. 

The language placement exam is only to be used for initial placement.  Once students are enrolled in a language course, they may not use the exam to place out of the language requirement.  With the permission of department faculty, a student may retake the placement test after study abroad for the purpose of appropriate placement in an intermediate or advanced course.

For the modern language requirement to be waived, a student must qualify for a learning disability as defined by the state of North Carolina. If the modern language waiver is granted, the student must substitute 101 with an international or intercultural emphasis that has been approved by the Department of Modern Language Studies and 102 with MLS 210: Interdisciplinary Language Studies (this course is taught in English). Students must contact the coordinator of the Accessibility Resource Center to process the waiver. The coordinator of Accessibility Resource Center maintains the list of approved substitute courses for 101. Substitute courses cannot double-count with other general education requirements. 
International students whose native language is not English, and who completed secondary school in a non-Anglophone country and in a language other than English will be exempt from the modern language requirement. 

Score Suggested Placement
French Placement Exam
0-259 French 101
260-357 French 102
358-391 French 203
392+ French 220
German Placement Exam
0-327 German 101
328-416 German 102
417-547 German 201
548+ German 202
Spanish Placement Exam
0-265 Spanish 101
266-374 Spanish 102
375-439 Spanish 201
440+ Spanish 202

For placement exam in Japanese, contact Hiroko Hirakawa. 

Placement Levels 

  •  A student placing into 101 must complete this course and 102 to satisfy the modern language requirement. 
  • A student placing into 102 must complete this course to satisfy the modern language requirement. This course is a prerequisite for 200-level courses, which count towards the language major or minor. 

A student placing at 201 or above has satisfied the modern language requirement, but is strongly encouraged to enroll in the appropriate course to continue studying the language. 

Students who wish to challenge their placement should speak with the chairperson of the Department of Modern Language Studies. Every effort will be made to enroll students in a course appropriate to their needs. Note that students are strongly urged to begin and continue their language study in their first year at Guilford.

Minimum grade to satisfy this requirement: D-. 


Embodied and Creative Engagement (one course)
Courses fulfilling this requirement focus on learning through direct, embodied experience and the creation or manipulation of things in the physical world. Designated lab science, creative arts, sport studies, and fieldwork-based courses are among the classes that students can use to satisfy this requirement.

Evaluating Systems and Environments (one course)
Courses fulfilling this requirement focus on learning to notice and analyze environmental, institutional, and/or sociopolitical contexts, systems, and ideologies; to evaluate them in terms of Guilford’s core values; and to assess possible alternatives. While the subject matter of some of these courses may overlap with that of courses fulfilling other requirements (such as the Sociocultural Engagement requirement), the focus of courses in this category is on systemic and/or ideological analysis and evaluation.

Numerical/Symbolic Engagement (one course)
Courses fulfilling this requirement focus on learning to use numbers and other symbols to represent, organize, and analyze information in quantitative, formal, or symbolic systems. Designated Accounting, Computing, Economics, Logic, Mathematics, and Music courses are among the classes that students can use to satisfy this requirement.

Sociocultural Engagement (two courses)
Courses fulfilling this requirement focus on developing intra- and cross-cultural knowledge, including awareness and understanding of the commonalities and diversities within one’s own communities and between those communities and others. Courses that satisfy this requirement focus on cultures in Africa, Asia, Latin America, or the Middle East; or focus on subcultures within the United States whose roles and contributions have been underrepresented and/or undervalued in crucial dimensions of society, including its institutions of higher learning.  Note that students must complete two discrete courses in this category.


Students must take three courses in this category.

Arts/Humanities (one course)
An approved course from Art, English, History, Modern Language Studies, Music, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Theatre Studies. 

Natural Science/Mathematics (one course)
An approved course from Biology, Chemistry, Computing Technology and Information Systems, Geology, Mathematics, Physics, Sport Studies (particularly Exercise and Sport Science courses). 

Social Science/Behavioral Science (one course) 
An approved course from Accounting, Business, Economics, Education Studies, Justice and Policy Studies (Criminal Justice and Community and Justice Studies courses), Political Science, Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology, Sport Studies (particularly Sport Management courses).

Prior Degree Students

The College will consider the Critical Base requirements of Guilford College met for admitted students who have completed an associate’s degree intended for college transfer students (AA, AS, AFA, etc.), baccalaureate or higher degree. Applied associate degree programs or other two-year degrees (AAS, ADN, AAB, etc.) that are considered the terminal degree or are designed for career entry immediately after completion are excluded. The following required limits on this policy are described below:

The following required limits on this policy are described below:

  • The prior completed degree must be awarded by a regionally accredited college.
  • The student transcript for the prior completed degree documents an overall GPA of at least 2.0 on a 4.0 scale, as calculated by the college in which the degree was earned, and a grade of “C-” or higher in all equivalent Critical Bases courses.

While this policy covers Critical Base coursework, students must complete all prerequisite and major-specific courses required in an academic program to graduate.

Students with accepted associate degrees will enter with a junior classification. Baccalaureate or higher degree students will enter with a junior or senior classification based on the number of credits articulated.

If you are a prospective student and you have questions regarding the prior degree policy, please consult Admissions. If you are enrolled at Guilford College, please consult with the Department Chair or Coordinator of your academic program or the Registrar’s Office.