Community Engagement

Community engagement encompasses actions wherein individuals participate in activities of personal and public concern.

Learn more about the Community Engagement graduation requirement.


The Value of Community Engagement

students in community

Community engagement encompasses actions wherein individuals participate in activities of personal and public concern that are both individually life enriching and socially beneficial to the community; it prepares students for their public lives as citizens, members of communities, and professionals in society.

Through the process of community engagement, students gain experience participating in multiple types of civic action and skills, and they are given the opportunity to integrate their academic learning with direct action and involvement. In addition, community work encourages students to interact with different types of people who may be a part of the work, such as teammates, colleagues, community/agency members, and those served or collaborating in the process. In this way, students develop collaborative skills and enhanced perspectives that will serve them throughout their lives.

Student Learning Outcome

Students will demonstrate the combination of knowledge, skills, values, and motivation necessary to contribute to the civic life of communities.

Fulfill Community Engagement by:

Students may use pre-matriculation transfer coursework to satisfy Graduation requirements. The coursework must be college-level, credit-bearing work, taken and passed for a letter grade. Students must receive SMU transfer credit for the course.

Courses that transfer in with an SMU equivalent number (for example FREN 2401) will automatically satisfy any Proficiency & Experience requirements fulfilled by the course. The same is true for many courses on the listed on the SMU Transfer Equivalency Guide


Courses that transfer in with generic course numbers (for example, ENGL 10XX) will not automatically satisfy Proficiency & Experience requirements and must be petitioned using the Proficiency & Experience (PE) Fulfillment Verification petition.


Students must submit one petition for each graduation requirement, even if they are using a single course to petition multiple requirements. Students may use a single course to satisfy up to three Proficiency & Experience requirements (assuming the course meets the criteria for all three).  


How to petition generic transfer coursework:

  1. Fill out the Proficiency & Experience (PE) Fulfillment Verification petition, selecting the requirement they are hoping to fulfill and checking the second option that says “A transfer (non-SMU) course that I completed after high school and prior to matriculation at SMU.”
  2. Attach a complete syllabus which includes a daily schedule, grade breakdown, assignments, and assigned readings.
  3. Attach a copy of the Transfer Evaluation Report (TER), showing that the course being petitioned has transferred to SMU for credit. Visit my.SMU > Academics > Request Transfer Evaluation
  4. Attach a brief supporting statement, using the provided template, that explains how the course fulfills the Proficiency & Experience being petitioned.

Petitions are electronic and are usually reviewed within two weeks of receipt. Students should not assume that a petition has been completely processed until they receive a formal notification of approval or denial from the Office of General Education via The Common Curriculum email ( The formal notification, in cases of approval, follows the formal update to the students Degree Progress Report (DPR), noting that the petitioned requirement is satisfied.

Use the course search options below to find Community Engagement-tagged courses at SMU. Following successful completion of the course, your Degree Progress Report (DPR) will be updated to reflect satisfying this graduation requirement. Learn how to find tagged courses below via one of two means. 

Search courses on the Common Curriculum website:

  1. Go to Course Search on the SMU Common Curriculum website
  2. Click Filter by Graduation Requirements and select Community Engagement

Search courses in my.SMU:

  1. Go to and select “Students”
  2. Login using your username and password
  3. Once logged into your Student Dashboard, select Class Information on the left-hand side bar
  4. Under Class Information, select Advanced Class Search
  5. In the Search Criteria boxes:
    1. select the term you want to take the class
    2. in Course Attribute, select Common Curriculum P & E
    3. in Course Attribute Value, select Community Engagement
  6. Select Search and the available courses will be displayed

Students may propose their own, individualized plan to complete the Community Engagement Proficiency and Experience. Some activities that have been previously approved include:

  • Military service
  • Fraternity or Sorority community service events
  • Volunteering with "Feed My Starving Children" program
  • Political Internships
  • Pony Connect

Before the Individual Activity:

  1. Write up a narrative summarizing the plan to fulfill all Community Engagement Experience Criteria requirements. 
  2. Submit a Common Curriculum Proficiency and Experience Pre-Approval Petition with your plan.
  3. Once approved, begin the individual activity.

During the Individual Activity: 

  1. Students must be involved in 15 hours of engagement work, including planning, work toward the engagement project, support of the engagement project, and direct engagement with the community, with a minimum of 10 hours of direct engagement with the community. Students wishing to use the same activity for both Community Engagement and Civics and Individual Ethics must complete a total of 30 hours of engagement work.
  2. Ensure the engagement with the community must be such that it provides a tangible benefit to the community in question.

After the Individual Activity:

  1. Submit a reflection of at least 1000 words that respond to the following prompt: 

Please describe in detail the activity you used to complete the Community Engagement requirement. In your reflection, answer the following questions. How did you, through this activity, work collaboratively to meet a community need? What impact did your service have on the community you served? What impact did your service have upon you personally, and what have you come to understand, through your service, about yourself and those you served?

  1. Request third-party verification of hours in the form of a letter, engagement portal screenshot, etc. 
  2. Submit the Common Curriculum Proficiency and Experience Fulfillment Verification petition with the above reflection.

Sometimes students complete, or desire to take, an SMU course which was not tagged with the desired Proficiency & Experience, but after reviewing the Student Learning Outcomes, Supporting Skills, Course Content Criteria, they believe they may have satisfied the requirement. Use this process below to petition credit for the graduation requirement. 

Current SMU students who wish to take an SMU course that they believe has activities that satisfy this Proficiency & Experience, must submit, prior to beginning the course:

  1. The Proficiency & Experience (PE) Pre-Approval petition and request individual activity-based fulfillment.
  2. Attach a complete syllabus which includes a daily schedule, grade breakdown, assignments, and assigned readings.
  3. A detailed supporting statement, using the provided template, of how the activities in the course meet the requirements for Community Engagement.

Upon completion of the course and a posting of the student's grade, students must submit:

  1. A Proficiency & Experience (PE) Fulfillment Verification petition.
  2. A copy of the student's Degree Progress Report (DPR) with the letter grade of the course. 
  3. A complete syllabus which includes a daily schedule, grade breakdown, assignments, and assigned readings.
  4. A final supporting statement, using the provided template, on how the course achieved the Student Learning Outcome. Supporting Skills, and Course Content Criteria. When possible, providing specific examples.

There are a number of pre-approved clubs or organizations which can fulfill the Community Engagement Proficiency and Experience. Review them below and get in touch with their organizers to begin. 

Engage Dallas

Engage Dallas is a place-based community engagement initiative via SMU’s Residential Commons to address community needs focusing on South and West Dallas. The initiative is a long-term, university-wide commitment led by students to partner with local residents, organizations, and other leaders to positively impact the community. There is equal emphasis on campus and community impact stemming from the initiative. Engage Dallas accepts new members anytime. Follow the get started instructions on their website.


Peer Academic Leaders

Peer Academic Leaders (PALs) are a diverse group of undergraduate students with common goal to help students better understand the University/Common Curriculum, utilize academic resources, and navigate academic challenges. Under the direction of the UAC, PALs work directly with students in their Residential Commons, empowering them to take ownership of their collegiate careers through mentorship and educational programming. Traditionally, PALs recruits new members in the spring semester before beginning the academic year-long service in fall. Get in touch with their advisors.