General Education

The General Education Planning & Oversight Task Force is charged with developing a process for revisiting and revising General Education. Follow the progress at

All baccalaureate degree programs include a 45-credit General Education component established by the University Faculty Senate. The information on the goal of General Education and the components of the program can be found in "What is General Education?" This section of the Undergraduate Degree Programs Bulletin includes a description of the components of General Education, requirement descriptions, and information on additional requirements (First-Year Seminar, United States Cultures, International Cultures, and Writing Across the Curriculum). Students can use a General Education Worksheet to work on plans and track their progress toward fulfilling this requirement.

In the Schedule of Courses, General Education designations are provided in course listings and descriptions. In addition, using Additional Search Criteria, General Education courses offered in a particular semester can be identified by category.


General Education requirements.
Area Credits (45 total) Code
Skills (15 Credits)
Writing/Speaking 9 (GWS)
Quantification* 6 (GQ)
Knowledge Domains (30 credits)
Health and Physical Activity 3 (GHA)
Natural Sciences 9 (GN)
Arts 6 (GA)
Humanities 6 (GH)
Social & Behavioral Sciences 6 (GS)

*No more than 3 credits may be taken in computer science (CMPSC/CSE) or symbolic logic (PHIL) to fulfill the GQ requirement.

Satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading may not be used for courses taken to satisfy General Education.

Alternatives for Earning Health and Physical Activity Credit

Alternatives may exist for earning credit in health and physical activity (GHA). Veterans, reservists and national guardsmen who are degree candidates and who have completed basic training may request an evaluation of their training for the awarding of credits in these areas.

Students may receive a maximum of 1.5 credits for their varsity sport experience. Varsity credit is given only once in a student's college career provided that activity credit has not been earned for the same sport. Students must enroll for this credit during the semester in which national or team championships are played (i.e., football in the fall, basketball in the spring, etc.). Credit is given only during the semester students are participating in the sport (it may not be added retroactively). Athletes should ask their team coach about registration procedures.

Selecting Courses

General Education courses are meant to help students explore and integrate information beyond the specific focus of their majors. Therefore, in most cases students may not meet the General Education requirements by taking courses in the department or program identical to that of their major. For example, a student majoring in history may not satisfy General Education requirements with history courses. This policy applies to cross-listed courses as well. For example, a student majoring in sociology may not use Women's Studies 110 (GS) to fulfill a General Education requirement because it is cross-listed with Sociology 110 (GS).

However, requirements for certain majors include General Education courses. They are identified in the section describing each major in the Undergraduate Degree Programs Bulletin. For example, for the Environmental Resource Management major, the bulletin lists the following:

(27 of these 45 credits are included in the REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MAJOR)
(See description of General Education in this bulletin.)

(This includes 27 credits of General Education courses: 9 credits of GN courses; 6 credits of GQ courses; 6 credits of GS courses; 9 credits of GWS courses.)

If a student in this major selected the specified courses in GWS, GQ, GN, and GS, then part of his/her General Education requirements and major requirements would be satisfied. When a course is used to satisfy more than one requirement, the credits in the course are counted only once toward graduation.

In addition, some colleges and majors have stipulations regarding course selection. These stipulations can be found at College and major General Education course requirements.

When selecting General Education courses, students may want to develop a theme, meet requirements for a minor or a concurrent major, or satisfy a prerequisite for an education abroad program.

Flexibility in General Education

Ideally students should develop their plans to use flexibility in General Education with an adviser. However, prior approval is not required.

Substitution of Higher Level Courses

With the approval of the student's adviser and appropriate dean's representative, a student may substitute 200- to 499-level courses for courses on the General Education list if they are in the same area of General Education. For example, a student might take PHIL 432, substituting it for a lower-level General Education humanities (GH) course.

Developing a Sequence (3-6-9)

In consultation with an adviser and the student's appropriate dean's representative, a sequence of 9 credits may be developed in the arts, humanities, or social and behavioral sciences by substituting 3 credits from one of the other two areas. For example, a student might develop a 9-credit sequence of courses in social sciences (GS) with SOC 001 (GS), PSYCH 100 (GS), and HD FS 249 (GS) and deduct 3 credits from arts (GA). In other words, this student's 3 credits in GA, 6 credits in humanities (GH), and 9 credits in GS would fulfill requirements in these areas.

World Language Substitution

With the permission of his/her adviser and the appropriate dean's representative, a baccalaureate degree candidate may make one of the following world language substitutions:

  1. If the student is enrolled in a major that does not require the 12th-credit level of proficiency in a world language, he/she may substitute 3 credits in a world language at the 12th-credit level (or higher) for 3 credits in any of the categories of General Education (with the exception of GHA, health and physical activity). For example, a student majoring in nursing might substitute SPAN 003 for 3 credits in the arts (GA).
  2. If the student is enrolled in a major that does require the 12th-credit level of proficiency in a world language, he/she may substitute 3 credits in a world language beyond the requirement of his/her degree program for 3 credits in any of the categories of General Education (with the exception of GHA, health and physical activity). For example, a student majoring in philosophy might substitute GER 201 for 3 credits in social science (GS).

If a student has demonstrated proficiency in one world language and elects to study another world language, he/she can use the 12th-credit level of the language as a world language substitution. For example, an international student from China who elects to study French can use FR 003 for 3 credits in humanities (GH).

Students may not eliminate any General Education area by using world language substitution and/or the option to develop a three-course sequence in arts, humanities, or social sciences (described above).

After a student completes a course that could take advantage of any of the General Education provisions above, the student submits a request for the substitution in his/her department or college. When approved, the student's degree audit will show that the substitution has been made.

A student who wants to take advantage of flexibility in General Education should talk to his/her academic adviser or contact the appropriate Academic Advising Center.

Reviewed: September 2014
Last Update: June 2010

Reference(s): University Faculty Senate Policies and Rules for Undergraduate Students, Appendix A.1