General Education

The General Education Program


Drawing on a variety of disciplines, the General Education Program provides students with a liberal arts foundation as a preparation for in-depth study in a major field and for life-long learning as members of our global society. Courses in the general education program provide students with the breadth of knowledge and essential skills that they will need to participate as informed, responsible citizens in the world today. The program is organized around five themes: Communication Skills, Values & Choices, World Cultures, Global Systems and Research & Epistemology

Program Objectives: 

  • Students understand communication as a process and can critique information and opinion; demonstrate competence in writing, computer use, verbal discourse, and group dynamics; comprehend the functions and impact of the mass media and information technology.
  • Students understand that the interaction of many systems holds the global community together and that these political, economic, organizational, scientific, and cultural systems cross both national borders and disciplinary boundaries.
  • Students learn to use suitable modes of inquiry and their own judgment to propose solutions to complex problems.  They develop the ability to verify, evaluate, test, and place that knowledge in the broad spectrum of solutions that are appropriate to the area of inquiry.
  • Students will engage with diverse individual, social, and aesthetic value systems and will develop respect for differences within and among these values and choices.  Students will develop and/or refine a conscious value system that directs their own behavior.
  • Students learn about the values and lifestyles of contemporary and historical cultures throughout the world as a means of understanding diverse approaches to life and as a catalyst for reflecting on their own customs and choices.

Student Learning Outcomes

Courses in the general education program aim to help students achieve certain student learning outcomes  which are related to the five themes and the program objectives above.  Each general education course provides opportunities for achieving at least four of these outcomes, three of which must be related to the theme under which the course is classified.

The Structure of the General Education Program

The general education program includes three major components :

  1. The General Education Common Core
  2. The Cross-Theme Requirements
  3. The Upper-Division General Education Requirements

The General Education Common Core

In the common core of the general education program, which is taken by every student, regardless of major, students select courses to satisfy requirements in 15 different categories, three per theme.  Students may fill no more than two of these requirements with courses from the same department as indicated by the course alpha (the alphabetic prefix such as HIST or BIOL). In addition students must meet two cross-theme requirements described below.  Each course that satisfies a cross-theme requirement also satisfies one of the 15 categories, so with careful selection, students can fulfill these 17 requirements with 15 courses.  Click on the categories below to see a listing of all the courses that will satisfy a particular category.



Communication Skills


Research &

Values &



Writing and Critical Thinking

Natural Systems

Writing, Research and Information Literacy

Ethical Inquiry

Cultures, Themes and Movements


Communication Contexts


Numeracy and Quantitative Reasoning

Social Choice

Engaging with Difference


Other Communication Skills Courses

Other Global Systems  Courses

Research and Epistemology in the Disciplines

Other Values and Choices Courses

Other World Cultures Courses

The Cross-Theme Requirements


The cross-theme requirements focus on specialized skills and knowledge that can be addressed in relation to more than one of the five themes. The course a student chooses to meet a cross-theme requirement can also be applied to the relevant common core category, enabling students to satisfy all seventeen lower-division general education requirements with fifteen courses.  

Digital Literacy Cross-Theme Requirement

Courses approved for this cross-theme focus on providing students with the skills and knowledge needed to use common information technology applications and to communicate electronically.

Art, Aesthetics and Creativity Cross-Theme Requirement

Courses in this cross-theme seek to foster appreciation for aesthetic achievement through study of, and sometimes performance and participation in, the arts. Many of the courses also focus on training students in the vocabulary and conceptual skills needed to appreciate or respond to aesthetic activity from cultures other than one’s own.

Upper-Division General Education Requirements

 All students complete upper division general education requirements in Research and Writing and Citizenship. The Citizenship requirement can be met with either a Global Citizenship Course or a Service-Learning course  Because individual programs may specify which upper division general education courses are required, it is important to consult your degree requirements before enrolling in your upper division general education courses.