Criteria for General Education Courses

draft 1, March 11, 2003, by Dan Montello

These criteria establish rules and guidelines for determining whether a course should be accepted as fulfilling a General Education (GE) requirement. Criterion guidelines are general principles; rules are more precise regulations. The criteria are meant to guide the GE Committee in deciding whether to accept a proposed course for GE, and in monitoring courses over time to make sure they continue to qualify as GE courses. The criteria are also meant to help guide departments in proposing or designing appropriate GE courses. They are based on the philosophy that GE courses should give students a broad exposure to the subject areas of a liberal-arts education, including arts and humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. GE courses should also help prepare students in the basic intellectual skills involved in academic scholarship, such as oral and written verbal expression, quantitative thinking, critical thinking, and awareness of divergent views and backgrounds. As such, GE courses should be widely accessible to a large segment of the student body, they should serve to introduce students broadly to subject areas, and they should help provide cohesion to the total body of academic scholarship in a way that allows students to identify connections among knowledge areas.


  1. The course is topically appropriate for a particular Core Area (General Subject Area Requirement) or Crosscutting Area (Special Subject Area Requirement), as described in the catalog. A course would typically satisfy only one Core Area.
  2. The course is relatively broad in scope, providing an overview of a subject area.
  3. The course should be appropriate for students without much prior background in a subject area. GE courses would more often be lower-division courses.
  4. Every course need not include an intensive focus on writing or quantitative skills, but every department that offers GE courses should offer one or more courses that do include intensive writing and/or quantitative skills.


  1. All GE courses must be open to non-majors on the first pass of registration.
  2. A GE course has, at most, one prerequisite course. Typically, GE course prerequisites would themselves be GE courses.
  3. No GE course is restricted only to upper-division students.
  4. It must be the intention of the sponsoring department to offer the GE course at least once per year. The GE Committee will review all courses at least every five years to make sure that the course has been offered at least three of every five years.

prepared for web by H. Marcuse, 3/14/03
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