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University Bulletin

Undergraduate Degree Programs

Program Structure--Baccalaureate and Associate

The Baccalaureate Degree General Education Program

The baccalaureate degree General Education program consists of 45 credits that are distributed among two General Education components: (1) Skills (15 credits) and (2) Knowledge Domains (30 credits) in the Natural Sciences, Arts, Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Health and Physical Activity. Every baccalaureate degree student also completes the First-Year Seminar, United States Cultures and International Cultures, and Writing Across the Curriculum requirements.

A restriction is placed on students in majors that are closely linked to the Knowledge Domains of Natural Sciences, Arts, Humanities, and Social and Behavioral Sciences to ensure that they participate in the full breadth of General Education. These students may not use a course in their academic major to satisfy one of the Knowledge Domains requirements. For example, an Economics major may not use an economics course to fulfill his/her social and behavioral sciences requirement. Also, students may not count courses cross-listed with courses in their major to fulfill one of the General Education Knowledge Domain, e.g., a Theatre major may not register for THEA 208 (GA;US;IL)/AAAS 208 (GA;US;IL) and have it count in the Arts requirement.

SKILLS (15 credits)

Writing/Speaking (9 credits)
Courses with the GWS designation satisfy this component.

Quantification (6 credits)
Courses with the GQ designation satisfy this component. (3-6 credits are selected from mathematics, applied mathematics, and statistics; 3 credits may be selected from computer science or symbolic logic.)

KNOWLEDGE DOMAINS (30 credits)

Health and Physical Activity (3 credits)
Courses with the GHA designation satisfy this component.

Natural Sciences (9 credits)
Courses with the GN designation satisfy this component.

Arts (6 credits)
Courses with the GA designation satisfy this component.

Humanities (6 credits)
Courses with the GH designation satisfy this component.

Social and Behavioral Sciences (6 credits)
Courses with the GS designation satisfy this component.

ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS

Baccalaureate degree students must complete one First-Year Seminar (S, T, or X suffix, or PSU abbreviation), 3 credits of United States Cultures (US) and 3 credits of International Cultures (IL), and 3 credits of Writing Across the Curriculum (W, M, X, and Y). These requirements may be completed by designated courses that also meet other degree or General Education requirements.

 

FLEXIBILITY OF THE BACCALAUREATE DEGREE GENERAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS

Penn State wants students to use General Education to experiment and explore, to take academic risks, to discover things they did not know before, and to learn to do things they have not done before. To that end, the General Education program extends the concept of flexibility to all aspects of the degree program.

Students may, with the permission of their adviser and dean's representative:

  1. substitute a 200- to 499-level course in an area of General Education for a course found on the General Education list. For example, a student may take a 400-level course in history and use it to meet the General Education requirement satisfied by a comparable lower-level history course.
  2. substitute a foreign language at the twelfth credit level of proficiency, as measured by the Penn State foreign language offerings, for 3 credits in any of the categories of General Education. Baccalaureate degree students may substitute study in a foreign/second language at the twelfth credit level of proficiency or higher for any three credits in any of the categories of general education only if those three credits are in language study beyond their degree requirements.*
  3. substitute a third course in one of the Knowledge Domains areas of Arts, Humanities, or Social and Behavioral Sciences for a second course in one of the other areas. For example, a student might take 3 courses in the Arts, two courses in the Humanities, and only one course in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. This substitution is often referred to as the 9-6-3 sequence, representing the 9 credits, 6 credits, and 3 credits completed in place of the specified 6-6-6.*
  4. meet the United States Cultures (US) and International Cultures (IL) requirement through completion of an experiential learning program or practicum (one-semester or year long) approved by their college dean's office. Approved Penn State Education Abroad Programs may be used to satisfy the International Cultures (IL) requirement.
  5. meet the First-Year Seminar (FYS) requirement through completion of a FYS course offered by any unit of the University. Thus, a student who successfully completes a FYS course in one college, prior to transferring to another college, will not be required to complete another FYS. However, since there are various modes of offering a FYS throughout the University, students transferring to a new college may find that a required course that is also a FYS must still be taken.

*Please note: The use of these two substitutions (No. 2 and No. 3 above), either alone or in combination, may not lead to the complete elimination of any area in the skills or knowledge domains categories in the student's General Education program.

* Three credits of United States Cultures (US) and International Cultures (IL), and 3 credits of Writing Across the Curriculum (W, M, X, and Y) may be designated courses that also meet other degree or General Education requirements.

The Associate Degree General Education Program

The associate degree General Education program consists of 21 credits that are distributed among two General Education components: (1) Skills6 credits in courses that develop communicative and quantitative skills; and (2) Knowledge Domains12 credits in the Natural Sciences, Arts, Humanities, and Social and Behavioral Sciences, with an additional 3 credits in any General Education area. Associate degree students have a 3-credit requirement and may choose either a United States Cultures (US) course or an International Cultures (IL) course, and must complete a 3-credit writing intensive course (W). While associate degree students are not required to complete a First-Year Seminar, they are encouraged to participate in such a seminar if the opportunity to do so exists.

A restriction is placed on students in majors that are closely linked to the Knowledge Domains areas of Natural Sciences, Arts, Humanities, and Social and Behavioral Sciences, in order to ensure that they participate in the full breadth of General Education. These students may not use a course in their academic major to satisfy one of the Knowledge Domains area requirements. For example, an Economics major may not use an economics course to fulfill his/her social and behavioral sciences requirement.

SKILLS (6 credits)

Writing/Speaking (3 credits)
Courses with the GWS designation satisfy this component.

Quantification (3 credits)
Courses with the GQ designation satisfy this component. (3 credits are selected from mathematics, applied mathematics, statistics, computer science, or symbolic logic)

KNOWLEDGE DOMAINS (12 credits)

Natural Sciences (3 credits)
Courses with the GN designation satisfy this component.

Arts (3 credits)
Courses with the GA designation satisfy this component.

Humanities (3 credits)
Courses with the GH designation satisfy this component.

Social and Behavioral Sciences (3 credits)
Courses with the GS designation satisfy this component.

SKILLS OR KNOWLEDGE DOMAINS (3 credits)

Any General Education course can be taken to satisfy these 3 credits.

ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS

Every associate degree student will also complete, as part of his or her additional associate degree requirements, 3 credits of United States Cultures (US) or 3 credits of International Cultures (IL) and 3 credits of Writing Across the Curriculum (M, W, Y, and X) requirements.

Flexibility of the Associate Degree General Education Requirements

The General Education program extends the concept of flexibility to all aspects of the degree program. Penn State wants students to use General Education as an opportunity to experiment and explore, to take academic risks, to discover things they did not know before, and to learn to do things they have not done before.

To these ends, students may, with the permission of their adviser and dean's representative:

  1. substitute a 200- to 499-level course for an Arts, Humanities, Natural Sciences, or Social and Behavioral Sciences course found on the General Education list. For example, a student may take a 400-level course in history and use it to meet the General Education requirement satisfied by a comparable lower level history course.
  2. meet the United States Cultures (US) and International Cultures (IL) requirement through completion of an experiential learning program or practicum (one-semester or year long) approved by their college dean's office. Approved Penn State Education Abroad Programs may be used to satisfy the International Cultures (IL) requirement.
  3. Three credits of the required 21 credits of General Education courses are to be selected from any of the following General Education areas: Writing/Speaking, Quantification, Natural Sciences, Arts, Humanities, or Social and Behavioral Sciences.