Associate Degree General Education Requirements

The associate degree General Education program consists of 21 credits that are distributed among three General Education components:

  • Foundations courses in writing, speaking, and quantification (6 credits).
  • Knowledge Domains in the Arts, Humanities, Natural Sciences, and Social and Behavioral Sciences (12 credits).
  • Exploration within General Education (3 credits).

A summary of the applicable attributes to determine if a course satisfies a requirement is available on the University Course Description page. The keystone symbol appears by the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements that may also satisfy General Education requirements vary for each program and are detailed on each degree requirements page.

In order to ensure that students participate in the full breadth of General Education, students may not select a course in their academic major to satisfy one of the Knowledge Domains area requirements. For example, a CRIMJ major may not use a CRIMJ course (or cross-listed course) to fulfill a General Education requirement.

The General Education requirements for students who enrolled at Penn State prior to Summer 2023 can be found in the Archive.


Associate Degree Requirements


Total 6 credits

Requirement Credits
Writing/Speaking (GWS) * 3
Quantification (GQ) * 3

Requires a grade of C or better

Knowledge Domains

Total 12 credits

Requirement Credits
Natural Sciences (GN) 3
Arts (GA) 3
Humanities (GH) 3
Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS) 3

Note: Up to six credits of Inter-domain courses may be used for any Knowledge Domain requirement, but when a course may be used to satisfy more than one requirement, the credits from the course can be counted only once.


Total 3 credits

Requirement Credits
Any General Education course (including GHW and Inter-Domain courses) 3

Flexibility of the Associate Degree 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, 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.

Additional University Requirements

These requirements may be completed by designated courses that also complete other degree or General Education requirements.

Total 6 credits

Requirement Credits
United States Cultures (US) or International Cultures (IL) or combined designation (US;IL) 3
Writing Across the Curriculum 3

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