Associate Degree General Education Requirements

The associate degree General Education program consists of 21 credits that are distributed among two 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 (15 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.

A restriction (commonly referred to as the General Education Firewall) 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 ECON major may not use an ECON course to fulfill their social and behavioral sciences requirement.

The General Education requirements for students who enrolled at Penn State prior to Summer 2021 can be found in the Archive.


Associate Degree Requirements


Total 6 credits

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

Knowledge Domains

Total 15 credits

Requirement Credits
Natural Sciences (GN) 3
Arts (GA) 3
Humanities (GH) 3
Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS) 3
Any additional General Education course 3

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

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