Why Are General Education Courses Required in College?


General education courses in higher education are fundamental to a well-rounded college and university education. Courses across disciplines allow students to gain interdisciplinary understanding, attain a broad range of skills and make active and positive contributions to society and in their careers.

Key Components of General Education

  • A general education should facilitate students to become better at critical thinking, reflection and analysis, communication in various forms, problem solving and synthesizing what they have learned from a variety of disciplines.

Integrative Learning

  • General education fosters the development of integrative skills, such as seeing multiple perspectives and viewpoints. Considering multiple perspectives helps a person to form better-educated opinions and decisions based on a multi-disciplinary perspective, allowing better contributions to careers and to broader society.

Social and Behavioral Science

  • General education courses in social sciences include world regional geography, human or urban geography, world civilization and history, sociology, political science, government and civics, international relations, psychology and anthropology.

Natural Sciences and Mathematics

  • Natural science courses include astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth science, physical geography, geology, physics and environmental science. Mathematics courses based on skill level include general math, pre-calculus, trigonometry, calculus and statistics.

Humanities and Creative Arts

  • Humanities courses tend to include world civilization and world history, as well as various time period or region-specific histories, and literature. Creative arts courses often include music, art and theater appreciation.

Communication Arts and Foreign Language

  • Communication arts general education courses typically include writing, communication, speech, debate and composition. Some general education programs include a foreign language component, allowing students to gain exposure to a foreign language.

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  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Alicia Nijdam
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