General Studies Program Mission

Faculty, please include the mission, description, and student learning outcomes for the category of your course in the Course Information Module’s Overview page.  If your course is also GT Pathways, please also include that required language.


The General Studies program provides the foundation for the Bachelor’s degree. Students develop thinking, reasoning, and communication skills while discovering new ideas and expanding their views.  The coursework is designed to create the opportunity for learning across different disciplines and builds experiences for students as they grow into lifelong learners.


Written Communication

Description:  Written communication is the development and expression of ideas in writing across many genres and styles. It includes understanding how writers may shape texts for their specific rhetorical situation.  It includes multimodal composing and the creation of texts that combine words, images, and/or data. Written communication abilities develop through interactive and iterative experiences across the curriculum.

Student Learning Outcomes: 

  1. Employ rhetorical knowledge– Exhibit a thorough understanding of audience, purpose, genre, and context that is responsive to the situation.
  2. Develop content– Create and develop ideas within the context of the situation and the assigned task(s).
  3. Apply genre and disciplinary conventions– Apply formal and informal conventions of writing, including organization, content, presentation, formatting, and stylistic choices, in particular forms and/or fields.
  4. Use sources and/or evidence– Critically read, evaluate, apply, and synthesize evidence and/or sources in support of a claim.
  5. Document sources and evidence– Use an appropriate documentation system.
  6. Use rhetorically effective conventions– Demonstrate proficiency with conventions, including spellings, grammar, mechanics, and word choice appropriate to the writing task.

Oral Communication

Description:  Students learn to perform effective and ethical oral communication that is appropriate to diverse audiences, settings, media, and goals.

Student Learning Outcomes: 

  1. Develop a message– Develop a clear, purposeful message with coherent and effective content.
  2. Use data and evidence– Incorporate various and credible supporting material (e.g. examples, statistics, analogies, illustrations, and quotations).
  3. Listen and respond– Practice effective listening strategies that enhance understanding, evaluation and engagement.
  4. Adapt to audience– Adapt to varied audiences, their beliefs, values, and attitudes, as well as to features of contexts, situations, and interactions.
  5. Communicate appropriately– Perform skillful non-verbal communication (e.g. vocal variety, pace and physical behavior) appropriate to audience and context.
  6. Communicate clearly– Perform skillful verbal communication (e.g. clear, vivid, and/or compelling language) appropriate to audience and context.

Quantitative Literacy

Description:  Competency in quantitative literacy represents a student’s ability to use quantifiable information and mathematical analysis to make connections and draw conclusions. The main focus of each Quantitative Literacy course is the use of mathematical techniques and analysis, with problems from a broad spectrum of real-life and abstract settings requiring translation to and from mathematical forms.

Student Learning Outcomes:  These are the same as before with one removed.

  1. Apply and analyze information– Apply mathematical techniques to the analysis of quantitative problems.
  2. Communicate using mathematical forms– Communicate the mathematical process and results in text, graphics, and symbols.

Arts and Humanities

Description:  In Arts and Humanities courses students interpret, analyze, and create texts and other artistic works to deepen their understanding of the various contexts that shape the human experience and explore fundamental questions of identity, value, diversity, and meaning.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  1. Understand context– Describe how the context (historical, racial, ethnic, material, technological, religious, intellectual, cultural, gender, etc.) influences the creation, content, or interpretation of a text, performance, work of art, etc.
  2. Engage Critically– Critically engage with a text, performance, work of art, etc. by applying social/political, epistemic, aesthetic, pragmatic, moral/ethical, or other discipline-appropriate standards.
  3. Create an original project– Implement course content or skills through the creation of an original project (essay, argument, narrative, reflection, oral presentation, performance, work of art, etc.).


Description:  Historical thinking contextualizes the present by using a wide range of sources and methods to understand how people experienced the past.

Student Learning Outcomes (these are unchanged from the old, just renumbered): 

  1. Locate sources– Demonstrate the ability to locate sources when information is needed, and to evaluate the authenticity, validity, and reliability of resources applied to a specific purpose.
  2. Communicate in writing– Communicate in writing with an awareness of audience, by using language conventions appropriate to the occasion and task.
  3. Employ historical knowledge– Demonstrate historical knowledge of the United States, the world, or one of the major regions of the world.
  4. Understand context– Demonstrate, using historical sources, how context and contingency influence change over time.
  5. Interpret evidence– Develop an effective historical interpretation and marshal primary and/or secondary source evidence to support it.

Natural and Physical Science

Description:  The Natural and Physical Sciences involve discovering knowledge in natural or physical sciences, applying scientific thinking and reasoning, and critically thinking about the use of scientific information.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  1. Understand foundational knowledge– Explain the foundational knowledge of a particular field of natural or physical science
  2. Apply scientific principles– Apply principles and techniques of scientific thinking.
  3. Think critically– Evaluate the credibility of scientific information and interpret the impact of its use or misuse in society.

Social and Behavioral Science

Description: Courses in Social and Behavioral Science study the behavior and actions of individuals, groups, and/or institutions using scientific methods and approaches. Social and Behavioral Science also develops a student’s ability to examine and influence those behaviors and actions between and among larger social, economic, political, and/or geographic contexts.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  1. Understand fundamental concepts– Describe fundamental concepts in the social and behavioral sciences.
  2. Analyze relations– Examine how individuals, groups, communities, and social institutions relate or interact with each other and/or the natural world using theories and methods in the social and behavioral sciences.
  3. Engage critically– Engage with social and behavioral science tools, approaches, and skills to explore complex human, social, political, cultural, and/or global interactions and issues.

Global Diversity

Description:  Global Diversity refers to a student’s ability to critically analyze and engage complex, interconnected global systems (such as natural, physical, social, cultural, economic, or political) and their implications for individuals, groups, communities, or cultures.  These courses will introduce students to various concepts toward valuing diversity and the importance of inclusivity.  Students should seek to understand how their actions affect both local and global communities.  Courses in this category must contain a majority of material from one or more regions or countries outside the U.S. 

Student Learning Outcomes: 

  1. Understand global interconnections– Describe the implications of global interconnections, including their impact on culture, societies, the environment, or the individual.
  2. Analyze global diversity– Analyze connections between worldviews, experiences, and/or power structures of differing cultures in historical or contemporary contexts.

Ethnic Studies & Social Justice Graduation Requirement

The Ethnic Studies & Social Justice requirement replaced the Multicultural requirement for students on the 2023-2024 catalog and onward.  The course lists for both are the same.  Please always use the most recent course list, as courses are tagged with the attribute at the time you take them.

Students may find this requirement abbreviated on lists as ESSJ.

Ethnic Studies is rooted in a social justice approach to studying historically marginalized communities of color. The Ethnic Studies & Social Justice graduation requirement is designed to equip students with the tools to challenge, understand, and contextualize the treatment of racially and ethnically marginalized groups in the United States. As a fluid and contested space, the United States has been a historically, geographically, and politically contingent region. These courses center the experiences of marginalized groups and examine the ways in which the existences and experiences of these groups have been historically shaped by oppression and systems of white supremacy. Ethnic Studies & Social Justice coursework interrogates relationships between power, privilege, and oppression. Students explore how power and privilege in the past and present maintain oppression. Additionally, course content examines the resilience, activism, and advocacy of racially and ethnically marginalized groups to counter oppression and systems of white supremacy. Students learn to recognize key moments of liberation and those movements that advance social justice for racially and ethnically marginalized groups. Course content and materials may also examine and interrogate the oppression of other groups whose marginalized identities have been racialized and who have been thus oppressed as racial or ethnic minorities.

Students take one course that meets these goals.  Students may take a course that fulfills this requirement AND a General Studies requirement.

  • Define and understand key critical theories and concepts that inform discussions of racism and colonialism as they overlap with other systems of power as historically situated in the U.S.
  • Define and apply concepts of social justice within specific curriculum and course content to demonstrate the impact of racial and ethnic inequality in the U.S.
  • Identify and evaluate unequal power relationships between and/or among, one or more marginalized groups in the U.S.
  • Recognize and describe ways in which power and privilege are held and upheld by dominant groups in relation to marginalized groups and/or individuals.
  • Analyze the effects of institutional oppression on marginalized groups in the U.S.