Appendix A.2 General Education (Associate Degree) Print This Policy


The University Faculty Senate, at its meeting on April 30, 1985, adopted a comprehensive definition of General Education. This definition was revised in the General Education report adopted by the Senate on December 2, 1997, as follows:

General Education encompasses the breadth of knowledge involving the major intellectual and aesthetic skills and achievements of humanity. This must include understanding and appreciation of the pluralistic nature of knowledge epitomized by the natural sciences, quantitative skills, social-behavioral sciences, humanities and arts. To achieve and share such an understanding and appreciation, skills in self-expression, quantitative analysis, information literacy, and collaborative interaction are necessary. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. General Education, in essence, aims to cultivate a knowledgeable, informed, literate human being. In addition, the University Faculty Senate, at its meeting on December 2, 1997, mandated an integration of key competencies and emphasis on active learning (writing, speaking, quantitative skills, information and computer literacy, problem solving and critical thinking, team-work, and intercultural and international competence), as appropriate, in all General Education courses.

An effective General Education program enables students to:

  1. acquire knowledge through critical information gathering - including reading and listening, computer-assisted searching, and scientific experimentation and observation;
  2. analyze and evaluate, where appropriate in a quantitative manner, the acquired knowledge;
  3. integrate knowledge from a variety of sources and fields;
  4. make critical judgments in a logical and rational manner;
  5. develop the skills to maintain health, and understand the factors that impinge upon it;
  6. communicate effectively, both in writing and orally, and using the accepted methods for presentation, organization and debate particular to their disciplines;
  7. seek and share knowledge, independently and in collaboration with others;
  8. gain understanding of international interdependence and cultural diversity, and develop consideration for values, lifestyles, and traditions that may differ from their own;
  9. comprehend the role of aesthetic and creative activities expressing both imagination and experience.

Courses taken to meet General Education program requirements may not be taken under the Satisfactory-Unsatisfactory option.

The General Education program for Penn State associate degree students consists of 21 credits distributed among communication and quantification skills (6 credits), the Knowledge Domain areas (15 credits), including courses in the natural sciences (3 credits), arts (3 credits), humanities (3 credits), and social and behavioral sciences (3 credits), and an additional 3 credits in any General Education area.

Associate Degree General Education Program

  1. SKILLS (6 credits)

    1. Writing/Speaking (3 credits)
      Courses designated with the suffix GWS satisfy this component.

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

  2. KNOWLEDGE DOMAINS (15 credits)
    1. Natural Sciences (3 Credits)
      Courses with the suffix GN satisfy this component.

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

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

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

  3. In addition to the above Knowledge Domains course requirements, associate degree students must complete 3 credits in any General Education area.


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