General Education Distribution Requirements

General Education Distribution Requirements

Statement of Policy

All Excelsior University students are required to meet distribution and core requirements in general education as outlined below.

Purpose: General Education

This policy explains the general education requirements for all Excelsior University undergraduate students, including the distribution of the requirements. It also addresses how decisions are made about classifying courses as meeting general education requirements within the arts and sciences. Excelsior University faculty believe the primary purpose of undergraduate education is to provide students with transferable and adaptable skills and knowledge necessary for success in a global and dynamic 21st century society. The faculty also believe that an undergraduate education must reflect the necessary breadth and depth for students to begin or advance in their chosen fields with the confidence to affect change in their communities. Excelsior’s approach to general education aims to prepare students to engage with complexity and change, to be productive, open-minded, and intellectually curious members of their communities and workplaces, and to develop a love of lifelong learning. Excelsior’s general education program consists of two inter-related features, which are: (1) seven general education career competencies threaded throughout the undergraduate curricula, and (2) standardized credit distribution requirements that ensure breadth across the across the arts and sciences as well as specific abilities in written English, ethics, and information literacy. The seven general education career competencies are in the areas of:
  1. Oral and Written Communication
  2. Mathematical and Scientific Problem Solving
  3. Information Literacy
  4. Cultural Diversity and Expression
  5. Global Understanding
  6. Ethical Reasoning
  7. Professional Presence and Self-Awareness
Each area has several measurable outcomes as listed in the Excelsior University General Education Career Readiness Competencies document (December 2018) and the General Education Assessment Plan.

Distribution Requirements

The general education requirements are distributed in a way that allows all students to develop basic competence in the arts and sciences (i.e., humanities, social sciences and history, natural sciences, and mathematics) as well as in written English, ethics, and information literacy. Humanities, natural sciences, and mathematics also have core requirements within the distribution to assure students have sufficient breadth within these areas. The minimum credit distribution requirements for Excelsior University undergraduate students are depicted in the table below:

Minimum Distribution Requirements

Undergraduate Degrees

Degree Requirement

Associate Degree

Bachelor's Degree

Humanities Including Ethics

6 credits

2 credits

9 credits

2 credits

Social Sciences and History

6 credits

9 credits

Natural Sciences and Mathmatics

6 credits

9 credits

Written English

3 credits

6 credits

Information Literacy

1 credit

1 credit

TOTAL

22 credits

34 credits

There are exceptions to these distribution requirements and minimum grade requirements in some programs, which are identified in the School of Undergraduate Studies and School of Nursing catalogs.

Distribution Areas

Descriptions of the key distribution areas in the general education curriculum are provided below.

Humanities

The humanities focus on the reflection and interpretation of the human experience. Through the development of knowledge and skills in critical reading, logical thought, and aesthetic appreciation students examine the human environment with attention to diverse heritage, traditions, and cultures. Subject areas in the humanities include, but are not limited to:
  • communication
  • ethics
  • fine arts
  • foreign languages
  • literature
  • music
  • philosophy
  • religion
  • theater
To meet the humanities core requirement, students must take at least one 3 semester hour or 4 quarter hour examination or course within such disciplines as art, music, literature, foreign language, philosophy, religion, speech or in a subject area other than writing. The following examinations and courses may not be used to meet the humanities core requirement:
  • lower-level applied, technical or professional writing courses, and
  • those applied to satisfy the written English requirement.
A minimum grade of D is required for any applicable Excelsior University course, except for ethics, which requires a minimum C grade. A minimum grade of C is required for applicable examinations, and for courses transferred from other sources.

Ethics

Ethics are the principles that guide human behavior and are a cornerstone of every field and profession. Employers need workers who can find innovative, ethical, and practical solutions to a wide variety of problems. In ethics courses and examinations students learn to reflect and analyze positions and issues from a variety of ethical perspectives. This ability equips students to make ethically-informed choices in their personal and professional lives. Subject areas that meet the ethics requirement include, but are not limited to:
  • classical or contemporary ethical theory and philosophy
  • ethical and moral reasoning
  • applied ethics relevant to particular disciplines and career fields
Students must complete a minimum of 2 semester hours or 3 quarter hours in ethics. This requirement also satisfies part of the humanities requirement. Students in the associate degree in nursing programs fulfill their ethics requirement through the ethics components mapped throughout the curriculum, rather than through a single course or examination. Some programs may have ethics requirements specific to their degree area. See the program pages within the School of Undergraduate Studies and School of Nursing catalogs for more information about programs with more specific requirements. A minimum grade of C is required for courses or examinations used to meet the ethics requirement.

Social Sciences and History

The social sciences and history focus on the study of individuals and societies and the processes used to order and understand the world. The social sciences focus on theories that explain verifiable behavioral phenomena of individuals and groups. History is the study of the past and change over time. Subject areas in the social sciences and history include, but are not limited to:
  • anthropology
  • criminal justice (theory based, not applied criminal justice)
  • economics
  • geography
  • government
  • history
  • political science
  • psychology
  • sociology
A minimum grade of D is required for any applicable Excelsior University course. A minimum grade of C is required for applicable examinations, and for courses transferred from other sources.

Natural Sciences and Mathematics

The natural sciences are those branches of science that examine the natural world through scientific methods and are measured by quantitative data. Subject areas in the natural sciences include, but are not limited to:
  • anatomy
  • astrophysics
  • atmospheric science
  • biochemistry
  • botany
  • environmental science
  • geochemistry
  • geology
  • geophysics
  • meteorology
  • oceanography
  • physiology
  • quantum mechanics
  • zoology
Mathematics is the study of patterns, often relating to quantity, space, and change, within a foundation of logic. Subject areas in mathematics include, but are not limited to:
  • algebra
  • geometry
  • analysis (which includes calculus)
  • applied mathematics (which includes probability and statistics)
To meet the natural science core requirement, students must take a minimum of 2 semester hours or 3 quarter hours in a science discipline (e.g., biology, chemistry, physics). Applied science courses are not applicable toward the core requirement. (For further clarification of applied science courses, see Policy 048 Classification of Professional Technical Courses.). To meet the mathematics core requirements, students must take a minimum of 2 semester hours or 3 quarter hours in mathematics. Mathematics must include computation or quantitative reasoning and be above the developmental or remedial level. The number of mathematics courses below the level of calculus is restricted to three. (For further clarification, see Policy 016 Mathematics Courses below the level of Calculus.) A minimum grade of D is required for any applicable Excelsior University course. A minimum grade of C is required for applicable examinations, and for courses transferred from other sources.

Written English

Students are required to demonstrate competency in expository writing in English. Associates degree students must complete a minimum of 3 semester hours or 4 quarter hours in expository writing. Bachelor’s degree students must complete a minimum of 6 semester hours or 8 quarter hours in expository writing or 3 semester hours or 4 quarter hours in expository writing and 3 semester hours or 4 quarter hours in applied writing or disciplinary writing courses or examinations. (For further clarification, see Policy: Written English Requirement.).

Information Literacy

Information literacy is an essential component of general education. It involves a systematic approach to finding, evaluating, and applying information, which is required to be a well-informed and engaged citizen. Information literate students have competencies in
  • locating and effectively accessing information
  • critically evaluating sources, and
  • using information within legal and ethical parameters.
(For further clarification, see Policy: Information Literacy Requirement) A minimum grade of P is required in INL 102: Information Literacy.