University General Education
- General Education Requirements
Marilyn Mobley McKenzie, Associate Provost for Educational Programs
Office of the Provost
General Education Requirements
All undergraduates seeking a baccalaureate degree at George Mason University must complete the General Education program requirements. Additional requirements for specific degree programs can be found in the college or school chapter of this catalog.
General Education Mission
The mission of the General Education program is to educate, liberate, and broaden the mind, and to instill a lifelong love of learning. In conjunction with each student’s major program of study and other electives, minors, or certificates, this program seeks to produce graduates with intellectual vision, creative abilities, and moral sensibility as well as the skills to ensure a well-rounded and usable education. The program seeks four specific goals:
- Courses should ensure that all undergraduates develop skills in information gathering, written and oral communication, and analytical and quantitative reasoning.
- Courses should expose students to the development of knowledge by emphasizing major domains of thought and methods of inquiry.
- Courses should enable students to attain a breadth of knowledge that supports their specializations and contributes to their education in both personal and professional ways.
Courses should encourage students to make important connections across boundaries (for example, among disciplines, between the university and the external world, and between the United States and other countries).
Summary of Requirements
The course list reflects approved courses as of press time. For additional approved programs, go to www.gmu.edu/departments/provost/gened/index.html. The list will be updated as needed.
Written Communication (6 credits: 3 lower, 3 upper)
ENGL 100 or 101, 302
Oral Communication (3 credits)
COMM 100 or 101
Information Technology (IT, all)
ADJ 300; ANTH 395; CHEM 350; GOVT 300; IT 103; MUSI 415
Information Technology (IT, all except Ethics)
AVT 180; CS 112; PHYS 251; PSYC 300, 301, 372, (these must be taken in sequence); SOCI 410
Information Technology Ethics (IT Ethics)
CS 105 (1 credit), 305 (3 credits); ENGR 107 (2 credits); IT 304; PHIL 112 (1 credit)
Quantitative Reasoning (3 credits)
IT 250; MATH 106, 108, 110, 111, 113, 115, 125; STAT 250
Literature (3 credits)
CHIN 310, 311, 325, 328; CLAS 250, 260, 340, 350, 360, 380; ENGL 201; FREN 325, 329; FRLN 330; GERM 325; PHIL 253; RUSS 325, 326, 327; SPAN 325
Fine Arts (3 credits)
ARTH 101, 102, 200, 201, 321, 322, 324, 333, 334, 341, 342, 344, 373; AVT 103, 104, 215, 222, 232, 243, 262, 272; DANC 101, 119, 125, 131, 145, 161, 390, 391; ENGL 332; MUSI 100, 101, 102, 107, 301, 302, 380, 381, 382, 383, 384, 385, 387, 389, 485; THR 101, 150, 151, 195, 210, 230
U.S. History (3 credits)
Western Civilization (3 credits)
Social and Behavioral Science (3 credits)
ADJ 100; AFAM 200; ANTH 114, 120, 135, 396; CONF 101: ECON 100, 103, 104, 110 and 111 (110 and 111 must be taken in sequence); GEOG 103; GOVT 101, 103; LING 326; PSYC 100, 211, 231; SOAN 190; SOCI 101; WMST 200
Global Understanding (3 credits)
ADJ 405; ANTH 302, 304, 306, 309, 311, 312, 313, 331, 332, 333, 385; ARTH 203, 319, 320, 380, 382, 383, 384, 385; CEIE 100; COMM 305, 456; DANC 118; ECON 360, 361, 362, 380, 390; ENGL 349, 350; GEOG 101; GLOA 101; GOVT 132, 133, 149; HIST 125, 130, 251, 252, 261, 262, 271, 272, 281, 282, 328, 329, 356, 364, 365, 387, 459, 460, 462; MSOM 305; MUSI 103, 431; RELI 100, 211, 212, 313, 315, 341, 374, 490; RUSS 354; SOCI 120, 320, 332; SPAN 322; THR 359; TOUR 210; WMST 100
Natural Science (7 credits total)
Non-Lab (3 credits): CHEM 101, 102, 201, 202; EVPP 201; GEOG 102; UNIV 301
Lab (4 credits): ASTR 111, 112, 113, 114; BIOL 103, 104, 213, 303, 304, 306; CHEM 103, 104, 155, 156, 211, 212, 251; EVPP 110, 111; GEOL 101, 102; PHYS 103, 104, 160, 243, 244, 245, 246, 260, 261, 262, 263
ADJ 303; ANTH 400; ARTH 394; AVT 497, 498; BINF 354; BIOL 301; CEIE 490; COMM 326, 362, 454; CS 306, 491; DANC 490; ECE 447, ECE 492, 493; ECON 309; ENGL 325; EOS 304; GEOG 304; GOVT 490, 491; HIST 300, 499; IT 492; MUSI 490; NCLC 308; NURS/HSCI 465; PHIL 309, 377, 378; RELI 490; RUSS 353; SOCI 377, 384; SOCW 323; SOM 498; SYST 495; THR 440, 496; UNIV 342; 442
These courses expire August 14, 2005:
BIS 490; CAS 313; FREN 476; MUSI 491, 495; SPAN 461, 466
Total: 43 credits
Category Goals and Requirements
Written communication goal: Courses emphasize written communication as a way of thinking and discovering ideas and meanings as well as expressing them. Students must develop basic writing skills at the freshman level in English 101 (100 for ESL students), and build on those skills in English 302. In addition, at least one course in a student’s major must be “writing-intensive.”
Required: English 101 (or 100), 302, and an approved writing-intensive course in the major.
Oral communication goal: Students develop the ability to use oral communication as a way of thinking and learning as well as sharing ideas. Courses will provide students with the ability to express themselves in public or group settings. Students should gain an understanding of the cultural, psychological, political, and practical significance of communication, with special emphasis on the role of communication in a free society. Through oral presentations, group discussions, and critical assessment of public messages, students will understand various modes of communication and improve oral communication skills. They should also learn how to support and defend their positions, how to respond to different communication situations, and how to clearly organize and develop ideas. By developing an understanding of the importance of com-munication in society, students will also learn to respect the freedom of expression of all members of the community.
Required: One approved course; increased emphasis on oral communication in appropriate General Education courses.
Quantitative reasoning goal: Student will develop the ability to use and critically evaluate numerical information, and create and critique logical arguments using quantitative reasoning. Courses are intended to give students the capability to reason quantitatively through exposure and practice grounded in important problems and ideas. To ensure skills, a basic proficiency established through a test is required before attempting courses that satisfy this requirement. Students who demonstrate a higher proficiency level may choose among an approved set of courses that develop quantitative reasoning, while those with basic proficiency must satisfy this requirement with one course, Math 106, which is designed to advance students to the higher proficiency level.
Required: Math 106; or if the student has achieved an appropriate placement score on quantitative skills, one of the following: Math 108, 110, 111, 113, 115, or 125; or IT/STAT 250. (Students are assumed to have achieved satisfactory completion of the high school math required for admission.)
Information technology (IT) goal: Students will possess a command of basic software and hardware concepts, terminology and functions, and file and data structures, and will be expected to use appropriate electronic tools for data organization and search, including databases, web browsers, and search engines; data analysis, including spreadsheets, GIS, and statistical software; and data presentation and communication, including text, electronic slides, web pages, graphs, presentation software, HTML, word processing, and e-mail.
In addition, students are required to have classroom experience in, knowledge of, and appreciation for fundamental ethical issues relating to IT and our changing world. These issues include computer security, privacy laws, public policy issues and professional codes of ethics, intellectual property issues, copyright, security, and financial data.
Required: Passing one approved 3-credit course to meet all IT requirements, or completion of an appropriate combination of courses, proficiency examinations, and modules.
Literature goal: Courses foster understanding and appreciation of the aesthetic, cultural, historical, and intellectual aspects of major literary works through critical analysis. Students will identify, analyze, write about, and discuss aspects of theme, plot, central idea, narrative, audience, perspective, figurative language, and the relationship between structure and ideas.
Required: One approved course.
Arts goal: Students will develop an understanding of the aesthetic and intellectual components of the arts through either critical analysis of major artistic works or creative work of their own. Courses are intended to give students knowledge and understanding of the arts through critical or historical analysis, theory, and practice. Arts courses provide distinctive modes of thought, ways of working, and avenues for student achievement, and establish a foundation for ongoing intellectual and artistic development. Some courses emphasize the development of artistic technique, problem solving, and the creative and interdisciplinary process, and others focus on developing aesthetic sensibility and understanding historical and cultural contexts.
Required: One approved course.
Natural science goal: Courses provide students with an understanding of natural science. The critical approach of the scientific method, the relation of theory and experiment, the use of quantitative and qualitative information, and the development and elaboration of major ideas in science are addressed.
Required: Two approved science courses; a course offering an overview of the principles of physics, chemistry, and life sciences will be one of the two courses required of some students. At least one course will have laboratory experience.
U.S. history goal: Course enables students to develop an understanding of the institutions and traditions of our society from its founding documents, values, and institutions to the present. Attention to the processes of historical analysis is fundamental to the course.
Required: One required course.
Western civilization goal: Course covers the period of western civilization from the Greek and Roman civilizations to the contemporary era. Students will develop awareness and understanding of a major civilization that has influenced thought, culture, and politics in the United States and in the world.
Required: One required course.
Global understanding goal: Courses examine some of the principal global issues and concerns that shape our world today. After completing a course from this category, students will be able to identify the causes and consequences of change in significant global issues. While some courses may deal with a specific global problem, institution, or issue, others may focus on a specific area or region outside the contemporary Western world by incorporating specific comparisons of several cultures. All courses in this category help students develop an understanding of global issues as well as an awareness of how these issues are perceived and dealt with in different cultural and historical traditions and, where relevant, by different formal and informal institutions throughout the world. These courses stress the interconnectedness, difference, and diversity that are central to understanding and operating in a global -society.
Required: One approved course.
Social and behavioral sciences goal: Courses provide students with an understanding of the social and behavioral sciences. Students will be engaged in reasoning using the scientific method, the use of quantitative and qualitative information, and the analysis of empirical observations in relation to theory, among other methods. The development of major ideas in social science is also addressed.
- Required: One approved course.
Synthesis goal: Students will engage in the connection of meaning and the synthesis of knowledge. Courses may link issues in the student’s major to wider intellectual and community concerns; other courses might be interdisciplinary. This course may be a capstone course in the major. This component also requires students to demonstrate advanced skills in oral and written presentations that build not only on the communication and synthesis experience of the third year, but also on the recurrent attention to these skills in the entire General Education program.
Required: One approved upper-division course.
- Interim Synthesis
All courses in this category fulfill the same requirements as the synthesis requirement. Courses will only satisfy the synthesis requirement through August 14, 2005. Students who enroll in these courses after this date will not receive synthesis credit.
Note: Interim courses may move to permanent status prior to the August 14, 2005, deadline. For updates, go to www.gmu.edu/departments/provost/gened/index.html.
English Composition Requirement
Students must complete at least two semesters of English composition. For more information, go to the Academic Policies chapter of this catalog.
Writing-Intensive Course Requirement
In addition to English composition and as part of the university’s commitment to literacy in all programs, at least one course in each major is designated as “writing intensive.” For more information, go to the Academic Policies chapter of this catalog. Please read the description of each major for the specific courses that fulfill this requirement.