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What is General Education?

The general education component of a college degree is intended to give students a broad foundation of knowledge that will support their academic, professional, and civic pursuits. General education also allows students to explore disciplines they may not be familiar with, potentially sparking new areas of interest and passion. The foundation provided by general education equips students with the understanding and skills needed to navigate and engage with our rapidly changing world throughout their lives. This comprehensive approach to education is what differentiates the education provided by a university from a professional or technical school.

At Washburn, general education includes a range of coursework in English composition, mathematics and statistics, communication studies, natural science, arts and humanities, social science, inclusion and belonging, and scientific reasoning and literacy.

Frequently Asked Questions About General Education

This list of FAQs has been compiled to help students navigate the different aspects of General Education and provide assistance with the course selection, registration and advising process.

At Washburn, general education courses

  • Boost academic success: Students develop the skills and perspectives that will help them succeed in their academic major and make sense of the skills their academic major teaches.
  • Promote personal growth: A breadth of study can spark the imagination or inspire a passion. Wide exploration may lead to identifying an academic major, minor, certificate or lifelong interest.
  • Interest employers: Today's employers value the skills taught in Washburn's general education courses, including effective communication, critical thinking, quantitative and scientific reasoning and literacy, and the ability to solve problems and resolve differences.
  • Broaden perspective: General education at Washburn exposes students to a wide range of perspectives, values and traditions, which helps them address local and world problems in a positive way.

Washburn has a reputation for excellence in general education courses. Our advisors and instructors will help you tailor your general education courses to make the most of your college experience and put you on a path to success for future college study and life.

Beginning academic year 2024–2025, Washburn’s general education program aligns with the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) systemwide general education framework. The requirements are as follows:

For all baccalaureate, associate of science, associate of arts, and associate of liberal studies degrees, students will complete 34-35 hours of General Education, consisting of the following:

  1. EN 101Introductory College Writing and EN 200 Intermediate College Writing (6 credit hours of English), and
  2. CN 101Introduction to Communication Studies or CN 150 Public Speaking or CN 151 Introduction to Personal Communication or CN 351 Special Topics in Interpersonal Communication (3 credit hours of Communication Studies), and
  3. MA 112Contemporary College Mathematics or higher (3 credit hours of Mathematics or Statistics), and
  4. 4-5 credit hours of Natural Science with a laboratory component, and
  5. 6 credit hours of Social Sciences courses, from at least two disciplines, and
  6. 6 credit hours of Arts and Humanities courses, from at least two disciplines, and
  7. 6 credit hours of institutionally designated coursework, from at least two disciplines:
    1. 3 credit hours from Inclusion and Belonging distribution area, and
    2. 3 credit hours from Scientific Literacy distribution area.

For associate of applied science degrees, students will complete 15 hours of General Education, consisting of the following:

  1. EN 101Introductory College Writing, and
  2. MA 112Contemporary College Mathematics or higher, and
  3. At least 9 hours of additional general education courses from three of the following areas, and from at least three different disciplines:
    1. Communications
    2. Natural Sciences
    3. Social Sciences
    4. Arts and Humanities
    5. Inclusion and Belonging
    6. Scientific Reasoning and Literacy.

Complete list of general education requirements and courses approved to fulfill these requirements.

Courses in composition, mathematics and statistics, and communication studies may not be taken as A/credit/pass/fail and a 'C' or better must be earned in these courses. For all other general education courses, a grade of 'D' or better must be earned and these classes may be taken as A/credit/pass/fail.

Yes, you can complete general education requirements through high school CEP (concurrent enrollment partnership) classes. We encourage students to talk to an advisor at Washburn to ensure they are taking CEP classes that make the most sense for their specific academic interests and educational goals.

Some students may fulfill specific general education requirements with Prior Learning Credit. One example of prior learning is taking a College Level Examination Program (CLEP) test. Additional information about how Washburn accepts credit for prior learning.

We encourage students to work closely with their academic advisor in selecting general education courses. In some programs, there may be courses that can fulfill both general education requirements and program requirements. If you’re having trouble selecting a class to fulfill a particular general education requirement, consider the following:

  • Build on your strengths: If there is a course or content area that you feel confident about, go ahead and build on your strengths. Each course will likely offer new methods and skills for approaching the subject.
  • Develop a skill or try something new: If there is a course or topic that will challenge you, or perhaps complement a skill or approach taught in your major discipline, we encourage you to try it.
  • Explore: Many general education courses are also required by specific majors or minors at Washburn. Use your general education requirements to discover these subjects and try out a major, minor, or certificate program.

Most students will take their general education classes within their first two years of study, but some majors may ask students to take general education classes during later years. Because general education classes teach important skills that can be applied to other subjects and topics, taking these classes early can encourage success in future major and minor coursework.

No, general education classes are required by all majors, so you can change your major and still use completed general education courses toward your general education requirements. But please note that some majors require courses that are also on the general education list. If your new major requires a class on the general education list, you will need to complete that class for your new major, even if you've already fulfilled the general education requirement that course falls under.

Yes. If a student completed all general education requirements at another institution participating in Kansas systemwide general education prior to transferring to Washburn, their general education requirements at Washburn are also considered complete and no additional general education courses are required. The exception to this is if there are courses required by a student’s major program that are also general education courses. The transfer student would then have to complete any of these unmet program requirements. 

If a student completed some general education requirements at another participating institution, courses transferred in as general education from another institution must be counted as general education at Washburn. The only exception to this would be courses a student took to fulfill the requirements for the institutionally designated areas at another institution, and if these courses did not apply in other areas at WU or to our own institutionally designated areas.

To fulfill general education requirements, students complete a broad range of coursework in composition, mathematics, communication, natural science, arts and humanities, social science, inclusion and belonging, and scientific reasoning and literacy. General education courses are designed to focus on at least one of the following five learning outcomes:

  1. Communications skills involve the ability to clearly express and understand ideas in written, oral and non-verbal forms. Communication includes the practical exchange of information, which can include the ability to listen, comprehend and respond to others, as well as the creative expression of ideas in the visual, written and performing arts. In oral and written communication, students will demonstrate the ability to shape a central thesis, organize an argument, and formally support that argument. Students will be able to understand and interpret creative expression based on knowledge of the forms and principles of various expressive media.
  2. Quantitative and Scientific Reasoning and Literacy.
    1. Quantitative reasoning involves the ability to work with numerical data and the higher-order thinking skills required to make and understand mathematical arguments. Students will be able to understand and develop arguments supported by quantitative evidence, clearly communicate those arguments using words, tables, graphs, statistical inference, or mathematical equations and functions, as appropriate, and apply mathematical methods to solve problems from a wide array of contexts and everyday situations.
    2. Scientific reasoning and literacy involve the acquisition and application of skills and knowledge necessary to understand scientific methods and apply them to observable phenomena. Students will be able to understand, develop, and evaluate arguments supported by scientific evidence, clearly communicate those arguments in a variety of formats, and use scientific methods to solve problems from a wide array of contexts and disciplines.
  3. Information Literacy and Technology.Information literacy and technology involves the ability to locate, select, use and evaluate information obtained from appropriate electronic and/or printed resources, including a critical analysis of the information and the credibility of the sources of information. It also involves the ability to use technology to research, organize, present and/or communicate information in meaningful ways. Additionally, information literacy and technology includes skills such as the ability to understand the development of technology and its impact on society, the ability to understand and use existing technologies and information to address real-world issues, and the ability to recognize emerging technological trends and their possible impact on the future.
  4. Critical and Creative Thinking.Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of assessing and evaluating ideas and forms. It involves clarifying questions, reflecting upon meaning, comparing multiple viewpoints, and evaluating evidence to make an informed judgment. Creative thinking involves the production of original ideas, forms or works by making connections, generating alternatives, and elaborating or exploring new applications of accepted practices through innovation and/or invention. Critical and creative thinkers gather information from experience, observation, reasoning, reflection and communication. They explore and synthesize related ideas, connect them to prior knowledge, and apply them to new contexts.
  5. Global Citizenship, Ethics, and Diversity.Global citizenship refers to the broad understanding of peoples and cultures in the United States and around the world, and to humankind's place and effects in the world. Global citizenship includes a respect for the commonalities and differences in peoples, including an understanding of values, beliefs and customs. It places an emphasis on the economic, religious, political, geographic, linguistic, historic, environmental, and social aspects that define cultures. It places an emphasis on ethics, equality and human rights, an appreciation for diversity, the interconnectedness of societies and cultures, and a commitment to finding solutions to problems that can affect the world.

Each general education course bases a substantial portion (typically at least 30%) of the final course grade on a specified student learning outcome. These courses are identified in the course catalog description with their relevant learning outcome.


Contact an Advisor

If you have questions about general education at Washburn, talk to an academic advisor.
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