Baccalaureate Degree General Education Requirements

The baccalaureate degree General Education program consists of 45 credits that are distributed among three General Education components:

  • foundations courses in writing, speaking and quantification (15 credits)
  • knowledge Domains in the Arts, Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Health and Wellness (30 credits)
  • integrative Studies that bridges commonality and intersections between the Knowledge Domains

A summary of the applicable attributes to determine if a course satisfies a requirement is available on the University Course Description page. The keystone symbol appears by the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements that may also satisfy General Education requirements vary for each program and is detailed on each degree requirements page. 

A restriction is placed on students in majors that are closely linked to the Knowledge Domains of Natural Sciences, Arts, Humanities, and Social and Behavioral Sciences to ensure that they participate in the full breadth of General Education. These students may not use a course in their academic major to satisfy one of the Knowledge Domains requirements. For example, an Economics major may not use an economics course to fulfill their social and behavioral sciences requirement. Also, students may not count courses cross-listed with courses in their major to fulfill one of the General Education Knowledge Domain, e.g., a Theatre major may not register for Workshop: Theatre in Diverse Cultures (THEA 208)/Workshop: Theatre in Diverse Cultures (AFAM 208) and have it count in the Arts requirement.

The General Education requirements for students who enrolled at Penn State prior to Summer 2018 can be found in the Archive.


Baccalaureate Degree Requirements 


Total 15 credits

Requirement Credits
Writing/Speaking (GWS) * 9
Quantification (GQ) * † 6

Knowledge Domains

Total 30 credits

Requirement Credits
Health and Wellness (GHW) § 3
Natural Sciences (GN) § 9
Arts (GA) § 6
Humanities (GH) § 6
Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS) § 6
Integrative Studies (either Inter-domain or Linked) courses (6)

Flexibility of the Baccalaureate Degree Requirements

Penn State wants students to use General Education to experiment and explore, to take academic risks, to discover things they did not know before, and to learn to do things they have not done before. To that end, the General Education program extends the concept of flexibility to all aspects of the degree program.

Students may, with the permission of their adviser and dean's representative:

  1. Substitute a 200- to 499-level course in an area of General Education for a course found on the General Education list. For example, a student may take a 400-level course in history and use it to meet the General Education requirement satisfied by a comparable lower-level history course.
  2. Substitute a world language at the twelfth credit level of proficiency, as measured by the Penn State foreign language offerings, for 3 credits in any of the categories of General Education. Baccalaureate degree students may substitute study in a world/second language at the twelfth credit level of proficiency or higher for any 3 credits in any of the categories of general education only if those 3 credits are in language study beyond their degree requirements.
  3. Substitute a course in one of the Knowledge Domains areas of Arts, Humanities, or Social and Behavioral Sciences, Natural Sciences, or Health and Wellness for a course in one of the other areas. For example, a student might take three courses in the Arts, and only one course in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. In another example, a student might take two courses in the Natural Sciences and two courses in Health and Wellness; or a student might take two courses in the Natural Sciences and three courses in the Humanities. This substitution is referred to as the Move 3 substitution.
  4. The use of these substitutions (No. 2 and No. 3 above), either alone or in combination, may not lead to the complete elimination of any area in the Foundations or Knowledge Domains categories in the student's general education program, nor may they be applied to reduction of credits in the same domain.

Additional University Requirements

Total 9-12 credits

Requirement Credits
First-Year Engagement Program ± 0-3
United States Cultures ‡ 3
International Cultures ‡ 3
Writing Across the Curriculum 3