The University at Albany's General Education Program is undergoing a three-year transition to new requirements. The General Education Program requirements effective with the 2012-2013 Undergraduate Bulletin apply to all students matriculating in Fall 2012 through Summer 2013 and to continuing students graduating in December 2012 and thereafter.
Students who matriculated prior to Fall 2012 will see the new General Education requirements on their audit immediately prior to the first day of the semester. Students who matriculated effective Fall 2012 were introduced to the audits during summer planning conferences.
Students who matriculate after Summer 2013 will follow requirements based on the Undergraduate Bulletin in effect during the academic year in which they matriculate. Additional information is available on this site under Resources for Faculty/Implementation Timetable.
The General Education Program at the University at Albany proposes a set of knowledge areas, perspectives, and competencies considered by the University to be central to the intellectual development of every undergraduate.
The General Education Program is intended to provide students with a foundation that prepares them for continued work within their chosen major and minor fields and gives them the intellectual habits that will enable them to become lifelong learners. Courses within the program are designed not only to enhance students’ knowledge, but to provide them as well with new ways of thinking and with the ability to engage in critical analysis and creative activity.
The characteristics of and the rationale and goals for the specific requirements of the General Education Program are discussed in greater detail below.
Characteristics of General Education Courses
The General Education Program as a whole has the following characteristics. Different courses within the Program emphasize different characteristics.
General education offers explicit understandings of the procedures and practices of disciplines and interdisciplinary fields.
General education provides multiple perspectives on the subject matter, reflecting the intellectual and cultural diversity within and beyond the University.
General education emphasizes active learning in an engaged environment that enables students to become producers as well as consumers of knowledge.
General education promotes critical thinking about the assumptions, goals, and methods of various fields of academic study and the interpretive, analytic, and evaluative competencies central to intellectual development.
Requirements of the Program:
1) A minimum of 30 credits of coursework in the following areas:
|Math and Statistics
|Additional approved course in Arts, Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, U.S. History, International Perspectives, or Foreign Languages
*Writing Intensive courses must be completed with a grade of S or C or better.
** No single course can be used to satisfy BOTH the Humanities and the Arts requirement.
2) An Information Literacy course
Please note: effective for all students matriculating Fall 2013 and beyond, students will also be required to choose one course from the UAlbany category "Challenges for the 21st Century."
While the majority of General Education courses are at the 100 and 200 level, the General Education Program at the University at Albany is conceived as extending throughout the four years of undergraduate study. Indeed, certain requirements may be more appropriately completed during the junior and senior years. Students are encouraged, however, to complete the requirements in the categories of Information Literacy and Writing Intensive within the freshman or sophomore years.
Students may not use the same course to fulfill both the Arts and the Humanities categories. Otherwise, if a course fulfills more than one category, students may use the course to fulfill all of those categories. Although such “double counting” may reduce the number of credits needed to fulfill General Education, to graduate from the University each student must have satisfactorily completed a minimum of thirty (30) graduation credits in courses designated as General Education requirements. If a course fulfilling a General Education category also meets a major or minor requirement, there is no prohibition against counting the course toward General Education and the major or minor.
Overview of the General Education Categories
The General Education Program is designed to provide students with a set of competencies essential both for academic success and for becoming effective citizens of the 21st century. Among these competencies, Writing, Mathematics and Statistics, and Information Literacy are considered to be important foundations for other areas of students’ academic success.
The humanities and arts, natural sciences, and social sciences are commonly considered to be the core of a liberal arts education. Courses in these categories are designed to familiarize students with the objectives, assumptions, subject matters, methods, and boundaries of knowledge organized in terms of academic disciplines. The requirements seek to introduce students to a broad range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives and areas of knowledge.
Equally central to a liberal arts education is an understanding of history—the recognition that the world we inhabit today had its origins in and has been shaped by the events of the past, and that to understand our current situation we must try as best we can to understand the past. Of similar importance is an understanding of the origins, development and significance of human cultures, and the recognition of cultural distinctiveness and multiplicity. Courses in the categories of U.S. History and International Perspectives are designed to increase students’ understanding of the history of this nation (U.S.), of its cultural diversity, of histories and cultures that have played a major role in the development of the U.S., and of cultures and histories beyond those of the U.S.
The Foreign Language requirement is also designed to enhance students' global awareness and to expand their knowledge of different cultures.
Transfer Course Policies
Transfer students who have earned an Associate of Arts (A.A.) or an Associate of Science (A.S.) degree from a SUNY state-operated campus or SUNY community college shall be considered to have completed all University at Albany General Education requirements.
In accordance with the Trustees’ policies, if a student from a SUNY state-operated campus or SUNY community college has fulfilled, as determined by the policies of the other SUNY campus, one or more of the Trustees-mandated general educational categories, the University at Albany will also consider the student to have fulfilled that category or those categories. This is true even if 1) Albany requires more credits or courses for the given category; 2) the requirement is fulfilled by a course whose Albany equivalent does not fulfill the same requirement; 3) the student received a non-transferable but minimally passing grade in the course; 4) due to limits on total transferable credits, the student is unable to include that course among those transferred to Albany; 5) the student was waived from the requirement based on high school achievement or other standards different from those employed by Albany; or 6) the student was covered by a blanket waiver of the requirement by the SUNY Provost because the other SUNY campus was not yet able to implement the given requirement.
The same principle of reciprocity should apply to students who transfer from non-SUNY schools. If a course approved for transfer from a non-SUNY school is deemed to be equivalent to a University at Albany course that meets a general education requirement, the student shall be considered to have fulfilled the Albany general education category represented by that course. This is true even if 1) Albany requires more credits or courses for the given category; 2) the student receives a non-transferable but minimally passing grade in the course; or 3) due to limits on total transferable credits, the student is unable to include that course among those transferred to Albany.
Students may present credit for courses the University deems equivalent to these requirements, but for the transfer course to fulfill the Writing Intensive requirement it must be completed with a grade of C or better or a grade of S.
Students who feel they have not been appropriately accorded General Education equivalence for any given course or courses are encouraged to consult with their academic advisor; if the academic advisor determines that the student has not been awarded appropriate equivalency, the student or the advisor may then appeal the decision through established procedures. Students who believe their transfer work or academic circumstances may justify a waiver or substitution for part of the general education requirements may appeal to the General Education Committee through the Office of Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (LC 30). For information on appealing how transfer work has been applied to the General Education requirements, see "Transfer Credit Appeals" at http://www.albany.edu/transfer_students/.
Transfer Credit D Grades: Except for the University’s Writing Intensive requirement, for which a grade of C or higher or S is required, either pre- or postmatriculation transfer work graded D+, D or D- in a course that applies to one or more of the University’s General Education requirements may be applied toward fulfilling the requirements, even if the student receives no graduation credit for the course.
Administration of the Program
The Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education is responsible for the administration of the program, including interpretation of legislation, assessing the number of seats required and communicating that information to Deans, evaluation of courses, faculty development and program assessment. The Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education shall also have the explicit authority to grant waivers and make appropriate substitutions for individual students, and to decertify courses that do not meet the program’s standards. The Vice Provost shall have sufficient material and human resources to meet these responsibilities.
The General Education Committee is a committee of the Undergraduate Academic Council (UAC). This Committee is responsible for the administration of the General Education Program. Its composition is determined by the University Senate.
Course proposals originate in departments or programs, pass through college and school curriculum committees where appropriate, and are reviewed by the General Education Committee. It is the responsibility of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and of the General Education Committee to insure that course proposals meet the values and criteria of the General Education Program. New course proposals must also be approved by the Undergraduate Academic Council of the University Senate; revisions to existing courses designed to qualify them for the general education program will be reviewed only by the General Education Committee.
The General Education Committee will review approved courses on a regular cycle of three years. At the end of the review process, the committee will continue the course for another three-year cycle, suggest revisions necessary for its continuance, or designate the course to be discontinued as a general education course, effective at the end of the spring term of the next academic year. Any decision to discontinue a course must provide sufficient opportunity for appeal and revision.
The General Education Advisory Board is advisory to the General Education Committee of the UAC. Its purpose is to ensure that the principles and practices of the General Education program are well understood by all stakeholders, and that all concerned parties understand that General Education courses are an integral part of undergraduate work. In this context, the Board is responsible for soliciting student input on an ongoing basis about desirable General Education courses, and work with deans and department chairs to find support for faculty to design and teach such courses. In addition, the General Education Advisory Board will work with major departments and the General Education Assessment Committee to develop a structure or process by which departments will verify how students acquire competencies in critical thinking, oral and written communication, and information literacy within the framework of majors. The General Education Advisory Board’s members are approved by a majority vote of the Undergraduate Academic Council.
General Education Courses
The most up-to-date information on courses approved for General Education categories can be found on the General Education website’s “General Education Lookup” page:
On MyUAlbany, the “Search Class Schedules” capability also allows students to search for courses in a term that fulfill one or more of these General Education categories. This same search capability exists from the University’s homepage to find courses that meet one or more of the General Education requirements:
In addition, sections of courses that fulfill the categories Writing Intensive and Information Literacy can be identified by the suffix attached to the course number. Students should note that the General Education Look-up page indicates only whether a course has been approved to be offered as a Writing or Information Literacy course. When the suffix is attached to the course offering in the Schedule of Classes the General Education content of the course is included in that specific course offering.
A section of a University at Albany course will fulfill the Information Literacy requirement if the course number ends in the suffix T, U, V, or X.
A section of a University at Albany course will fulfill the Writing Intensive requirement if the course number ends in the suffix T, V, W, or Z.