UNC Charlotte Academic Policy: General Education Program

I. Introduction

The General Education Program is a baccalaureate degree requirement for all undergraduate students.  The General Education Program consists of requirements within four areas of liberal education: 1) Development of fundamental skills of inquiry (9-12 credits), 2) Inquiry in the sciences (10 credits), 3) Themes of liberal education for private and public life (12 credits), and 4) Communication skills (6-9 credits).

II. Policy Statement

The General Education Program is central to UNC Charlotte’s basic mission of providing all of its undergraduates with a liberal arts education.  The Program approaches the liberal arts in its traditional meaning of learning the arts appropriate for living the educated, responsible life of a free (liberãlis) citizen.  It provides all undergraduate students, regardless of their majors, with the foundations of the liberal education they will need to be informed people who have the ability to act thoughtfully in society, the ability to make critical judgments, and the ability to enjoy a life dedicated to learning and the pleasures of intellectual and artistic pursuits.

The Program is designed to address four areas of liberal education.  First, it helps students develop the foundational skills necessary for obtaining the full benefits of a college education: basic college-level writing, basic use of information technology, and basic college-level mathematical and logical skills.  Second, it helps provide students with an understanding of the methods of scientific inquiry and the ways that knowledge is acquired and accredited in the life sciences, physical sciences, and social sciences.  Third, the General Education Program addresses major themes related to living as a liberally educated person in the twenty-first century. Students take four Liberal Studies courses designed especially for the General Education Program.  These courses are organized around major themes of liberal education: the arts and society, the Western cultural tradition, global understanding, and ethical and cultural critique.  Fourth, it helps students develop more specialized skills for disciplinary writing and oral presentations. Students should seek advice concerning completion of their General Education requirements from an advisor in their department or college.

The General Education Program is administered by University College but individual courses are taught by faculty from all of the colleges.  Thus, requests for exceptions to any aspects of the General Education requirements for individual students must be approved by the Dean of University College, but matters relating to the course itself need to be addressed by the department and college offering the course.  Some transfer students may be exempt from the General Education Requirements; see the Transfer Credit and Advanced Academic Standing policy for details. 


First-Year Writing Courses
Students take two courses, UWRT 1101 and UWRT 1102.  Entering freshmen who qualify for the accelerated course in writing and rhetoric may meet this requirement by completing one course, UWRT 1103.  After completing these courses students are expected to be able to write clearly and concisely in standard English and to be generally prepared to do college-level writing and editing.

Mathematical and Logical Reasoning
One three-credit course in mathematics (MATH) and a second three-credit course selected from mathematics (MATH), statistics (STAT), or deductive logic (PHIL 2105) are required.  Most undergraduates at UNC Charlotte major in programs that require mathematics or statistics as related work.  For these students, the related mathematics requirements determine the courses taken to meet the General Education requirement.

Basic Skills of Information Technology
By the end of their first year at UNC Charlotte, students are expected to have developed the basic skills necessary to access and create computer based information.  These skills include the use of word processing, email, file management, Internet searches, and library database searches.  These skills are developed in UWRT 1101 and UWRT 1103.  Tutorial help is available at campus computer labs, and help with bibliographical search skills is available in the information commons of Atkins library.  Students are expected to exhibit ethical behavior in the use of computers.  More advanced information technology skills are required by individual departments and majors.


Two Courses in the Natural Sciences, At Least One of Which Must be Taken with a Laboratory
These courses introduce students to the methods of various science disciplines.  They provide an understanding of the current scientific knowledge of the world, how that knowledge is secured, and how scientific knowledge changes over time.  Selected from:

  • Astronomy (PHYS 1130)
  • Bioinformatics (BINF 1101)
  • Biological Anthropology (ANTH 2141)
  • Biology (BIOL 1110, 1115)
  • Chemistry (CHEM 1111, 1112, 1200, 1203, 1204, 1251, 1252)
  • Earth Sciences (ESCI 1101)
  • E-Science (ITIS 1350)
  • Geography (GEOG 1103)
  • Geology (GEOL 1200, 1210)
  • Physics (PHYS 1100, 1101, 1102, 1201, 1202, 1203, 2101, 2102)
  • Psychology (PSYC 1101)

One Course in the Social Sciences
These courses introduce students to the methods of the social sciences and to the applications of these methods for gaining a scientific understanding of the social world.  Selected from:

  • Anthropology (ANTH 1101)
  • Economics (ECON 1101, 2101, 2102)
  • Geography (GEOG 1105)
  • Political Science (POLS 1110)
  • Sociology (SOCY 1101)


The UNC Charlotte faculty has selected four themes of a liberal arts education around which to offer a core of Liberal Studies (LBST) courses dedicated exclusively to General Education.  All of these courses include the consideration of gender, race, and ethnic diversity, as appropriate for understanding the individual themes of these courses.  Despite the fact that topics vary, and courses are offered from various departments, LBST courses may not be repeated for credit.

Each student must take one course from each area as follows:

One Course in the Arts and Society
Art is indispensable to the structure and fabric of all societies, and each course examines this fundamental connection from the perspective of a specific art form. Selected from:

  • LBST 1101  The Arts and Society: Dance
  • LBST 1102  The Arts and Society: Film
  • LBST 1103  The Arts and Society: Music
  • LBST 1104  The Arts and Society: Theater
  • LBST 1105  The Arts and Society: Visual Arts

One Course in the Western Tradition
Each section of this course examines a major aspect of Western culture through the process of analyzing the present in terms of the past.

  • LBST 2101  Western Cultural & Historical Awareness

One Course in Global Understanding
All liberally educated people need to have the ability to understand the world from the point of view of more than one culture and be able to analyze issues from a global perspective.

  • LBST 2102  Global and Intercultural Connections

One Course Dealing with Ethical Issues and Cultural Critique
Each of these courses deals with an important contemporary issue, and each one gives significant attention to ethical analysis and cultural critique in the liberal arts. Selected from:

  • LBST 2211  Ethical Issues in Personal, Professional, and Public Life
  • LBST 2212  Literature and Culture
  • LBST 2213  Science, Technology, and Society
  • LBST 2214  Issues of Health and Quality of Life
  • LBST 2215  Citizenship


Writing in the Disciplines (W)
Six semester hours, including at least three semester hours in the major. These courses are spread throughout the curriculum and are indicated with a (W) after the course title.  These courses assume that students have already developed the basic grammatical and compositional skills needed to write college-level English, and they build on these skills to develop writing strategies appropriate to the discipline of the department offering the course.

Oral Communication (O)
At least one course designated as an oral communication course.  These courses are spread throughout the curriculum and are indicated with an (O) after the course title.  If a course is designated as both a writing in the discipline course (W) and an oral communication course (O), a student may apply that course to both requirements.

There are no foreign language requirements associated with the General Education Program.  Requirements related to foreign languages are determined at the college or department levels.  All majors in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the College of Arts + Architecture have a foreign language requirement as do some majors in the College of Health & Human Services and the Belk College of Business.  The specific foreign language requirements for each major are listed under each college’s or department’s section in the Undergraduate Catalog.

III. Definitions

  • Liberal Education – The foundation of the baccalaureate degree in the United States.  Liberal education strives to make students liberally educated citizens of the world by emphasizing knowledge across disciplines, critical thinking, and application of content.  The General Education Requirements work toward this end.

IV. Policy Contact(s)

V. History

  • Revised: May 24, 2010 [ITIS 1350 added as a natural science option]
  • Revised: October 5, 2011 [BINF 1101 added as a natural science option]
  • Revised: October 17, 2013 [ECON 2102 added as a social science option]
  • Revised: Summer 2014 [required ENGL courses changed to UWRT prefix]
  • Revised: October 21, 2014 [GEOG 1103 added as a natural science option]
  • Revised: February 27, 2015 [PHYS 1100 added as a natural science option]

VI. Related Policies, Procedures and Resources

VII. Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which students are covered under this policy?  This policy applies to all undergraduate students at UNC Charlotte.