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 (9-10 credit hours), 2) Inquiry in the sciences (10 credit hours), 3) Themes of liberal education for private and public life (12 credit hours), and 4) Communication skills (6-9 credit hours).

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. 

I. Development of Fundamental Skills of Inquiry (9-10 credit hours)

First-Year Writing Courses (3-4 credit hours)

One first-year writing course is required.  UWRT 1104 includes the same face-to-face content as UWRT 1103, but also includes an online writing studio that provides students with additional opportunities to develop skills.  After completing one of 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.

Select one of the following:

  • UWRT 1103  Writing and Inquiry in Academic Contexts I and II (3) 
  • UWRT 1104  Writing and Inquiry in Academic Contexts I and II with Studio (4)
Mathematical and Logical Reasoning (6 credit hours)

One three-credit course in mathematics and a second three-credit course selected from mathematics, statistics, or deductive logic are required. 

Select one of the following:

  • MATH 1100  College Algebra and Probability (3)
  • MATH 1102  Introduction to Mathematical Thinking (3)
  • MATH 1103  Precalculus Mathematics for Science and Engineering (3)
  • MATH 1105  Finite Mathematics (3)
  • MATH 1120  Calculus (3)
  • MATH 1121  Calculus for Engineering Technology (3)
  • MATH 1165  Introduction to Discrete Structures (3)

Plus one of the following:

  • MATH 1100  College Algebra and Probability (3)
  • MATH 1102  Introduction to Mathematical Thinking (3)
  • MATH 1103  Precalculus Mathematics for Science and Engineering (3)
  • MATH 1105  Finite Mathematics (3)
  • MATH 1120  Calculus (3)
  • MATH 1121  Calculus for Engineering Technology (3)
  • MATH 1165  Introduction to Discrete Structures (3)
  • PHIL 2105  Deductive Logic (3)
  • STAT 1220  Elements of Statistics I (BUSN) (3)
  • STAT 1221  Elements of Statistics I (3)
  • STAT 1222  Introduction to Statistics (3)

Note: 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.  Students in majors that do not require related work in mathematics normally take MATH 1100, followed by either MATH 1102 or PHIL 2105.

Basic Skills of Information Technology

Incoming students are expected to have already developed the basic computer skills necessary to use word processing software, email, and the Internet.  By the end of their first semester at UNC Charlotte, students are expected to have developed the basic skills necessary to find and evaluate information from the internet and bibliographic and database sources in Atkins Library.  These skills are developed in UWRT 1103 and UWRT 1104, and help with bibliographical and database search skills is available in the Information Commons of the Library.  Basic tutorial help is also available at campus computer labs.  Students are expected to exhibit ethical behavior in the use of computers.  More advanced information literacy and technology skills are required by individual departments and majors.

II. Inquiry in the Sciences (10 credit hours)

Natural Sciences (7 credit hours)

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. 

Select two courses, one of which must be taken with its corresponding laboratory (L) course:

  • ANTH 2141  Principles of Biological Anthropology (4)
  • ANTH 2141L  Principles of Biological Anthropology Lab (0)
  • BINF 1101  Introduction to Bioinformatics and Genomics (4) (includes both lecture and lab)
  • BIOL 1110  Principles of Biology I (3)
  • BIOL 1110L  Principles of Biology I Laboratory (1)
  • BIOL 1115  Principles of Biology II (3)
  • CHEM 1111  Chemistry in Today's Society (3)
  • CHEM 1111L  Laboratory in Chemistry (1)
  • CHEM 1112  Chemistry in Today's Society (3)
  • CHEM 1112L  Laboratory in Chemistry (1)
  • CHEM 1200  Fundamentals of Chemistry (3)
  • CHEM 1203  Introduction to General, Organic, and Biochemistry I (3)
  • CHEM 1203L  Introduction to General, Organic, and Biochemistry I Laboratory (1)
  • CHEM 1204  Introduction to General, Organic, and Biochemistry II (3)
  • CHEM 1204L  Introduction to General, Organic, and Biochemistry II Laboratory (1)
  • CHEM 1251  General Chemistry I (3)
  • CHEM 1251L  General Chemistry I Laboratory (1)
  • CHEM 1252  General Chemistry II (3)
  • CHEM 1252L  General Chemistry II Laboratory (1)
  • ESCI 1101  Earth Sciences-Geography (3)
  • ESCI 1101L  Earth Sciences-Geography Laboratory (1)
  • GEOG 1103  Spatial Thinking (4) (includes both lecture and lab)
  • GEOL 1200  Physical Geology (3)
  • GEOL 1200L  Physical Geology Laboratory (1)
  • GEOL 1210  Earth History (3)
  • GEOL 1210L  Earth History Lab (1)
  • ITIS 1350  eScience (4)
  • ITIS 1350L  eScience Laboratory (0)
  • KNES 2168  Human Anatomy and Physiology for the Health Professions (3)
  • KNES 2168L  Human Anatomy and Physiology for the Health Professions Laboratory (1) 
  • KNES 2169  Human Anatomy and Physiology for the Health Professions II (3)
  • KNES 2169L  Human Anatomy and Physiology for the Health Professions II Laboratory (1) 
  • PHYS 1100  Conceptual Physics (3)
  • PHYS 1100L  Conceptual Physics Laboratory (1)
  • PHYS 1101  Introductory Physics I (3)
  • PHYS 1101L  Introductory Physics I Laboratory (1)
  • PHYS 1102  Introductory Physics II (3)
  • PHYS 1102L  Introductory Physics II Laboratory (1)
  • PHYS 1130  Introduction to Astronomy (3)
  • PHYS 1130L  Introduction to Astronomy Laboratory (1)
  • PHYS 1201  Sports and Physics (3)
  • PHYS 1201L  Sports and Physics Laboratory (1)
  • PHYS 1202  Introduction to Physics in Medicine (3)
  • PHYS 1203  Physics of Music (3)
  • PHYS 1203L  Physics of Music Laboratory (1)
  • PHYS 2101  Physics for Science and Engineering I (3)
  • PHYS 2101L  Physics for Science and Engineering I Laboratory (1)
  • PHYS 2102  Physics for Science and Engineering II (3)
  • PHYS 2102L  Physics for Science and Engineering II Laboratory (1)
  • PSYC 1101  General Psychology (3)
  • PSYC 1101L  General Psychology Laboratory (1)
Social Sciences (3 credit hours)

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. 

Select one of the following:

  • ANTH 1101  Introduction to Anthropology (3)
  • ECON 1101  Economics of Social Issues (3)
  • ECON 2101  Principles of Economics - Macro (3)
  • ECON 2102  Principles of Economics - Micro (3)
  • GEOG 1105  The Location of Human Activity (3)
  • POLS 1110  American Politics (3)
  • SOCY 1101  Introduction to Sociology (3)

III. Themes of Liberal Education for Private and Public Life (12 credit hours)

The UNC Charlotte faculty created a set of Liberal Studies (LBST) courses dedicated exclusively to General Education.  These courses introduce students to fundamental themes and develop core competencies.  All students take four LBST courses.  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.

Arts and Society (3 credit hours)

One course in the Arts and Society is required.  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.

Select one of the following:

  • LBST 1101  The Arts and Society: Dance (3)
  • LBST 1102  The Arts and Society: Film (3)
  • LBST 1103  The Arts and Society: Music (3)
  • LBST 1104  The Arts and Society: Theater (3)
  • LBST 1105  The Arts and Society: Visual Arts (3)
Liberal Studies Courses (9 credit hours)

Three 2000-level LBST courses chosen from the four categories below are required.  Individual departments MAY choose to allow students to count one of their LBST courses towards the requirements for the major.  Students should consult the Academic Plan of Study for the major, the degree audit, and an advisor about whether double counting is allowed and to which particular courses the department’s policy applies.

A) LBST 2101 - Western Cultural and Historical Awareness (3)

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

B) LBST 2102 - Global and Intercultural Connections (3)

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.

C) LBST 221X - Ethical and Cultural Critique (Select ONE)

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.

Select one of the following:

  • LBST 2211  Ethical Issues in Personal, Professional, and Public Life (3)
  • LBST 2212  Literature and Culture (3)
  • LBST 2213  Science, Technology, and Society (3)
  • LBST 2214  Issues of Health and Quality of Life (3)
  • LBST 2215  Citizenship (3) (SL)

D) LBST 2301 - Critical Thinking and Communication (3)

Students must take this course as one of their three LBST courses at the 2000 level.

IV. Critical Thinking and Communication

This course continues the development of critical thinking and communication competencies begun in UWRT 1103 or UWRT 1104.  Critical thinking and communication skills are recognized as core competencies for students earning a baccalaureate degree, regardless of major.  While students continue to develop these skills in advanced courses in their major, the general education program provides an important foundation.  Therefore, all students must take one general education course that carries the Critical Thinking and Communication (CTC) attribute.  Students meet this requirement by taking LBST 2301; it will be one of the three LBST courses at the 2000 level students take; they will choose two others.

  • LBST 2301  Critical Thinking and Communication (3)

V. Advanced Communication Skills (6-9 credit hours)

Writing in the Disciplines (W) (6 credit hours)

Select six credit hours, including at least three credit 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) (3 credit hours)

Select 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. 

Note: 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.

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]
  • Revised: April 11, 2017 [UWRT 1103 & 1104 replaced UWRT 1101 & 1102; addition of new course LBST 2301 as requirement; see the Approval Memo]

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.