Jul 17, 2024  
2022-2023 Undergraduate/Graduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Undergraduate/Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

General Education Program

General education courses are opportunities to gain skills and insights that will be useful for one’s entire life, no matter what the choice of major or career objectives. SUNY Plattsburgh recognizes that general education courses are an integral part of the total degree program - of equal importance to the major field of study.


The General Education Program is designed to reinforce students’ abilities to:

  • read with comprehension
  • apply quantitative skills
  • communicate effectively in written and spoken English
  • communicate in a second language
  • use technology effectively
  • filter, analyze, and critique information and experience.

Additionally, the General Education Program is designed to extend students’ understanding and appreciation of:

  • the complexity of the world in which we live
  • the arts and aesthetics
  • the sciences and mathematics
  • the “great ideas” of humanity
  • the cultures of the world
  • the nature of society
  • the moral responsibilities of the individual
  • the continuity of history and the changes influenced by historical processes.


The current General Education Program (GE5) was put into effect in January 2011 for all students. Students should contact their academic advisor or the Academic Advising Office at 518-564-2080 if they have questions concerning General Education. Information is also available on the college website at https://www.plattsburgh.edu/news/news-archive/ge5.html.

  1. Relationship to major: Courses completed to fulfill The Skills and The Knowledge and Understanding requirements may also fulfill a major requirement. To fulfill The Integration requirement (Global Issues), a course must be outside the major department and cognate requirements for the major. (Students with double majors may use courses within either major to complete The Integration requirement; childhood education majors may use courses in their concentrations to satisfy The Integration requirement.)
  2. Relationship to minors and second majors: Courses taken to fulfill general education requirements can also be applied to minor and/or second major requirements.
  3. Time frame: Students are expected to complete The Skills requirements by the beginning of the sophomore year (except for the Oral Expression requirement which students may complete with a designated upper-division course). Transfer students are expected to complete The Skills by the end of their second semester at the college. The Knowledge and Understanding requirement should be completed before the end of the sophomore year. The Integration requirement (Global Issues) is met through upper-division courses that should be taken after The Skills and The Knowledge and Understanding requirements have been met.
  4. Transfer students: The Admissions Office evaluates all transfer credits. Most transfer students will have completed many of The Skills and The Knowledge and Understanding requirements; approved substitutions may be transferred into the program. Questions about transferring work from other colleges taken before admission to SUNY Plattsburgh should be directed to the Admissions Office 518-564-2040.

General Education Requirements

The general education curriculum (GE5) consists of a minimum of 33-34 credit hours and is divided into three parts: The Skills Requirements, designed to provide students with the foundation for their academic career; The Knowledge and Understanding Requirements, intended to engage students in broad introductions to major areas of liberal arts studies; and The Integration Requirement, for upper-level students, examining problems, themes, topics, and interpretations which build on The Knowledge and Understanding courses.

General education courses are essential to the student’s academic plan; these courses establish high expectations of students and encourage active learning. The Knowledge and Understanding and The Integration courses are intended to reinforce the skills of reading, writing, speaking, critical thinking, information management, and mathematics. General education courses are also designed to reflect diversity of content and scholarship and offer a broad focus; engage students in critical reflection on issues of race, gender, and class, as appropriate to the discipline; include regional or local content where appropriate; include international content where appropriate; include technology appropriate to the discipline; and include an ethics component.

With the exception of ENG 100 - College Writing I (4 cr.)  and ENG 101 - College Writing II (3 to 4 cr.) , there are no single specific course requirements. Students, with the assistance of their advisors, choose from a group of courses which fulfill the goals of each of the components of the program. Approved courses within each category are listed below and on the following pages. For the most up-to-date list see the GE Codes menu for the online Banner Course Schedule at www.plattsburgh.edu/register.

Transfer Students

According to SUNY Policy, incoming transfer students who have satisfied the SUNY-GER General Education requirements or the equivalent of SUNY-GER will be considered to have completed all SUNY Plattsburgh General Education requirements except for the Integration Requirement (Global Issues 5GLO).

Prerequisites for the General Education Program

It is assumed that students will enter the college with competencies:

  • in English composition equal to ENG 100 , and
  • in mathematics equal to MAT 101 .

Students who do not have these competencies when they enter must achieve them before completing the related parts of the general education program.

Students are required to complete prerequisites for the General Education courses selected.  Click on the course link to see the course description with applicable prerequisites. 

The Skills Requirements (6-12 credit hours)

The Skills enable students to communicate effectively, think quantitatively, analyze and solve problems, and find information. They provide a foundation for students to derive the greatest benefit from the academic program. Students are expected to complete The Skills requirement before the beginning of the sophomore year; transfer students are expected to complete this requirement within two semesters of matriculation. (Exception: Students may complete the Oral Expression requirement later with an approved upper-division course.)

Written Expression (3-8 credit hours) - 5WE

All students without transfer credit for this requirement must take an English placement examination. As a result of the examination, some students will be eligible to register for ENG 101  without first taking ENG 100 . A minimum grade of C (2.0) in ENG 101  is required for graduation.

Oral Expression (0-3 credit hours) - 5OE

The ability to think and speak clearly is essential to an educated person in their professional and personal endeavors. Specially designated oral expression courses that require knowledge, practice, and demonstration of effective oral communication skills are included in this category. Most courses in this category meet major or other general education requirements; in that case the course credits are allocated to the other category.

Mathematics (3-4 credit hours) - 5MAT

Courses in this category introduce students to mathematical thinking and logic (building upon basic quantitative skills), emphasize the applicability of mathematics to real life situations, and are intended to instill a sense of mathematics as a creative and useful endeavor. Students must complete the Mathematics Competency requirement (either by an exam administered by the Mathematics Department, SAT or ACT scores, previous college course work, or completion of MAT 101  with a C or better) before they can take any 100- level General Education course listed below. The 200- level mathematics courses listed below have additional prerequisites.

Information and Technology Literacy (0-1 credit hour) - 5ITL

The ability to effectively use and manage library and information resources and technologies is the basis for expanding one’s knowledge and understanding in every area of study. Students must complete LIB 105 or LIB 200 or demonstrate proficiency in these skills through a proficiency examination given each semester. Students who have previously enrolled and withdrawn from a library course may not sit for the proficiency exam; they must complete the course

The Knowledge and Understanding Requirement (12-16 credit hours)

Courses fulfilling The Knowledge and Understanding requirements are broad-based introductions and surveys focused on different ways of knowing, and different areas of knowledge. The Knowledge and Understanding requirements should be completed by the end of the sophomore year.

Natural Science and Technology (3-4 credit hours) - 5NST

Courses focused on the models and methods of at least one of the natural sciences, using quantitative and experimental data, and discussing the evolution and limitations of scientific inquiry and pertinent connections between science, technology, and society enable students to function more effectively as informed citizens. Courses in this category explore the fundamental assumptions and principles of the scientific method, illustrated by laboratory and/or fieldwork. They also make clear the difference between science and technology and enable students to critically assess technological worth.

Social Sciences (3 credit hours) - 5SS

Courses in this category deal with understanding of the methods and concerns of the basic social sciences: the relationship of the individual and society, human behavior and institutions, and social thought. They focus on human beings as social animals and examine motivation, need, attitudes, and purpose in human behavior. Each course is focused on the models and methods of at least one social science.

Choose one course from U.S. Civilization 5US/5USC or Western Civilization 5WC

U.S. Civilization (3 credit hours) - 5US/5USC

Broad survey courses in U.S. history enable students to recognize continuity and change in the human experience over time and to critically appreciate our cultural and political heritage. These courses also convey knowledge of common institutions in U.S. society and how they have affected different groups, and they extend understanding of the U.S.’s evolving relationship with the rest of the world.

Western Civilization (3 credit hours) - 5WC

These courses examine human experience, behavior, thought, and expression in Western civilization. They also look at the relationship of Western civilization to the rest of the world and the multiplicity of our cultural heritage.

Choose one course from World Systems 5WRS or Foreign Language 5FL

World Systems (3 credit hours) - 5WRS

Courses in this category convey an appreciation of the broad outline of world history and/or of the distinctive features of a non-Western civilization. Knowledge of world history and civilizations different from one’s own enable students to better understand their own culture and its place in the world.

Foreign Language (0-3 credit hours) - 5FL

Basic proficiency in the understanding and use of a foreign language and knowledge of the distinctive features of culture(s) associated with the language assist students to understand others and appreciate our cultural heritage. Any student who has taken three consecutive years of a language, in grades 9-12 will be placed in Spanish, German, Italian, and ARA 112  or 151, or in FRE 150 . A student who has taken CAPP courses for transferable college credit will be placed according to the number of credits received. Students wishing to be placed in a higher level are required to take the appropriate language placement assessment. For information on the examination process, contact the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures.

Choose one course from Humanities 5HUM or Arts 5ART

Humanities (3 credit hours) - 5HUM

Courses in this category foster understanding and appreciation of human thought, experience, expression, and aesthetics through literature and philosophy and knowledge of the conventions and methods of at least one humanities discipline.

The Arts (3 credit hours) - 5ART

Survey and studio courses promote understanding of the visual/performing arts. Students will be confronted with art as a way of knowing and experiencing, within historical, social, and cultural contexts. Courses also address topics such as appreciation of the aesthetic tradition, the creative process in the arts, and issues peculiar to the art form.

Additional Approved General Education Courses (2-12 credits)

Additional SUNY-approved courses from categories The Skills Requirements (6-12 credit hours) (excluding ENG 100 ) and/or The Knowledge and Understanding Requirements (12-16 credit hours) above to bring total General Education course credits for The Skills Requirements (6-12 credit hours), The Knowledge and Understanding Requirements (12-16 credit hours), and Additional Approved General Education Courses (2-12 credits) to a minimum of 30. Credits received in the Information and Technology Literacy category do not count toward the minimum 30 credits of SUNY-approved General Education courses.

First-Level Foreign Language Courses in GE5 are Approved for Additional Approved General Education Courses Only

The following first-level Foreign Language courses or other beginning-level Foreign Language courses approved by SUNY may be used in Category C of GE5 (Additional Approved General Education Courses) although by themselves they do not satisfy the requirement of a second-level Foreign Language course if the Foreign Language category is chosen in The Knowledge and Understanding Requirement:

The Integration Requirement (3 credit hours)

The Integration courses, building on The Knowledge and Understanding categories, focus on problems, themes, topics, and interpretations. Each student must complete one course from the Global Issues category. These courses are intended for upper-level students (60 credits or more) who have already completed The Skills and The Knowledge and Understanding requirements. A study abroad program including at least 3 credits of course work, lasting at a minimum of 3 weeks, and approved by SUNY will satisfy the Global Issues requirement. To meet The Integration requirement, a course must be outside the major department and cognate courses for that major. Students with double majors may use courses within either major to satisfy The Integration requirements, and childhood education majors may use courses in their concentration to satisfy this requirement.

Global Issues (3 credit hours) - 5GLO

Courses in this category encourage students to think transnationally or transculturally about social, political, economic, aesthetic, moral, and technological issues as world citizens. These courses will contribute to students’ understanding about issues such as human rights, migration, trade, poverty, access to health care, and technology, and the ramifications of policies regarding political power, militarization, and the environment. Courses in this category engage in comparative studies of a global theme across different nations, cultural groups, or cultural regions.

Select one course: