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General Education Requirements

General Education at CMU
Goals and Objectives
University Program
General Education Requirements for Transfer Students
University Program Courses
Competency Requirements

General Education Website

General Education at Central Michigan University
General Education at Central Michigan University consists of two areas of liberal study and achievement, University Program and Competency Requirements, which are required of all students.  A third area, Teacher Certification, is required of all candidates for teaching degrees.

A liberal undergraduate education serves as preparation for a thoughtful life and service to the community, as a source of learning from which all other university work must draw and to which that work must contribute, and as an opportunity to identify intellectual interests by exploring a variety of disciplines and categories of human knowledge.

Liberally educated persons know about basic forces, ideas and values that shape the world, and about the structure of organized human knowledge--the arts and humanities, natural and social sciences, and their values, perspectives and methods. They are skilled in reasoning, writing, speaking, problem solving, using and interpreting quantitative information, in working with others, including those of diverse ethnic and cultural background, and in thinking reflectively about themselves as individuals and as members of society. Such persons value rational inquiry, honesty in scholarship and life-long learning.

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Goals and Objectives
General Education is intended to assist the student in the following objectives:

  1. Developing undergraduate college-level competencies in reading comprehension, written communication, oral communication, and quantitative reasoning and interpretation.
  2. Learning to examine and solve problems through intellectual process skills, such as comprehension, translation, interpretation, extrapolation, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Library and research skills are important accompaniments of these processes.
  3. Evaluating critically a broad range of personal and cultural values.
  4. Developing intellectual concerns to include:
    1. the logic and substance of science;
    2. an understanding of American society and culture;
    3. a cross-cultural perspective through the study of diverse cultures;
    4. an awareness of human nature from differing theoretical points of view;
    5. the fine arts
  5. Understanding global cultures, where possible, through study abroad.
  6. Experiencing intellectual community.
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University Program

The University Program requires at least 27-30 semester hours of coursework in Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social Studies, and Integrative and Area Studies.  The courses are divided into groups and subgroups, and you must complete at least 3 semester hours in each subgroup.

Students who receive credit for an approved study-abroad experience may satisfy their University Program requirement with a minimum of 27 hours.  Students whose first collegiate-level foreign language course is at an advanced level (102 or higher) may satisfy their University Program requirement with a minimum of 27 hours.  All other students may satisfy their University Program requirement with a minimum of 30 hours.

The following additional limitations must also be observed:

  1. You may not take more than two courses or seven hours of CR/NC in the University Program.
  2. You must earn a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 in University Program courses in order to graduate.
  3. The University Program has been designed to encourage you to explore as many different disciplines as possible; therefore, you must choose your University Program courses from different designators. Only one time may you take a second course with the same designator to satisfy your University Program requirement, with the exception of foreign language courses and courses taken for study abroad credit (see Subgroup IV-B), Typically you will be required to take courses with nine (9) different designators. For purposes of this paragraph, a course and its separately numbered laboratory (GEL 102 Physical Geology Laboratory, for example), count as a single course. All courses at CMU are identified by a three-letter code called a designator, as well as by a course number. Designators refer to the areas of study within the university’s departments. Although most departments have only one area of study and thus one designator, some do have two or more. A complete list of all designators may be found on page 242 of this Bulletin.
  4. Within Group II, Natural Sciences, each student must select at least one laboratory experience equivalent to at least one laboratory credit hour. The following courses satisfy this requirement:
    ANT 173 Laboratory in Physical Anthropology
    AST 112 Introduction to Astronomical Observation
    BIO 101 General Biology
    BIO 105 Introductory Quantitative Biology
    BIO 110 Concepts of Biology
    CHM 101 Armchair Chemistry
    CHM 127 Introductory Chemistry Laboratory
    CHM 131 Introduction to Chemistry I
    CHM 161 Principles of Chemistry
    ESC 105 Physical Geography
    ESC 240 Meteorology
    GEL 100 Introduction to Earth Systems
    GEL 102 Physical Geology Laboratory
    GEL 130 Earth Processes
    HON 140 Symmetry in Science: From Microscopic to Macroscopic Systems PHS 151 Introductory Physical Science I
    PHS 371 Musical Acoustics
    PHY 127 Table Top Physics
    PHY 170 College Physics Laboratory I
    PHY 175 University Physics Laboratory I
  5. CLEP General Examination credit is not accepted for University Program credit. 
  6. Credit from prior learning may not be used to meet any University Program or Competency requirement.
  7. Unless the degree specifically prohibits it, courses that are required under Other Degree Requirements may also be used to satisfy University Program requirements, provided that the courses are also on the list of University Program courses. University Program courses may also be taken as part of a major or minor unless otherwise restricted.
    1. Three options are available for completing the Subgroup IV-B requirement.
      1. Subgroup IV-B may be completed by a minimum of 3 hours of approved study abroad experience.  Appropriate experiences include study at any institution of higher education located outside the United States or Canada (except Quebec), or study in a CMU faculty-led course taught outside the United States or Canada (except Quebec) and approved by the General Education Sub-Committee.  Such study is administered through the Office of International Education.
      2. Subgroup IV-B requirements can be met by completion of 3 credits of an internship, practicum, service learning, or other resident program among members of a culture substantially different than the student's own within the United States.  Credit for study in such a culture will be determined on application to the General Education Sub-Committee.  Applications are available in the Academic Senate Office.
      3. Subgroup IV-B may be completed by a minimum of 3 hours of approved coursework in global cultures or foreign language.  These courses are listed below.
    2. If you are interested in participating in international programs, you should note that you may also apply to the General Education Subcommittee for further University Program credit for coursework done abroad on a course-by-course basis.  Documentation of the nature of the work done in each course (such as syllabi, course outlines, and assignments) is essential.  It is your responsibility to collect and provide such documentation.  If you are interested, contact the Director of International Programs for further information.
  9. Retroactive credits may not be used to fulfill University Program requirements. Retroactive credits may not be used to fulfill University Program requirements. See the Admission Requirements, Retention and Termination Standards sections within individual foreign language majors and minors (French, German, and Spanish) for more information.
  10. A course may fulfill only one subgroup.
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General Education Requirements for Transfer Students
MACRAO Agreement A person who transfers from a community college in Michigan with a transcript documented as having satisfied MACRAO Agreement will also have satisfied the University Program portion of the general education requirements at CMU.

University Program Transfer Block Option 
Transfer students not satisfying the MACRAO Agreement may satisfy the requirements for the University Program with courses transferred from other colleges or universities if they present a minimum of 27-30 semester hours distributed as follows:

Group I - Humanities 
A minimum of six but not more than nine semester hours of coursework from at least two of the following disciplines: ENG (English, not including composition courses), ART (Art), BCA (Broadcasting), HST (History), MUS (Music), PHL (Philosophy), REL (Religion), TAI (Drama), HUM (General Humanities).

Group II- Natural Sciences
A minimum of six but not more than nine semester hours of coursework from at least two of the following disciplines. One course must include a laboratory section. AST (Astronomy), BIO (Biology), CHM (Chemistry), ESC (Earth Science), GEL (Geology), HSC (Health Promotion and Rehabilitation), MTH (Mathematics), PHY (Physics), PHS (Physical Sciences), SCI (General or Natural Science).

Group III- Social Sciences
A minimum of six but not more than nine hours of course work from at least two of the following disciplines: ANT (Anthropology), CDO (Communication Disorders), HEV (Human Environmental Studies: AMD, FNS, IND, HDF), PSC (Political Science), PSY (Psychology), SOC (Sociology), ECO (Economics), GEO (Geography), JRN (Journalism), SSC (Social Science).

Group IV- Integrative and Area Studies 
This is identical to the CMU University Program. The student must transfer 6-9 hours of coursework on a course by course basis. Three hours must apply to Subgroup A, and three hours must apply to Subgroup C of Group IV of the CMU University Program. The requirement for Subgroup B may be met by the transfer of 3 hours of course work or demonstrated completion of any of the alternative experiences described in paragraph H above.


  1. Transfer students who have no more than 12 semester hours remaining on the University Program Transfer Block Option with completed coursework as distributed above (and prior to their first full-time enrollment at CMU) may use the University Program Transfer Block Option. For purposes of this rule, full-time means at least 12 hours attempted in a single semester. Any additional courses needed to meet the distribution requirements outlined above and to reach a total of 27-30 credit hours must be chosen from the appropriate categories within the list of CMU University Program courses in this Bulletin. For example, any deficiency in Group I transfer credit must be remedied by taking CMU University Program courses listed under Group I in this Bulletin. Any deficiency in transfer credit for Group IV Subgroup A must be remedied by taking a CMU course listed under Group IV Subgroup A in this Bulletin; any deficiency in Group IV Subgroup B must be remedied by taking a CMU course from Group IV Subgroup B; and any deficiency in Group IV Subgroup C must be remedied by taking a CMU course from Group IV Subgroup C. In choosing CMU courses to complete their 30 hours, students must also follow the rule that govern selection of more than one course with the same designator.
  2. In the event a student is not eligible to follow the transfer block option as distributed above, he/she will be required to complete the entire CMU University Program. Comparable course work at another college or university may be transferred into the CMU University Program on a course by course basis when (a) it transfers as an equivalent to a CMU course previously approved as a University Program course or (b) it transfers without a course number and has a content congruent with the goals of the University Program and the CMU courses approved on the University Program.
  3. Competency requirements apply to all students regardless of transfer status, including completion of competencies before 56 credit hours. Transfer students who enter the University with 44 or more credit hours must complete competencies by the end of the second semester at CMU. Six hours of English composition courses used to satisfy CMU competency requirements may not be used as elective hours on the CMU University Program. You must read the Competency Requirement section carefully.
  4. Transfer students who have no comparable course work at another college or university are required to meet the CMU University Program requirements in the preceding section.
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