You are here: Home Archived Catalogs Current Undergraduate Catalog '08-'09 General Information for Undergraduates University-Wide General Education Competencies and Content Areas

University-Wide General Education Competencies and Content Areas

The General Education Program at the University of Louisville fosters active learning by asking students to think critically, to communicate effectively, and to understand and appreciate cultural diversity. Specifically, students will establish foundations in the following content areas: Arts and Humanities, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Oral Communication, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Written Communication. Additionally, in the competency area, students will acquire an understanding of Cultural Diversity through work in the content areas.

Students must complete 12 credit hours of General Education courses within the first 30 degree-applicable credit hours earned, and these 12 hours must include the successful completion of the first three hours in Written Communication; further, students must fulfill or begin working towards the Mathematics General Education requirement. Before completing 60 hours, the student must have completed 21 hours of General Education courses, including Oral Communication, Mathematics, and the second three hours of Written Communication.


Content Areas:

Arts and Humanities (6 hours: one course in Arts; one in Humanities)

• Arts and Humanities are concerned with understanding texts of art, music, theatre, literature, philosophy, and religious thought.

Mathematics (3 hours in Mathematics)

• Mathematics is concerned with solving real-world problems through mathematical methods.

Natural Sciences (7 hours: lecture and lab in a single discipline; an additional 3 hours in a second discipline)

• Natural Sciences are concerned with understanding the physical world through the scientific method.

Oral Communication (3 hours)

• Oral communication is the ability to convey ideas, emotions, and information through speech.

Social and Behavioral Sciences (9 hours: one course in the Department of History; the remaining 6 hours in two other disciplines)

• Social and behavioral sciences are concerned with understanding human behavior, human interactions, human environment, and the related social structures and forms.

• History (3 credits) History is concerned with understanding change over time. Courses addressing this requirement cover a broad body of historical knowledge and compare Western and non-Western cultures.

Written Communication (6 hours: the first 3 hours must be a writing course in the Department of English or be an approved Honors course substitute)

• Written communication is the ability to develop and express ideas, opinions, and information in appropriate written forms. To fulfill this requirement, students will complete a substantial amount of writing, including several texts that go through the writing process.


Competency Areas:

Students must take 6 hours in courses designated Cultural Diversity (CD1 and CD2), at least 3 hours of which will focus on persons of African, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Native American ancestry. In many cases, these courses will also fulfill other Content Area requirements (e.g., a Cultural Diversity course may also count as a Social and Behavioral Science requirement).

Understanding Cultural Diversity Understanding cultural diversity means students will have a broad exposure to a variety of social systems, cultures, and subcultures, both within the United States and the rest of the world. This portion of the curriculum encourages an appreciation of the realities of a racially and culturally diverse world.


General Education Program


General Education Course Codes

Course code designations (WC, OC, M, S, SL, B, H, A, SB, CD1, CD2) appear in the course title (as an extension of the title) for the General Education courses. They indicate the general education requirement(s) that the course fulfills. Some courses are assigned more than one code if they fulfill more than one  requirement.  For an explanation of the course codes, visit the Provost’s web site at


Content and Competency Courses

For a listing of General Education courses, by academic year, see General Education Course List at


General Education Curriculum Guidelines

The General Education Curriculum Committee (GECC) has passed the following changes in the program guidelines, effective at the beginning of the Summer 2009 term and are not retroactive. 


--Pass/Fail grading

No course taken for a pass/fail grade will be counted as meeting a general education requirement.

--Course Substitutions and Appeals

Departments and units must not substitute for a GER-approved course any University of Louisville course not on the GER-approved list. The GECC will not accept any appeal for such consideration.

--Restricted Sections of GER Courses in Major Programs

Departments or programs with general-education courses also required for particular majors may restrict one or more sections to students in that major, provided that additional sections are open to enrollment by non-majors. Where practical, the open and restricted section(s) should be scheduled at the same or similar times.

--CD Credit for Study Abroad

Students may petition for Cultural Diversity (CD) credit after participation in a universitysanctioned study-abroad program. The petition must include an essay, addressed to the GECC, indentifying which form of CD credit is requested, describing the program and explaining how the experience met the learning outcomes of the CD competency. Petitions must be submitted to the committee by e-mail to . Detailed instructions (including specifications of the essays and limits on the petition period) will be made available on the General Education website .

--CD course equivalency determinations

A student may petition that transfer courses identified by the Admissions Office but not equivalent to any existing approved CD course be evaluated by the GECC. The student requesting the evaluation must provide a catalog course description and a syllabus of the course(s) in question as well as an essay indentifying which form of CD credit is requested and explaining how the transfer course addresses the learning outcomes of the CD general-education requirement. Petitions must be submitted to the committee by e-mail to . .General-education credit for fully-certified transfer students

Transfer students with full general-education certification under the Kentucky block transfer policy have completed all general-education requirements of the University of Louisville. Under that state policy, the university will not require such students to complete the Cultural Diversity competency requirement.

--General education requirements for second-degree students

For students already holding a baccalaureate degree but in residence to complete a second baccalaureate, the general-education requirements shall be waived.

Questions concerning these guidelines can be addressed to for the consideration of the committee.

Statewide General Education Block Transfer Policy

Students who transfer between Kentucky’s public institutions of higher education may qualify for a ”block” rather than course by course transfer policy beginning in January, 1996.  This policy has been established as a means of promoting the transfer of lower division general education requirements from one public institution to another and reducing the probability that credits may be lost or courses repeated due to transfer.  The statewide block transfer policy applies to transfer students who have completed all or part of lower division general education requirements within the following competency areas:



Written (6 hours)

Oral (3 hours)

Humanities (6 hours) Includes courses from but not limited to the following:

Fine Arts (excluding studio and performance courses)




Foreign Literature



Behavioral/Social Sciences

(9 hours) Includes courses from but not limited to the following listing AND must be represented by a minimum of two disciplines and must be different from those disciplines used to meet the Humanities requirement:







Political Science



Natural Sciences (6 hours) Includes courses from but not limited to the following disciplines:






Mathematics (3 hours) Minimum—

College Algebra

Students who have completed lower division general education requirements or have an AA/AS degree or 60 credit hours upon transfer may find that this policy applies to them. The student should contact the Registrar or advisors at their current institution and ask for a General Education Audit to be sent to the University of Louisville. This audit will provide admissions and advisors at the University of Louisville with information that may prove beneficial to the   transferring student.  Students planning to transfer to another state institution following the completion of 60 hours at the University of Louisville should contact their advisor concerning the Statewide Transfer Frameworks Option. This option provides a means through which students, planning to transfer following the completion of 60 hours, may complete a specified set of general education and program specific requirements which will be transferable to all state institutions.

Students desiring to take advantage of this option should know what degree they plan to complete and must complete the full 60 hours as specified under the framework to be eligible.  The first 60 hours for many degrees offered throughout the state system are available at the University of Louisville. The University of Louisville need not offer the final degree for students to take advantage of this program.


University Residency Requirement for Awarding of Baccalaureate Degrees

Students earning baccalaureate degrees are required to complete 30 of their last 36 semester hours at the University of Louisville. Individual academic units may have more stringent residency requirements.  Students should familiarize themselves with the residency requirements of the academic unit in which they intend to pursue a degree.


Residency Requirement for Awarding of Associate Degrees

Students earning associate degrees are required to complete a minimum of 15 of their last 18 semester hours at the University of Louisville. Some academic units may require a higher minimum for the associate degree.  Students should consult the appropriate unit section for specific information.


Confirmation of Degrees

The conferring of degrees by the University of Louisville is conditional upon completion of all requirements in the opinion of the Dean/Director and faculty, regardless of the students’ participation in Commencement or any other representations by University employees.  The student is responsible for submitting an application for a degree in a timely manner to be considered for a degree.


Commencement Ceremonies

Commencements are scheduled for May and December. Commencement information and current schedules are available on the web at

Graduates participating in the commencement ceremonies must order academic apparel before the deadline stated on the website.

All graduating students must apply for their degrees online according to deadlines stated in the Registration Information newspaper (dates also available on the web at 



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