General Education Guidelines

How to Submit Courses for Designation

Faculty, instructors, and departments interested in submitting courses for General Education designation should use the online course submission form. Before submitting a request, please review the descriptions of the General Education categories below for more information. All General Education courses must be 4 credits, except for B, O, S, and Y courses. Students must take a General Education course for a letter grade in order to fulfill the requirement, except where Pass/Fail is the only option, which will primarily occur in B, S, and Y courses.

For more information on how to submit a course for General Education designation, please contact Liz Abate, Coordinator of General Education, at 607-777-2146 or

Quick Links to Guidelines by Category

Language and Communication

Creating a Global Vision

Liberal Arts

Physical Activity/Wellness

General Education Guidelines: Language and Communication

NOTE ON C, O & J COURSES: The language of communication for C, O, and J courses shall be English.

C - Composition Courses 

Revised guidelines approved by the Faculty Senate 5/6/14

  • C courses require at least 20 pages of expository writing.
  • The course must include a longer paper of at least 7 pages or at least two papers of at least 5 pages.
  • For these longer papers, a process of revision with instructor feedback (not just peer feedback) is mandatory. One paper of at least 5 pages must undergo a substantial revision process.
  • At least 50% of the course grade must be based on writing.
  • C courses should be limited to 25 students per class when taught without teaching assistants. Larger courses may be designated as C courses so long as they divide into regularly scheduled discussion sections in which composition and/or oral communication is emphasized. In such courses teaching assistants assigned to lead multiple discussion sections should be responsible for no more than 50 students in all.


  • Discussion board posts, blog posts, lab notebooks, or journals, while encouraged as forms of writing, do not count toward the 20 pages.
  • Revised pages don't count: if students write a 5-page draft and a 7-page final paper, only the 7 pages count toward the 20. If students rework a short paper into a longer paper, only the longer paper counts toward the 20 pages.
  • The C requirement focuses on expository writing, not fiction, poetry, plays, etc.
  • Team or group papers cannot fulfill the requirement for the C unless the instructor demonstrates that each student completes the requirements for the C and that each student's contribution is individually evaluated.

FL1, FL2, FL3 - Foreign Language Courses

Foreign Language courses are designated FL1 (first-level course), FL2 (second-level course) or FL3 (third-level course).  Courses at the fourth level (i.e., GERM 204, FREN 215, etc. can also be designated FL3.  If students take a course above FL3 to fulfill the Foreign Language requirement, it is handled via degree audit exception as few students select this option.

J - Joint Composition (C) and Oral (O) Courses

  • fulfill the requirements for both C and O courses.

O - Oral Communication Courses

  • are discipline (or program) based, just like Composition courses.
  • require that each student give at least 2 presentations.
  • base at least 15% of the course grade on oral presentations, including critiques of such presentations and other listening skills.
  • provide ample opportunity for students to critique presentations, based on criteria such as: rapport with audience; voice, projection, and audibility; clarity of purpose; originality of ideas; organization; persuasiveness of evidence; and ability to respond to questions.
  • provide as much opportunity as possible for students to improve their oral presentations in response to feedback.
  • should emphasize listening as well as speaking skills.
  • should be limited to 25 students per class. Larger class sizes will be considered if evidence is provided that additional arrangements have been made to assure that each student is getting equivalent additional attention from the instructor or TA.

Note: O courses may be 4-, 2-, or 1-credit courses.

General Education Guidelines: Creating a Global Vision

G - Global Interdependencies Courses

The primary focus of Global Interdependencies (G) courses is to study how two or more distinctive world regions have influenced and interacted with one another and how such interactions have been informed by their respective cultures or civilizations. 

Notes: (1) G courses must focus on at least one non-Western region, because Binghamton's Global Interdependencies requirement meets SUNY's Other World Civilizations requirement. (2) G courses may focus on more than one non-Western region. (3) G courses may focus on distinctive cultural regions, at least one of which must be non-Western. A "cultural region" is a portion of Earth's surface that has common cultural elements (, accessed 3/2/12).

P - Pluralism in the US Courses

Binghamton University designates two types of Pluralism courses. Both types bear the "P" indicator in the Schedule of Classes and the degree audit report; the degree audit report is programmed to recognize which type of "P" course a student needs to fulfill this requirement.

Students who scored 85 or above on the Regents exam in U.S. History (or the equivalent) must take a Pluralism course that meets the following criteria:

P courses must consider United States society by paying substantive attention to three or more of the following groups and to how these groups have affected and been affected by basic institutions of American society, such as commerce, family, legal and political structures, or religion, and by issues involving inequality.

Required groups/identities (at least 2):   Additional groups/identities:
African Americans Disability status
Arab Americans Gender and gender identity
Asian Americans Immigrant status/issues
European Americans Language and language identity
Jewish Americans Religious/spiritual identities
Latin@ Americans Sexual orientations
Native Americans Socioeconomic status/class
Pacific Islander Americans  

Students who have not scored above an 84 on the Regents exam in U.S. History (or the equivalent) must take a Pluralism course that meets both the above criteria and the following additional criteria. (Internally, we refer to these as "Ph" courses, although this is not an official Gen Ed designation.)

  • The course must present an historical narrative of the United States and its institutions. This narrative must include several themes that have shaped the development of American society, such as the struggle for democracy, citizenship, racial and gender equality, religious freedom, civil rights, etc.; the conflicts that have erupted over these issues; and the consensus, if any, that has been reached on each of them.
  • The narrative must cover at least a century of American history and connect that period to periods before and after it.
  • The course must situate the history of the U.S. within the context of world history or of two or more regions of the world, as a means of understanding America's evolving relationship with the rest of the world.

General Education Guidelines: Liberal Arts

Aesthetics Courses

  • enhance students' understanding of the creative process and the role of imagination and aesthetic judgment in at least one principal form of artistic expression in such fields as art, art history, cinema, creative writing, dance, graphic design, music, and theatre.

Notes: (1) Although the artistic work studied may include language, courses focusing exclusively or primarily on pre-existing written texts would be designated as Humanities (H) rather than Aesthetics (A). (2) Advanced Placement (AP) credit may be used to satisfy this requirement.

H - Humanities Courses

  • enhance students' understanding of human experience through the study of literature or philosophy.

Note: Advanced Placement (AP) credit may be used to satisfy this requirement.

L - Laboratory Science Courses

  • emphasize the formulation and testing of hypotheses and the collection, analysis and interpretation of data.
  • include a minimum of 10 laboratory meetings, exercises, field studies, or practica.

Note: Lab courses of less than 4 credits are acceptable if paired with a pre- or co-requisite lecture course. The paired lab/lecture sequence needs to be at least 4 credits in order for students to receive the L.

M - Mathematics/Reasoning Courses

  • include any course in the Mathematics Department numbered 130 or above, any of several designated statistics courses (ANTH 200, BIOL 458, CQS 112, ECON 366, PSYC 243), or PHIL 121, 122 or 200.

Note: Advanced Placement (AP) credit may be used to satisfy this requirement.

N - Social Science Courses

  • impart a knowledge of major concepts, models and issues of anthropology, economics, geography history, political science, and/or sociology as recognized academic disciplines.
  • provide an understanding of the methods used by social scientists to explore social phenomena including, when appropriate to the discipline, observation, hypothesis development, measurement and data collection, experimentation, evaluation of evidence, and employment of mathematical and interpretive analysis.

Notes: (1) If the course is not at the introductory level, it includes the above content in a form accessible to and effective for a student who has not already completed an introductory social science course. (2) Advanced Placement (AP) credit may be used to satisfy this requirement.

General Education Guidelines: Physical Activity/Wellness

B - Both Physical Activity (Y) and Wellness (S) Courses

  • fulfill the requirements for both S and Y courses.

S - Wellness Courses

  • focus on developing a healthy lifestyle, rather than on simply providing information about the human body.
  • deal with such topics as diet and nutrition, physical development, substance abuse, human sexuality, relaxation, or physical, mental and emotional fitness.

Y - Physical Activity Courses

  • devote at least 50% of their time to the performance of physical exercise.
  • are designed to develop one or more of the following attributes: neuromuscular skill, muscular strength and endurance, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility.

Last Updated: 9/9/16