What are General Education Courses?

General education is the initial segment of a degree that you study before your chosen area of study. Learn about General Education courses, its importance, types and more.

Updated by Kashish C on 10th September 2020

While rummaging through the college curriculum, have you stumbled upon the terms ‘General Education’? Have you pondered on this phrase and the importance it holds? Stay tuned to learn about Gen Eds and its different components and aspects.

General Education courses are the core or basic college courses that your degree requires you to study before you study subjects related to your major. Foundation courses or General Education classes are the same for everyone studying at that particular university. Some of the common courses offered are Foreign Languages, Math, and Creative Writing.

If you check the curriculum of a college degree you will realize that there are courses that are not related to your area of study. These courses are called General Education courses which are required to strengthen your knowledge base about some basic things such as writing skills and basic math. These courses are compulsory and sometimes take up more than ⅓ of your degree.

Half the purpose of the general education course is to make sure that even if you are a Photography major you know how to calculate your daily expenses and if you are a Physics major you can understand how the world works by learning Economics.

Why are General Education courses required?

Even though you’ll be studying in-depth about your chosen subject you still require basic knowledge of subjects like English and Math to ease your life as both Math and English are extremely important subjects that will be very useful at any given part of your life.

Another reason is to give you a chance to study things that you are passionate about. If you are majoring in Physics but you like reading books and writing fiction you can take up creative writing as part of your General education courses. Colleges give you the option to choose which courses you want as a part of your core course or general education. 

General education classes are known to be the most fun as you study just a small amount of the subject. Some of the most interesting courses are a part of general education such as Theatre and Analyzing and Interpreting Literature. 

These college courses don’t have a heavy workload and are easy college courses as compared to subjects that are a part of your major. These courses take around ⅓ of your time at college to finish.

One of the best parts of General education courses is that the credits earned can be transferred very easily to any other university. It doesn't matter if you have taken the General Education course at Harvard or at your local community college. You can transfer your general education credits from anywhere to anywhere. 

Can you transfer General Education Courses?

One of the best parts of General education courses is that the credits earned can be transferred very easily to any other university.

The subjects that you study as General Education courses are “general” hence it doesn't matter if you have taken the General Education courses at Harvard or at your local community college.

You can transfer your general education credits from anywhere to anywhere because general education courses like Algebra will teach you the same thing wherever you take it.

What are the General Education Requirements?

Every university has a different core course or General Education requirement. 

Most universities like the University of Pittsburgh require 60 credit hours of General Education.

The students will have some compulsory courses and then the university will ask you to choose 1 course from every single area of study to fulfill your gen eds requirements. You need to choose courses from the areas of Math, Literature, History, and more.

These courses are different from one another to give you diverse knowledge before studying the subject you want to specialize in. 

List of General Education Courses

There is a broad range of courses that are a part of “Gen Eds”.


English is offered to help you effectively communicate with the world and it’s one of the most basic things you need to be well versed with to have a good successful career. Under the subject, you can choose which course you want to study. General education courses include 

  • English composition

  • Creative Writing 

  • American Literature


Another common general education subject is Math. I know it was a major area of study in high school and most of us waited for the point where we didn't have to study math anymore but Math is one of the most important things in our everyday life, think about it we use math to pay taxes, to pay for things, and a lot of other things making it one of the most important general education course. Some of the courses offered are:

  • Statistics 

  • Algebra 

  • Quantitative analysis

Social Sciences and Arts

Colleges love including Social Sciences and Arts as a part of General Education courses as this gives the students a chance to study their passion. It also helps us understand our culture and our world a little better. Students also get a break from studying some stressful subjects such as Dentistry and study something a little more enjoyable like 

  • Photography

  • Music 

  • Sociology  

  • Philosophy

  • Drama

List of Scholarships By Major!

General Education Programs offer different majors to specialize in. It can help you get a scholarship since many scholarships are offered based on the field you specialize in. Here's a list.

Explore More

Foreign Languages

The students also have an option to study a foreign language of their choice as a part of their General Education courses. This is one of the most common General Education courses selected as it gives the students an option to study a new language and learn about a new culture. Some of the options are

  • Spanish 

  • French

  • Japanese

Online General Education courses 

If you are still confused about what you want to study in college and want to take some time deciding but not waste any time you can take General Education courses online and keep learning. 

There are several universities that offer Ged Eds courses online that will help you save time. Once you have decided what you want to study you can transfer your credit earn easily.

You can also find what you want to study with the help of general education courses when you are learning them.

Colleges like Penn State University will let you complete your General Education course Online before you enroll for a program. Once you have decided what you want to study you can transfer the credits earned easily or continue education in the same university.


It might sound scary to study something you didn't sign up for but there is no such thing as “required college courses” when it comes to General Education. Colleges give you the option to select which courses you want to study. They are the same general electives courses.

If you are studying at a higher level like Graduate studies, you won’t have to take any General Education courses as you may have already studied them for your undergraduate degree.

Trade colleges are one of the few colleges that don’t require any General Education courses. In trade schools, you learn about more practical subjects such as Web Development or Massage therapy but there are no cons of General Education courses. Whatever you will learn as a part of General Education make you a skilled and educated person that is ready for the workplace.