Jan 27, 2023  
University Catalog 2014-2015 
University Catalog 2014-2015 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

The General Education Program


The California State University (CSU) requires that each baccalaureate graduate have completed a program of general education breadth requirements in addition to a major program of study. The general education program is designed to ensure that graduates “have made noteworthy progress toward becoming truly educated persons.” Although the general areas of study and minimum unit requirements within them are prescribed by the CSU Board of Trustees, the individual campuses are given the authority to set course requirements within those areas, to add other requirements, and to enact other regulations. California State University, Los Angeles has designed its general education program within these guidelines.

Each baccalaureate student who entered Cal State L.A. Fall 1998 or later and who is subject to requirements in the 1998–1999 or any later catalog shall complete the general education program described below. Students who entered Cal State L.A. in Summer 1987 or after must complete the program with a minimum C (2.0) average and a minimum C grade in all basic subjects courses.

It is essential that students plan their general education programs with the help of an academic adviser. Please consult the current Schedule of Classes for specific information about distribution requirements, unit requirements, and current general education courses. General requirements include a minimum of 72 quarter units to be selected in accordance with the specified distributions among the designated categories. At least 12 units of upper division course work must be included and selected from the list of approved upper division theme courses. Courses used to meet upper division general education requirements may not be used to meet requirements for a major. All students must complete a minimum of 12 quarter units of general education courses in residence at Cal State L.A.

Departments, divisions, and schools that require of their majors specific courses that are certified by the offering department, division or school as at least equivalent to the general education courses in a given subject may permit approved G.E. replacements courses. Students should consult a department/division/school adviser or college-based advisement centers for the approved list of G.E. replacement courses.

Certification of General Education

Under the provisions that govern general education within the CSU, regionally accredited, participating colleges and universities may certify the completion of a portion of the 48 semester (72 quarter) units required in general education. Cal State L.A. will accept up to 39 semester (60 quarter) units of course work certified by another authorized institution. However, such acceptance is limited to the number of units required in each area and to a maximum of 30 semester (45 quarter) units in Areas B through D. Course work completed by students whose general education requirements are not certified by the transfer institution is evaluated in terms of Cal State L.A.’s current general education requirements.

Students are cautioned that certification is not automatic; each student must request it. In addition, all participating colleges and universities have their own policies governing certification. Students are strongly advised to read their college or university catalog carefully and to consult a counselor for details about individual regulations and restrictions.

Students who transfer to Cal State L.A. who were certified as having completed the lower division general education requirements under previous requirements but who have not maintained continuous attendance must complete Cal State L.A.’s upper division general education requirements.

Philosophy and Goals of the General Education Program

The General Education program enriches the lives of students as they acquire knowledge, learn to think critically, and use methodologies of the various disciplines. Students also learn to prepare for participation in a democracy, to appreciate a sense of shared cultural heritage, and to understand the environment. Students experience self-discovery and personal growth and recognize them as lifelong processes.

General Education Mission Statement

General education is a critical component of students’ academic and personal development. The General Education program endeavors to develop the following three separate, but related and equally important, qualities in our students:

  1. A knowledge and understanding of themselves, their social and natural environment and a wide range of cultural achievements.

    General education courses provide students with an opportunity to acquire knowledge about their own bodies and minds and about humankind’s common heritage and cultural achievements. The General Education program also enables students to develop global perspectives; to develop common commitments and mutual respect among diverse social, cultural and ethnic groups; to establish an understanding of the biological and physical aspects of the world and the universe; and to nurture an understanding of environmental responsibilities.
  2. A firm command of communication and analytical skills.

    The General Education program develops the ability of students to think clearly and logically, to find and examine information, to communicate effectively in oral and written form, and to perform quantitative analysis. The General Education program also cultivates the students’ ability to reason critically, to solve problems creatively and to understand the major methods of intellectual inquiry.
  3. A moral commitment to their fellow human beings and an awareness of ethical and social concerns.

    The General Education program emphasizes the interdependence of individuals with the human community and the natural world by focusing on the knowledge, experiences, relationships, and ethical concerns common to all people. In affirming the community’s claim on its individual members, general education courses explore shared and diverse cultural heritages and an agenda of common and pressing contemporary problems, cultivate mutual responsibilities to the commonwealth, and stimulate commitments to moral values and ethical behavior. Consistent with the mission of the University, the purposes of general education are to provide a knowledge and understanding of common problems, experiences and traditions that will enhance students’ participation in a culturally diverse global society, and to provide an assessment of finite resources, mutual human needs and values.

The Goals of the General Education Program

General education at Cal State L.A. is devoted to a number of basic goals, which include:

  1. Developing awareness of the sense of community and global interdependence of human experience and of the concomitant ethical responsibilities to fellow human beings.

    The General Education program is designed to help students achieve a sense of the essential relationship of self to the community and environment with emphasis on their responsibilities to human society. Group and individualized experiences that encourage ethical behavior should be a part of the general education program.
  2. Fostering intellectual curiosity and an appreciation of the major discoveries and achievements in the arts, letters, natural and social sciences, technology, and other major academic disciplines.

    The General Education program is designed to stimulate curiosity for knowledge and excitement for lifelong learning. The nature of the courses and experiences in the program are planned to encourage students’ interest in diverse aspects of education. The faculty is committed to offering students unique classroom opportunities and to challenging them to continue to study and learn long after course requirements are met. The General Education program includes an historical awareness of the major developments in the human experience as well as a contemporary awareness of the applications of new technologies which will play an increasingly important role in life.
  3. Achieving competence in basic skills.

    The General Education program is designed to ensure that students master basic communication, critical thinking and quantitative skills so that they may achieve academic excellence. In meeting this goal, the General Education program pays special attention to the multicultural nature of the Cal State L.A. campus community and to the needs of students who are limited in English language proficiency. Language development instruction is an integral part of general education at Cal State L.A. The General Education program at Cal State L.A. places an emphasis on developing competence in the English language through its curriculum.
  4. Recognizing and appreciating the multicultural nature of human existence in general and of American society in particular.

    The General Education program is designed to encourage students to develop appreciation for the multicultural dimensions of life in California, the nation, and the world.

    Uniquely on this campus, faculty draw upon the special expertise and the abundance of multicultural experiences of the student population in cultivating this cultural awareness. The General Education program offers students the opportunity to recognize the rich heritage and socially diverse environment of California and of the nation. The program also enables students to become aware of universal experiences that are part of all cultures as well as the varieties of value systems that are in operation in today’s global society.
  5. Developing an appreciation of a shared and diverse cultural heritage and cultivating an awareness of contemporary world and its problems.

    The General Education program provides for its diverse student body a familiarity with and a critical appraisal of American culture and its historical roots and antecedents. Students assess critically the impact and influence of American tradition, which includes the political, economic, social and communication systems, as well as the artistic and literary heritage, on the contemporary world.

The Structure of the General Education Program

The general education breadth requirements are structured so that introductory courses are taken prior to participation in integrative experiences. Students are expected to complete the general education requirements in written and oral communication, critical thinking, and mathematics, and general education prerequisite courses before enrolling in any upper division general education theme course. All courses approved for general education credit, including those lower division courses that also earn credit toward a major, are mandated to require the practice of writing in English including, where appropriate, library assignments. Evaluation of writing is included in all courses.

All baccalaureate students who enter Cal State L.A. Fall Quarter 1998 or later and who are subject to 1998-99 or later requirements shall complete the General Education program described below, in consultation with a faculty adviser. The requirements include a minimum of 60 lower division units and 12 upper division units, selected from approved themes, for a total of 72 units. In addition, at least 12 of the total 72 units must be earned at Cal State L.A. Students must complete two diversity courses which may be completed at either the lower or upper division level of the General Education program. Students are urged to consult an academic adviser in their major department/division/school or college-based advisement center in selecting general education courses. All students who are subject to the requirements of the 1987-89 or later catalog must earn a C average in their General Education program and minimum C grades (2.0 G.P.A.) in all Block A (basic subjects) courses. A grade of “C-” is not acceptable. All basic subjects must be completed within the first 45 units counted toward the baccalaureate degree.

Configuration Of “Blocks” Of G. E. Courses

BASIC SUBJECTS (16 units) One course from each area.
    1. Written Communication* (4 units) 3. Critical Thinking (4 units)
    2. Oral Communication (4 units) 4. Mathematical Concepts and Quantitative Reasoning (4 units)
    A minimum C grade in all basic subjects courses is required of all students.
  AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS (Minimum of 8 units)
    U.S. History U.S. Constitution State/Local Government
    All three areas must be met: POLS 150 meets both U.S. Constitution and State/Local Government.
B. NATURAL SCIENCES: 8 or 12 units from 2 or 3 different areas, based on the classification of the student’s major as listed below. A Biological and a Physical Science course with lab are required of all students. The third required course is an applied Natural Science course.
    1. Biological Science with lab (4 units) 3. Applied Natural Science course (4 units)
    2. Physical Science with lab (4 units)
C. HUMANITIES: 8 or 12 units from 2 or 3 different areas, based on the classification of the student’s major as listed below. Students must take either 8 units from 2 different areas or 12 units from 3 different areas. An integrated Humanities course may count as one of the area requirements.
    1. Literature and Drama 3. Philosophy and Religious Studies 5. Integrated Humanities course
    2. Arts 4. Languages Other than English  
D. SOCIAL SCIENCES: 8 or 12 units from 2 or 3 different disciplines, based on the classification of the student’s major as listed below. Students must take either 8 units from 2 different disciplines or 12 units from 3 different disciplines. An integrated Social Science course may count as one of the required courses.
  Students must complete one course in each of the three discipline areas (Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Social Sciences, and Humanities) as required in a theme. Completion of basic subjects requirements (Block A) and at least one course each from blocks B, C, and D are prerequisites to all upper division theme courses.
  Students must complete two courses certified as diversity courses. These courses may be completed at either the lower division or upper division level from among courses satisfying general education requirements in blocks C, D, E, and F. Diversity courses are designated with a (d) by each course. Diversity courses are required for students who are subject to Fall 1998 or later GE requirements.
*All students who entered Cal State L.A. Summer 1993 or later and who are subject to requirements in the 1993-95 or any later catalog are required to have two courses (ENGL 101 and 102 - 8 units) in Written Communication; however, only the first of the  two courses (ENGL 101 - 4 units) is applied to General Education. Both courses must be completed with a C or higher grade.


Summary of the Configuration of General Education Units

Configuration of Units


B C D E   F  
Humanities Social
& Self-Devel
16 8 8 or 12 8 or 12 8 or 12 4 60 12 72