General Education Requirements Prior to Fall 2018

These General Education Requirements apply to students enrolled in the College of General Studies prior to the fall 2018 term. 

To earn a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree in the College of General Studies, you must satisfactorily complete a minimum of 120 credits (approximately 40 courses), at least 30 credits of which must be in upper-division (1000-level) courses. These 1000-level courses may come from any of the requirements for the degree listed below. Consult the CGS Comprehensive Course List (PDF) for courses approved by CGS to satisfy these requirements. Students should check with an academic advisor before registering. 

Students admitted for fall 2018 or later must follow the new CGS General Education Requirements listed here.


Certain tools of knowledge are required of all students in the baccalaureate degree program: ability to use the English language orally and in writing and ability to understand and use basic mathematical symbols. The courses (15 credits) required to satisfy each of the skills requirements are listed below:

1. Oral Communication (3 credits)

  • COMMRC 0520 - Public Speaking or
  • COMMRC 0500 - Argument

2. Writing (9 credits)

  • ENGCMP 0200  - ENGCMP 0208 and two other courses from English composition (ENGCMP) or English writing (ENGWRT), or those designated W (writing).

Note: At least 3 credits of composition/writing must be from the University of Pittsburgh.

3. Mathematics (3 credits)

  • MATH 0010 - College Algebra Part 1 
  • MATH 0020 - College Algebra Part 2 or MATH 0025 - Applied College Algebra or MATH 0031 - Algebra 
  • CS 0004 - Introduction to Computer Programming -Basic or
  • CS 0007 - Introduction to Computer Programming

Note: Students admitted to CGS for the fall term 2008 (2091) and thereafter are required to complete the public speaking, math, and first University writing course (ENGCMP 0200 or above) with a C- or better grade.

4. Quantitative and Formal Reasoning (3 credits)

In addition to the acquisition of certain tools of knowledge through the skills requirements, students also need to acquire the ability to apply logic and formal reasoning to reading, writing, and thinking. Choose one course from the following list:

  • Computer science (an approved course, 3 credits)
  • INFSCI 0010 - Introduction to Information, Systems and Society
  • HPS 0611 - Principles of Scientific Reasoning 
  • HPS 0621 - Problem Solving: How Science Works
  • PHIL 0500 - Introduction to Logic
  • MATH 0120 - Business Calculus or a more advanced course
  • Statistics (any course, 3-4 credits)

A liberal education provides broad exposure to the three major bodies of knowledge-humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Students are exposed to social, scientific, aesthetic, moral, and religious information, the purpose of which is to furnish insight into how the concerns of people are interrelated, how knowledge has been accumulated, and how unsolved problems still challenge humanity. The courses needed to fulfill the understandings requirements (27 credits) are listed below.

1. Humanities (9 credits)

Three courses (one at the 1000 level) distributed over three of the disciplines listed below:

Humanities Departments
Africana Studies Japanese*
Classics Linguistics
Communication  Music
English Composition Philosophy
English Film Religious Studies
English Literature Russian*
English Writing Slovak*
French* Spanish*
German* Studio Arts
History of Art & Architecture Theatre Arts

*Literature and Culture Courses 

2. Social Sciences (9 credits)

Three courses (one at the 1000 level) distributed over three of the disciplines listed below:

Social Sciences Departments
Africana Studies Legal Studies
Anthropology Political Science
Economics Gender, Sexuality, & Women's Studies
Religious Studies History
Sociology Jewish Studies
Urban Studies  

3. Natural Sciences (9 credits)

Three courses distributed over two or three of the disciplines listed below:

Natural Sciences Departments
Anthropology History & Philosophy of Science
Astronomy Neuroscience
Biological Sciences Physics
Chemistry Psychology
Geology & Environmental Science  

As these tables show, some departments have courses used in different categories. For the list of approved courses, view CGS Comprehensive List (PDF)


This requirement (3 credits) introduces students to works of literature that have abiding value and, in the process, to the techniques of literary interpretation. This one-course requirement may also be fulfilled from disciplines other than English.


The study of history provides an understanding of contemporary society from the viewpoint of long-term change. This one-course requirement (3 credits) may also be fulfilled with courses other than those offered by the Department of History.

Note: A course can be used to fulfill only one requirement in the categories of understandings, literature, and history.

International Perspective

The world of today is economically, politically, and culturally interdependent. In the 21st century, knowledge of countries has become essential. This three-course requirement (9 credits) may be fulfilled by taking internationally focused courses offered by a variety of departments. At least one of the courses must be a non-Western course. All international courses may overlap with another requirement.

Download the Gen Ed Checklist    Go to all Program Checklists

Specialized Study or the Major (min. 30-36 credits)

The baccalaureate degree, in addition to providing certain skills and broad exposure to the major bodies of knowledge, also allows the opportunity to specialize in a particular field, providing depth of experience essential for vocational competence or further graduate study.

Students admitted to CGS can choose from the following majors.

  • Administration of Justice*
  • Dental Hygiene (a BS degree completion program for certified dental hygienists)
  • Health Services (a BA or a BS degree completion program for allied health professionals)
  • Humanities**
  • Law, Criminal Justice, and Society (New Major available as of Spring 2021)
  • Legal Studies*
  • Media and Professional Communications
  • Natural Sciences
  • Public Service
  • Social Sciences**

* Last term to declare this major: Fall 2021.

**Admission suspended effective Fall 2020. This major is no longer accepting new students.

Note: Students who want a major in an arts and sciences field can begin in CGS and transfer to Arts and Sciences after completing 12 credits including the mathematics and seminar in composition requirements. Admission is determined by the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

Visit CGS Career Focus Areas


Any credits not used specifically to satisfy the previous requirements are considered electives. Electives can be taken in a wide variety of subjects to complement, reinforce, or add further breadth to the chosen program of study or to help meet the requirements of a minor or certificate program.

Explore CGS Minors    Learn about CGS Certificates