General Education FAQ

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General Education FAQ

Q: What is General Education?

A: The General Education program provides students with invaluable learning experiences across a wide range of academic fields on topics of general interest. While major and minor programs focus on specific disciplines, the Gen Ed program ensures that all students, regardless of major, explore a range of scholarly approaches in a variety of fields. While its scope is broad, Gen Ed prioritizes in-depth, active learning and emphasizes essential skills building for success in college and beyond.

Q: How does General Education work?

A: Students complete the General Education at NJCU by moving through the Tiers in order—first Tier I, then Tier II, and finally Tier III—though some overlap may be necessary in some semesters.

  • Tier I consists of a required English Composition and Math course plus four seminar courses in the Modes of Inquiry.
  • Tier II consists of English Composition and six seminar courses in the Modes of Inquiry.
  • All Gen Ed students take at least two seminars (at least 6 credits) in each of the four Modes of Inquiry for a total of ten seminar courses (at least 30 credits) across Tiers I and II.
  • All students take one Tier III capstone course (3 credits) in the final semester of Gen Ed.
  • Intermodal courses count toward the distribution requirements in two Modes of Inquiry; they provide greater flexibility in selecting future seminars but count only once toward the ten seminar courses (at least 30 credits) required across Tiers I and II.
  • The seminars that count toward the distribution requirements in the Modes of Inquiry are listed in the Master Course List.

Q: What are the General Education requirements at NJCU? 

A: Information about official undergraduate degree requirements is located on the Undergraduate Degree Requirements page of the online catalog. 

Q: How do I know what courses to take in order to fulfill my General Education and Major requirements?

A: Students can view personalized General Education and Major program requirements and track degree progress by accessing the Degree Audit/Academic Requirements feature of GothicNet. The purpose of the Degree Audit/Academic Requirements feature is to provide information to assist in academic planning and scheduling. Degree Audits are available to currently enrolled undergraduate studentsStudents who have already declared a major and feel that the audit is not correctly analyzing their program requirements should contact their academic advisor. Students who have not yet declared a major should report to the University Advisement Center.

Q: Where can I find information information on the Tier, Mode(s) of Inquiry, University-wide Student Learning Outcomes, and course descriptions for all Gen Ed courses?

A: Detailed course information is included in the online course catalog for all courses. You can also find this information for Gen Ed courses by accessing the General Education Course Checklist. Note: please consult the online catalog for the most up-to-date information. 

Q: What if I am still completing Area A-F requirements from the General Studies program?

A: General Education courses fulfill Area A-F requirements. If you started at NJCU before Fall 2015, you may be completing Academic Planning Sheet 3-GS. The Degree Audit/Academic Requirements feature of GothicNet lists courses that will fulfill your degree requirements. Please also consult with your academic advisor who will be able to help you select appropriate courses.  

Q: What are the General Education Modes of Inquiry?

A: The Modes of Inquiry are interdisciplinary approaches to knowledge. In other words, they are ways to conceive of and think about the world and our place in it--strategies for defining information and evidence, problems and solutions--and knowledge itself. Each Tier I and II General Education course counts toward the distribution requirement in one or two of the following four Modes of Inquiry:   

Creative Process and Production

Courses in this category focus on creative expression and provide students with opportunities to develop their own forms of creative expression and to interpret and appraise those of others. Students are expected to learn to communicate ideas and information through art, design, performance, media, or creative writing; to develop particular artistic or creative skills or examine the historical development and social functions of the creative arts.

Language, Literary, and Cultural Studies

Courses in this category explore ideas, systems of thought, or culture(s) through language, literature, and other texts (including historical, political, and cultural narratives). Students will begin to interpret and analyze a range of texts and to recognize and question the various contexts in which particular narratives are produced and received. They are expected to compare different cultural and literary histories and traditions; use texts to analyze contemporary questions and issues; and evaluate diverse identities, experiences, and perspectives in relation to their own.

Scientific and Quantitative Inquiries

Courses in this category provide opportunities to examine the natural and physical world through disciplined systematic inquiry. Students will learn how science investigates the world, asking certain types of questions, generating empirical evidence, then applying logical rigor in answering those questions. Students may also interpret and apply quantitative data and inferences to the world beyond the classroom.

Social and Historical Perspectives

Courses in this category addresses the historical, economic, political, psychological, and social factors that shape and influence people’s thoughts and behavior. During their course of study in this area, students may examine the historical roots and contemporary workings of social institutions and structures; the interconnections among and within diverse nations, cultures, and populations; and the artifacts associated with them.

Q: What are the University-wide Student Learning Outcomes?

A: In addition to discipline-specific outcomes defined for each Gen Ed course, at least two University-wide Student Learning Outcomes are also covered and assessed. These outcomes are:

  • Civic Engagement and Intercultural Knowledge
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Information and Technology Literacy
  • Oral Communication
  • Quantitative Literacy
  • Written Communication

Students strive to achieve the University-wide Student Learning Outcomes throughout the three Tiers of Gen Ed. These skills are assessed on end-of-semester signature assignments in Gen Ed courses.The University-wide Student Learning Outcomes are adapted from the Gen Ed University-wide Learning Goals Rubrics which are used to score end-of-semester signature assignments for program assessment.

    Q: What are General Education Learning Communities?

    A: The General Education Learning Communities (GELCs) are course pairs and clusters taken together by a cohort of students. Professors work together to integrate courses, align teaching strategies, and build joint assignments and assessments. This encourages students to make connections and learn from relationships among course content and Modes of Inquiry. It also provides a great opportunity for students to build relationships with peers taking two or three courses together in the same semester. Note: students need to see an advisor to enroll in the GELCs. 

    Q: What if I have another question?

    A: Please email with questions about any aspect of the General Education program.