General Education Requirements

Undergraduate General Education at Binghamton University (

Convinced that there are several areas of knowledge and experience that ought to be central to the academic experience of every undergraduate student, Binghamton University has adopted a comprehensive General Education curriculum. This curriculum has broad goals and is intended to help students develop:

  • an appreciation of and capacity for effective personal expression;
  • knowledge about various intellectual traditions;
  • an understanding of and respect for different peoples and civilizations;
  • knowledge of and appreciation for the natural world, achieved through active engagement with the methods and philosophy of natural science;
  • logical thinking, balanced skepticism, and tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty; and
  • a knowledge of and appreciation for the arts and creative expression.

Binghamton University has had a general education program for all undergraduate students since 1996. Subsequently, the State University of New York Board of Trustees, in December 1998, adopted Resolution 98-241 establishing a general education requirement for all baccalaureate degree candidates at the SUNY state-operated campuses. As a condition of graduation, baccalaureate students entering the SUNY in 2000 or later are required to complete a general education program of no fewer than 30 credit-hours specifically designed to achieve learning outcomes in 10 knowledge and skill areas: mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, American history, Western civilization, other world civilizations, humanities, the arts, foreign language and basic communication; and two competencies: critical thinking (reasoning) and information management.

In responding to the mandate for a state-wide requirement, revisions were made to Binghamton University's general education program for students entering in 2000 or later.

Undergraduate General Education Category Requirements

Category 1: Language and Communication
Composition (C) courses are courses in any of the departments of the University. They emphasize writing as a process of revision and require a minimum of 20 pages of expository prose. Students will perform the basic operations of personal computer use; understand and use basic research techniques; and locate, evaluate and synthesize information from a variety of sources. At least 50 percent of the course grade is based on student writing.

Oral Communication (O) courses involve oral presentations and evaluation of speaking that count for at least 25 percent of the final course grade in a four-credit course; proportionately more in courses of fewer than four credits. Transfer students are waived from the "O" requirement.

The language of communication for fulfilling both the C and O requirement shall be English.

Note: Composition and Oral Communication components may be combined to create Joint (J) courses.

Foreign Language skills are ensured by satisfying one of the following options:

  • score of 3 or better in AP foreign language
  • high school with New York Regents: Regents grade of 85 or course grade of 85 or better in a fourth-level or higher high school foreign language examination
  • high school without New York Regents examination: grade of 85 or a B in the third level or higher of foreign language
  • proficiency: see an adviser
  • college foreign language courses: third semester of one language or second semester of two languages

Note: Third-year high school language with a grade of 65 OR a Regents score of 65 equals the second semester of that language. The requirement is completed with third semester of the same language or the second semester of another

  • Transfer students who score 84 or less on the New York Regents or who have not completed a high school language are required to complete one semester of college-level language.

Category 2: Creating a Global Vision
The complexity of the modern world demands that students attain a heightened awareness both of the plurality of cultures that have contributed to the making of the United States and of the interdependence of the cultures of the world.

Pluralism in the United States (P) courses consider three or more cultural groups in the United States in terms of their specific experiences and how they have affected and been affected by the basic institutions of American society. Each course takes substantial account of at least three of the following: African Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, European Americans and Latino Americans.

Pluralism (American history) can be satisfied by completing one option:

  • AP U.S. History exam: take any P course;
  • New York Regents high schools: U.S. History Regents exam

Grade of 85 or B -- take any P course; U.S .History exam
Grade of 84 or B or less -- choose any P course from a specified list

  • High schools without New York Regents:

Grade of 85 or a B in U.S. American History -- take any P course
U.S. History grade of 84 or less -- take one course from a specified list.

  • Transfer students may choose any P class regardless of their examination grade in U.S. History Regents

Global Interdependencies (G) courses consider how one or more of the regions of the world have influenced and interacted with the West and with one another, and how the West has affected and been affected by these regions and their distinctive cultures or civilizations.

Category 3: Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and Mathematics
Students must have an understanding of the methods of investigation typical of the natural and social sciences and must be able to make individual observations and quantitative measurements in a hands-on environment in the natural sciences. In order to have the experience of discovery through the use of logic and reasoning, students also need to study mathematical methods and reasoning.

Laboratory Science (L) courses emphasize the formulation and testing of hypotheses and the collection, analysis and interpretation of data. Each course includes a minimum of 10 laboratory meetings, exercises, field studies or practica.

Social Science (N) courses emphasize the major concepts, models and issues of at least one of the social sciences.

Mathematics/Reasoning (M) courses include any course in the mathematics department numbered 130 or above, any of several designated statistics courses, PHIL 121 or 122, or any course in the computer science department numbered 120 or above (except CS 205). Advanced placement credit may be used to satisfy this requirement.

M courses assume a basic knowledge of high school mathematics. To meet this requirement, satisfy one option:

  • Exam Credit: AP Calculus, AP Statistics, AP Computer Science; CLEP scaled score of C or better; HIB score of 4-7
  • New York Regents high schools:

Math III Regents score of 85 or a grade of 85 in the fourth year -- take any M course OR
Math III Regents score of 84 or less -- complete MATH 107 or MATH 108 PLUS one of MATH 130 or above, CS 120, CS 140, CQS 112, PHIL 121, PHIL 122, PHIL 200 ANTH 200, ECON 368, PSYC 243 OR take MATH 220 or above

  • High schools without NY Regents:

85 average or a B average through third level math or an 85 at the fourth level -- take any M course OR Grade of 84 or less -- complete MATH 107 or MATH108 PLUS one of MATH 130 or above, CS 120 or above (except CS 205), CQS 112, PHIL 121, PHIL 122, PHIL 200, ANTH 200, ECON 366, PSYC 243 OR take MATH 200 or above.

Category 4: Aesthetics and Humanities
By taking courses in this area, students gain an expanded sense and understanding of culture and a greater appreciation of human experience and its expressions.

Aesthetics (A) courses enhance students' understanding of the creative process and the role of imagination in it. Students study or practice artistic expression and production in such fields as art, art history, cinema, creative writing, dance, graphic design, music and theater.

Humanities (H) courses enhance students' understanding of human experience through the study of literature or philosophy.

Category 5: Physical Activity/Wellness
Exercise, body awareness and wellness are essential components of a healthy and productive lifestyle. The dictum we follow is "a sound mind in a sound body."

Physical Activity (Y) courses devote at least 50 percent of their time to the performance of physical exercise designed to develop one or more of the following attributes: neuromuscular skill, muscular strength and endurance, cardiovascular endurance or flexibility.

Wellness (S) courses deal with such topics as diet and nutrition; physical development; substance abuse; human sexuality; relaxation; or physical, mental and emotional fitness. Their focus is on developing a healthy lifestyle rather than on simply providing information about the human body.

The Physical Activity/Wellness requirement may be fulfilled in any of the following ways:

  • completion of a one-credit (or more) physical activity course and a one-credit (or more) wellness course.
  • completion of a one-credit physical activity/wellness course and one of the following:
    • one-credit physical activity course;
    • one-credit wellness course;
    • one-credit physical activity/wellness course; or
  • completion of a two-credit (or more) course that combines a physical activity and wellness.

Note: Physical Activity and Wellness components may be combined to create Physical Activity/Wellness (B) courses.

Restrictions and Exceptions

  • Students may use appropriate transfer credits to satisfy particular course requirements. The determination of which transfer credits satisfy general education requirements will be the responsibility of the evaluator of transfer credit in each of the undergraduate schools.
  • General education courses may also be counted as satisfying college and major requirements.
  • Certain courses are designated as meeting the criteria for more than one of the general education categories. When a course is so designated, students may use it to satisfy only one of the general education course requirements. There is an exception to this rule: Composition (C), Oral Communication (O) and Joint (J) courses may satisfy either one or both of these requirements and also satisfy one other general education requirement.
  • General education courses may not be taken pass/fail unless that is the mandatory grade option in the course.
  • Appropriate advanced placement credits may be used to satisfy the following general education requirements: aesthetics, foreign language, humanities, mathematics/reasoning or social science.
  • For all general education requirements a "course" is understood to be four credits. There are exceptions to this rule:
    • transfer courses that earned three credits at the student's original school;
      o physical activity/wellness courses (the specific credit-hour criteria for these courses are defined above);
    • laboratory science courses of one and two credits that have a four-credit pre- or co-requisite;
    • oral communication courses of varying credits, as long as the oral component counts for at least one credit's worth of the final course grade;
    • schools or programs in which three-credit courses are the norm.
  • General education courses may not be taken pass/fail, unless that is the mandatory grade

Last Updated: 7/24/14