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General Education Definitions/Requirements

  • The New York State Board of Regents provides guidance to institutions for meeting general education requirements.  General Education is referred to as ”Liberal Arts and Sciences” by NYSED.

Definition of Liberal Arts and Sciences

This guidance is intended to assist institutions of higher education in New York State in meeting the requirements of the Rules of the Board of Regents, Section 3.47 (c), Requirements for Earned Degrees, Undergraduate degrees:

“Undergraduate degrees shall be distinguished, as follows, by the minimum amount of liberal arts content required for each degree.  The required liberal arts core shall not be directed toward specific occupational or professional objectives.”

NYSED recently clarified guidance regarding the required number of Liberal Arts and Sciences (GE) credits for a particular degree when a proposed program includes more than the minimum number of required credits for the degree award. Going forward, programs will include GE credits as a proportion of the minimum required for the degree award. For example, any B.S. program needs 60 credits of GE, even if it requires more than 120 credits to complete.

The chart below shows the minimum total credits and minimum GE credits for common degree awards:

Award/Degree Minimum Total Credits for Award Minimum Number of Credits in LAS (GE)
Associate in Occupational Studies (AOS) 60 0
Associate in Arts (AA) 60 45
Associate in Science (AS) 60 30
Associate in Applied Science (AAS) 60 24*
Bachelor of Arts (BA) 120 90
Bachelor of Science (BS) 120 60
All other undergraduate baccalaureate degrees (BArch, BBA, BE, BFA, BID, BPS, BTech, etc.) 120 30

*NYSED requires 20; RIT framework exceeds the minimum requirement

The liberal arts and sciences comprise the disciplines of the humanities, natural sciences and mathematics, and social sciences. 

  1. Examples of course types that are generally considered within the liberal arts and sciences:
    1. Humanities:
      • English—composition, creative writing, history of language, journalism, linguistics, literature, literature in translation, playwriting
      • Fine arts—art appreciation, history or theory
      • Foreign languages—composition, conversation, grammar, history of the language, literature of the language, reading, translation studies
      • Music—music appreciation, history or theory
      • Philosophy—comparative philosophy, history of philosophy, logic, schools of philosophy
      • Religion—comparative religion, history of religion
      • Theater—dramatic interpretation, dramatic literature, dramaturgy, history of drama, playwriting
    2. Natural sciences and mathematics:
      • Natural sciences—anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, earth science, geology, physics, zoology
      • Mathematics—calculus, mathematical theory, statistics
      • Computer Science—broad survey/theory courses
    3. Social sciences:
      • Anthropology, cultural studies, economics, geography, government, history, political science, psychology, sociology
      • Criminal justice—introductory and broad survey courses
      • Communications—interpersonal communication, mass communication, public speaking, speech and rhetoric
  2. Examples of course types that are generally not considered within the liberal arts and sciences:
    • Agriculture
    • Business—administration, finance, human resources, management, marketing, production
    • Computer applications (e.g., word processing, database, spreadsheet), programming (e.g., specific languages) 
    • Health and physical education 
    • Home economics 
    • Education and teaching methods 
    • Library science 
    • Music—studio, performance, practice courses—voice, instrument, direction, conducting 
    • Office technologies and practice 
    • Performing and related arts—acting, costume design, dance, direction, lighting, production, scene construction, sound production 
    • Specialized professional courses in such fields as accounting, architecture, dental hygiene, dentistry, engineering, law, medicine, nursing, nutrition, pharmacy, podiatry, veterinary medicine 
    • Studio art—drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture 
    • Technology/technician fields—construction, data processing, electrical, electronics, graphic arts, mechanical, medical, refrigeration repair 
    • Television and radio production 
    • Theology—pastoral counseling, ministry


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