General Education

For students who started Summer 2018 or later:

This portion of our website is currently under construction. For information on your General Education Requirements, please schedule an appointment with your academic adviser or read the information on the General Education Website on the University Bulletin.

For students who started Spring 2018 or sooner:

Below are the General Education requirements for College of Engineering students. Be sure to read the special notes about nuances and substitutions to ensure that you complete all courses required for graduation.

Requirements for College of Engineering Students
Category Code Credits Required Required Course(s) that Satisfy Requirement Course Description Credits
Writing/Speaking GWS 9 cr. + W course ENGL 015/30 or ESL 015 Rhetoric and Composition 3 cr.
CAS 100A/100B Effective Speech 3 cr.
ENGL 202C* Technical Writing 3 cr.
Quantification GQ 6 cr. MATH 140 Calculus I 4 cr.
MATH 141 Calculus II 4 cr.
Natural Sciences GN 9 cr. PHYS 211 Mechanics 4 cr.
PHYS 212 Electricity and Magnetism 4 cr.
CHEM 110** Chemical Principles 3 cr.
Health and Physical Activity GHA 3 cr. Courses focus on the theory and practice of lifespan wellness and fitness activities, and on the knowledge, attitudes, habits, and skills needed to live well.
Arts GA 6 cr. Courses help students understand and appreciate some of the more important creative works, traditions, literature, and history of the arts and architecture/
Humanities GH 6 cr. Humanistic studies are divided into four categories: literature, history and culture, advanced language, and philosophy. The study of the humanities should develop competency in interpretive understanding of the human condition and of the values inherent in it.
Social and Behavioral Sciences GS 6 cr. Courses develop students' understanding of the diverse personal, interpersonal, and societal forces that shape people's lives. The general goal is a theoretical understanding of the interrelationships of the dominants of the organization of human behavior. Note: ECON 102 (GS) or ECON 104 (GS) is a required 3 cr. GS course for all majors in the College of Engineering. 
United States Cultures US*** 3 cr. A course that fulfillls the United States Cultures requirement must strive to increase students' understanding of contemporary United States society. 
International Cultures IL*** 3 cr. A course that fulfillls the International Cultures requirement must strive to increase student knowledge of the variety of international societies. and may deal, to some extent, with U.S. culture in its international connections.
* For students in the BE major, BE 391 and BE 392 replaces ENGL 202C.
** CMPSC majors may substitute another course for CHEM 110. Refer to CSE's list of approved GN courses.
*** US and IL courses may also fulfilll a GA, GH, or GS requirement. A course designated as US;IL may be used to fulfilll either the US or the IL requirement.

Important Nuances

  • Architectural engineering requires ARCH 100 and ART H 202. Both of these courses satisfy GA requirements. If you are interested in architectural engineering, take these courses as your 6 credits of GA requirement.
  • All engineering majors in the College of Engineering are required to take a 3-credit economics course (ECON 102 or ECON 104). Either course will satisfy a 3-credit GS requirement in all College of Engineering majors.
  • US and IL courses may also fulfilll a GA, GH, or GS requirement.
  • Some US, IL, GA, GH, and GS courses may also count as a first-year seminar. In this case, students may need to acquire an extra credit to meet the minimum number of credits required to graduate.
  • In most cases, GQ and GN requirements are met entirely through specific courses that are also major requirements (e.g., MATH 140, MATH 141, PHYS 211, PHYS 212, CHEM 110).
  • The writing-intensive requirement is always met by a required course in a major (e.g., I E 480W). Such courses have a W, M, X, or Y suffix.
  • Students admitted as transfer students are not required to take a first-year seminar. However, they must substitute one credit not otherwise needed for graduation to meet the required credit total.

Information on Substitutions

  • 9-6-3 Sequence in GA, GH, GS: Instead of taking 6 credits each of GA, GH, and GS (6cr/6cr/6cr), a sequence of 9cr/6cr/3cr is an acceptable substitution in these three general education categories. When all 18 credits are complete, and after admitted into a major, submit an e-petition request to notify your department to have your degree audit adjusted.
  • World Language Substitution: One world language course at the 12th credit level or higher (e.g., SPAN 003, FR 003, etc.) can be substituted for 3 credits of GA, GH, or GS. If this substitution is made, it cannot be the only course in a general education category (i.e., it cannot be substituted for the 3 credit category in the 9-6-3 sequence). When the course is complete, and after admitted into a major, submit an e-petition request to notify your department to have your degree audit adjusted.
  • International Cultures Requirement: Students may participate in a study abroad or work abroad program to fulfilll the IL requirement. For Penn State formal study abroad programs, the IL requirement is automatically met. College of Engineering work abroad program courses ENGR 195I, 295I, 395I, or 495I can be used for IL via an e-petition request.
  • ROTC Credits: Students who complete the academic ROTC program can substitute 3 credits for the GHA requirement and another 3 credit requirement that is specified by the department and indicated on the recommended academic plan for that major.
  • Courses that Meet the Spirit of GA, GH, GS, GHA: Any course not designated as General Education, but which truly meets the spirit of the GHA, GA, GH, GS, US or IL requirements, whether taken at Penn State or elsewhere, may be petitioned to count in that appropriate area. An example of this type of petition might be 300- and 400-level courses for a language minor that focus on the culture or society (e.g., SPAN 353: Survey of Spanish Literature Before 1700 might be approved for GH given that the course focuses on literature, which is commonly a topic covered in the humanities).

All requests for course substitutions, exceptions, and waivers must be submitted for evaluation prior to the semester that graduation is planned. Such requests will not be considered after the start of the graduation semester.



The Engineering Advising Center (EAC) serves as the academic advising resource for students in pre-major status (ENGR) at University Park. Once students have been admitted to a College of Engineering major, they will be assigned to a faculty adviser in that major.

Engineering Advising Center

208 Hammond Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-863-1033