General Education Curriculum

The General Education Curriculum educates students to engage in active intellectual inquiry by developing analytical skills, communication skills, and diverse perspectives.

Across a range of disciplines, students acquire enhanced analytic skills in quantitative and scientific reasoning and critical and creative thinking, along with a global and cross-cultural perspective, local/civic engagement, and effective communication skills.

University Requirements

Students across the University must complete the following requirements:

  • One course in mathematics or statistics—quantitative reasoning
  • One course in natural and/or physical laboratory sciences—scientific reasoning
  • Two courses in social sciences—quantitative, scientific or critical thinking
  • One course in humanities—critical thinking
  • UW 1020
  • Two writing intensive courses, or Writing in the Disciplines (WID), after successful completion of UW 1020

All undergraduate students at GW are required to fulfill Tier One of the University’s General Education Requirement. The General Education curriculum trains students to engage in active intellectual inquiry across a variety of disciplines by developing a range of analytical skills, including critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, and scientific reasoning.

Critical thinking refers to the analysis and evaluation of complex information (systems of theory or thought) as well as the formulation of logical arguments based on that analysis. Students are required to take one course in critical thinking in the humanities and one course in critical thinking in the social sciences.

Quantitative reasoning refers to the process of modeling problems of the real world within a formal abstract system, solving those problems using systematic numerical methods of analysis, and interpreting the results. Students are required to take one approved course in mathematics or statistics.

Scientific reasoning refers to consistent, logical thought patterns that are employed during the process of scientific inquiry that enables individuals to propose relationships between observed phenomena, design experiments to assess the validity of these relationships, and evaluate the results of these experiments, all using the tools, skills, and techniques of quantitative reasoning. Students are required to take one approved course in natural and/or physical laboratory sciences that include labs.

In addition to these elements of inquiry, students are trained to communicate effectively in both written and oral formats, not only in their general education course sequence, but in their majors.

The written communication requirement trains students in the effective use of language to express critical thinking that evaluates rhetorical situations, identifies significant lines of inquiry, investigates and analyzes available knowledge, and develops rigorous arguments appropriate to the intended audience. First year students enroll in UW 1020 University Writing, after which they take two writing-intensive courses or Writing in the Disciplines (WID).

The oral communication requirement trains students in the effective interpretation, composition, and presentation of information, ideas, and values to a specific audience.
Only those courses that are designed specifically to meet the objectives outlined above, and that are assessed for their outcomes in these areas, count for general education credit.

CCAS College Specific Requirements: Tier Two Courses

Students in CCAS must complete additional requirements:

  • One course in art (visual, performing, critical, or historical practices)—critical or creative thinking
  • One additional course in natural and/or physical laboratory sciences—scientific reasoning
  • One additional course in humanities
  • One course that includes a global or cross-cultural perspective
  • One course that includes local/civic engagement
  • One Oral Communication course

To round out their liberal arts education, CCAS undergraduates must take additional courses in critical thinking, scientific reasoning, and creative thinking as well as courses that incorporate global or cross-cultural perspectives and emphasize local or civic engagement. 

Critical or creating thinking in the Arts—one approved course in the arts that involves the study or creation of artwork based on an understanding or interpretation of artistic traditions or knowledge of art in a contemporary context.

Global or Cross-Cultural Perspective—one approved course that analyzes the ways in which institutions, practices, and problems transcend national and regional boundaries.

Critical thinking in the humanities—one approved course in the humanities that involves critical thinking skills (in addition to the one course in this category required by the University General Education Requirement).

Local or Civic Engagement—one approved course that develops the values, ethics, disciplines, and commitment to pursue responsible public action.

Scientific reasoning in the natural or physical sciences—one approved laboratory course that employs the process of scientific inquiry (in addition to the one course in this category required by the University General Education Requirement.

Oral Communication—one course in oral communication.

Certain courses are approved to fulfill the requirement in more than one of these categories.

Courses taken in fulfillment of G-PAC also may be counted toward majors or minors. Transfer courses taken prior to, but not after, admission to George Washington University may count toward the University General Education Requirement and G-PAC, if those transfer courses are equivalent to GW courses that have been approved by the University and the College.

General Curriculum Policies

  • Students admitted to GW in the Fall 2011 or later follow the G-PAC curriculum
  • Courses taken to fulfill any of the general education requirements, except UW 1020, may also be counted toward the major
  • Credit by examination (AP, IB) and pre-matriculation transfer credit can count toward G-PAC if approved as a G-PAC equivalent course
  • Once a student has matriculated, all remaining G-PAC courses must be done in residence (study abroad taken during the fall and spring semesters is considered in residence)
  • Courses taken prior to the semester they were approved for G-PAC do not count towards G-PAC