UDC Van Ness Campus

Educating For Life
The mission of the General Education Program at the University of the District of Columbia is to provide all students with the knowledge, skills, and abilities that will serve them in their efforts to become lifelong learners, community leaders, and fruitfully engaged professionals in rewarding and evolving careers and endeavors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click below to find answers to some common questions that students have about UDC’s General Education Program:


What is “General Education”?
“General Education” refers to the core set of courses that all UDC students must take in order to graduate. These courses count for 37 credits — nearly 1/3 of the credits you need for your degree. 

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Why do I have to take all these General Education courses?
GE courses build the foundational skills and knowledge that we believe all UDC graduates should have. No matter what your major is, you should be familiar with a wide variety of disciplines, cultures, and ideas, and you must be able to communicate effectively, think critically, and make ethical decisions. GE courses help you become a well-rounded, well-educated graduate who is willing and able to contribute meaningfully to our democracy. With a solid general education, you will represent UDC well wherever you go!

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How long will it take me to finish all my General Education requirements?
That depends.Full-time students should be able to complete most of the GE requirements within two years, with just three GE courses taken during the third year and fourth year. Part-time students may take longer to complete the requirements. Both full and part-time students should follow the prescribed sequence so that they take the courses in order.

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What if I am not going to be a full-time student?
Don’t worry – you won’t miss out! The GE program is required for all students – full-time, part-time, transfer, everyone. Advisors will work with you to be sure that you are able to complete all the requirements in the proper sequence.

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What happens if I do not complete the General Education requirements?
If you want to be eligible to graduate, you must complete the GE requirements. Period.

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Can I test out of any courses?
Yes. The GE courses are required of all students in all majors, but you may earn credit for Foundation Writing I course and/or Foundation Quantitative Reasoning with sufficiently high scores from Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or the College Level Examination Program. You should consult your advisor.

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Will General Education courses count toward my major?
Yes, in the sense that the GE curriculum is a requirement of every major program at the University. But your major will also have additional requirements beyond GE that you must complete.

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Do I have to take these courses in order?
Yes. The GE program is carefully sequenced to help you build foundational skills before enrolling in upper-level courses. Just as it is a good idea to learn how to walk before you try to run, it makes sense to follow the courses in the suggested order. Enrolling in the courses in the prescribed sequence will help you excel in all your courses.

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What makes General Education courses different?
At UDC, GE courses are interdisciplinary in nature and are developed and taught collaboratively. They are designed to build on one another, beginning with basic “Foundation” courses, growing with exploratory “Discovery” courses, and culminating with “Frontier” courses in which students pursue an independent capstone project. These courses give you the chance to interact with and learn from professors from across the University, not just in your major department. They offer an opportunity for you to explore a variety of interests and to think about ideas in new and creative ways. Plus, they are often the most fun and interesting courses you will take during your time at the University!

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It says that General Education courses are interdisciplinary. What does that mean?
Interdisciplinary courses cross traditional boundaries of academic disciplines (or fields). For example, you might take a course that combines Math with History or a course that blends Literature with Business. This is important because in the real world, issues do not follow neat academic boundaries. Understanding the economic crisis, for example, demands that you know not just economics and statistics but also history, politics, even psychology. Interdisciplinary courses prepare you for the real world by investigating issues and ideas from a variety of perspectives.

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I see that General Education courses are taught collaboratively. What does that mean?
GE courses are taught by two professors working collaboratively, meaning that they work together to write the syllabus, teach the course, and evaluate students. They bring their particular expertise and teaching strengths together to help create a unique experience. In a sense, you get two great professors for the price of one!

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What is the difference among “Foundations,” “Discovery,” and “Frontier” courses?
“Foundation” courses are basic-level courses that build fundamental writing, speaking, and thinking skills. “Discovery” courses are mid-level courses that develop higher-order critical thinking skills. “Frontier” courses are upper-level courses that involve independent inquiry and learning. Each set of courses builds on the skills developed in the previous set of courses – that is why it is important for you to take them in order.

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What are the Foundation Quantitative Reasoning and Discovery Quantitative Reasoning courses?
These two courses are the GE program's requirement for math. They are designed not only to teach you math skills but also to develop your critical thinking skills and show you how math applies to the real world. All students must complete both Quantitative Reasoning courses, unless your major requires a higher math requirement and you are able to demonstrate proficiency to place out of the Foundation QR course.

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What is a “capstone” project?
A capstone project culminates your GE experience. It generally involves an in-depth, independent project that you design and complete in consultation with your advisor. There are so many paths you could choose – you might write a thesis or pursue an internship or conduct original scientific research or study abroad or implement a service-learning project. The capstone is your opportunity to delve deeply into a project of utmost interest to you. 

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I am having trouble understanding all the requirements. Where can I get more information?
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your advisor or the Director of General Education, Anthony Mansueto. That’s what we are here for!

 

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