General Education

General Education Requirements

Every Honors College member is expected to complete the following courses in general education (each course being 3-4 credits):

  • 1 course in introductory writing
  • 2 courses in the area of the arts and humanities
  • 2 courses (lecture classes) in the area of the natural sciences
  • 2 courses in the area of the social sciences

(Click here to access the ‘General Education Summary’ to begin planning General Education coursework) 

As a member of the Honors College, an enriched academic program is expected. The Honors College General Education Requirements (reflected above) replace the University’s Integrative Studies and Writing requirements.  To meet these requirements, most HC members enroll in departmental courses in the aforementioned areas.  In some cases, members may complete Honors sections of Integrative Studies courses.  Please note, any course intended to meet HC General Education requirements must be approved by an Honors College Adviser in advance, through the HC Academic Progress Plan.    It is strongly recommended to meet with your HC adviser to discuss your options. 

HC General Education Requirements may also be met with Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), or Dual Enrollment credits.  See below for more information; contact an HC adviser with questions.

Guidelines for Selecting General Education Courses

Because of the flexibility allowed in an Honors College program of study, no absolute rules about selecting general education courses or exhaustive lists of possible choices can be drawn up. A course which might be deemed appropriate for general education in one student's program might not be approved for another student's program. To ensure that the freedom allowed in fulfilling these requirements is used effectively to enrich the general education experience, this component of a student's program must be carefully planned. The following guidelines should be kept in mind when choosing general education courses.

WRITING: Any student who has not earned Advanced Placement credit or waiver in writing (via an AP English exam) must complete a one-semester course in composition. Honors Tier I writing courses (AL 192H, WRA 195H) are available for students who are placed into Honors writing during the Academic Orientation Program. An Honors College member may satisfy the writing requirement by taking something other than a Tier I course provided the course chosen contains a substantial writing component. Foreign language composition courses, however, may not be used toward fulfilling the writing requirement.

ARTS AND HUMANITIES: This includes the areas of literature and language, history, philosophy, religious studies, and the fine arts. Some courses in these areas are considered "skills" courses and are not appropriate for general education. For example, foreign language courses that focus on learning vocabulary and grammar (usually the first two years of study) or on practicing composition or conversation are not suitable. Foreign language literature courses, however, make excellent general education selections for students who desire a third year of language study. Similarly, art and music courses that teach techniques are not acceptable options, while art history and music history courses are appropriate choices. Most of the courses that are suitable for general education in the arts and humanities area are offered by departments in the College of Arts and Letters.

NATURAL SCIENCES: This includes the physical and biological sciences. Honors College members who elect to take departmental offerings in the natural sciences are not required to take one course in physical and one course in biological science, and, depending on the courses selected, are not necessarily held to a laboratory requirement. For those members, most of the courses suitable for general education will be found among offerings from departments in the College of Natural Science. 

SOCIAL SCIENCES: This includes the social, behavioral, and economic sciences. Most courses in anthropology, economics, geography, political science, psychology, and sociology make suitable general education classes. Courses focussing on research methods and data analysis normally are not allowable choices. Most of the courses suitable for general education will be found among offerings from the departments in the College of Social Sciences.

Using Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) or Dual Enrollment Credits for General Education

Any student who wishes to receive MSU credit through Advanced Placement (AP) exams, International Baccalaureate (IB) exams or Dual Enrollment must make certain that scores and/or transcripts have been sent to MSU.

Advanced Placement (AP) Credits

Credit earned through College Board Advanced Placement (AP) exams may be applied to the General Education requirements as described below. Courses for which credit has been awarded will not be counted toward general education unless approved by an Honors College Academic Specialist/Adviser. 

WRITING: A student who earns a score of 4 or 5 on an AP English exam (either Literature or Language) receives credit for a Tier I writing course and has fulfilled the writing requirement. Earning a score of 3 allows a student to waive the Tier I course; although no credit is awarded, the student's writing requirement is considered to be satisfied.

ARTS AND HUMANITIES: AP credit earned via an American History, European History, or World History exam may be counted toward general education.

NATURAL SCIENCES: AP credit earned in Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, or Physics may be counted toward this area.

SOCIAL SCIENCES: AP credit in Economics (Microeconomics or Macroeconomics), Government and Politics (American Government or Comparative Government), Human Geography, or Psychology may be used toward the social sciences requirement.

International Baccalaureate (IB) and Dual Enrollement Credits

Some credit earned via International Baccalaureate (IB) or Dual Enrollment may also be applicable to the General Education requirements. See an Honors College Specialist/Adviser for details.