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General Education FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About General Education

This list of FAQs has been compiled to help students navigate the different aspects of General Education and provide assistance with the course selection, registration, and advising process.

What is General Education?

General Education provides students with a broad foundation for building knowledge and understanding throughout their academic, professional, and civic lives. Introducing students to new ideas in a wide variety of disciplines demonstrates the complexity of the world around us and facilitates an interdisciplinary understanding. For example, a physician might develop a greater attention to minute detail by taking an art course, or a social worker might gain a perspective on how malnutrition might affect behavioral development in children. General Education also allows students to explore disciplines they may not be familiar with, potentially stimulating new areas of inquiry. This breadth of training is what differentiates a university from a professional or technical school.

The General Education curriculum includes courses in arts and humanities, communication, mathematics, natural sciences, and social sciences. The curriculum is designed around the following objectives:  

  • Understanding of broad core competencies
  • Encouragement of lifelong learning
  • Understanding of scientific concepts and scientific method
  • Appreciation of interdisciplinary connections
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Cultural awareness and an appreciation for diversity and inclusion
  • Informed citizenship Identification of new areas of interest
Why am I required to take General Education courses?

General Education at South Dakota State University prepares students for the workplace while developing informed and engaged citizens. Classes in written communication (SGR #1), oral communication (SGR #2), social sciences/diversity (SGR #3), arts and humanities/diversity (SGR #4), mathematics (SGR #5), and natural sciences (SGR #6) help students develop core competencies and critical thinking skills that promote advanced study in their academic majors and encourage lifelong learning.

What classes should I choose for each General Education category?

Some majors require specific courses, but your major is likely to give you choice for several categories. This is intentional because SDSU wants you to take ownership of your General Education experience and select classes that interest and excite you. Check your desired program's requirements in the online catalog here.  If you’re having trouble choosing a class, try the following:

  • Exercise your strengths: If there is a course or content area that you feel confident about, go ahead and build on your strengths. It is likely that the SDSU General Education course will provide you with new ways and skills for approaching the subject.
  • Develop a skill or try something new: If there is a course or topic that will challenge you, we encourage you to try it. General Education is designed to give you an expansive educational experience, so delving into an unfamiliar or difficult topic is a great way to embrace the spirit of General Education.
  • Explore a major or minor: Many General Education courses are also required by specific majors or minors at SDSU. Use your General Education requirements to discover these subjects and try out a major or minor.
When should I take my General Education classes?

Most students will take their General Education classes within their first two years of study, but some majors will ask students to take General Education classes during later years. Because General Education classes teach important skills that can be applied to other subjects and topics, taking these classes early can encourage success in future major and minor coursework.

Why should I take my General Education classes at South Dakota State University?

South Dakota State University has developed a reputation for excellence in General Education courses. Our General Education faculty take efforts to provide an engaging learning experience that can expand your horizons and help you make the most of your college experience.

Are there any special rules or General Education policies that I should know about?
  • Different Disciplinary Prefixes Rule: This rule is intended to give you a varied experience within specific General Education categories. To follow this rule, do the following:
    • Take courses from two different disciplines for SGR #3.
    • Take courses from two different disciplines for SGR #4, unless you take two semesters of the same non-English language. You are permitted to take two semesters of a non-English language for SGR #4.
  • Different Disciplinary Fees: Some General Education courses will include disciplinary fees associated with their majors. If you have questions about these fees, please speak with an advisor.
  • Course Prerequisites: Although many General Education courses can be taken without prior coursework, some classes have designated prerequisites—that is, courses that must be completed first. If you have questions about this, please speak with an advisor.
  • Course Availability: Most General Education courses are offered every term, but some courses are offered during specific terms or years. Please speak with an advisor if you have questions about when a certain course will be offered.
Do I lose my completed General Education courses if I change my major?

No, General Education classes are required by all majors, so you can change your major and still use completed General Education courses toward your General Education requirements. But please note that some majors require courses that are also on the General Education list. If your new major requires a class on the General Education list, you will need to complete that class for your new major, even if you’ve already fulfilled the General Education requirement that course falls under.

Can I test out of General Education requirements?

Some students meet specific General Education requirements with Prior Learning Credit. One example of prior learning is taking a College Level Examination Program (CLEP) test. Information about how SDSU accepts CLEP scores for course credits and other forms of prior learning can be found here.

What grades are required for my General Education classes?

You must pass all General Education courses with a grade of D or better. Some majors may require higher grades in General Education classes, particularly when the General Education classes relate closely to the learning objectives of that major.

Can I take General Education courses through High School Dual Credit?

Yes, you can complete General Education courses through High School Dual Credit. We encourage you take these Dual Credit courses through South Dakota State University to ensure you’re getting the full SDSU General Education experience.

Can I transfer General Education courses to South Dakota State University?

Although we believe that South Dakota State University can offer you the best General Education experience, SDSU accepts transfer credits from a number of regional, national, and international institutions. South Dakota State University participates in the Interstate Passport Network, a network of regionally-accredited institutions that agree to transfer completed general education requirements as a block in a seamless and efficient process among its members. Please speak with an advisor for more information about what classes will transfer as General Education classes.