General Education Requirements

The General Education Program, required of all students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is designed to help students hone their fundamental academic skills and expand their intellectual breadth. In addition, it creates common points of reference for students pursuing different majors.

The program ensures that students have the tools they will need for advanced study and exposes them to different ways of thinking about their world. This curriculum allows students to develop the kind of intellectual flexibility they will need for meeting future challenges.

The program has two main features: (1) it emphasizes the importance of each student demonstrating basic competencies early in the college program, either through course work that teaches these competencies or through performance on standardized tests; this is an important part of the Curriculum since it provides tools essential for successful work in advanced courses, as well as promoting skills that are valuable after graduation. (2) It requires each student to have exposure to at least six areas of knowledge; this is intended to provide a broad foundation both for more advanced study and for a lasting intellectual engagement with scholarly and cultural issues.

The General Education Program is divided into two parts: Basic Competencies and Areas of Knowledge. Students are expected to complete the Basic Competencies during the first two years of study. Students are encouraged, although not required, to complete the Areas of Knowledge during their first two years, as this provides an opportunity for intellectual exploration as students consider which academic area they would like to focus on for their major. These requirements are normally
satisfied through course work; some may be met through proficiency examinations (which carry no academic credit).


The CLAS Basic Competencies requirements are in the areas of Written Communication, Quantitative Reasoning, and Foreign Languages. The ability to write well, communicate in another language, and use quantitative reasoning to problem solve are important skills greatly valued in today’s world. Most students continue to hone their skills in writing, quantitative reasoning, and languages beyond the basic General Education requirements through intermediate and advanced level courses offered in the College. “Attribute” codes in the online course system (Banner) help students search for and identify appropriate courses that fill these specific area requirements.


I. Written Communication

Banner Listing - Degree Requirement (Attribute) CLAS: 01

Each student must demonstrate writing competency through the successful completion of ENGL 102 or an equivalent (as approved by the English Division faculty). Depending on college entrance exam scores, students are placed in the appropriate level writing course. Normally students enroll in ENGL 101 and 102 in their first year in the College.

Students with the following scores must take both ENGL 101 and ENGL 102:
SAT Writing: 499 or lower
SAT Verbal or SAT Read-Write: 539 or lower
ACT English: 25 or lower

Students with the following scores should take ENGL 102:
SAT Writing: 500-699
SAT Verbal or SAT Read-Write: 540-739
ACT English: 26-29

Students with the following scores are exempt from ENGL 101 and 102, having demonstrated sufficient college level writing competency:
SAT Writing: 700 or higher
SAT Verbal or SAT Read-Write: 740 or higher
ACT English: 30 or higher

The Division of English does not accept courses taken online for transfer credit to fulfill the General Education Writing Competency, the Literature Area of Knowledge requirement, or the Arts Area of Knowledge requirement. This policy applies to students after matriculation at Alfred University, and is based upon the centrality of classroom discussion and debate to the learning outcomes of Writing II and 200-level literature and creative writing courses. In some cases, the Division of English will accept transfer credit for online coursework for Writing I, the first half of the Writing Competency. In exceptional circumstances, the Division of English may choose to review this policy on a case-by-case basis.


 II. Foreign Language

Banner Listing - Degree Requirement (Attribute) CLAS: 02

Each student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences must successfully demonstrate competence in a language other than English equivalent to the second semester of the first year of a foreign language at the college level. Students are expected to begin undertaking language study no later than their sophomore year and continue each subsequent semester with the language until the requirement is fulfilled. Students may also demonstrate this proficiency through a language placement exam or a challenge exam, arranged through the Division of Modern Languages, although successful completion of the Language Placement Exam does not confer academic credit.

Language placement exams, offered every semester, help to determine the appropriate language course and level for students. The Placement Exam is a tool to be used by students together with their advisor and the appropriate professor(s) in the Division of Modern Languages to identify the best course corresponding to an individual student’s skills. Even if you plan to wait to take a language course in your sophomore year, it is highly recommended that you take the Placement Exam during the first week of your first semester to avoid loss of language knowledge from high school.

If a student is continuing a language taken for more than two years in high school, or is a native speaker of Spanish, French, or German, he or she must take the Language Placement Exam. Students do not need to take the Language Placement Exam if they plan to study a language they have not previously studied. Students who want to demonstrate proficiency in a language not offered at Alfred should consult with the Chair of the Division of Modern Languages.

To be considered for membership in Phi Beta Kappa students must have, among other qualifications, demonstrated intermediate proficiency in a foreign language through 200-level coursework or scoring 80% on the Language Placement Exam.

The Division of Modern Languages does not accept courses taken online for transfer credit after matriculation in fulfillment of the General Education Foreign Language Competency. The position of the Division of Modern Languages regarding courses taken online is based on the National Standards for Language Learning as delineated by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). In exceptional circumstances, the Division may choose to review this policy on a case by case basis.

The language requirement may be waived for students in the College of Liberal Arts whose native language is not English and who are proficient both in that language and in English. Requests for a waiver must be approved by the Chair of the Division of Modern Languages and the Dean.

Foreign Language Requirement Waiver Request Policy


 III. Quantitative Reasoning

Banner Listing - Degree Requirement (Attribute) CLAS: 03

Students must demonstrate basic competency in quantitative reasoning. The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is fulfilled by one of the following:

  • A score of 630 or higher on the SAT Math
  • A score of 28 or higher on the ACT Math
  • A score of 4 or higher on the Advanced Placement Exam in either Calculus AB or Calculus BC
  • The successful completion of an AU designated Quantitative Reasoning (QR) course. The following courses are currently designated as QR courses; the list is updated annually and posted on the Alfred website.
    • BIOL 226 Biostatistics
    • BUSI 113 Business Statistics
    • ENVS 205 Environmental Data Analysis
    • MATH 101 Communicating with Numbers
    • MATH 104 Quantitative Methods for Business
    • MATH 151 Calculus I
    • PHIL 282 Introduction to Logic
    • POLS/SOCI 230 Intro to Data Analysis and Statistics
    • PSYC 220 Psychological Methods and Statistics
    • SCIE 127 Doing Science

General Education requirements for different Areas of Knowledge (A-F) provide students with an introduction to different ways of thinking, knowing, and seeing, laying the foundation for a lifetime of inquiry and learning. While many courses are offered in these different academic disciplines, only certain courses in the CLAS curriculum are designated as fulfilling the General Education requirement.

Degree Requirement Academic Field (Attribute) Code

  1. Literature (4 credits required)
  2. Philosophy or Religious Studies (4 credits required)
  3. The Arts (4 credits required)
  4. Historical Studies (4 credits required)
  5. Social Sciences (8 credits; 4 credits each from two of the following categories):
    • Psychology (E1)
    • Political Science or Economics (E2)
    • Sociology or Anthropology (E3)
  6. Natural Sciences (8 credits; at least 2 credits from F-I)
    • Scientific Inquiry (F-I)
    • Scientific Knowledge (F-II)
    • Science and Society (F-III)

First -Year Experience Program (FYE)

The College’s First-Year Experience program is designed to foster intellectual engagement so that students are able to succeed academically and find a meaningful role for themselves both in the Liberal Arts & Sciences community and as citizens of the world. Each FYE course is taught by a
faculty member dedicated to the success of first-year students.

Along with a peer leader associated with the course, each FYE faculty member helps new students engage with the Alfred community and transition to college-level learning.

The goals of the FYE program are to:

  • Help students produce high-quality college-level work and develop a positive work ethic.
  • Encourage students to form “learning communities” in which students share responsibilities and support one another in their academic endeavors.
  • Provide first-year students with the opportunity to participate in a small, seminar-style class in which concentrated attention can be paid to each student and close working relationships between students and instructors can develop.
  • Encourage students to become fully integrated into the University community by introducing students to and encouraging participation in a wide variety of extracurricular activities.

The FYE program also provides a foundation for the General Education curriculum. To that end, all FYE courses, successfully completed, fulfill one of the General Education or University requirements.


Transfer Student Program

The CLAS Transfer Student Program is designed to help new transfers make the transition to Alfred University. Students will take the Transfer Seminar (CLAS 101) during their first semester at Alfred. As the cornerstone of the Transfer Student Program, the seminar provides an opportunity for students to get to know the intellectual community they have joined, while introducing them to campus resources that will help them succeed at Alfred. Throughout the seminar, students will
further develop core skills that lead to academic and professional accomplishment. The Transfer Student Program also facilitates mentoring relationships among the transfer students and their faculty and peers.