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Semester GE: Policies and Breadth

All Cal State East Bay undergraduate students participate in the GE Program, along with their major program, to develop and bolster a breadth of their knowledge and skills.  Cal State East Bay has a vibrant and meaningful GE Program that includes both state-mandated and CSUEB-specific (“local”) requirements.

Effective from Fall 2018, CSU policy (Executive Order 1100) mandates that all baccalaureate students must complete a minimum of 48 semester units of GE distributed over five areas.  Transfer students who have earned lower division GE credit from a California community college, another CSU, or the University of California prior to attending Cal State East Bay will have those lower division credits honored.  However, transfer students still must complete 9 semester units of upper division GE at a CSU.  

GE and major pathways should be planned carefully.  Important semester GE policies and requirements as well as other graduation requirements under semesters (effective from Fall 2018) are described below.  First-time freshmen or transfer students entering into CSUEB from Fall 2018 should fulfill these requirements according to this "semester pattern."  Continuing students who entered CSUEB before Fall 2018 can decide whether they want to fulfill GE requirements under the "quarter pattern" or the "semester pattern." 

Download a GE and Graduation Requirement Checklist.  

Important Semester GE Policies

The GE Program requires a minimum of 48 semester units of GE, including a minimum of 9 semester units of upper-division GE, distributed over five areas (GE Areas A-E), as specified in the GE Area descriptions below.  Transfer students must earn a minimum of 39 semester units in lower-division GE courses that meet the requirements of the CSU or IGETC transfer plan and complete a minimum of 9 semester units of upper-division GE at a CSU. 

At least 9 of the 48 semester units of GE must be from approved upper-division GE courses taken within the CSU.  At CSUEB, upper-division courses are numbered 300 and above.  Upper-division GE should not be taken until earning a minimum of 60 semester units in all baccalaureate-level coursework.  Lower-division GE courses in Areas A1, A2, A3, and B4 must be passed with grades of C- (CR) or better before enrolling in any upper-division GE course. 

At least 9 semester units must be from upper-division GE courses completed at CSUEB (or another CSU campus). 

Grades of C- (CR) or better are required in Communication in Oral Communication (GE Area A1), Written Communication (A2), Critical Thinking (A3), and Quantitative Reasoning (B4).  In all other GE areas, grades of D (or CR) or better are required. 

Major courses and campus-wide required courses that are approved for GE credit will also fulfill (double count for) the GE requirement.  

For Areas A, B, C, and D, no one course or test can be used to clear more than one GE Area requirement. American Institutions (U.S. Code) courses may be double-counted to meet GE requirements, provided the Code courses are certified for GE. Transfer students from institutions that allow U.S. Code courses to double-count with GE will have those agreements honored.  Students who take a course that is approved for both GE and Overlay may count that course for both requirements. Students who take a course that is approved for Second Composition and one of GE Areas A3, B, C, or D may count that course for both requirements.

Lower-division GE Breadth (39 Units)

Students should complete this area of the GE requirements (along with GE Subarea B4) during their freshman year.  Students must one course (minimum 3 semester units) from each GE Subarea: A1, A2, and A3.

Students taking courses in fulfillment of GE Subareas A1 and A2 will develop knowledge and understanding of the form, content, context, and effectiveness of communication.  Students will develop proficiency in oral and written communication in English, examining communication from the rhetorical perspective and practicing reasoning and advocacy, organization, and accuracy.  Students will enhance their skills in the discovery, critical evaluation, and reporting of information, as well as reading, writing, and listening effectively.  

A1. Oral Communication (3 semester units)

Subarea A1 courses emphasize communication theory and provide several speaking and listening experiences in multiple modes, e.g., small-group discussion, interpersonal communication, and persuasive discourse presented extemporaneously.  Upon completion of the A1 requirement, students will be able to:

  1. speak effectively when making oral presentations in English;
  2. explain the principles of effective oral communication, including form, content, context, and style;
  3. advocate for a cause or idea, presenting facts and arguments in an organized and accurate manner; and
  4. critically evaluate oral presentations.

The A1 course must be passed with a C- (CR) or better to satisfy GE Subarea A1.  Any approved A1 course with an In Progress Grade (i.e., I, RP, or RD) will not be counted in Subarea A1 until a passing final course grade is posted.  As appropriate, American Sign Language may be substituted for oral communication.

Courses approved for Subarea A1 are listed here: GE Area A1 Courses 

A2.  Written Communication (3 semester units)

Subarea A2 courses emphasize the rhetorical principles that govern reading and writing.  These principles are fundamental to logical thinking and clear expression.  For reading, they presume open-mindedness combined with critical thinking and analytical skills.  For writing, they presume an awareness of audience, context, and purpose.  Upon completion of the A2 requirement, students will be able to:

  1. write effectively in English;
  2. explain the principles and rhetorical perspectives of effective writing, including its form, content, context, and style;
  3. advocate for a cause or idea, presenting facts and arguments in an organized and accurate manner; and
  4. practice the discovery, critical evaluation, and reporting of information.

The A2 course must be passed with a C- (CR) or better to satisfy GE Subarea A2.  Any approved A2 course with an In Progress Grade (i.e., I, RP, or RD) will not be counted in Subarea A2 until a passing final course grade is posted.

Courses approved for Subarea A2 are listed here: GE Area A2 Courses 

A3.  Critical Thinking (3 semester units)

In Subarea A3 courses emphasize the development of clarity and rigor in reasoning and its presentation, and the ability to understand, represent, and evaluate the presentations of reasoning made by others.  Upon completion of the A3 requirement, students will be able to:

  1. understand logic and its relation to language, elementary inductive and deductive reasoning, and formal and informal fallacies;
  2. demonstrate the ability to distinguish among different sorts of claims, such as statements of opinion, reasoned judgments, proofs, and articles of faith;
  3. develop the ability to identify, analyze, evaluate, and present arguments, and construct arguments both to support and refute claims; and
  4. develop the ability to reason inductively and deductively. 

The A3 course must be passed with a C- (CR) or better satisfy GE Subarea A3.  Any approved A3 course with an In Progress Grade (i.e., I, RP, or RD) will not be counted in Subarea A3 until a passing final course grade is posted. 

Courses approved for Subarea A3 are listed here: GE Area A3 Courses 

Lower-division Area B courses emphasize the key principles and concepts in the natural sciences and mathematics or statistics and the important roles that scientific practice and inquiry play in advancing scientific knowledge and discovery. 

Students must choose one course from each lower-division GE Subarea B: B1, B2, and B4.  At least one of these courses must have a laboratory component, prerequisite, or co-requisite to satisfy GE Subarea B3.  

B1.  Physical Science (3 semester units)

Upon completion of the B1 requirement, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate knowledge of scientific theories, concepts, and data about the physical sciences;
  2. demonstrate an understanding of scientific practices, including the scientific method; and
  3. describe the potential limits of scientific endeavors, including the accepted standards and ethics associated with scientific inquiry.

Courses approved for Subarea B1 are listed here: GE Area B1 Courses 

B2.  Life Sciences (3 semester units)

Upon completion of the B2 requirement, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate knowledge of scientific theories, concepts, and data about the life sciences;
  2. demonstrate an understanding of scientific practices, including the scientific method; and
  3. describe the potential limits of scientific endeavors, including the accepted standards and ethics associated with scientific inquiry.

Courses approved for Subarea B2 are listed here: GE Area B2 Courses 

B3.  Laboratory Activity

Subarea B3 courses emphasize active engagement, collaboration, and hands-on experiences that facilitate understanding of science concepts and the development of sound science practices and habits of mind.  Upon completion of the B3 requirement, students will be able to:

  1. apply their knowledge of scientific theories, concepts, and data about the physical and sciences through laboratory activities;
  2. apply their understanding of scientific practices, including the scientific method in a laboratory setting; and
  3. demonstrate accepted standards and ethics associated with scientific inquiry, while completing laboratory activities. 

Laboratory activities that are not a component of a B1 or B2 course must be a prerequisite or co-requisite of a B1 or B2 course in the same discipline.

Courses approved for Subarea B3 are listed here: GE Area B3 Courses 

B4.  Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning (3 semester units)

Area B4 courses provide practice in computational skills as well as engagement in more complex mathematical work.  Upon completion of the B4 requirement, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate a proficient and fluent ability to reason quantitatively;
  2. demonstrate a general understanding of how practitioners and scholars collect and analyze data, build mathematical models, and/or solve quantitative problems; and
  3. apply quantitative reasoning skills in a variety of real-world contexts, defined by personal, civic, and/or professional responsibilities.  

The B4 course must be passed with a C- (CR) or better satisfy GE Subarea B4.  Any approved B4 course with an In Progress Grade (i.e., I, RP, or RD) will not be counted in Subarea B4 until a passing final course grade is posted.  Students will complete this area of the GE requirement (along with GE Subareas A1 - 3) during their freshman year. 

Courses approved for Subarea B4 are listed here: GE Area B4 Courses 

Across the disciplines in Area C coursework, students will cultivate intellect, imagination, sensibility and sensitivity. Students will respond subjectively as well as objectively to aesthetic experiences and will develop an understanding of the integrity of both emotional and intellectual responses. Students will cultivate and refine their affective, cognitive, and physical faculties through studying works of the human imagination.  In their intellectual and subjective considerations, students will develop a better understanding of the interrelationship between the self and the creative arts and of the humanities in a variety of cultures.

Students must choose three courses (minimum 9 units) from GE Subareas C1 (Arts) and C2 (Humanities).  Area C must be completed with courses from at least three different disciplines (including upper-division GE Subarea C4) as represented by course prefix, e.g., ART, ENGEL, MLL, MUS, PHIL.  

C1.  Arts (3 semester units)

Subarea C1 courses integrate the evaluative and descriptive aspects of the history, theory, aesthetics, and criticism of different works, forms, styles, and schools of art.  Upon completion of the C1 requirement, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate an appreciation of the arts using their intellect, imagination, sensibility, and sensitivity;
  2. respond to aesthetic experiences in the arts and develop an understanding of the integrity of both emotional and intellectual responses; and
  3. in their intellectual and subjective considerations, demonstrate an understanding of the relationship among the self, the creative arts, and culture.

Courses approved for Subarea C1 are listed here: GE Area C1 Courses 

C2.  Humanities (3 semester units)

Subarea C2 courses emphasize the ideas and theories behind the intellectual and cultural traditions of humans using historical, linguistic, literary, philosophical, and rhetorical approaches and methods.  Upon completion of the C2 requirement, students will be able to:

  1. show appreciation for the humanities using their intellect, imagination, sensibility, and sensitivity;
  2. develop their affective and cognitive faculties through studying great works reflecting the rich diversity of human imagination and/or inquiry; and
  3. engage in critical self-reflection relating themes in the humanities to the students’ own lives.

Courses approved for Subarea C2 are listed here: GE Area C2 Courses 

Students learn from courses in multiple Area D disciplines that human social, political and economic institutions and behavior are inextricably interwoven. Through fulfillment of the Area D requirement, students will develop an understanding of problems and issues from the respective disciplinary perspectives and will examine issues in their contemporary as well as historical settings and in a variety of cultural contexts. Students will explore the principles, methodologies, value systems and ethics employed in social scientific inquiry. 

Students must choose three lower-division courses (minimum 3 units each) approved for GE Subareas D1-3.  Area D must be completed with courses from at least three different disciplines (including upper-division GE Subarea D4) as represented by course prefix, e.g., ANTH, HIST, POSC, SOC.    

D1-3.  Lower-division Social Science Electives (9 semester units)

Upon completion of the lower-division Area D requirement, students will be able to:

  1. specify how social, political, economic, and environmental systems and/or behavior are interwoven;
  2. explain how humans individually and collectively relate to relevant sociocultural, political, economic, and/or environmental systems-how they produce, resist, and transform them;
  3. discuss and debate issues from the course’s disciplinary perspective in a variety of cultural, historical, contemporary, and/or potential future contexts; and
  4. explore principles, methodologies, value systems, and ethics employed in social scientific inquiry. 

Courses approved for Subareas D1-3 are listed here: GE Area D1-3 Courses 

Transfer students who have not already satisfied Area E prior to transfer must take at least 3 units of Area E approved courses.  Area E courses may address topics such as human behavior, sexuality, nutrition, physical and mental health, stress management, physical literacy, information literacy, financial literacy, social relationships, relationships with the environment, implications of death and dying, and avenues for lifelong learning.  Note:  transfer students may satisfy Area E in an approved upper division course, if the requirement was not satisfied at the previous institution. 

For first-time freshmen at CSUEB, Area E requirements will be satisfied via 2 semester units of General Studies courses taken during each term (1 unit per term) of the freshman year and 1 semester unit of information literacy taken during the sophomore year (preferably concurrently with a Second Composition course).  General Studies courses focus on self-efficacy, understanding of working styles, engagement in collaborative learning and community, and academic skill development.  Information literacy courses focus on the skills needed to find relevant resources; access, evaluate, and organize information; understand the ethical, social, and legal dimensions; and select and use appropriate technology. 

Upon the completion of the Area E requirement, students will be able to:

  1. develop intellectual, practical, and/or physical skills and abilities that will serve them throughout their lives;
  2. apply their learning to other pursuits within and outside of the classroom; and
  3. demonstrate the capacity to make informed and ethical decisions. 

Courses approved for Area E are listed here: GE Area E Courses 

Upper-division GE Breadth (9 Units)

Subarea B6 courses integrate and build upon the quantitative analysis/reasoning skills and science content knowledge attained through lower-division Area B. Upon completion of the B6 requirement, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate advanced and/or focused science or quantitative content knowledge in a specific scientific field, using appropriate vocabulary and referencing appropriate concepts (such as models, uncertainties, hypotheses, theories, and technologies);
  2. apply advanced quantitative skills (such as statistics, algebraic solutions, interpretation of graphical data) to scientific problems and evaluate scientific claims;
  3. demonstrate understanding of the nature of science and scientific inquiry and the experimental and empirical methodologies used in science to investigate a scientific question or issue; and
  4. apply science content knowledge to contemporary scientific issues (e.g., global warming) and technologies (e.g., cloning), where appropriate. 

Courses approved for Subarea B6 are listed here: GE Area B6 Courses 

Subarea C4 courses integrate and build upon the skills and content knowledge attained through lower-division GE coursework, particularly in Subareas A1, A2, A3, C, and E.  Subarea C4 courses require skills in advanced writing, critical thinking, information literacy, oral communication (or sign language), and collaboration with peers.  Upon completion of the C4 requirement, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate an understanding of and ability to apply the principles, methodologies, value systems, and thought processes employed in the arts and humanities;
  2. analyze cultural production as an expression of, or reflection upon, what it means to be human; and
  3. demonstrate how the perspectives of the arts and humanities are used by informed, engaged, and reflective citizens to benefit local and global communities. 

Courses approved for Subarea C4 are listed here: GE Area C4 Courses 

Subarea D4 courses integrate and build upon the skills and content knowledge attained through lower-division GE coursework, particularly in Subareas A1, A2, A3, D, and E.  Subarea D4 courses require skills in advanced writing, critical thinking, information literacy, oral communication (or sign language), and collaboration with peers.  Upon completion of the D4 requirement, students will be able to:

  1. analyze how power and social identity affect social outcomes for different cultural and economic groups using methods of social science inquiry and vocabulary appropriate to those methods;
  2. demonstrate an understanding of and ability to apply accurately disciplinary concepts of the social or behavioral sciences; and
  3. demonstrate an understanding of and ability to effectively plan or conduct research using an appropriate method of the social or behavioral sciences. 

Courses approved for Subarea D4 are listed here: GE Area D4 Courses 

Other Graduation Requirements

Students must complete the Second English Composition requirement by the time they reach "junior" standing.  Before taking the Second Composition course, students must pass a course satisfying GE Subarea A2 with a grade of "C-" or above or "CR."  Second Composition courses may also be GE certified.  Transfer students who did not satisfy this requirement at their previous college must take Second Composition during their first semester at CSUEB.  Some California community colleges refer to Second Composition as the "A4" requirement.  The student learning outcomes for all Second Composition courses are described below.

Upon successful completion of Second English Composition, students will be able to:

  1. complete a variety of reading and writing tasks that incorporate subject-matter knowledge;
  2. adjust their writing for different audiences, showing awareness of expectations for academic writing in general and adhering to discipline-specific conventions when appropriate;
  3. demonstrate critical thinking and logical reasoning, including strategies coming in a discipline, in the development and organization of ideas in written texts;
  4. take into account multiple perspectives and key disciplinary concepts when presenting their ideas in writing; and
  5. revise their writing in response to feedback in order to improve development, clarity, coherence, and correctness. 

Courses approved for Second Composition are listed here: Second Composition Courses 

An “Overlay” is a graduation requirement that is fulfilled by completing an approved course.  This requirement “lays over” the GE and major programs, because an Overlay course may be lower division or upper division and may also satisfy a GE or major requirement.  Thus, the student should not need to take additional courses to meet the Overlay requirements.  Please consult with your academic advisor to plan your coursework for your Overlay requirements. 

A minimum of 9 semester units of coursework is required in courses that are linked to three of the University’s Institutional Learning Outcomes:  Diversity Overlay, Social Justice Overlay, and Sustainability Overlay. 

Diversity Overlay

After completion of a course designated as fulfilling the Diversity Overlay requirement, students will be able to:

  1. describe the histories and/or experiences of one or more U. S. cultural groups and the resilience and agency of group members;
  2. identify structures of oppression and the diverse efforts and strategies used by groups to combat the effects of oppressive structures;
  3. analyze the intersection of the categories of race and gender as they affect cultural group members’ lived realities and/or as they are embodied in personal and collective identities;
  4. recognize the way that multiple differences (including, for example, gender, class, sexuality, religion, disability, immigration status, gender expression, color/phenotype, racial mixture, linguistic expression, and/or age) within cultural groups complicate individual and group identities.

“Cultural group(s)” refers to historically oppressed groups in the United States, such as African Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Latinx, American Indians, Arab Americans, women, and GLBTQ (gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender, and queer identified people).

Students who satisfied the “Cultural Groups and Women’s Requirement” prior to Fall Semester, 2018 are considered to have satisfied this requirement.

Courses approved for the Diversity Overlay are listed here: Diversity Overlay Courses 

Social Justice Overlay     

After completion of a course designated as fulfilling the Social Justice Overlay requirement, students will be able to:

  1. use a disciplinary perspective to analyze issues of social justice and equity;
  2. describe the challenges to achieving social justice; and
  3. identify ways in which individuals and/or groups can contribute to social justice within local communities, nations, or the world.

Courses approved for Social Justice Overlay are listed here: Social Justice Overlay Courses 

Sustainability Overlay     

After completion of a course designated as fulfilling the Sustainability Overlay requirement, students will be able to:

  1. identify the environmental, social, and economic dimensions of sustainability, either in general or in relation to a specific problem;
  2. analyze interactions between human activities and natural systems;
  3. describe key threats to environmental sustainability; and
  4. explain how individual and societal choices affect prospects for sustainability at the local, regional, and/or global levels.

Courses approved for Sustainability Overlay are listed here: Sustainability Overlay Courses 

CSU graduates are expected to have knowledge: significant events in U.S. history; the role of major ethnic and social groups in these events; the political, economic, social, and geographic context of these events; the U.S. Constitution, U.S. political institutions and processes; the rights and obligations of U.S. citizens; the California Constitution; federal-state relations; and California state and local government, and political processes.

The American Institutions Requirement is also known as the Code Requirement.  You must demonstrate your competence in three Code areas:

  • US-1  American History
  • US-2  The U.S. Constitution
  • US-3  California State and Local Government

The main ways to satisfy the requirement include the following:

  1. passing two courses which cover all three Code areas (note that at CSUEB, students who satisfy the Code requirement through courses alone are required to complete two Code courses, even if the course covers all three Code areas);
  2. passing the CLEP exam in History of the United States I or II, the CLEP exam in American Government, and the California State & Local Government exam administered by the CSUEB Testing Office;  
  3. passing AP US History with a score of 3 or above, AP US Government with a score of 3 or above, and passing the California State & Local Government exam administered by the CSUEB Testing Office.

Be aware that receiving credit for any US Code courses through a national test such as Advanced Placement, CLEP, or at an out-of-state institution will not satisfy US-3 California State and Local Government. 

Students who have completed part of the Code requirement at a California Community College should consult an academic advisor to avoid duplicating coursework. 

We urge you to consult with your academic advisor to make sure you are taking the correct courses and/or exams to meet all Code requirements.      

 CSUEB Code courses are listed here: U.S. Code  

Additional details of these and other graduation requirements are provided in the Requirements, Exams & Testing chapter of the catalog.

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