CWU General Education FAQs

We are proud of our redesigned General Education program, which has undergone major changes over the last few years. If you don't see your question answered below, please contact the General Education Director to learn more. Connect by email at or by phone at 509-963-1513.

Changes to the General Education Program:

  • Q: Why did CWU change the General Education program?

    A: As a campus, CWU made the decision to design an intentional, student-empowering General Education program. The new program is about engaging students in an educational experience that, right from the first year, will help them:

    • explore unique pathways and discover interests they never knew they had;
    • expand their knowledge beyond a selected major;
    • engage early in fun and interesting material;
    • develop socially relevant skills in the context of their own interests;
    • apply skills learned in one class to their other classes; and
    • build a solid foundation for success in their education, career, and life.
  • Q: What is "old CWU General Education?"

    A: The term refers to CWU’s previous General Education program, which was replaced by the current program when it was approved to start as of Fall 2019. You can view the requirements of the old GE program here.

  • Q: What is "new CWU General Education?"

    A: The term refers to CWU’s current General Education program, offering its first classes in Fall 2019. You can view the requirements for the new GE program here.

  • Q: How do I know whether I'm in "old" or "new" General Education?

    A: Starting in Fall 2019, all new first-year (freshman) students entering CWU are automatically in the new program. During Spring 2019, current and transfer students will have the option of switching to the new General Education program when enrolling in Fall 2019 classes.

General Education Pathways:

  • Q: What are Pathways?

    A: Pathways are simply themes, through which the learning opportunities in required courses are offered. You may review the descriptions of our current pathways here.

  • Q: Do I have to choose a Pathway?

    A: No. However, all students must take at least three of their Knowledge Area courses in a single Pathway. You may choose to take other required Knowledge Area courses across multiple Pathways. If a Pathway’s courses interest you enough to continue taking your Knowledge Area courses in that Pathway, though, you might decide to take most or all of them in that Pathway and earn a transcript milestone. Learn more about Pathway transcript milestones here.

  • Q: What is the benefit of choosing a Pathway, if I decide to?

    A: Choosing a Pathway demonstrates that you have pursued an academic background in a specific content area as part of your general education experience. Students who complete at least five (5) courses in a single Pathway will earn a transcript milestone showing the pathway’s title. You may wish to emphasize your Pathway experiences and background as part of job and internship applications. Increasingly, employers are seeking the "soft" skills that come with integrated learning experiences, which is what Pathways offer! You may also find that the themes addressed in your Pathway lead you to consider graduate study in a specific field or discipline.

  • Q: Will there be other Pathways at some point?

    A: It is likely that Pathways will change over the years, to reflect changing student interests and as our teaching faculty work together to consider ways to offer cross-disciplinary learning opportunities with unique themes.

General Education Knowledge Areas:

  • Q: How many courses do I need to take in a single Knowledge Area?

    A: Students must take at least one course from each Knowledge Area, totalling 8 courses in the II. Explore and Connect component.

  • Q: What rules do I need to be aware of when selecting courses?

    A: Students may only count two (2) Knowledge Area courses from a single department or interdisciplinary program. This rule helps to ensure you have opportunities to explore a breadth of knowledge, an important focus of our program’s guiding philosophy. You will need to be aware of classes whose prefixes housed in the same department. For example, EXSC, NUTR, and PUBH courses are all offered by the Health Sciences department. Similarly, BUS, ENTP, HRM, and MGT courses are all housed in the Management department. Again, be aware of the rule, and plan your courses accordingly so that all are countable toward your General Education requirements.

General Education Classes:

  • Q: How many classes do I have to take?

    A: The new General Education program requires most students to complete twelve (12) courses – three (3) in the Engage component, eight (8) in the Explore & Connect component, and one (1) in the Connect, Create, & Empathize component. In rare cases, a student’s choices may mean more than one course is required to fulfill a given component. Students should see an advisor early to understand their options and the impacts of certain decisions.

  • Q: Who will be teaching my General Education classes?

    A: Faculty across campus are committed to teaching for the new General Education program. This means you will have the opportunity to take courses early in your academic career from faculty with expertise in your areas of interest. In addition to more expected English-focused writing courses, some of the Academic Writing I and II courses available in CWU’s General Education program come from a specific academic discipline such as History, Philosophy, Marketing, or another area.

  • Q: Which courses or components may I possibly be exempt from taking?

    A: Students will not be able to test out of (be exempt from taking) any courses. For the program's first year, 2019-2020 only, the First Year Experience 184 course is waived for:

    • continuing students who switch to the new General Education program, with 45 or more in progress credits
    • transfer students who have transferred 45 credits or more

General Education Credits: