General Education Requirements

Department proficiency or placement examinations do not fulfill General Education requirements.


Courses in the Foundations category introduce you to the major areas of human thought and endeavor. These courses present the academic disciplines as different ways of looking at the world, introduce you to the varied methods used to create knowledge, and acquaint you with major questions and principles of the field. Requirements:

  1. Arts (one course)
  2. Historical Analysis (one course)
  3. Mathematical Sciences (one course or MTH 126 + STA 126)
  4. Physical Sciences (one course)*
  5. Life Sciences (one course)*
  6. Philosophy and Literature (one course)
  7. Social and Behavioral Sciences (two courses from two different disciplines/course prefixes)
  8. Writing (one course)

*At least one of the Physical Sciences or Life Sciences courses must be a lab course.


Courses in the Cultures category prompt you to recognize yourself as a cultural being, and to understand the diverse ways in which people organize life and perceive the world. It enhances your ability to live and work intelligently, responsibly, and cooperatively in a multicultural nation and an interdependent world. Requirements:

  1. Global Perspectives (one course)
  2. U.S. Diversity (one course)

Note: Courses with a Cultures designation may count for Foundations or Issues credit in addition to Cultures credit. See the specific course for details.


Courses in the Issues category provide you opportunities to integrate learning and co-curricular experiences to build connections between prior understanding and new learning. Issues courses are problem-solving courses that encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration within each class. They also develop your understanding of some of the most compelling issues of our time: globalization, health, human rights, identity, sustainability, and the connected topics of information, innovation, or technology. Requirements:

  • Two courses (two courses from two different disciplines/course prefixes)
  • Courses can be within the same Issue or from different Issues
  • If a course is cross-listed in two disciplines/course prefixes, your second course must be taken from a third discipline/course prefix.
  • Issues courses must be taken at GVSU (except study abroad, see
  • Issues courses have a junior standing prerequisite (you must have completed at least 55 credits prior to taking an Issues course; you can register for the class while the final credits are in progress).

Note: Courses in the General Education Program are subject to change without notice. Consult myBanner for the most accurate information.

Graduation Requirements

As an undergraduate, you are pursuing a baccalaureate degree. To earn your degree, you need to meet certain minimum requirements. Your degree is divided into several components.

These classes help you attain competency in reading, writing, and mathematics.

You will complete 11–13 courses in the General Education Program. This is a crucial part of your education; these courses will provide you with the skills and breadth of knowledge that are the hallmarks of an educated person.

You will complete a major program that will educate you in a specific field. A cumulative GPA of 2.0 is required in the major. Some majors specify higher GPAs; consult the catalog. 

You must complete two courses in the SWS section that carry an SWS designation. Visit for more details.


  • You must complete a minimum of 120 semester hours. This averages 15 hours each semester for eight semesters. Some majors require more than 120 hours; consult the Grand Valley State University Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog. Courses numbered below 100 are developmental and do not count toward graduation credit.
  • You must earn a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 for all coursework attempted at Grand Valley. Some majors have a higher required GPA; consult the catalog for details by visiting
  • You must complete 58 hours at a senior institution; your last 30 hours must be taken at Grand Valley.


Note: A minor program is not generally required for graduation. If you elect a minor, you must earn a GPA of at least 2.0 in the minor.

University Requirements

Grand Valley State University believes that all graduates must be proficient in writing lucidly and expressively and understanding numerical data and mathematical reasoning. Therefore, the university requires specific competency levels in writing and mathematics. 


Initial Math Placement
All important information regarding the mathematics placement process at GVSU can be found at

Mathematics Proficiency Testing
Mathematics proficiency testing is available to change your placement. There are proficiency tests for MTH 110 (Algebra), MTH 122 (College Algebra), and MTH 123 (Trigonometry). Testing is free, and results are available immediately. For more information, visit

MTH 110 is the prerequisite to every course in the Mathematical Sciences Foundations. The MTH 110 prerequisite is fulfilled by one of the following:

  • Successfully complete MTH 110
  • Initial mathematics placement of “Ready for Introductory Mathematics” or “Ready for Courses Requiring Advanced Mathematics”
  • Pass the MTH 110 proficiency test
  • Transfer credit for MTH 110, 122, 123, 124, 125, 201, 202, 203, 225, or 302
  • AP credit for MTH 201 and/or 202 (Score of 3 or higher required.)
  • CLEP credit for MTH 122 or 201


  1. General Education Foundations Writing requirement
  2. SWS requirement (two courses)


Students can complete the GE Foundations Writing requirement by taking either WRT 150 or WRT 120 and 130. If you feel confident in your writing skills and have experience writing researched essays, it is recommended you take WRT 150 during the fall or winter of your first year. If you have less experience writing in high school or you would like more practice and support to develop your writing skills, you should register for WRT 120 in the fall and WRT 130 in the winter.

WRT 120 — Strategies in Writing - Stretch I
The first course in a two-course sequence designed for students who desire more time, practice, and support to complete the first-year writing requirement. Students will practice drafting and researching strategies and gain confidence in their writing and research skills. Students develop fluency and master conventions of standard academic writing.

WRT 130 — Strategies in Writing - Stretch II
Continuation of WRT 120. Students learn strategies for research-based writing. They practice writing processes to build well-supported arguments and incorporate sources. Students must earn a grade of C (not C-) or better to fulfill the Foundations – Writing requirement. WRT 120 and 130 or WRT 150 are prerequisites to SWS courses.

WRT 150 — Strategies in Writing
Students practice different kinds of academic writing and learn strategies for rhetorical research-based writing. They practice writing processes to build well-supported arguments and incorporate sources. Students must receive a grade of C (not C-) or better to fulfill the Foundations – Writing
requirement. WRT 150 is a prerequisite for any SWS course. Credits: 4


After completing WRT 130 or WRT 150 with a grade of C (not C-) or better, students must take two courses designated SWS. These courses are designated SWS in each semester’s course schedule. Not all sections of a multisection course are designated SWS; only those sections that carry the designation will result in SWS credit. Visit for more details.

  • Transfer students with a MACRAO or MTA associate’s degree must pass one SWS course with a grade of C or better.

Guidelines for enrolling in SWS courses:

  • Students must earn a grade of C (not C-) or better to receive SWS credit. If a student does not earn at least a C in an SWS course, they can repeat the course or take and successfully complete another SWS course.
  • Students should complete the Foundations - Writing requirement with a grade of C (not C-) or better before enrolling in an SWS class.

Page last modified August 5, 2022