SUNY New Paltz’s General Education (GE) program lays the foundation for students' intellectual development by providing a broad knowledge base, essential communication skills, and opportunities to explore new perspectives, ways of thinking, arguing, and being. GE courses teach students how to think instead of what to think. New Paltz's diverse GE course offerings develop students' capacity for lifetime learning and adaptability in a rapidly changing world.

In Fall 2019, New Paltz introduced its revised General Education program, known as GE4. Students who matriculate in or after Fall 2019 will meet the GE4 requirements.

Students who matriculated at New Paltz prior to Fall 2019 will complete the requirements under which they entered the College, known as GE3 (GE III).

Students who transfer to New Paltz with a SUNY associate degree (AA or AS) will be admitted with General Education requirements fulfilled.

General Education 4 (GE4)

General Education 4 (GE4) provides students with a broad foundation for academic and professional development and for personal exploration. It encourages students to take chances in new and unfamiliar fields and to develop a broad knowledge base and essential communication skills that they will draw upon throughout their lives.

GE4 is organized around three categories of knowledge:

Category I: Foundation Skills - develops skills in basic communication, mathematics, and foreign language.

  • Mathematics (one course)
  • Basic Communication (one course; a prerequisite course may be required based on placement level)
  • Foreign Language (two consecutive elementary courses or one elementary and one intermediate course in a single language, or one intermediate course; requirement depends on language placement level)

Category II: Exposure to the Disciplines - introduces art, the humanities, and the natural and social sciences and the different "ways of knowing" that these disciplines represent.

  • The Arts (one course, minimum 3 credits)
  • Humanities (one course)
  • Natural Sciences (4 credits of lab science or 6 credits of non-lab science - see details below)
  • Social Sciences (one course)

Category III: Regions of the World - explores questions about identity and encourages students to become informed, engaged, and thoughtful citizens of the world.

  • United States Studies (one course)
  • Western Civilization (one course)
  • World Civilizations (one course)

For a detailed look at GE4, visit the General Education Program.

Comparing GE4 and the SUNY General Education Requirements

New Paltz GE4 Requirements

(for students who matriculate in and after Fall 2019)

Students must complete at least one course in each of the ten General Education categories.

GE Category Requirement
Mathematics 1 course
Basic Communication 1 course: ENG170 Writing & Rhetoric or equivalent (prerequisite: ENG160 Composition I or by placement)
Natural Science 1 4-credit science lecture/laboratory course or
1 3-credit science lecture course + 1 corresponding 1-credit science lab course or
2 3-credit science courses (non-lab)
Social Science 1 course
United States Studies 1 course
Western Civilization 1 course
World Civilizations & Cultures 1 course
Humanities 1 course
The Arts 1 course (minimum 3 credits)
Foreign Language 2 consecutive elementary courses or
1 elementary and 1 intermediate course in a single language or
1 intermediate course
(requirement depends on language placement level)

Minimum total credits = 32

Each major is designed to support students' progressive development of competency in Critical Thinking and Information Management.

SUNY System-wide GE Requirements

Students must demonstrate knowledge and skills in Mathematics, Basic Communication, and five of the remaining eight General Education categories. At least 30 General Education credits are required.

GE Category Requirement
Mathematics 1 course
Basic Communication 1 course
Choose at least five of the following categories:
Natural Sciences 1 course
Social Science 1 course
American History 1 course
Western Civilization 1 course
Other World Civilizations 1 course
Humanities 1 course
The Arts 1 course
Foreign Language 1 course

Minimum total credits = 30

Students must also demonstrate competency in Critical Thinking and Information Management.

General Education III (GE3)

(for students who matriculated prior to Fall 2019)

By introducing students to different fields of study and different methods of determining knowledge, General Education III provides a foundation for the liberal education that New Paltz offers. "GE III" is designed to encourage a global perspective as well as an understanding of the traditions and complexities of a democratic society. The program emphasizes four areas of knowledge that characterize a broadly educated person, and it encompasses the State University of New York's system-wide general education requirements. A defining feature of GE III is its attention to developing students' capacities to think critically while providing the breadth and depth of knowledge that will allow them to become active citizens and productive members of society.

GE III provides both discipline-based and interdisciplinary opportunities for advancing knowledge, balancing learning experiences in four broad areas:

  • Arts & Humanities: Appreciation for artistic, literary and philosophical endeavors. GE categories include:
    • Composition (one or two courses, depending on placement)
    • Humanities (one course)
    • The Arts (one course, minimum 3 credits)
  • Scientific Investigations: Knowledge of the natural and social sciences as well as mathematical ideas and models. GE categories include:
    • Mathematics (one course, depending on placement)
    • Natural Sciences (two courses)
    • Social Sciences (one course)
  • The United States & its Traditions: Knowledge of political, economic and social process in the US, the influence of Western tradition and the multicultural heritages that influence the US. GE categories include:
    • United States Studies (one course)
    • Western Civilization (one course)
    • Diversity (one course)
  • Global Perspectives: Understanding of the wide range of World Civilizations and cultures and appreciation for cultural and individual differences. GE categories include:
    • World Civilizations & Cultures (one course)
    • Foreign Language (one or two courses, depending on placement)

New Paltz GE III Requirements

GE Category Requirement
Composition II (prerequisite: Composition I) 1 course
Mathematics 1 course
Natural Sciences 2 courses1
Social Sciences 1 course
United States Studies 1 course
Western Civilization 1 course
World Civilizations & Cultures 1 course
Humanities 1 course
Arts 1 course
Foreign Language 1 or 2 courses, (depending on placement level)1
Diversity 1 course1

Minimum total credits = 36

The critical thinking competencies of Effective Expression, Systematic Inquiry, Information Literacy, and Ethical Reflection are infused throughout the New Paltz categories of academic knowledge.

Students Who Follow a Modified General Education Program (GE III and GE4)

  • Students with Written and Oral Proficiency in a Language Other Than English: The policy at New Paltz is to allow a waiver of the Foreign Language requirement in instances where a student has had significant, documentable education in a country where English is not the language of instruction. A student who can demonstrate through appropriate documentation competencies in oral, reading and written expression in a language other than English may also apply for a waiver. Approval must be obtained through the Languages, Literatures & Cultures Department.
  • Students Majoring in Engineering: Engineering students must meet a modified General Education requirement. For details, please refer to the plans of study for our Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering programs.

General Education and SUNY “Seamless Transfer”

Please refer to Academic Policies & Procedures: Transfer Credits.