General Education

Re-envisioning General Education at Ohio State

In 2017, Ohio State began the first major overhaul of its General Education (GE) curriculum in 30 years. Despite the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty and staff across the university have worked diligently to keep the implementation on track, the new GE will launch in autumn 2022. All students entering the university in or after that semester will be expected to complete the requirements of the new GE curriculum.


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Senior Director of the Bookends program

Melissa Beers

Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education

Meg Daly

Vice Provost for Academic Programs

W. Randy Smith

  • Autumn 2022 -- new GE curriculum scheduled to begin
  • March 2021 -- course submission by faculty begins
  • October 2020 – Undergraduate-serving colleges and Council on Academic Affairs approve GE implementation plan
  • April 2019Council on Academic Affairs, University Senate approve the final, revised proposal for a new General Education curriculum.
  • February 2018 -- the report of GE Review Coordinating Committee is completed and later distributed. Each of the colleges and campuses with undergraduate students, with adherence to its established curricular approval processes, reviews the report.
  • Summer 2017 – Using input from the listening sessions and the related literature and research, the GE Review Coordinating Committee meets to outline goals and possible template(s) for the GE.
  • February 2017 -- “Listening Sessions” are held across the university community to solicit input from constituencies. All members of the university community are encouraged to contribute ideas to the process.
Links to program documents

Frequently Asked Questions

Each of the 12 undergraduate-serving colleges will be asked to review the implementation report and determine whether to support it through the college's appropriate review processes.

There are no actions necessary at this time for students.

You are encouraged to reach out to your college's curricular leadership with specific feedback, but you may still submit feedback through the online Questions and Comments form.

Yes. As long as a course meets the ELOs for the relevant Foundation categories (or Themes), it is eligible to be used to satisfy one or the other category. For example, it is expected that some of the courses within the “Race, Gender, and Ethnicity” foundation category might also satisfy “Historical and Cultural Studies” (among other possible pairings), and could be approved for offering in both categories. Likewise, a course in the “Sustainability” Theme might also satisfy the ELOs for “Citizenship for a Diverse and Just World” (among other possible pairings). Note that for a single student, a single course cannot be applied to satisfy multiple foundations (or Themes) — students will need to choose distinct courses to satisfy each category.  Courses seeking approval within multiple categories are expected to meet all of the ELOs of all of the categories for which it seeks approval.

No. Because the ELOs for Themes courses specify that these courses provide more advanced or in-depth attention to the content, Themes courses are necessarily more advanced than Foundation courses, at least in their treatment of the material covered by the GE ELOs.  A course can satisfy either a Foundation or a Theme category, but not both.

Although there is no hard and fast rule, it is expected that most Foundation courses will be offered at the 1,000- and 2,000-level and most Themes courses will be at the 2,000-level and above. 1,000-level courses that are more advanced (i.e., having prerequisites or other enrollment criteria) may be appropriate as Themes courses, and introductory but specialized courses offered at the 2,000-level or above may be appropriate as Foundation courses. The most important criterion for approval within a category will be the appropriateness of the course to the ELOs of the category for which it seeks approval, not its number.

As of Spring 2021, a group of faculty members are working with instructional designers on the curriculum and format of the 1-credit bookend seminars, and software for the ePortfolio is being piloted in courses across the university. A formal course submission proposal is expected in Autumn 2021.

During the curriculum development stage, the Bookend Courses Subcommittee will collaborate with Survey instructors to reduce any possible duplication of content and activities and to create opportunities for curricular alignment between the courses on specific topics.

The Bookend Courses Subcommittee recommends that new, first-year students enroll in the bookend in the second semester of their first year. This may not be possible in all academic programs because of course sequencing and credit limits. In those programs, advisors will make a recommendation to students that alleviates those issues, either encouraging students to take the first bookend in the first semester of their second year or first term of their first year. Recommendations for transfer students should be sensitive to the needs of major coursework and other program issues. All students who begin their college career at Ohio State are expected to have taken the first bookend by the start of their fourth regular academic term (before spring of sophomore year, for most students).

Students will be advised to enroll in the first bookend course during orientation, in Survey, and in their advising meetings. Since most students will be encouraged to take the course during their second term, Survey is a particularly important link in this process. After their second semester, students will get push reminders, and will be prohibited from scheduling their fourth term (sophomore spring term) if they have not enrolled.

No. Most foundation courses are at the 1000- and 2000-level, and most Theme courses are expected to be at the 2000-level or above, but there is no requirement for course numbering within each part of the new GE.

Yes. However, prerequisites may limit the pool of students who are able to enroll, and GE courses are broadly expected to be accessible to students regardless of their major.

The unit will need to complete a Foundations submission document, a fillable form in which faculty explain how the course meets the expectations of the Foundation category. This document and the course syllabus can then be submitted through by the department’s curriculum point person. More instructions are available here.

The unit will need to complete a Theme Course submission document, an online form in which faculty explain how the course meets the expectations of the Theme category. This document and the course syllabus can then be submitted through by the department’s curriculum point person.

New GE courses must first be approved by the department and the relevant college curriculum committee. Approval of that course as part of the new GE goes through the relevant panel of the Arts and Sciences Curriculum Committee (ASCC). For submission to ASCC, courses need a completed course submission document and a syllabus, plus any other required documentation (Integrative Practices Inventory, concurrences—please check with your curricular point person). These can be submitted through by the department’s curriculum point person.

Instructions for submitting 4-credit Integrative Practice courses are available here. The submission instructions include an explanation of the expectations for each practice, resources to help with course development, and a fillable Integrative Practice Inventory that will be submitted with the course proposal or course change proposal.

Faculty in any department and on any campus can contribute to the GE, but all course proposals come though department or program curricular committees. Faculty and staff based at a regional campus should work with their TIU or home department to submit a new course or to submit an existing course for inclusion within the GE.

No. Theme courses are meant to provide an advanced approach to a given topic, and Foundation courses are meant to provide an introduction to a subject area.

Yes, as long as it satisfies all of the expected learning outcomes (ELOs) associated with each category. However, a student can only apply a given course to one category—it cannot count twice within their GE.

Yes, as long as it satisfies all of the ELOs associated with each category. However, a student can only apply a given course to one category—it cannot count twice within the GE.

Courses are expected to implement the ELOs of the new GE starting in Autumn 2022.


The answer will vary depending on the literacy in question. The Embedded Literacies for Data Analysis and Technology can be met by courses in the GE Foundations. Those courses may be prerequisites or major-foundational courses but cannot be part of a major because no overlap is allowed between the Foundations and major coursework.

The Advanced Writing Embedded Literacy cannot be met by a course within the GE Foundation: Writing and Information Literacy. The ELOs for Advanced Writing specify that it must be an advanced course, and by definition courses in the GE Foundation: Writing and Information Literacy are foundational, not advanced, in their approach to writing.

Courses within other Foundation categories may be part of a program’s approach to the Writing Embedded Literacy as long as they address the ELOs of the Writing Embedded Literacy.


As part of the process to update Ohio State’s General Education program, goals and expected learning outcomes have been drafted by a broad group of participants for both the program as a whole and for each element of that program.

The initial GE review committee held public forums across the university and studied the incumbent GE program, the Ohio transfer guidelines and the current state of research and practice for this kind of program. The review committee looked at many other institutions’ models, several in great detail. A structure was proposed, revised and adopted by all 12 of Ohio State’s undergraduate-serving colleges and the University Senate.

A statement of “Goals and Learning Outcomes for the Educated Global Citizen” was included in the review committee’s report. This statement, an update of the foundational document of the current GE, formed the basis for the new program-level goals and ELOs. Goals and ELOs have also been drafted for each of the foundational areas existing themes.

In July, the GE Implementation Committee charged its Expected Learning Outcomes
Subcommittee with simplifying, clarifying and condensing the draft goals and ELOs. The membership of the subcommittee is as broad as possible, and the group has met at least weekly since its creation.

The draft ELOs were written with significant input from stakeholder faculty and departments at several stages in the process and were adapted from relevant source materials. For example, a group that included the English 1110 course manager, director of the Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing and several instructional librarians developed the ELOs for Writing and Information Literacy. Those for Mathematics and Quantitative Reasoning were based on a curriculum guide from the Mathematical Association of America provided to the subcommittee by a mathematics faculty member.

The subcommittee and its panels have worked to reduce the number of ELOs, with the aim of retaining as few as will support the assessment of the program-level goals and outcomes.

The subcommittee’s first completed draft of program-level goals and ELOs was published for review and feedback from the entire university community and, in particular, undergraduate chairs in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The current document for review is the cleaned-up version of the most recent revisions, in which the subcommittee has addressed the feedback received to date. Additional feedback was requested about the Race, Gender, and Ethnicity foundation from faculty leaders in the Departments of African and African American Studies, Sociology, and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. The area panels of the Arts & Sciences Curriculum Committee are also reviewing the draft.

The subcommittee is re-engaging on curricular mapping to assure that the components of the program actually address ALL of the program-level goals and ELOs and not any extraneous ones.

There are in fact fewer than in all previous versions. The number of ELOs has continued to drop throughout the revision process, aiming to have as few as will support the assessment of the program level goals and outcomes.

Yes. The point of having goals and ELOs for the elements of the GE is to assure that all students can achieve the goals and learning outcomes of the overall General Education program. These describe the minimum range of learning expected.

With only one class required in each foundation, every class must assure that students have the opportunity to learn the full range of skills and knowledge that the element is expected to provide.

The relative focus on different ELOs and the course content used to support that learning is up to the faculty member. Additional learning outcomes may be added at the instructor’s discretion.

The foundational area is Race, Gender, AND Ethnicity. All courses must address all three of these areas, and are free to explore other components of diversity as well, at the instructor’s discretion.

Departments should consider expected future demand for certain kinds of courses and the nature and expected learning outcomes (ELOs) of the GE categories. Foundation courses are meant to be introductory, while Theme courses are meant to be more advanced and to build on competencies developed in earlier courses. The role of a course within the unit’s curriculum is also an important consideration: Theme courses can be counted toward a major, but Foundation courses cannot.

Students can apply up to two Theme courses to their major. The courses must be in different Themes (one in Citizenship and one in the “choice” Theme). Foundation courses cannot apply to the major directly but may be counted as prerequisite or major-foundational courses.

Minors can overlap up to 6 credits with the GE. A certificate can have 50% overlap with any degree program, where “degree program” includes the GE program, majors, and/or minors.

No. The GE is intended to allow students to explore a variety of academic disciplines, issues, and approaches. Advisors should make sure that students are made aware of pathways through the GE that minimize the number of courses or credits that they have to take, but no program can mandate that students take a specific Foundation course and can only mandate specific Theme courses if those courses are required by the major.

At the request of the offering units, the majority of current GE courses have been carried over into the new GE Foundation and will continue to be offered as GE courses.

The process for identifying new Themes was announced in Autumn 2021. Four proposals were submitted and affirmed as new Themes in May 2022. These are Migration, Mobility & Immobility; Number, Nature, Mind; Origins and Evolution; and Traditions, Cultures & Transformations. Course submission resources for and information about these new Themes are available through the “Submit Courses” function above.

Yes, each regional campus as well as the Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI) will offer courses in some or all of the themes as well as foundations courses and both bookends. Our open-enrollment regional campuses will continue to offer Ohio State students the ability to complete all the GE requirements in small, intimate settings geared toward student success. Some students even remain on regional campuses to complete all upper-level courses required for a four-year degree. Majors offered vary by campus but include English, history, psychology, social work, sociology, education, general business, biology and engineering technology.

There is no set number of additional themes to be created. The process, as proposed, specifies only that new themes be sufficiently different from the existing themes (Citizenship for a Diverse and Just World, Sustainability, Lived Environments and Health and Well-being).

New first year students who begin at Ohio State in Autumn 2022 at any campus will have the new GE as part of their degree program. Transfer students who begin at OSU in Au 2022 may elect to participate in the legacy, college-specific GE, pending approval of the college offering their planned major. This option is enacted through discussion with their academic advisor.

Assessment will happen at the category level every 4-6 years. It will be a multi-year process.  In year 1, all instructional staff teaching in a specific category will be invited to collaborate in the development of shared rubrics that will be applied to courses within that category. In year 2, instructors will use those rubrics to assess their courses. The University-Level Advisory Committee for General Education (ULAC) and the Arts and Sciences Curriculum Committee (ASCC) will integrate and share de-identified, aggregated outcomes with colleges and the Council on Academic Affairs (CAA).

Yes. Details about this process are expected in late Spring 2021.

Our expectation is that the regional campuses will offer courses in each Theme. However, course availability and the schedule of offering is ultimately the responsibility of the offering unit and the campus of offering.

All courses approved for offering in the new GE are expected to be made available on all campuses. Departments that do not want a course to be available on a specific campus need to explain the reason for that limitation at the time of submission. The home department for the class will approve staffing plans for their courses on regional campuses when a course is not going to be staffed with tenure-stream faculty from that unit.