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Approval of Courses Meeting the General Education Requirements

Many courses at UW-Madison carry designations to convey to students that they meet the University General Education Requirements. Departments may seek permission for undergraduate courses to carry these designations via the normal process for adding or changing a course, as outlined on the Office of Academic Planning and Institutional Research website, since the campus-wide online course proposal system gives proposers an opportunity to request general education designations. Consideration of course eligibility for General Education designations occurs after all department and school/college approvals are granted. The criteria, process, and contact information for consultation about course approval for General Education are provided below.

Communication

The criteria for courses meeting the communications requirements are available at:

Requests submitted through the online course proposal system are reviewed by the General Education Communication liaison, who is authorized to review and approve assignment of the Comm-B attribute to any new or existing courses. For Comm-A, the liaison may convene an ad hoc committee comprised of current Comm-A course directors and content experts, who will study the proposal and advise the liaison.

Beginning in 2018, Professor Karen Evans-Romaine, (evansromaine@wisc.edu) will serve as the Communication Liaison. Departments and faculty are encouraged to seek him out early in the course development process, when courses are designed to carry the designations. Please note that for some “section-level” Communication B courses, the pedagogical elements that emphasize oral and written communication may vary from section to section, so not all sections include written and oral communication.  This variation give departments greater flexibility when they schedule courses and allocate teaching resources; also, students have more choices when they enroll. When “section-level Comm B” courses are scheduled, Departments must accurately indicate which sections will include the additional communication instruction, and when students enroll in these courses, they should be aware of whether or not they have enrolled in a section with that additional instruction.  Comm-B is the only UGER for which this type of “section-level” approval and variation is allowed. (All other GER designations are course-level only).

The Office of Transfer Admissions works with Professor Morris Young (English Department, msyoung4@wisc.edu) on requests for transfer courses that may meet the Comm-A requirement; reviews of transfer courses to meet the Comm-B requirement, as well as requests for extraordinary exceptions to either Comm-A or Comm-B, should be referred to Professor Evans-Romaine (evansromaine@wisc.edu). Please note that UW-Madison’s unique approach to Comm-B, which integrates communication instruction within a wide range of disciplines, makes approval of course substitutions and transfer credit highly unusual. Students submitting requests will be required to provide a syllabus and other evidence related to the course. 

Ethnic Studies

The Ethnic Studies Requirement is overseen by the Ethnic Studies Subcommittee of the University General Education Committee, which reviews all requests that course should carry the requirement.

The Ethnic Studies Requirement has been the subject of an extensive process of review and revision (ca 1999-2004). As a result, responsibility for evaluating courses and exceptions are - for the time being - vested in a subcommittee of the University General Education Committee. For information about the requirement and procedures for adding courses to the course array, please refer to the following documents:

Requests submitted through the online course proposal system will be reviewed by the Ethnic Studies Subcommittee of the University General Education Committee, which has expressed an expectation that these courses will actively engage students relative to the ESR learning outcomes. Associate Dean Elaine M. Klein (elaine.klein@wisc.edu) coordinates questions referred to the committee.

Students seeking substitutions or transfer course evaluation are asked to supply evidence in the form of a syllabus and a personal statement; these materials should demonstrate that the course conforms to the criteria for ESR courses and actively promotes student learning relative to the ESR learning outcomes. 

Quantitative Reasoning

The criteria for courses meeting the Quantitative Reasoning requirements are available at:

Requests submitted through the online course proposal system are reviewed by the General Education Quantitative Reasoning liaison, who is authorized to review and approve assignment of the QR-B attribute to any new or existing courses. For QR-A, the liaison will convene an ad hoc committee comprised of current QR-A course directors and content experts, who will study the proposal and advise the liaison.

Dr. Benedek Valko (Mathematics, valko@math.wisc.edu) serves as the Quantitative Reasoning liaison to the University General Education Committee for the 2018-2019 academic year, and is available to consult on QR course development. Dr. Valko; also evaluates requests for course substitutions and serves as a consultant for transfer course evaluation. 

General Breadth (Humanities/Literature/Arts, Social and Natural Sciences)

Within the constraints articulated by the learning outcomes associated with General Education Breadth, each school and college can determine, in the context of its own degree requirements and the needs of its students, which courses are sufficient to satisfy various breadth areas. To simplify degree audit, most schools and colleges utilize the L&S Breadth Designations, since they are aligned with the GER learning outcomes. The L&S Breadth and Level indicators appear in course descriptions that appear in the Course Guide. These indicators are administered by the L&S Curriculum Committee, which reviews requests via the normal process for adding or changing courses outlined by the Office of Academic Planning and Institutional Research.

Other Course Matters

Please note:

  • Only undergraduate-level college courses may satisfy GER.
  • Directed or Individualized Study may not be used to satisfy GER.
  • Because GER assumes that students are engaged in focused study within the designated area of GER, requirements cannot be met with portions of courses. 

Non-UW-Madison Courses

In addition to the standard process for evaluation of transfer courses, from time to time, institutions of higher education outside UW-Madison wish to have their courses approved to meet UW-Madison requirements.  All discussions about such courses should start with the Office of Admissions, by sending a message to onwisconsin@admissions.wisc.edu.