Overview

The general education portion of your degree will be structured to a significant extent by the Areas of Inquiry, which consist of three broad areas of study: Arts and Humanities (A&H), Social Sciences (SSc), and Natural Sciences (NSc).

In addition, you must also complete coursework in these areas: English Composition, Additional Writing, Reasoning, and Diversity. Some colleges also require a foreign language.

What is General Education?

General Education requirements represent the foundation of a UW education and will support the advanced learning students will do the rest of their life. The objective is to introduce students to many new ideas, rather than training them in one specific subject, so that they are in a position to create linkages across a wide expanse of different topics and disciplines. Areas of Inquiry are meant to allow students to embrace the exploration of new ideas and work diligently to make connections, especially where none seem to exist.

General Education Requirements

English Composition (C)

English Composition courses emphasize how to organize and express your ideas effectively. In composition courses, you will refine your skills by rewriting your papers after receiving feedback on them. 

Learn more about your options for fulfilling your English Composition requirement.

Writing (W)

This requirement is intended to ensure that you have the opportunity to practice and use writing, broadly conceived, to deepen your learning, to think critically, and to solve problems. The Writing requirement is divided into two parts: a Composition course and Additional Writing courses. 

Learn more about your options for fulfilling your Writing Requirement.

Reasoning (RSN) - Formerly Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning (QSR)

This requirement is intended to ensure that students have the opportunity to improve your capacities for and abilities to critically evaluate and effectively use information utilizing symbolic and/or numeric methods, or the theoretical study thereof.  

Learn more about your options for fulfilling your QSR requirement.

Foreign Language

Some schools and colleges require foreign language instruction beyond what is needed to be admitted to the University. If you are a native speaker of a language other than English, or if you had three years of a single foreign language in high school, you already meet this requirement. Otherwise, you must complete the third college quarter of a foreign language with a grade of at least 2.0, take a placement test that places you into the fourth college quarter of that language, or pass a language proficiency test.

Learn more about how you can meet the Foreign Language requirement.

Diversity (DIV)

Courses that meet the Diversity requirement focus on the sociocultural, political, and/or economic diversity of the human experience at local, regional, or global levels. This requirement is intended to help you develop an understanding of the complexities of living in increasingly diverse and interconnected societies. 

Learn more about your options for fulfilling your Diversity requirement.

Areas of Inquiry (AoI) - Formerly Areas of Knowledge

This requirement is intended to ensure that students have the opportunity to develop a foundational understanding of what kinds of questions can be asked and what kinds of problems can be addressed through a range of disciplines and fields of study. This requirement is divided into the following parts or “Areas” listed below.  The number of credits of AoI required by each college of the UW varies and some courses may count towards more than one AoI.

Arts and Humanities (A&H) - Formerly Visual, Literary & Performing Arts (VLPA)

The intent of this requirement is for students to become familiar with the methodologies, contributions, and limitations of artistic and humanistic inquiry, broadly defined.

Learn more about counting first-year foreign language as a VLPA.

Social Sciences (SSc) - Formerly Individuals & Societies (I&S) 

The intent of this requirement is for students to become familiar with the methodologies, contributions, and limitations of social science inquiry, broadly defined.

Natural Sciences (NSc) - Formerly Natural World (NW)

The intent of this requirement is for students to become familiar with the methodologies, contributions, and limitations of natural science inquiry, broadly defined.

Find classes based on General Education Requirements

Use the General Education Requirements tool on MyPlan to find classes that meet the requirements listed above. 

Requirements By College and School

Each UW school and college interprets the General Education requirements somewhat differently. See the requirements for General Education page to learn more.