General Education Program

Dr. Scott O'Connor, Director

Vision and Mission of the General Education Program

What is “General Education” and what does the NJCU General Education Program mean for you?  At its most basic level, General Education is that part of the college experience shared by all students regardless of major. But it is much more than that. It is a special part of your educational experience. While you can pursue your major at hundreds of colleges and universities, your General Education program is unique to NJCU. This signature program is designed to help you develop, improve and ultimately showcase the skills and learning you acquire through your studies. By the time you complete this program, you will have become a stronger writer, a more confident speaker, a more sophisticated user of information, and a more critical thinker. You will be better prepared for your university studies and your life outside the university.

General Education is a key component of most university programs.  For much of the twentieth century, the basic aim of these programs was to provide students a broad introduction to the various disciplines within higher education.  More recently, the focus has begun to shift, moving from programs designed to bring you information to those designed to help you navigate and manage the information now so readily available.  Institutions across higher education have recognized that the easy access to potentially limitless information brought on by rapid technological innovation means that the challenge facing our students is not so much how to acquire information, but rather how to make sense of it all. Universities across the country have recognized that we need to help you learn how to think critically about your information sources and how to process the information you receive.  We need to help you find ways to arrange and synthesize information from multiple sources and to integrate that content with your experiences in the world at large. We need to help you formulate hypotheses and discover effective solutions to life’s challenges.  Moreover, we need to help you develop the skills so that you are able to express those solutions clearly, confidently, and persuasively.  Because the challenges you face are interdisciplinary in nature, we need to help you develop both a strong foundation in a particular academic discipline and the intellectual and social skills that extend across those academic disciplines. In short, we need to provide you with a comprehensive and flexible General Education; one that is central to your academic success and applicable to the complexities of life beyond the university.  Through its innovative curriculum and the opportunities to extend learning beyond the classroom and beyond the campus, the NJCU General Education program delivers that education. 

General Education Requirements:

The Gen Ed program has two key parts, the All University Requirements (AURs) and the Tier 1-3 Seminars. You are required to take three Tier 1 Seminars, four Tier 2 seminars, and one Tier 3 Capstone Seminar. Each AUR and Seminar course (bar the capstone) covers two of the six university learning outcomes. By the end of the program, you must have taken two courses in each learning outcome. Students who entered NJCU before fall 2021 follow a different set of requirements and should consult the catalog of their entry year.

Requirement                                                                Credits                   Student Learning Outcomes1

Part 1: The All University Requirements

  • ENGL 101 English Composition I2                                4                              WC  |  CTPS
  • ENGL 102 English Composition II                               4                              WC  |  CTPS
  • MATH 114, 140, 164, or 175 (see below)                       3-4                           QL  |  CTPS

Part 2: The Seminars

  • Tier I Seminars                                                              9
  • Tier II Seminars                                                            12
  • Capstone Course                                                         3

Total                                                                              35-36

AUR Math Requirement

The AUR Math requirement is determined by the student’s major.

  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Majors: MATH 175
  • Business Majors: MATH 164
  • Social Science Majors: MATH 140
  • Humanities Majors: MATH 114

Higher level Math AUR courses may substitute for lower level Math AUR courses, e.g., a Humanities major may also take Math 175, 164, and 140 to satisfy their Math AUR requirement. However, lower level Math courses do not substitute for higher level Math AUR courses, e.g., a Business student may not take Math 114 or Math 140 to satisfy their Math AUR requirement. Other substitutions might be appropriate, in particular, Math 112 may substitute for Math 114 and Math 140. Students must consult with an academic advisor or the Math department for information on these substitutes as well as prerequisites for required Math courses.

The Seminars

Tier I Seminars:  Gen Ed courses in Tier I provide a solid foundation for your college career. 

Tier II Seminars:  Gen Ed courses in Tier II sharpen the core academic skills introduced in the First Tier while introducing you to the various different colleges, departments, and programs in the university. Click on the link to identify the student learning outcomes attached to each course.

Tier III Seminars:   The Capstone course in Tier III is the culmination of the General Education program. As part of the capstone experience, you will have the chance, working individually or in collaboration with your colleagues, to develop, design, and present research or creative projects (depending on the capstone course you choose).  The capstone courses provide a hands-on experience in which you will showcase your command of the skills you have been honing and the knowledge you have acquired during your course of study at the university.  Because this course provides an opportunity to integrate your General Education studies with your major, consult with your advisor to select the capstone that will best supplement your major course of study.  Since the learning outcomes are selected by the student in consultation with their instructor, this course cannot be used to satisfy the student learning distribution requirement.


Student Learning Outcomes Key:

(CEIK) Civic Engagement and Intercultural Knowledge, which involves working to promote the civic life of communities and the knowledge, skills, and values to do so.

(CTPS) Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, which involves being able to explore a range of perspectives, ideas, and data reaching a conclusion.

(ITL) Information and Technology Literacy, which involves effectively finding and using information, and developing or using technology applications to solve problems.

(OC) Oral Communication, which involves effective and purposeful presentation of information orally for a defined purpose and to an identified population.

(QL) Quantitative Literacy, which involves solving applied quantitative problems, and developing arguments that are supported by data and quantitative evidence.

(WC) Written Communication


Students who take English Composition I and II for English as a Second Language (ESL 101 and ESL 102) complete these in place of ENGL 101 and 102.

Student Learning Outcomes

Each course in the Gen Ed program focuses on two learning outcomes. By the end of the program, you must have taken two courses in each learning outcome. Those goals and their connection to the General Education program are:

1.         Students will demonstrate effective writing skills.

Effective writing skills are essential to learning and communication in whatever major you ultimately choose to pursue. Good writing entails more than mastering mechanics—vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure—but also developing and organizing your ideas, summarizing and expanding on your research, and expressing yourself clearly, thoughtfully, and creatively. The General Education program includes opportunities for you to develop and refine all of these skills as you enter and continue through your major.

2.         Students will demonstrate effective oral communication skills.

The ability to speak clearly, persuasively, and coherently is fundamental to effective communication in both formal and informal settings. Oral communication skills prepare you to present an idea to an audience, to discuss issues with confidence, and to build interpersonal relationships at work, at home, and among peers.

3.         Students will demonstrate effective quantitative literacy skills.

Your smart phone may have put a calculator in your hands at all times, but you still need to know what numbers to enter and how to interpret the results.  Whether you are trying to calculate interest on your car loan or to understand statistics for some course, you will need the ability and confidence to interpret and manipulate numerical data.  Quantitative literacy relates to the fundamental mathematical, analytical and scientific concepts and operations that are essential for your life within and beyond the university.

4.         Students will demonstrate the ability to think critically to evaluate and solve problems.

Critical thinking refers to your ability to question assumptions, challenge received wisdom, and look at problems from creative perspectives. When you can carefully analyze an idea or a problem, or research and evaluate evidence, and then apply what you have learned, you are better prepared both to address the personal challenges you face in your non-academic life and to pursue a more successful academic career, whether that means envisioning new ways of approaching social and political issues, scientific hypotheses, or artistic conventions.

5.         Students will demonstrate effective information and technology literacy skills. 

With the rapid proliferation of devices capable of providing easy access to ever increasing quantities and types of information—smart phones, computer tablets, laptops—your ability to understand, evaluate, and use both information and the technology used to deliver that information is increasingly vital to participating fully in contemporary society.  Locating, recognizing, and effectively using information are necessary skills for meaningful engagement in your community and successful entry into the job market.  Our program will help you develop your skills in using computers, software applications, databases, and other technology tools.

6.         Students will practice responsible citizenship in a culturally complex world.

Success beyond the university requires that you learn how to work collaboratively and to act ethically with others. All of us need to consider how our knowledge and actions shape our personal and professional relationships, our local and global communities, as well as the environment and the world around us.  Practicing responsible citizenship, then, is not simply voting or showing up for jury duty. It is a commitment to participate in the life of the community. Our program encourages you to connect what you learn in the classroom to your life outside the classroom through a curriculum that both brings the community into the classroom and takes the classroom into the community.  It provides opportunities for you to engage and explore our incredibly rich and diverse urban environment. 

Throughout the General Education program, you will have the opportunity to develop, improve, and ultimately showcase your mastery of these essential skills.