May 25, 2024  
2015-2016 Academic Catalog 
2015-2016 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

General Education Requirements


General Education: Philosophy of General Education

The purpose of the general education core is to ensure that college students have the broad knowledge and skills to become lifelong learners in a global community that will continue to change.

General education provides critical thinking skills for people to continue to seek truths, to discover answers to questions, and to solve problems. Specifically, educated people are literate in and practice the various methods of communication. They recognize their place in the history, culture, and diverse heritages of Tennessee, the United States and the world. They appreciate the web of commonality of all humans in a multicultural world and are prepared for the responsibilities of an engaged citizenship. They recognize the ethical demands of our common lives. They demonstrate the skills and knowledge of the social and behavioral sciences to analyze their contemporary world. They are familiar with the history and aesthetics of the fine arts. They understand the scientific and mathematical views of the world, and they put those disciplines into practice.

Finally, the general education core provides for its citizens the means to make a better living. Above all, perhaps, it enables its citizens to make a better life.

Common Catalog Statement Regarding General Education

Effective fall semester 2004, each institution in the State University and Community College System of Tennessee (the Tennessee Board of Regents System) will share a common lower-division general education core curriculum of forty-one (41) semester hours for baccalaureate degrees and the Associate of Arts and the Associate of Science degrees. Lower-division means freshman and sophomore courses. The courses comprising the general education curriculum are contained within the following subject categories:

Baccalaureate Degrees and Associate of Arts and Associate of Science Degrees

Communication 9 hours
Humanities and/or Fine Arts (At least one course must be in literature) 9 hours
Social/Behavioral Sciences 6 hours
History 6 hours
Natural Sciences 8 hours
Mathematics 3 hours
Total 41 hours

Foreign language courses are an additional requirement for the Associate of Arts (A.A.) and Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degrees. Six hours of foreign language are required for the A.A. degree and twelve hours are required for the B.A. degree.

Six hours of English Composition and three hours in English oral presentational communication are required. Although the courses designated by TBR institutions to fulfill the requirements of the general education subject categories vary, transfer of the courses is assured through the following means:

  • Upon completion of an A.A or A.S. degree, the requirements of the lower-division general education core will be complete and accepted by a TBR university in the transfer process.
  • If an A.A. or A.S. is not obtained, transfer of general education courses will be based upon fulfillment of complete subject categories. (Example: If all eight hours in the category of Natural Sciences are complete, then this “block” of the general education core is complete.) When a subject category is incomplete, course-by-course evaluation will be conducted. The provision of block fulfillment pertains also to students who transfer among TBR universities.
  • Institutional/departmental requirements of the grade of “C” will be honored. Even if credit is granted for a course, any specific requirements for the grade of “C” by the receiving institution will be enforced.
  • In certain majors, specific courses must be taken also in general education. It is important that students and advisors be aware of any major requirements that must be fulfilled under lower-division general education.

Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) Degrees

English Composition 3 hours
Humanities/Fine Arts 3 hours*
Social/Behavioral Sciences 3 hours*
Natural Science/Mathematics 3 to 4 hours*
One additional course from the categories of Communication, Humanities and/or Fine Arts, Social/Behavioral Sciences, or Natural Science/Mathematics 3 to 4 hours*
Total 15 to 17 hours

*Specific courses satisfying these requirements must be the same courses that satisfy the general education requirement for the Associate (A.A./A.S.) and Baccalaureate degrees.

Courses designated to fulfill general education by Southwest are published on “Courses That Fulfill Requirements In The Six Subject Categories” of the website. A complete listing of the courses fulfilling general education requirements for all system institutions is available on the TBR website ( under Transfer and Articulation Information.

Subject Categories and Required Hours

The following description identifies the number of hours needed in each of the six general education subject categories for the A.A.S., A.A., and A.S. degrees. Before making any decisions about which general education courses to take, be sure to check your program requirements first. Courses satisfying general education requirements are listed on the pages that follow this description.

  1. For the A.A.S. Degree, students should see their program requirements before making decisions about general education courses. To satisfy the 15-hour minimum, all students must take:
    • English Composition I, ENGL 1010 , from the category of Communication (3 hours)
    • one course from the category of Humanities and/or Fine Arts (3 hours)
    • one course from the category of Social/Behavioral Sciences (3 hours)
    • one course from either Natural Sciences or Mathematics (3-4 hours)
    • one additional course from Communication, Humanities and/or Fine Arts, Social/Behavioral Sciences, Natural Sciences, or Mathematics (3-4 hours).
  2. For A.A.1 and A.S. degrees, students should check their program requirements before making decisions about general education courses. To satisfy the 41-hour minimum, all students must take:
    • three courses (9 hours) in Communication: English Composition I, English Composition II, and Fundamentals of Speech Communication (SPCH 1010 )
    • three courses (9 hours) in Humanities or Fine Arts, of which one course must be in literature, designated with an ENGL 2000 or higher course identification
    • two courses (6 hours) in Social/Behavioral Sciences
    • two courses (6 hours) in History
    • two courses (8 hours) in Natural Sciences
    • one course (3 hours) in Mathematics

1 Foreign Language courses are an additional 6-hour requirement for the A.A. Degree.

The General Education Program

Courses that fulfill requirements in the six subject categories

The following courses fulfill general education requirements in six subject categories at Southwest. They also transfer to fulfill system-wide requirements at other TBR colleges and universities.


*Foundations of Mathematics I fulfills the general education requirement only for students in programs that also require Foundations of Mathematics II. These programs are A.S - Teaching, UPAA - Education and UPAS - Early Childhood Education.

Directory of Programs


Academic Certificate

Academic Focus Areas

Associate of Applied Science

Associate of Arts

Associate of Science

Associate of Science in Teaching

Technical Certificate

Learning Support