Changes in General Education Requirements May Be on the Horizon

Changes being considered for General Education (GE) requirements could have serious consequences for CSU students and faculty whose teach GE courses. Efforts to change GE courses come amid less controversial changes to transfer requirements.

Passed in 2021, Assembly Bill 928, the Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act, created a single set of classes that act as a pathway to increase transfers from California Community Colleges (CCC), for both CSU and University of California. The California General Education Transfer Curriculum (Cal-GETC) was approved by all three higher education systems and is scheduled to go into effect for fall 2025. More than 40% of CSU students transfer from community colleges.

The proposed new Cal-GETC pathway would reduce GE in the CSU by 5 credits. The pathway does not include current CSU requirement Area E: Lifelong Learning and Self-Development. The arts and humanities and behavioral sciences requirements were also reduced from three courses to two courses. The proposal would put ethnic studies in a new separate area. Omitted or reduced areas could see course enrollment collapses and courses cancelled.

In a January 2024 Academic Senate resolution, the Statewide Academic Senate recommended against changing CSU General Education requirements. Incorporating Cal GETC for non-transfer students erodes the curriculum, important student learning, and faculty jobs. Moreover, another major disruption to GE will require faculty to rework learning outcomes once again to achieve administrative ideas that lack pedagogical grounding.

Having no Area E requirements would discourage students from enrolling in important classes that may help them be successful. For example, “Skills Courses” can play a major role in supporting students from historically marginalized communities even if they are not transferrable.

According to the resolution, “In Fall 2022 at CSU Northridge, first time Black students who did not take the college skills course as part of GE Lifelong Learning had an average GPA of 1.92. Their peers who took either the college skills course or the variant specifically for Black students had average GPAs of 2.39 and 2.67, respectively.”

The CSU Board of Trustees will determine whether the CSU adopts Cal-GETC instead of GE Breadth for incoming freshmen. Adopting Cal-GETC would result in potentially 5 fewer CSU general education units.

Changes to curriculum and courses come at a troubling time as CSU trustees just passed a 34 percent tuition increase by the 2028-29 school year. Frustratingly, CSU students will be paying more for less.

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