In each undergraduate degree program, the institution requires the successful completion of a general education component at the collegiate level that (1) is a substantial component of each undergraduate degree, (2) ensures breadth of knowledge, and (3) is based on a coherent rationale. For degree completion in associate programs, the component constitutes a minimum of 15 semester hours or the equivalent; for baccalaureate programs, a minimum of 30 semester hours or the equivalent. These credit hours are to be drawn from and include at least one course from each of the following areas: humanities/fine arts; social behavioral sciences; and natural science/mathematics. The courses do not narrowly focus on those skills, techniques, and procedures specific to a particular occupation or profession. If an institution uses a unit other than semester credit hours, it provides an explanation for the equivalency. The institution also provides a justification if it allows for fewer than the required number of semester credit hours or its equivalent unit of general education courses. (General education)

Compliance Judgment

X      In compliance     Partially compliant     Non-compliant


In each undergraduate degree program, Francis Marion University requires the successful completion of a General Education component at the collegiate level that is a substantial component of the degree, ensures breadth of knowledge, and is based on a coherent rationale. Baccalaureate programs require a minimum of 48 semester hours of General Education credit hours spread among the following areas: communications, social sciences, humanities, humanities/social sciences electives, mathematics, and natural sciences [1]. Additionally, Francis Marion provides a written justification and rationale for course equivalency attained at other institutions.

The General Education requirements at the University are clearly outlined in the University Catalog along with an explanation of general education curriculum and general education goals developed by faculty: “FMU offers programs of study that encourage students to think critically and creatively, communicate clearly and honestly, develop appreciation of aesthetic values, and be concerned with the common good as well as their own interests” [2]. Our educational goals are sustained by the liberal arts tradition.

Goals of the General Education Program

The current goals were developed in 2011 after an intensive study from by an Academic Affairs subcommittee, whose membership included experienced faculty from a wide range of disciplines, and a subsequent discussion with Dr. Elizabeth Normandy, an outside consultant and expert on accreditation [3]. More specifically, the General Education program is designed to help students achieve the following nine goals [4]:

  • Goal 1. The ability to write and speak English clearly, logically, creatively, and effectively.
  • Goal 2. The ability to read and listen with understanding and comprehension.
  • Goal 3. The ability to use technology to locate, organize, document, present, and analyze information and ideas.
  • Goal 4. The ability to explain artistic processes and evaluate artistic product.
  • Goal 5. The ability to use fundamental mathematical skills and principles in various applications.
  • Goal 6. The ability to demonstrate an understanding of the natural world and apply scientific principles to reach conclusions.
  • Goal 7. The ability to recognize the diverse cultural heritages and other influences which have shaped civilization and how they affect individual and collective human behavior.
  • Goal 8. The ability to describe the governing structures and operations of the United States, including the rights and responsibilities of its citizens.
  • Goal 9. The ability to reason logically and think critically in order to develop problem-solving skills and to make informed and responsible choices.

“The General Education required of all students at FMU is designed to give students an introduction to the broad areas of knowledge essential to a successful life and career. Included in the General Education program are choices in the humanities, the social sciences, the laboratory sciences, and basic communications. Through this program, students begin to acquire an awareness of the diverse cultures of the past and present. They also develop communication, conceptualization, and analytical and critical thinking skills. These general education courses provide the foundation for the student’s declared major.” [5]. The courses do not focus on skills, techniques, and procedures specific to a particular occupation or profession; rather, they provide general knowledge that may be deepened or extended in other more advanced courses.

Baccalaureate Degrees and General Education Requirements

Francis Marion offers five baccalaureate degrees:

  • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.)
  • Bachelor of General Studies (B.G.S)
  • Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.).

As stated in the Catalog 2016-2017, “Each of these degrees requires a minimum of 120 semester hours of approved credit, which includes those hours required for completion of the General Education Program and those hours required for majoring in the student’s area or areas of concentration” [6].

Students must complete the General Education requirements associated with their degree programs. Depending on the program, 9-12 hours of social/behavioral science courses are required, 9-21 hours of communications are required, 8-12 hours of natural sciences are required, and 6 hours of mathematics are required. Students seeking a B.B.A. or a B.G.S. degree must satisfy the General Education requirements for either a B.S. or a B.A., but students seeking a B.S.N. degree must satisfy the requirements for a B.S. degree [7]. The following table, adapted from the Catalog 2016-2017 [8], illustrates the General Education requirements for each of the five degree programs.

General Education Requirements for Each Degree Program
Social Sciences99
Humanities/Social Sciences Elective03
Natural Sciences128
Total General Education Semester Hours4859

Table 1. General Education Requirements by Degree Program

Education majors are required to take 12 credit hours of natural science classes. However, students seeking secondary education certification and some middle-level education majors may substitute Psychology 206/216 for one of their natural sciences [9].

Reflection of the Mission

The rationale of the General Education Program, as well as all academic programs at Francis Marion, is reflected in the University’s mission statement published in the Catalog, 2016-2017. This statement clarifies that the University seeks to provide “an academic experience built on inquiry and research as well as the transmission of information.” Such a goal aids students in:

  • Developing their ability to think and communicate
  • Gaining the knowledge and skills to pursue a career or further study
  • Appreciating the creativeness of the human mind
  • Becoming aware of the human and natural environment of the world
  • Having the capacity to pursue a life of learning and understanding [10].

Breadth and Depth of Knowledge

Francis Marion’s General Education courses offer a broader focus rather than a narrow focus on skills, techniques, and procedures specific to a particular occupation or profession. Thus, students have a broad range of courses that they may take to fulfill these requirements.

However, it is specified in the Catalog that students must take one of the following courses to fulfill part of the social/behavioral sciences requirement:

Social/Behavioral Sciences

  • Political Science 101 – United States Government is a 3-hour introductory course that examines “the United States political institutions with particular attention to the principles, processes, structure, and functions of the national government” [11].
  • Political Science 103–Introduction to Political Science is a 3-hour introductory course that studies “the normative origins of government, structure and function of different political system, relationship between nations tate, and various methods and approaches to the study of politics” [12].

It is also indicated in the Catalog that students must take one of the following to satisfy the humanities requirement:

Humanities/Fine Arts

  • Art 101–Introduction to Art, is a 3-hour course establishing “patterns of perception and understanding” through “analysis of major works of painting, sculpture, and architecture in a historical survey” [13].
  • Music 101–Introduction to Music, is a 3-hour course focusing on each of the four elements of music (melody, harmony, timbre, and texture) “in its historical context” [14].
  • Theatre 101–Introduction to Theatre, is a 3-hour introductory course that examines “the many areas of the art of the drama” [15].

To fulfill the natural sciences/mathematics requirement of General Education, student may take any number of courses, as indicated on page 65 of the Catalog [16]. The following are examples of courses that fulfill these requirements:

Natural Sciences/Mathematics

  • Biology 105 –Biological Sciences I, “covers broad concepts of the scientific method, biological chemistry, and the molecular and cellular basis for life. Includes the topics of cell structure, energetics, and metabolism, molecular genetics, Mendelian inheritance, and cell reproduction, with selected applications at the tissue and organ levels of organization” [17].
  • Mathematics 121–Introduction to Mathematical Modeling and Problem Solving, covers “a study of algebra and polynomial functions and operations to include linear and nonlinear functions, data analysis, basic statistics, and linear regression in applications settings” [18].

Relying on the University’s faculty governance system to initiate and modify academic programs ensures that the required course work is sufficient and appropriate to meet collegiate standards. Furthermore, the 2011 study of General Education and the subsequent review of the program, goals, and assessment procedures by Dr. Elizabeth Normandy provided insights into our program. Her findings reflect very positively on the institution. She stated:

“Francis Marion University has developed a solid system for the assessment of its General Education Program. The University has an appropriate set of student learning goals for the program (developed in 1995) as well as a suitable mission statement. These are closely connected to the General Education Curriculum that emphasizes the acquisition of fundamental knowledge and skills” [19].

In addition, she recommended that our then present practice of revising the General Education goals would be a helpful measure as we went forward:

“Consider revising General Education goals that contain more general language about what students will understand to achieve more a more specific designation of what students will know, be able to do, or value. Or consider adding more specific objectives to the existing generalized goals. This should make the goals or objectives more measurable and facilitate the selection of assessment methods” [20].

University Policy

During the period of study in 2011, departments and schools provided input to those on the committee, and General Education requirements of other colleges and universities both inside and outside the state, such as Winthrop University [21] and The University of North Carolina at Pembroke [22] were considered. The studies led to the development of the set of General Education Goals listed earlier, which were subsequently approved by the faculty, the President, and the Board of Trustees. In addition, the Academic Affairs committee believed strongly that the General Education Goals should be moved into the Catalog [23].

The Academic Affairs Committee is charged with the responsibility to “review guidelines and make recommendations when appropriate for the general education requirements for the various degree programs of the University” [24]. All proposed new courses are reviewed by this committee, including those that make be counted toward General Education requirements. Each year, the committee reviews the General Education Report [25] compiled by the Institutional Effectiveness Committee. This report is based on the assessment of individual courses by their respective departments .

Transfer, Transient, and Correspondence Credits

Transfer Credits

Determining the applicability of transferred credits from transcripts of students admitted into Francis Marion to general education and major requirements is the responsibility of the Registrar’s Office. Courses in which the student has earned a “C” or higher at a regionally accredited college or university are eligible for transfer. Transfer credit[s] from South Carolina Technical Schools and other postsecondary institutions are evaluated per our articulation agreement. Complete listings of transferrable coursework appear in the Transfer Guide 2016-2017 [26] and the South Carolina Transfer and Articulation Center (SC TRAC) website [27]. Courses are evaluated on a course by course basis. If a transferable course is not the exact equivalent of a Francis Marion course it may be transferred as an elective. Departmental approval is required with any course that is “in question” of acceptance for transfer credit [28].

Correspondence Credit

Francis Marion University does not transfer credit earned from correspondence courses, which refer to credits earned without physically attending an institution. However, Francis Marion students may earn credit for correspondence courses contingent on prior approval from the Registrar and his/her advisor or department chair or school dean. To count toward credit, a grade of “C’ or higher must be earned from correspondence courses.

Further details of the University’s policies regarding credit for correspondence courses are found in the Catalog 2016-2017 [29].

Transient Credit

Transient credit applies to Francis Marion University students who take courses at some other institution during the summer or regular sessions and wish to have courses transferred to Francis Marion. Students must seek prior approval for transient credit from the Registrar and his/her adviser or department chair or school dean. A grade of “C” or higher must be earned for a course to transfer.

Further details of the university’s policies regarding transient credits are outlined in the Catalog 2016-2017 [30].

General Education Waivers

Francis Marion University waives the General Education Requirements when students have already earned a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and enroll to earn a second baccalaureate degree [31]. No other waivers are extended. All Francis Marion students must satisfy the General Education requirements [32].


  1. Catalog 2016-2017, General Education Requirements, p. 65
  2. Catalog 2016-2017, General Education Goals & Requirements, p. 61
  3. Report on General Education
  4. Catalog 2016-2017, General Education Goals & Requirements,p. 61
  5. Catalog 2016-2017, General Education Goals & Requirements,p. 61
  6. Catalog 2016-2017, General Education Goals & Requirements, p. 61
  7. Catalog 2016-2017, General Education Requirements, p. 65
  8. Catalog 2016-2017, General Education Requirements, p. 65
  9. Catalog 2016-2017, Middle Level Education, p. 143
  10. Catalog, Purpose-Mission Statement, p. 9
  11. Catalog 2016-2017, Political Science 101, p. 120
  12. Catalog 2016-2017, Political Science 103, p. 120
  13. Catalog 2016-2017, Art 101, p. 98
  14. Catalog, 2016-2017, Music 101, p. 94
  15. Catalog 2016-2017, Theatre 101, p. 97
  16. Catalog 2016-2017, General Education Requirements, p. 65
  17. Catalog 2016-2017, Biology 105, p. 68
  18. Catalog, 2016-2017, Math 121, p. 108
  19. Report on General Education
  20. Report on General Education
  21. Winthrop General Education Requirements
  22. UNC Pembroke, Catalog, General Education Requirements
  23. Catalog 2016-2017, General Education Goals & Requirements, p. 61
  24. Faculty Handbook, Academic Affairs Committee, p. 101
  25. General Education Report 2017
  26. Transfer Guide 2016-2017
  27. South Carolina Transfer and Articulation Center Website
  28. Catalog 2016-2017, Transfer Credit, p. 55
  29. Catalog 2016-2017, Correspondence Credit, p. 56
  30. Catalog 2016-2017 Transient Credit, p. 56
  31. Catalog 2016-2017, Second Degree, p. 62
  32. Catalog 2016-2017, General Education Goals & Requirements, p. 61