General Education Program

THIS PROGRAM IS IN EFFECT FOR STUDENTS WHO ARE ADMITTED TO NMU AS OF THE FALL 2017 SEMESTER OR LATER. Students admitted to NMU and begin taking classes prior to Fall of 2017 should follow the requirements in the Liberal Studies section of previous bulletins. Students who have specific questions about these requirements should contact their adviser.

Mission and Goals of the General Education Program


Through the general education program, the faculty of Northern Michigan University seeks to help our students develop the skills necessary for becoming independent lifelong learners and effective citizens of a challenging and rapidly changing world. The General Education Program is designed to complement a student’s academic major by promoting the integration of knowledge derived from multiple perspectives and stresses the development of problem-solving skills and intellectual creativity through the exploration of a broad range of disciplines and fields. In pursuit of these goals, we encourage our students to be rigorous and systematic in their thought and reflective about their learning, their lives and their world. The General Education Program for a bachelor's degree will provide students with eight learning outcomes based on critically important skills and knowledge. These include:

  • demonstrates critical thinking;
  • demonstrates communication skills that express and convey ideas clearly and effectively;
  • demonstrates interpretation of quantitative data leading to conclusions;
  • demonstrates engagement with cultural and ethnic diversity;
  • demonstrates integrative thinking by synthesizing disciplinary knowledge and applying this synthesis to new contexts;
  • demonstrates analysis and evaluation of artistic, literary or rhetorical expression;
  • demonstrates synthesis and analysis of major social structures and processes or events; and
  • demonstrates use of scientific processes to investigate and report knowledge about natural or social phenomena.

To successfully complete the bachelor's degree General Education Program, students must complete ten (10) courses from the components listed below. Students must achieve a grade point average of "C" (2.0) or better across all ten courses to meet the bachelor's degree General Education Program requirement. All courses in this program are at least three credits. The number of courses that are required to meet each component are indicated in parentheses following the component title. Courses in the program may be used in the student’s major or minor programs. 


Program Components


Baccalaureate degree-seeking students meet the general education requirement by completing selected courses in each of the components listed below. 

Effective Communication (two courses required): Students demonstrate communication skills that express and convey ideas clearly and effectively.

Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis (one course required): Students will demonstrate interpretation of quantitative data leading to conclusions.

Social Responsibility in a Diverse World (one course required): Students will demonstrate engagement with cultural and ethnic diversity.

Integrative Thinking (one course required): Students will demonstrate integrative thinking by synthesizing disciplinary knowledge and applying this synthesis to new contexts.

Human Expression (one course required): Students will demonstrate analysis and evaluation of artistic, literary or rhetorical expression.

Perspectives on Society (two courses required): Students will demonstrate synthesis and analysis of major social structures and processes or events.

Scientific Inquiry (two courses required): Students will demonstrate use of scientific processes to investigate and report knowledge about natural or social phenomena.

Students must also complete a written English competency and mathematics competency requirement. Courses taken to meet the above components may be used to meet these requirements as well. 

Students in an associate degree or certificate program follow the guidelines for their program in the appropriate department section. 


Substitute Courses


Transfer students wishing to substitute a course with no specific NMU equivalent to meet a specific general education component should consult their academic adviser. If the adviser supports the request, a written recommendation justifying the request should be submitted to the Registrar’s Office. In special cases, the Registrar’s Office will confer with the General Education Committee. NMU courses not designated as general education courses cannot normally be used to meet the general education components. All exceptions to this rule must be thoroughly justified by the adviser, have the support of the department offering that course, and be approved by the Registrar. Students should get approval of the substitution before they register for the course.


Advanced Placement Examinations


Examinations are available in most divisions of the general education program through the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and the advance placement program of the College Entrance Examination Board (APP-CEEB). The university awards credit for higher level international baccalaureate courses with a score of 5. If these courses are the equivalent of NMU general education courses, credit will be awarded. A list of exams accepted and required scores can be found at NMU Advanced Placement Policy.


Graduation Requirements


There are four baccalaureate graduation requirements that students must complete. They are: (1) a laboratory science course; (2) a world cultures course; (3) written English competency; and (4) mathematics competency. While the baccalaureate graduation requirements are not, strictly speaking, part of the general education program, they often can be fulfilled by courses that meet the various general education components.