University revamps general education requirements

The Youngstown State University Academic Senate’s vote in April to amend general education requirements will result in schedule changes for YSU students in the fall, including a possible reduction in hours needed to graduate.

The General Education Committee is also reassessing courses.

“There had been a long-term effort to review and reorganize general education for years now,” said Tod Porter, chairman of the committee.

Under the new plan, students would need 40 credit hours of general education courses, as opposed to 46 credit hours under the current plan, which was implemented 12 years ago.

However, the number of credit hours needed to graduate will remain the same and depend on the student’s major.

Chet Cooper, chairman of the YSU Academic Senate, said the motion was passed to reduce the number of credit hours to create “more of a broad-based system.”

Cooper said criticisms from an accreditation visit in 2008 were also taken into consideration, including the number of students who were graduating without meeting the requirements and the assessment of general education courses.

Students currently enrolled at YSU have the choice to follow either system. Newly enrolled freshmen for the fall will be required to follow the new system.

As far as filling the required credit hours, Porter said it will depend on the student’s major.

A student whose major requires more than the minimum 124 credit hours will be able to use the six credit hours removed from the general education requirement toward his or her major instead. Students whose majors don’t require more now have the opportunity to take elective courses that aren’t available under the general education list.

“Every student needs to be looked at differently,” Porter said. “For example, if a student switches their major, the mix of general education courses they have taken may now match, as well as it could, with that new major.”

Porter said he advises current freshmen and sophomores to consider following the new model but added that the old model may be more beneficial for juniors and seniors, as some courses in the revised model have either shifted or are now listed under more than one category.

General education courses are broken into two categories: “skill” and “knowledge.”

“There was no change in what you typically would call the skill courses within general education,” Porter said.

Skill courses include writing, oral communication and math.

Knowledge courses, however, have been reorganized into four main topics: arts and humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and social and personal awareness.

Students under the new model will now take nine knowledge courses instead of 11. They will be required to take two courses from each category plus one general education elective.

“Reorganization of the knowledge domains will make YSU’s general education requirements more consistent with the requirements of other universities in the state,” Porter said.

YSU’s 46-credit-hour requirement is the highest in the state. Kent State University requires 36 to 37, the University of Akron requires 42 and Cleveland State University requires 38.

Though the changes won’t be mandated until the fall, the university is proactive in getting the word out.

“This semester, we’re working to make the campus aware of the change,” Porter said.

He said the university is training academic advisers to guide current students on which model they should follow, as well as making faculty advisers aware of the changes.

Porter said students should visit the general education website at to view the courses under both models and determine which model would be best for them. Students can still use the Degree Audit Reporting System to determine if their general education requirements have been fulfilled.