General Education

Student writes on the classroom whiteboard

The General Education Program provides a foundation for deeper study in a wide range of academic disciplines. Through the General Education Program, students develop the skills and habits of mind necessary for full participation in an increasingly complex world.

Program Overview

The General Education Program is designed to provide students in all academic majors and professional programs with the knowledge and skills of a college-educated citizen. General Education approaches eleven learning outcomes through three core courses, seven distribution areas, a second language requirement, and writing in each of the disciplines. In the first year, First Year Writing provides a starting point for writing at all levels throughout the curriculum. Also in the first year, students choose from a large selection of intriguing topics with which to hone their skills in First Year Seminar. Connections courses, taken later in one’s program, again use a topical approach to strengthen academic skills. Writing in each discipline purposefully and explicitly develops student writing appropriate to the style and context of the individual discipline.

Transfer Students

Transfer Students may determine their status with respect to General Education requirements by inquiring with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions or at the Office of the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

General Education Honors

To complete General Education Honors, students must take a minimum of five General Education courses in specially designed honors sections. Courses chosen normally include the Honors Core, which consists of Honors First Year Seminar, Honors First Year Writing, and Honors Connections (taken in the junior year). Other honors courses are offered in various disciplines as Distribution Requirements. Although honors courses are reserved for students in the General Education Honors Program, if space permits and with the permission of the director of honors, other students may take honors sections. For more information, see Honors Program.​

General Education Requirements for Students

Core Requirement

First Year Writing (FYW)

FYW 100 (or FYWP) is required in freshmen year. It introduces students to college-level writing and helps them develop the writing skills needed for success in college courses. Successful completion of the course (a final grade of C or better) will also meet the college's Writing Requirement. Courses are limited to twenty students.

First Year Seminar (FYS)

FYS 100, with sections on a wide variety of topics taught by professors from departments across the college, is required in the student's first year. Students are encouraged to choose a topic that interests them. Each section is discussion-based, and focused on developing skills in critical thinking, oral communication, research and information literacy, and written communication. FYS 100 is offered only in the fall and spring semesters. Students who enter the College with 24 or more transfer credits are not considered first-year students and are exempt from this requirement. Courses are limited to twenty students.

Representative First-Year Seminars

  • Music and the Social World
  • Raid the Collections: Making Discoveries in Rhode Island College Collections
  • Shock Therapy: Drama as Action
  • Global Perspectives on Health
  • Cultures Collide: Indians and Europeans in Early North America
  • Not for Political Junkies Only: Making Sense of the 2020 Presidential Campaign
  • Language and Gender
  • Performance in the First Person: This is ME!
  • Food and Medicine of East Asia
  • Sex Rights, Sex Wrongs
  • Philosophy of Mind and Mental Disorder
  • Mountains of Power and Culture
  • The Rhetoric of the 2020 Election
  • You, Inc.: The Business of You
  • Global Imagination of Korean Media: Meanings and Significance
  • Languages in U.S. Education: Whose Matter?
  • Self, Mind, Heart in Eastern Philosophies
  • ‘Tattoos aren't just for sailors anymore’: Men, women, & bodies
  • Talkies and more: The sociology of cinema through Hollywood
  • From Europe to the States: humour, friendship, and love through film remakes
  • Leadership Study Through the Biography
  • Native American Arts

Connections Courses

Courses in the Connections category are upper-level courses on topics that emphasize comparative perspectives, such as across disciplines, across time, and across cultures. Students must complete the FYS and FYW courses and at least 45 college credits before taking a Connections course.

Connections Courses
AFRI 262 Cultural Issues in Africana Studies
ANTH 261 The Complexities of Global Health
ANTH 262 Indigenous Rights and the Global Environment
ANTH 265 Anthropological Perspectives on Childhood
ANTH 266 Anthropological and Indigenous Perspectives on Place
ART 261 Art and Money
ART 262 Encounters with Global Arts
BIOL 261 The World’s Forests
COMM 261 Issues in Free Speech
COMM 262 Dialect – What we Speak
COMM 263 East Asian Media and Popular Culture
ENGL 261 Arctic Encounters
ENGL 262 Women, Crime, and Representation
ENGL 263 Zen - East and West
ENGL 267 Books That Changed American Culture
ENST 261 Climate Change and YOU
FILM 262 Cross-Cultural Projections: Exploring Cinematic Representation
GEND 261 Resisting Authority: Girls of Fictional Futures
GEND 262 Lights, Camera, Gender!: Gender in Film
GEOG 261 Globalization, Cities and Sustainability
HIST 263 Christianity
HIST 265 Post-1945 Conflicts in Africa and Globally
HIST 267 Europe and Beyond: Historical Reminiscences
HIST 268 Civil Rights and National Liberation Movements
HIST 269 Jazz and Civil Rights: Freedom Sounds
HIST 272 Globalization 15th Century to the Present
HIST 273 Latin America and Globalization, 1492-Present
HIST 274 History of the Dominican Republic
HIST 275 Russia from Beginning to End
HONR 264 Seminar in Cross-Cultural and Interdisciplinary Issues
MUS 261 Music and Multimedia
NURS 262 Substance Abuse as a Global Issue
NURS 264 Status of the World’s Children
NURS 266 Health and Cultural Diversity
PHIL 262 Freedom and Responsibility
PHIL 263 The Idea of God
PHIL 265 Philosophical Issues of Gender and Sex
PHIL 266 Asian Philosophies: Theory and Practice
POL 262 Power and Community
POL 266 Investing in the Next Global Economy
POL 267 Immigration, Citizenship, and National Identity
PSCI 262 Space: The Final Frontier
SOC 262 Sociology of Money
SOC 264 Sex and Power: Global Gender Inequality
SOC 267 Comparative Perspectives on Higher Education
SOC 268 Genocide, Atrocity, and Prevention
SUST 261 Exploring Nature through Art, Science, Technology
THTR 261 Contemporary Black Theatre: Cultural Perspectives

Distribution Requirement

Distribution courses emphasize ways of thinking and methods of inquiry within various disciplines. Students are required to take one course in each of the following seven areas. For an up-to-date listing of applicable courses, please visit the Rhode Island College Catalog.

  1. Arts - Visual and Performing
  2. History
  3. Literature
  4. Mathematics
  5. Natural Science (lab required)
  6. Social and behavioral Sciences
  7. Advanced Quantitative/Scientific Reasoning


RIC 100 Requirement

The Introduction to RIC (RIC 100) course is designed to support the transition of first year students into college life in general and into the Rhode Island College community in particular, connecting each student with both an instructor and a peer mentor. The course covers such topics as the skills needed for academic success, getting the most out of working with your advisor, and taking care of yourself. The one-credit course meets for one hour weekly and is graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory. Students whose programs include COLL 101, COLL 150, or HONR 150 are exempt from the RIC 100 requirement.

Second Language Requirement

Rhode Island College graduates are expected to communicate in and understand a language other than English at a novice-mid proficiency level. The Second language requirement of General Education is designed to meet that expectation.

  • The Modern Language online placement test cannot be used to satisfy the language requirement. It is only a tool to select a class.
  • If a student places at the 114 level through the placement test, he or she can take French 115. Italian 115, Portuguese 115, or Span 115 and satisfy the language requirement as well as the Literature category.

The Second Language Requirement may be fulfilled in any of the following ways:

  1. By completing a RIC language course 102 or higher. Note that the prerequisite for 102 language courses is completion of 101 with a passing grade, placement through the departmental online placement exam for selected languages, or consent of Department Chair. Completing ASL 102 (American Sign Language) also satisfies the Second Language Requirement.
  2. Through transfer credit for a language course equivalent to 102 or higher from an accredited college or university.
  3. Through transfer credit of a second language course from an approved study abroad program.
  4. Through Advanced Placement (AP) credit. If students score three or higher on the AP Test in French, German, or Spanish, RIC will award 6 credits (equivalent to RIC language courses 113 and 114).
  5. Through Early Enrollment Program credit for language courses 113 or 114. Students who wish to receive credit for language courses 101 and 102 will have to take the CLEP Test.
  6. By completing the CLEP Test in French, German, or Spanish, with a score on the Level I test of 50 or higher.
  7. By completing the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) and the written exam for languages for which there are no CLEP or AP Tests. Level: OPI (offered in 65 languages): Novice Mid to High. Written test: Novice High (offered in twelve languages).
  8. By completing the SAT II Subject Test (scores vary according to language).
  9. Foreign/International students must submit an official middle school or high school transcript from a non-English speaking country of origin.

Additional Information

Rhode Island College entrance

Program Director

Dr. Suchandra Basu

Associate Professor