General education courses and electives are a staple when earning your York University degree. The most important part about general education courses (also called gen. eds.) and electives is finding the right ones for you. While gen. eds. are usually restricted to the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities and electives are found across all subjects, both offer you the chance to explore new subjects and expand your area of specialized study. York U’s large course selection ensures that there is always something for everyone.
As a fourth-year student at York U, I wanted to pass along my time-earned experiences of finding gen. eds. and electives. To get another perspective, check out #YUBlog’s post, “General Education Courses: What’s Out There and How to Get Ahead”!
Follow these easy steps to learn more about the selection process for gen. eds. and electives!
General Education Courses
General education courses (gen. eds.) are essential to any university degree. They help you transition into the university environment and broaden your knowledge of multiple academic disciplines. Ideally, students will complete gen. ed. courses in first year, since these are foundational courses that will help you develop strong writing, research and presentation skills. You can take gen. eds. after your first year of study too, however.
Of course, every program of study is unique and may have faculty-specific or even program-specific gen. ed. requirements, which can be found on the Academic Calendar. For example, the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and the Faculty of Health have very similar general education requirement structures, whereas the Faculty of Science refers to them as “non-science” requirements and the Faculty of Arts, Media, Performance and Design offer a specific list of subjects for their Faculty-Wide Degree Requirements.
Where Can I Find My General Education Requirements?
You can find your gen. ed. requirements by looking up your program on the Academic Calendar. Make sure that you keep this information handy when planning your courses!
Follow these simple steps to find your program-specific requirements.
- Visit the Academic Calendars
2. Find and select your program (e.g. English)
3. Once you have found your program, click the Degree Requirements tab
4. Select the Faculty-Wide Degree Requirements dropdown box
Make sure that you are following the Faculty-Wide Degree Requirements in the Academic Calendar for the year that you started your program. If you have any questions or would like more information, please make an appointment with Academic Advising in your Faculty.
5. Read the General Education section to see your required general education credits
Where Can I Find General Education Courses?
Now that you know your program-specific gen. ed. requirements, it’s time to find your gen. ed. course offerings! The steps bellow will help you find your degree-specific gen. eds.:
1. Visit the York Courses Website
2. Select General Education Courses from the “Search Current Courses By” section
3. Select the Session (term), Faculty and then your Degree OR Login
If you are a current student, you can scroll down to the bottom of this page and click the login button to bypass this search engine and navigate to a list of your program-specific gen. ed. options
Success Tip: If you need some help narrowing down your gen. ed. options, select courses that reflect your personal, academic or professional interests! An English major, for example, might be interested in York U’s Department of Languages, Literature and Linguistics’ year-long course AP/DLL 1000 6.0 World Literatures in Perspective that is approved by the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies as a general education course in humanities.
Planning Your General Education Courses
Gen. eds. are a perfect way to discover new interests and broaden your academic pursuits. Speaking from personal experience, I recommend that you take your gen. eds. during your first two years at York to give you time to follow new interests that might arise from them.
For example, if you choose to take AP/HREQ 1710 6.0 Globalization and the Human Condition as your social science gen. ed. and that course ignites your passion for Human Rights & Equity Studies, you might want to take more electives in the subject or join a student club or organization!
While general education courses introduce you to the foundations of social sciences, humanities and natural sciences, electives are general interest courses that help expand your knowledge base and give you a fun opportunity to learn about subjects outside of your major/minor. Keep in mind that these courses are outside of your program of study, so take this chance to explore new subjects that interest you!
How many electives do I need?
The number of necessary electives is program-specific, so, again, check your program on the Academic Calendar and/or speak with an Academic Advisor in your faculty to outline your degree requirements.
Where can I find electives?
You can use the York Courses Website to find electives. It’s also a great idea to speak with fellow students, a faculty member or academic advising to discuss possible elective courses.
While you have a lot of options for your general education courses, you have an even larger selection when searching for electives. If you need help narrowing down your options, try picking courses that will provide the skills you need to succeed (e.g. writing, research, business skills, etc.).
Using an English major as the example again, students might be interested in York U’s Department of Humanities – Culture & Expression’s year-long course, AP/CLTR 1953 6.0 Canadian Writers, where you get to meet current Canadian writers and discuss their work in person!
I’ve found my required courses – now what?
Your gen. eds. and electives are meant to help you grow academically and branch out of your regular studies. Use this opportunity to explore some of the courses that York U has to offer and have some fun with them!
If you have any questions about gen. eds. and/or electives, please feel free to comment below or tweet us at @YorkUStudents.