York U General Education Courses & Electives

Posted by Lauren Dick on June 19, 2018

Academic Success

Hi there! You’ve reached an older post on the #YUBlog that may no longer contain relevant or up-to-date information. Here is an updated Guide to General Education & Elective Courses.

If you are looking for some ideas for your General Education and Elective courses, here are 10 Courses You Didn’t Know Were Offered in Fall/Winter 2021-2022 .

For the latest posts on York University go to our homepage where you can also search for posts by topic.

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!

Girl sitting on bed typing on her laptop enrolling in general education courses and/or electives
Find the perfect general education courses and/or electives for you!

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.


  1. Visit the Academic Calendars
Screenshot of the 2018-2019 Academic Calendar homepage on the York U website.
If you’re looking for the Calendar pertaining to the year you started your program, you can find it under the Other Calendars tab.

2. Find and select your program (e.g. English)

Screenshot of the program listings with the English program highlighted.
For this example, we will select the English program.

3. Once you have found your program, click the Degree Requirements tab

Screenshot of the English program homepage with the Degree Requirements tab highlighted.
The Degree Requirements tab will help you learn all about the University-wide, Faculty-wide and Program-wide requirements.

4. Select the Faculty-Wide Degree Requirements dropdown box

Screenshot of the page that appears once you click on the Degree Requirements tab. The page now has three dropdown boxes, the middle one is the Faculty-Wide Degree Requirements dropdown box and is highlighted in this image.
With these options, we want to 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

Screenshot of the General Education requirements for English majors (what appears when you click on the Faculty-Wide Degree Requirements dropdown box).
An example of an English major’s General Education requirements.

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

Screenshot of the General Education Courses search engine's homepage with the three fill-in boxes highlighted ([1] select your session; [2] select your faculty; [3] select your degree).
The course offerings are very different for the Summer and Fall/Winter terms, so make sure you select the right academic session!
Screenshot of the bottom of the General Education Courses search engine homepage where there is a login section for current students.
You will be asked to login to your Passport York account to see which gen. eds. are relevant to your specific program.

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!

Stock image of a man looking at a pin-up board full of pages.
If you are unsure about your schedule or picking your gen. eds., please consult your Academic Advising office.


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.

Stock image of people on a couch on their laptops and tablets.
Learning about potential courses from fellow or upper-year students is a huge help when picking your 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?

Once you’ve found your required courses, it is time to enrol! Check out the #YUBlog’s posts, “Breaking Down the Visual Schedule Builder” and “Enrolment 101” for more information.

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.

Lauren Dick
Lauren Dick

Lauren Dick graduated in Spring 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Professional Writing and a Professional Certificate in Marketing. She loves to curl up with a good story and a warm cup of tea (only English Breakfast, mind you), and she hopes her blog posts will continue to encourage current and incoming students to learn more about York U and its community.

See other posts by Lauren Dick