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Undergraduate General Education

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The General Education Program at Azusa Pacific University is foundational to the education of the whole person. The following questions and answers serve to explain liberal education as it guides our curriculum.

In this Section:

What is a general education program?
This educational program provides courses in the liberal arts that develop skills, cultivate understanding, and provide experiences that lead to moral, intellectual, social, civic, and spiritual maturity.

What is a liberal education?
A liberal education cultivates the mind – open to new perspectives, appreciative of the past, able to effectively communicate with others – so that students will make a significant contribution in our world.

What are the liberal arts?
In ancient Greece, the Trivium, meaning the meeting of three ways, brought together logic, rhetoric, and grammar studies from the literary and verbal arts.

Another major component in Greece was the Quadrivium, meaning the meeting of the four ways, as found in mathematics and the wisdom arts. Greek students studied arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy.

How do various courses today align with the Greek liberal arts?
Today’s courses that follow the Trivium are language, literature, foreign language, communication, logic, history, ethics, and politics. These courses make up a major portion of the skills and integrative core of the General Education Program. In alignment with the Quadrivium, today we study music and art, algebra, geography, and the natural sciences, including physics, astronomy, geology, biology, and chemistry.

Why are general studies courses in the liberal arts important for my education?
We believe they serve to free the mind, for as Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). The arts serve to liberate us from prejudice, small-mindedness, and hostility, and help us to find meaning in life.

How do the liberal arts relate to professional studies?
In ancient times, the liberal arts were known as leisure arts because they were pursued for intellectual development, not due to necessity of war or for making a career. So although these studies do enhance one’s abilities for successful careers, they do not teach directly to one’s major professional development. They do, however, teach critical thinking and other skills that are valuable in all walks of life.

What skills are central to our APU General Education Program?
We seek to develop academic skills in rhetoric – that is, in writing and public speaking. Information competency and analytical and critical thinking are foundational to sound rhetorical skills. Math serves to develop quantitative reasoning, and foreign language skills enhance cultural and grammar skills.

In addition to skills, APU’s General Education Program includes an “Integrative Core.” What is an Integrative Core?
The Integrative Core brings together six core areas of study to cultivate understanding and provide experience that lead to moral, intellectual, social, civic, and spiritual maturity. These areas work together to provide a structure for developing a Christian perspective of truth and life.

What are the six emphases of the Integrative Core? What courses are to be selected for each area?

  1. Aesthetics and the Creative Arts — one approved class in art or music
  2. Heritage and Institutions — two classes: philosophy and history or political science
  3. Identity and Relationships — one class in psychology, sociology, or social work
  4. Language and Literature — one class in world or American literature
  5. Nature — One class with lab in biology, chemistry, or physics
  6. God’s Word and the Christian Response — six classes in Bible, ministry, and doctrine

Why aren’t all classes in liberal arts subject areas counted toward General Education requirements?
Courses approved for General Education credit must meet the objectives for each area, providing depth and breadth in the subject area. Not all liberal arts courses fulfill these objectives.

How are classes approved for General Education credit?
Courses are proposed by an academic department and submitted to the General Education Council for approval.

What should incoming students do about their General Education courses?
First year students should schedule 100-level Skills and God’s Word courses into their first two semesters as much as possible. These courses are foundational to an APU education. Transfer students should schedule General Education courses as early as possible, adding them to the courses required by the chosen major.

How do I know whether classes I’ve taken at another university will fulfill APU’s General Education requirements?
You can check online for transferable courses at

Note: Please refer to the General Education requirements at APU for more specific expectations from this program of education.

Note: This information is current for the 2013-14 academic year; however, all stated academic information is subject to change. Please refer to the current Academic Catalog for more information.