What Are General Education Courses?

Regardless of one’s chosen field of study, general education courses are usually intended to teach a variety of skills that every individual should be able to perform in order to live a productive life, develop into an informed citizen, and convey ideas as a valuable member of society.


General education courses, or “gen eds,” are classes outside your major that colleges require you to take to get a well-rounded education. The goal is to expose you to a variety of subjects, ways of thinking, and areas of knowledge that you might otherwise miss by solely focusing on your major.

Most gen ed classes fall into categories like:

  • Written and oral communication: Composition, speech, etc.
  • Mathematics and quantitative reasoning: Statistics, logic, etc.
  • Natural and physical sciences: Biology, chemistry, physics, etc.
  • Social and behavioral sciences: Psychology, sociology, political science, etc.
  • Arts and humanities: Literature, history, philosophy, foreign languages, etc.

Depending on your school, gen ed requirements can make up 30-50% or more of the credits for your degree. While that may seem like a lot, these classes provide a strong educational foundation and chances are, you’ll discover new interests along the way.


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Benefits of Taking General Education Courses Online

Taking required general education courses online offers several advantages over traditional in-person classes. Some benefits of taking general education courses online includes:

1. Flexibility

You can work at your own pace and on your own schedule. This is perfect if you have a busy lifestyle or work full time.


2. Less time commuting

No need to drive to campus for classes—you can learn from anywhere with an Internet connection.

3. Variety of options

There are many subjects and course formats to choose from, like video lectures, readings, group discussions, and interactive assignments.

4. Opportunity to explore interests

You can try out different subjects you’re curious about without a long-term commitment. Who knows, you may find a new passion.

5. Self-paced learning.

Many online gen ed courses are asynchronous, meaning you can view lectures and materials on your own schedule. This allows you to work at your own pace and revisit concepts as needed. You also avoid the hassle of adhering to an instructor’s fixed schedule for tests, assignments, and lectures.

6. Fewer distractions

Studying online in a place of your choosing helps minimize disruptions from chatty classmates and outside noises. You can find a quiet, secluded place to focus on the course materials without interruption.

7. Access to resources

Reputable online courses provide all the same resources as in-person classes, including video lectures, interactive materials, digital textbooks, discussion forums, and instructor guidance. You’ll have access to everything you need to learn the topics and complete the required assignments.

With many accredited schools now offering a range of general education courses online, you can easily find options that work with your needs and schedule. Knocking out your gen eds remotely is a convenient and cost-effective way to make progress toward your degree.

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How to Find the Best Online General Education Courses

To get those general ed credits out of the way, consider taking some courses online. Online courses offer flexibility and convenience, allowing you to work at your own pace.

Here are some tips for finding quality online general education courses:

1. Look for accredited schools and programs

Make sure the school and specific program are accredited by an agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Accredited schools provide high quality courses that will transfer to most colleges.

2. Check course transferability

See if the school has articulation agreements with other schools you’re interested in. This means those schools have evaluated the courses and will accept them for credit. You can also check with your target school’s registrar to confirm specific courses will transfer.

3. Compare courses across schools

Look at course descriptions, syllabi, assignments, and materials across different schools offering the same general ed course. Choose a course with engaging, comprehensive content and graded assignments that will adequately prepare you.

4. Read reviews from other students

Check sites like [UniversityName] or [CourseName] Reviews to see ratings and comments from students who have taken the course. Look for reviews mentioning high quality course materials, interactive elements, and instructor involvement and feedback.

5. Consider your learning preferences

Think about whether you prefer video lectures, readings, multimedia, group discussions, or a mix of formats. Look for courses matching your needs, e.g. video lectures and an active discussion board. Some courses may require proctored exams, so check if online proctoring is available if needed.

6. Ask about instructor qualifications and support

For the best experience, choose courses taught by experienced faculty, preferably with degrees in a related field of study. Look for courses where instructors actively participate in discussions, provide feedback on assignments, and are available to answer questions.


With the growing popularity of online general education courses, you have many great options to choose from. Do some research to find high-quality courses meeting your needs and you’ll be earning those credits in no time.


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