Liberal Arts and Sciences Studies

Liberal arts and sciences studies, an essential part of your degree program, enhance a person’s ability to communicate effectively; to think critically; to understand one’s self and others; and to take action about the nature, quality and conditions of life. An Associate in Arts degree requires at least 48 liberal arts and sciences credits and an Associate in Science degree requires at least 32 liberal arts and sciences credits. A Bachelor of Arts degree requires at least 96 liberal arts and sciences credits, a Bachelor of Science degree requires at least 64 liberal arts and sciences credits, and a Bachelor of Professional Studies requires at least 32 liberal arts and sciences credits.

Undergraduate Certificate Programs

Undergraduate certificate programs may be stand alone or fully transferable into a related degree program. Financial aid may be used only when certificates are part of a degree program.

Advanced-Level Studies

If you are seeking a bachelor’s degree, you will complete at least 45 credits of advanced-level studies, with at least 24 credits of those advanced-level studies in your concentration.

The distinction between advanced study and introductory study is made by considering factors such as: the level of theoretical and application skills required (studies requiring analysis, synthesis and evaluation are more likely to be classified as advanced), or the presumption of prior study and the nature of the studies themselves (foundation skills, surveys or beginning technical studies are more likely to be considered introductory).

Breadth of Degree Programs

As a college of arts and sciences, SUNY Empire State College expects students to acquire the qualities of a broadly educated person. The purpose of a college education is to enable students not only to accumulate information, but also to appreciate what is learned in a broad context, relate what is being learned to what is already known, judge what one is told rather than merely accept it, and use what is learned in a practical and intellectual way.

The student’s learning should extend beyond a single, narrow discipline or field. The student should demonstrate an understanding of several diverse perspectives (such as historical, literary, scientific, technological, esthetic, ethical, international, multicultural and gender-based) and be able to apply such perspectives to situations in which they must analyze, explain or solve problems concerning human behavior, society and the natural world.

SUNY General Education Requirements

All students seeking SUNY Empire State College degrees must fulfill the SUNY General Education Requirements. For both associate and bachelor’s degrees, you are required to complete a minimum of 30 credit hours distributed among at least seven of the 10 knowledge and skill areas listed below. You must include both mathematics and basic communication as two of the seven areas. You must select an additional five different content areas from the remaining knowledge and skill areas.

The 10 knowledge and skill areas are: mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, American history, Western civilization, other world civilizations, humanities, the arts, foreign language and basic communication.

You must demonstrate competencies in two areas: critical thinking and information management.

Students may use SUNY Empire State College studies or approved online courses, transfer credit, approved standardized examinations or individualized credit by evaluation toward the SUNY General Education Requirements. Consult your mentor about the options available to you.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Knowledge and Skill Areas
    1. Mathematics
      Students will demonstrate the ability to:
      • Interpret and draw inferences from mathematical models such as formulas, graphs, tables and schematics;
      • Represent mathematical information symbolically, visually, numerically and verbally;
      • Employ quantitative methods such as, arithmetic, algebra, geometry or statistics to solve problems;
      • Estimate and check mathematical results for reasonableness; and
      • Recognize the limits of mathematical and statistical methods.
    2. Natural Sciences
      Students will demonstrate:
      • Understanding of the methods scientists use to explore natural phenomena, including observation, hypothesis development, measurement and data collection, experimentation, evaluation of evidence, and employment of mathematical analysis; and
      • Application of scientific data, concepts and models in one of the natural sciences.
    3. Social Sciences
      Students will demonstrate:
      • Understanding of the methods social scientists use to explore social phenomena, including observation, hypothesis development, measurement and data collection, experimentation, evaluation of evidence, and employment of mathematical and interpretive analysis; and
      • Knowledge of major concepts, models and issues of at least one discipline in the social sciences.
    4. American History
      Students will demonstrate:
      • Knowledge of a basic narrative of American history: political, economic, social and cultural, including knowledge of unity and diversity in American society;
      • Knowledge of common institutions in American society and how they have affected different groups; and
      • Understanding of America’s evolving relationship with the rest of the world.
    5. Western Civilization
      Students will:
      • Demonstrate knowledge of the development of the distinctive features of the history, institutions, economy, society, culture, etc., of Western civilization; and
      • Relate the development of Western civilization to that of other regions of the world.
    6. Other World Civilizations
      Students will demonstrate:
      • Knowledge of either a broad outline of world history; or
      • The distinctive features of the history, institutions, economy, society, culture, etc., of one non-Western civilization.
    7. Humanities
      Students will demonstrate knowledge of the conventions and methods of at least one of the humanities in addition to those encompassed by other knowledge areas required by the general education program.
    8. The Arts
      Students will demonstrate understanding of at least one principal form of artistic expression and the creative process inherent therein.
    9. Foreign Language
      ​Students will demonstrate:
      • Basic proficiency in the understanding and use of a foreign language; and
      • Knowledge of the distinctive features of culture(s) associated with the language they are studying.
    10. Basic Communication
      Students will:
      • Produce coherent texts within common college-level written forms;
      • Demonstrate the ability to revise and improve such texts;
      • Research a topic, develop an argument and organize supporting details;
      • Develop proficiency in oral discourse; and
      • Evaluate an oral presentation according to established criteria.
  2. Competencies
    The following two competencies should be infused throughout the general education program:
    1. Critical Thinking (Reasoning)
      Students will:
      • Identify, analyze and evaluate arguments as they occur in their own or others’ work; and
      • Develop well-reasoned arguments.
    2. Information Management
      Students will:
      • Perform the basic operations of personal computer use;
      • Understand and use basic research techniques; and
      • Locate, evaluate and synthesize information from a variety of sources.

Concentrations and General Learning

Individualized degree programs at SUNY Empire State College divide learning into two major categories: concentrations and general learning. Your concentration may be a focused, in-depth study of a discipline (for example, economics, physics, psychology); an interrelated study of two or more disciplines; the study of a problem or a theme; or study in preparation for a profession or vocation.

Because it requires serious, focused learning and implies a degree of competence in an area, a bachelor’s degree concentration should contain at least 24 to 41 credits of study. Generally, no more than half of the total number of degree credits should be in the concentration. An associate degree can have a concentration but does not need to.

The college has established guidelines for completing concentrations in each area of study. These guidelines outline general expectations for study in the area, as well as specific expectations for certain concentrations. In addition, students often design concentrations for which no specific guidelines exist. These students research their interests and explain their choices within their degree program rationale.

Professional areas regulated by State Education Law (e.g., engineering) are not included in SUNY Empire State College’s range of concentrations. The area of study guidelines are included in this catalog (see page 25). For detailed information, including concentration guidelines and excluded concentration titles, see the Student Degree Planning Guide.

Degree programs also must contain general learning, a term used to describe learning outside of the area of concentration. General learning may support the concentration, may add breadth to the degree program, or may be in areas that are unrelated to the concentration but are of interest to you.