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East Tennessee State University

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    East Tennessee State University
  Dec 15, 2017
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog

General Studies Major, B.G.S.

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School of Continuing Studies and Academic Outreach

General Studies Program Information

Box 70659
Phone: (423) 439-4223

The School of Continuing Studies and Academic Outreach offers the Bachelor of General Studies (B.G.S.) to provide adult learners an alternative to traditional degree programs. A learner-centered program, the B.G.S. allows students to develop an individualized program of study specifically tailored to their learning needs.

The B.G.S. program is most suited for the mature student, generally 21 or older, who wishes to complete an undergraduate degree while still fulfilling employment and family responsibilities. Each student follows an Individual Learning Plan (ILP). This plan is a written summary developed by the student and B.G.S. advisor that includes the ETSU general education core, previous college-level work, and elective credits to meet both graduation requirements and the students’ personal or professional goals. Recognizing that learning often occurs in nonacademic settings, the School of Continuing Studies and Academic Outreach encourages its B.G.S. majors to pursue credit for college-level prior learning. Students may earn credit through such programs as the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), departmental challenge examinations, or submission of a prior learning portfolio to be evaluated by ETSU faculty. Due to the unique nature of the B.G.S. degree, students may not double major.

Admission Requirements:

  1. A student must be admitted to the university through the Office of Admissions.
  2. Once accepted, the student must apply for admission to the B.G.S. program through the School of Continuing Studies and Academic Outreach and meet these requirements.
    1. The student must be 21 or older but not have 100 or more credit hours. (Exceptions to the 100 hours completed may be appealed to the department chair, Division of Cross-Disciplinary Studies.)
    2. The student must complete the Cross-Disciplinary Studies application.
    3. The student must write a brief essay that includes academic goals and objectives and the reason the B.G.S. program is appropriate.
    4. The student must interview with the B..G.S. advisor. The student must show evidence of ability to do highly independent work.Students better served by traditional academic programs will be referred to those programs.
  3. Transfer credit is accepted only from accredited institutions.

General Program Information

To earn a degree from ETSU, there are specific course requirements established by ETSU, by the East Tennessee State University Board of Trustees, by each college, and by each department. All students must meet the degree requirements at each of these levels outlined in the following list:

University-level Degree and Graduation Requirements

Total Credit Hours for Degree: 120

General Education Requirements: 41 - 42 Credit Hours

Listed below are the categories and courses specified under East Tennessee State University Board of Trustees General Education Requirements. Note that certain courses are required for this degree, specific to this major. Thus, these courses will satisfy both a General Education requirement AND a requirement of this major. (Other majors may require different General Education courses.) Where specific courses are required for this major, only those courses are listed under the category. If there are no specific major requirements for a category, all course options appear.


9 credits, consisting of 6 credits of written composition and 3 credits of oral communication.

Written Composition

Complete both of the following: 

Oral Communication

Complete one of the following:

Humanities and Fine Arts

9 credits, consisting of 3 credits of literature, 3 credits of fine arts, and 3 credits of humanities electives.


6 credits, consisting of both of the following:

Natural Sciences

8 credits, consisting of two of the following (some require labs which are listed directly after the lecture):

(Note: Students pursuing a Bachelor of Science in the College of Arts and Sciences must select 8 credit hours in a SINGLE laboratory science. Please see listing in College of Arts and Sciences B.S. Degree Requirements for options.)


3 - 4 credits, consisting of one of the following:

  • MATH 1530 - Probability and Statistics – Noncalculus (3 credits)
  • MATH 1840 - Analytic Geometry and Differential Calculus (3 credits)
  • MATH 1910 - Calculus I (4 credits)
  • Note:

    Students will enroll in the appropriate general education math course during their first calendar year of enrollment at ETSU. Students required to complete learning support in mathematics must enroll in a learning support-designated section (L01-L99) of MATH 1530  during their first 15 hours at ETSU (not including summer) unless they are also required to complete learning support in reading or writing. Students needing learning support in reading or writing in addition to learning support in math should enroll in MATH 1530-Lxx immediately upon completing their other learning support requirements. Additional information may be found on the University Advisement Center website

Bachelor of General Studies

Major Field Core: 10 Credit Hours

Electives: 65-66 Credit Hours

Additional graduation requirements:

Senior-Level Institution

A minimum of 50 credit hours must be completed at a senior-level (four-year) institution.

Upper Division Requirements

34 credits of the student’s total program must be upper division (3000/4000 levels).


At least 30 credit hours of credit must be completed in residence at ETSU. Evening, off-campus courses, and credit earned through the portfolio are considered residence credit.

Grade Point Average

A minimum grade point average of 2.0 is required to graduate.

CSCI 1100: 3 Credit Hours

(Or pass the proficiency exam.)


A minor is not required for B.G.S. students but students may choose to pursue a minor as it fits their goals.

Minor: no minor required

Individual Learning Plan (ILP)

The students’ Individual Learning Plan, designed with the help of an academic advisor, is prepared early in the students’ program. Each students’ ILP consists of prior learning and all planned new learning. Prior learning includes previous coursework, credit for CLEP and other exams, credit recommended by the American Council on Education, and prior learning portfolio credit. New learning consists of the ETSU courses the student plans on completing to meet degree requirements. B.G.S. majors are required to limit their hours from the College of Business and Technology to no more than 25 percent of the total number of hours completed for the B.G.S. degree.

The Prior Learning/Experiential Learning Portfolio

The prior learning portfolio is an option available only to students in the Bachelor of General Studies and Bachelor of Science with majors in Interdisciplinary Studies that allows them the opportunity to earn credit for their college-level learning that has taken place outside the traditional college classroom. In consultation with the advisor, students prepare a prior learning portfolio. The finished portfolio is submitted to the advisor to appraise form and content. Final approval is made by the appropriate departmental faculty. Credit may only be awarded for prior learning that directly equates to specific ETSU courses.

If a student transfers from the majors listed above to another major, hours earned through the prior-learning portfolio cannot be applied to the new major. No more than 25 percent of the degree may be earned through the prior learning portfolio process. In a 120-semester-hour program, this limit is 30 credit hours. Credit earned through the prior learning portfolio is ungraded and does not affect the student’s grade point average. Portfolio credit does count as ETSU residence credit.

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