May 26, 2019  
2018-2019 Undergraduate Catalog 
2018-2019 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

General Studies Major, B.G.S.

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Department Information

School of Continuing Studies & Academic Outreach

P.O. Box 70659
916 W. Maple St.
Phone: (423) 439-4223
Web Address:

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 the 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 credits. (Exceptions to the 100 credits 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.

Degree Requirements: 120 credits

General Education 41-42 credits
Major Total Requirement 79 credits
      Major Core    (10 credits)
      Electives    (69 credits)
TOTAL 120 credits

Suggested Four-Year Program of Study: BGSD-BGS  

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

General Education Requirements  

These requirements include earning 41-42 credits in Communication, Humanities and Fine Arts, Social and Behavior Sciences, History, Natural Sciences and Mathematics categories.

Total Requirements for General Studies Major: 79 credits

Major Field Core: 10 credits

Free Electives: 69 credits

No Minor Required

Additional Information

Click here to view Degree and Graduation Requirements  for all ETSU students.

CSCI 1100  or Proficiency exam: Must be completed to meet Bachelor’s Degree Requirements. 

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 credits from the College of Business and Technology to no more than 25 percent of the total number of credits 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, credits 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 credit program, this limit is 30 credits. 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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