Advising Checklist

Students are encouraged keep track of their general studies journey by either printing or downloading this advising checklist.    


What is the purpose of general studies classes?

WWU is proud to be part of the liberal arts tradition. This means that its graduates have been exposed to a wide range of academic disciplines, in contrast to vocational schools which focus on training in a particular skill. According to a 2021 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans change jobs an average of 12 times during a career. As a result, students earning a liberal arts degree “expect not only to be well prepared for the particular career anticipated by their choice of major, but also to be empowered to move among jobs and even careers—including jobs and careers that do not yet exist” (AAC&U). Because technology is changing so quickly, employers want to hire graduates who have not just specific skill sets, but the ability to think critically and adapt to new situations. General studies classes expose students to a variety of disciplines and require students to adapt to many different ways of thinking.


How much time will I spend taking general studies classes?

GS classes will make up about 1/3 of your curriculum at WWU (approximately 67 of the 192 credits required to graduate). 


When should I take my general studies classes? Do I need to take my general studies classes before my major classes?

While it is true that many students take more general studies classes during their first two years and fewer as they get deeper into their major, most all students continue to take some general studies classes throughout their time at WWU. This provides important schedule variety and flexibility. The revised GS package is scaffolded to move generally from foundational skills, to surveys within different disciplines in Ways of Knowing, then finally to more in-depth explorations of topics in the Ways of Engaging section. Note that the college writing sequence and the math requirement focus on foundational skills that are necessary for success in other classes; as a result, those requirements need to be completed before you can register for upper-division courses (preferably no later than the end of the sophomore year).


Why do I need to take so many religion classes?

The 18 hours of religion courses reflect WWU’s commitment to integrating faith and learning. That specific number of credit hours is also a requirement of the Adventist Accrediting Association. In the revised general studies program, students are asked to begin with a foundational religion class, followed by an in-depth exploration of scripture and a class that focuses more broadly on theological perspectives. The remaining 6-7 credits can then be chosen from a long list of elective options under the Engaging Faith category.


Is there a difference in general study requirements for Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) students?

The requirements are identical for B.S. and B.A. students, except that B.A. students need to complete an additional foreign language requirement. 


Why are the general studies requirements different for engineering majors?

The Bachelor of Science in Engineering (B.S.E.) is a professional degree, unlike the Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts, which are liberal arts degrees. As a result, B.S.E. students have more requirements in their major and fewer general studies requirements. Engineering General Studies Requirements 


How does the Honors General Studies Program differ from the traditional general studies curriculum?

The Honors Program is an alternative curriculum which focuses on interdisciplinary, reading-intensive, and discussion oriented learning experiences. For additional information. Honor General Studies Page 


How do I make sure my transfer credits, dual credits, or AP credits fulfill specific general studies requirements at WWU?

Contact the degree analyst in the records office (


Can a single class fulfill more than one general studies requirement?

No. A class can fulfill only one general studies requirement. A single class, however, can fulfill both a general studies requirement and a requirement for a major or minor.


What is a required cognate?

A cognate is a specific class required by your major which is taught by a department outside your major; these cognate courses frequently also fulfill a general studies requirement. For example, a theology major might be required to take Introduction to Speech or a business major might be required to take statistics. It is important to check the requirements for your major to determine whether there are any cognates that will impact your choices for general studies classes.


Have another question?

 Please contact Cynthia Westerbeck, Chair of General Studies Committee, (509) 527-2370.