GE 2020 Comprehensive Guide
GE is changing at Cal Poly. This change, referred to as GE 2020, simplifies Cal Poly’s new GE requirements.
GE 2020 takes effect summer 2020, with the start of the 2020-21 catalog. You will find all the tools you need to navigate the changes on this website. You have the option to remain on your current catalog or move to the new 2020-2021 catalog. Whatever your choice, this website will help guide you during this transition period.
If you remain on your current catalog (2019-20 or earlier), your GE requirements will stay the same. Catalog descriptions and Schedule Builder descriptions for GE courses will display both old and new GE, so you can make the right choices.
If you plan to take any GE classes either spring 2020 or summer 2020, at Cal Poly or elsewhere, you should carefully read the information below.
Summary of the Significant Changes
- On the 2019-2020 and earlier catalogs, there are three different GE patterns.
- On the 2020-21 catalog, there will be only two GE patterns, one for High-Unit programs (all programs in the College of Engineering, plus ARCE and BRAE majors), and one for all other students.
- Some of the GE Area numbers are changing. For example, GE A1 is becoming GE A2; GE A2 is becoming GE A1. Though the numbers are changing, the requirement of each is staying the same.
- Additionally, some of the requirements in Area B, Area C, and Area D are changing.
- We realize this can be confusing, so we have created several tools to explain how areas have changed. We’ll give you a GE area-by-area breakdown below.
What You Will Need to Know
In order to successfully navigate the changes, and make the right GE course choices, it will be important for you to know what catalog you are following.
If you are unsure of your catalog, click on the Academics tab of your Cal Poly Portal. Your catalog will be listed directly under the “Degree Information” subheading.
Comparison of the old and new GE 2020 patterns
College of Engineering, ARCE majors, or BRAE majors, refer to the GE Template for High-Unit Programs.
All other majors refer to the Standard GE Template for the new GE pattern.
GE 2020: Standard Template (PDF)
GE 2020: High-Unit Template (PDF)
If you want to compare the new GE 2020 template to the current GE template, copies of the current GE templates can be found below:
OLD GE TEMPLATES: (PDF of all three)
GE and Your Major Curriculum Requirements
Because almost all Cal Poly majors specify at least some GE requirements in major and/or support coursework, it’s important for you to figure out how changes to GE map onto your major curriculum.
To review how your degree requirements are changing on the new catalog, click on the Curriculum Sheet link under the 2020-21 catalog.
Note: Only GE requirements are changing with the 2020-21 catalog. No requirements in your major, support, and/or concentration are changing.
Note to GRC majors: you have one change in your curriculum. If you choose to move to the 2020-21 catalog, your total units of 180 will remain the same, but you will have 0 units of free electives, rather than 4 units.
Changes to the Numbers of GE Areas
The link below is a table to understand how the area numbers are changing. It will be important for you to familiarize yourself with this information so you make all the right choices in your course selections. This information is also explained in the FAQ section of this website.
GE 2020 Conversion Matrix (PDF)
Individual GE Courses
A comprehensive list of all GE courses, what GE areas they fulfill on catalogs prior to the 2020-21 catalog, and what GE areas they fulfill on the 2020-21 catalog is listed below in both alphabetical order and by GE area. Use these lists to see how GE courses you already completed and/or plan to take in the future fulfill GE requirements on your catalog.
Alphabetical by subject prefix (PDF)
Organized according to GE Area (PDF)
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Who follows the High-Unit GE 2020 template?
Students in the College of Engineering, the Architectural Engineering major, and the BioResource and Agricultural Engineering major follow the High-Unit GE 2020 template.
2. Who follows the Standard GE 2020 template?
All students outside of the College of Engineering, the Architectural Engineering major, and the BioResource and Agricultural Engineering major follow the Standard GE 2020 template.
If you are not in the CENG, ARCE, or BRAE, you will follow the standard template.
3. What is happening in Area A in GE 2020?
All students will still complete 12 units of coursework in Area A with a grade of C- or higher.
What was Area A1 (Expository Writing) will now be known as Area A2 (Written Communication).
What was Area A2 (Oral Communication) will now be known as Area A1 (still Oral Communication).
A3 (Reasoning, Argumentation, and Writing) will now be known as Critical Thinking. It will still be referred to as A3.
4. What is happening in Area B in GE 2020?
What was Area B1 (Math/Statistics) will now be known as Area B4 (Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning).
All Cal Poly students on the 2019-2020 and earlier catalogs are required to complete two courses (8 units) in Area B1 (Math/Stat).
The 2020-2021 standard GE template will require only one course (4 units) in Area B4 (Math/Quantitative Reasoning). The B4 course must be completed with a grade of C- or higher. However, many programs will continue to specify two courses in Math/Stat/Quantitative Reasoning. Review your Curriculum Sheet to see where this additional course fits into your GE requirements.
Area B2 (Life Science) will still be known as B2.
What was Area B3 (Physical Science) will now be known as Area B1 (still Physical Science).
What was Area B4 (Laboratory Activity) will now be known as Area B3 (still Laboratory Activity).
What were Areas B6 (students on the Engineering GE pattern) and B7 (all other students) will now be known simply as Upper-Division B.
Students in CAED, CAFES, BCSM, and OCOB: Due to the reduction from 8 units to 4 units in Math/Quantitative Reasoning, your overall Area B requirements have gone from 20 units to 16 units on the 2020-2021 catalog.
Students in CLA: On the 2019-2020 and earlier catalogs, you must complete a B1-B5 elective, for 4 units. On the 2020-21 catalog, this is not required. So, overall Area B requirements have gone from 24 units to 16 units on the 2020-21 catalog.
Students in CENG, ARCE, and BRAE: You must still complete the 8 additional units in Area B (Area B Electives).
5. What is happening in Area C in GE 2020?
Area C1 was previously known as Literature. Area C1 will now be known as Arts (what was previously Area C3, Fine and Performing Arts).
Area C2 was previously known as Philosophy. It will now be known as Humanities. This C2 area now includes: the Literature courses that were previously housed in C1, the Philosophy courses that were previously housed in C2, and the Cal Poly study abroad foreign language study abroad courses.
As mentioned above, what was GE C3 (Fine and Performing Arts) will now be known as C1. There will no longer be a GE C3 Area.
What was Area C4 (Upper-division elective) will now be known simply as Upper-Division C.
Students in CAED, CAFES, BCSM, and OCOB: On the 2019-2020 and earlier catalogs, you must complete a C1-C5 elective, for 4 units. On the 2020-21 catalog, this is not required. So, overall Area C requirements have gone from 20 units to 16 units on the 2020-21 catalog.
6. What do I need to take in the 12 units of Lower-Division Area C on GE 2020?
On GE 2020, you need to take one course (4 units) from C1 (Arts).
You need to take one course (4 units) from C2 (Humanities).
The third course, the Lower-Division C elective, can be either another course from C1 (Arts) or another course from C2 (Humanities).
Important note:You must take courses from three different subject prefixes in completion of Lower-Division Area C. For example, if you take a Music class for your C1, and an English class for your C2, the third Lower-Division Area C class can be chosen from either the Arts or Humanities areas, but it cannot be a Music prefix course or an English prefix course.
7. What is happening in Area D in GE 2020?
Area D1 (The American Experience) will now be known as American Institutions. It will still be referred to as D1.
Note: D1 is a special requirement. If you plan to complete it anywhere but at Cal Poly, consult your Advising Center, the Mustang Success Center, or the Evaluations Unit of the Office of the Registrar.
Area D2 was previously known as Political Economy.
Area D3 was previously known as Comparative Social Institutions.
These two areas, D2 and D3, will now be combined into one area—D2: Lower-Division D. Students on the Standard GE pattern must complete 8 units of D2.
What was Area D5 (Upper-division elective) will now be known simply as Upper-Division D.
8. I’m a student on the Standard GE 2020 template. What do I need to take in the 12 units of Lower-Division Area D on GE 2020?
You must take the 4 units of American Institutions (D1).
You need to take 8 units of D2 classes.
Important note:You must take courses from two different subject prefixes in completion of Lower-Division D2. For example, if you take a History class for your first D2, your second D2 cannot be a History prefix course.
9. I’m a student on the High-Unit GE 2020 template (College of Engineering, ARCE, and BRAE). How do I complete Area D?
You have only 12 units in Area D.
4 of those 12 units are in D1 (American Institutions).
4 of those 12 units are a Lower-Division D2 course.
The remaining 4 units can be either another Lower-Division D2 course, or an Upper-Division D course.
There is no prefix requirement in Area D for High-Unit programs.
10. What is happening in Area E in GE 2020?
There are no changes to Area E. All Cal Poly students must complete 4 units of coursework in Area E.
11. What are the 8 units of GE Area Electives?
Students on the Standard GE 2020 template have 8 units of GE Area Electives in Areas B, C, and D. The two courses (8 units) must come from two different GE areas: either from Areas B and C, from Areas B and D, or from Areas C and D. The courses can be either Upper- or Lower-Division.
See your curriculum sheet for details about your particular major: for many programs, 4 of the 8 units of Math/Stat that were previously required in Area B1 are now fulfilling 4 units of GE Area Electives. Some programs have all 8 units of Area Electives specified in major/support.
12. I took a D4 class prior to summer 2019 that I don't need to fulfill my D4/E requirement. If I move to the 2020-2021 catalog, can that extra D4 class fulfill 4 units of the GE Area Electives?
No. Area D4 no longer exists, and all D4 courses were converted to Area E. Extra D4 courses are not eligible to fulfill the GE Area Electives.
13. I'm a first-year student on the 2019-2020 catalog. Should I switch to the 2020-21 catalog in order to follow the new GE?
If you were admitted as a first-time first-year student in summer 2019, fall 2019, winter 2020, or spring 2020, Cal Poly will automatically migrate you to the 2020-21 catalog (GE 2020) in summer 2020 so you will get the benefits of the new GE for the remainder of your time at Cal Poly. You will be notified when the change occurs, at which time you will be able to see your new GE on your Degree Progress Report (DPR). Remember, there are no changes to your major, support, or concentration curriculum.
The exception to this automatic migration is the GRC major: you should consult the CLA Advising Center to see if a change to the 2020-21 catalog will benefit you.
14. I’m on the 2019-2020 catalog, but I was admitted prior to summer 2019. Should I switch to the 2020-2021 catalog in order to follow the new GE?
If you were admitted prior to summer 2019 and are on the 2019-20 catalog, you may want to consider requesting to change your catalog to the new GE pattern, depending on what GE coursework you have completed so far. You should consult with your College Advising Center for guidance.
15. I’m currently on the 2017-2019 (or earlier) catalog. Should I switch to the 2020-2021 catalog in order to follow the new GE?
If you were admitted prior to summer 2019 and are following either the 2017-19 or an earlier catalog, you should proceed with caution: your major, support, and/or concentration requirements may have changed between that catalog and the 2020-2021 catalog. Alternatively, you may be near completion of all your GE requirements. In either scenario, you might not benefit from moving to the 2020-2021 catalog. Consult with your College Advising Center if you are considering such a change.
16. If I move to the 2020-21 catalog, how will the prefix requirements affect GE credit that I have already earned at Cal Poly, through Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and/or transfer credit? Specifically, how will the subject prefix requirements in Lower-Division Area C and Lower-Division Area D impact me? Will I lose credit in the transition? What if I want to take transfer or Cal Poly classes in summer 2020?
If you were admitted as a first-time first-year student prior to summer 2020, the subject prefix requirements in Lower-Division Areas C and D will not apply to any GE coursework you completed prior to summer 2020. Coursework completed prior to summer 2020 is exempt from the subject prefix requirements.
But, if you want to complete any transfer and/or Cal Poly coursework in summer 2020 or in any quarter after, you will be held to the subject prefix requirements only in your remaining coursework in Lower-Division Areas C and D. In other words, the tracking of prefix requirements in Lower-Division Areas C and D does not begin until summer 2020; the prefixes in courses taken prior to summer 2020 are ignored and not used in prefix tracking.
Example: if you were block scheduled into a course with a Music prefix for your GE Arts (previously C3) requirement, that course will now fulfill your C1 (Arts) requirement. Because you took the course prior to Summer 2020, you could take one more GE Music class, either at Cal Poly or in transfer, for your Lower-Division C Elective course.
Another Example: if you have not yet completed any Lower-Division Area C courses prior to Summer 2020, you can only take one GE course with a Music prefix in fulfillment of either your C1 (Arts) requirement or your Lower-Division C elective. All of your Lower-Division Area C courses will be held to the subject prefix requirements.
17. I’ve decided to stay on a catalog prior to the 2020-21. I still need a GE C1 (Literature) class, but that category doesn’t exist as Literature anymore. What do I do?
You may select any course from the list of C2 courses on GE 2020 to fulfill your GE C1 (Literature) requirement, as long as it is not a duplication of any class you already have credit for. You will not be held to a prefix requirement in fulfilling lower-division Area C.
18. I’ve decided to stay on a catalog prior to the 2020-21. I still need a GE D3 (Comparative Social Institutions) class, but that category doesn’t seem to exist anymore at all. What do I do?
You may select any course from the list of D2 courses on GE 2020 to fulfill your GE D3 (Comparative Social Institutions) requirement, as long as it is not a duplication of any class you already have credit for. You will not be held to a prefix requirement in fulfilling lower-division Area D.
19. I’ve decided to stay on a catalog prior to the 2020-21. You’ve mentioned Area C and D. What about Areas A and B? How do I find classes?
You should continue to select classes using the Area numbers you are accustomed to seeing on your curriculum display and/or Degree Progress Report. For example, if you still need to take a B1 (Math/Stat) class, look for B1 classes in Schedule Builder.
20. I am a student in the Honors program. I am planning on using multiple HNRS courses in different subject areas to complete my lower-division Area C and Area D. Does my plan violate the new prefix requirements?
You are allowed to take unlimited HNRS prefix courses toward the fulfillment of lower-division Area C and Area D as long as the underlying subject areas are different. For example, you cannot take two HNRS ENGL classes in lower-division Area C.
21. I plan to take courses at a community college to satisfy some GE requirements. How can I ensure that I enroll in courses that follow the prefix requirements in lower-division Area C and Area D2?
For guidance on fulfilling any GE requirements in transfer, including lower-division Area C and Area D2, please refer to the How to Use Assist page.
22. I am changing my major from the High-Unit GE template to the Standard GE template. I see there is a subject prefix requirement in Lower-Division Area D on the Standard GE template. How will that requirement apply to me?
If you already completed two Area D2 courses with the same subject prefix BEFORE changing your major, both courses will count for your two required D2 courses on the Standard GE template (Note: This is possible because there is no subject prefix requirement in Area D on the High-Unit template).
However, if you have only completed ONE D2 course before changing your major, you must take a different subject prefix for your second required D2 course. In other words, you will be held to the subject prefix requirement of the Standard GE template.
For more information, please see FAQ #8 above.
23. I am pursuing a double major; both of my majors are on the 2020-21 catalog (GE 2020). What do I need to complete for my GE requirements?
The Cal Poly catalog states that students pursuing two majors must complete all requirements for both majors. If both of your majors are on the Standard GE template, you should not need to complete any extra courses to satisfy your GE requirements. However, you must meet all major/support requirements for both majors, and some of those major/support courses will also be cross-designated as GE requirements.
If one major is on the High-Unit GE template and the other major is on the Standard GE template, you will need to take one additional course in Area D beyond the High-Unit template requirements. For the Standard template, you must complete all four Area D courses: one D1 course, two D2 courses, and one Upper-Division D course. You will also need to complete four units of GE Area Electives on the Standard template.
Please speak with your advisor to ensure that you meet all degree requirements for both majors. Your advisor will also be able to provide guidance on how to fulfill the Area Electives.
24. I am pursuing a double major. One major is on a catalog prior to 2020-21, and the other major is on the 2020-21 catalog (GE 2020). What do I need to complete for my GE requirements?
The Cal Poly catalog states that students pursuing two majors must complete all requirements for both majors. So, you will need to complete all relevant GE coursework on both catalogs.
Please speak with your advisor about tracking GE requirements for both catalogs.