General Education Requirements

The core of Emerson College’s mission is to challenge students to think and communicate with clarity, substance, and insight. The General Education Curriculum is designed with these goals firmly in mind. More than this, the General Education Curriculum seeks to produce students who possess what Aristotle called “practical knowledge,” which implies intellectual breadth, but also the verbal skills and essential experience to put that breadth to effective use. Practical knowledge is first and foremost about solving problems. It recognizes that whether for the successful professional or involved citizen, life’s challenges are to a great extent unpredictable and unique.

This is all the more true in the 21st century, when professionals may change careers more often than their parents changed jobs, and when increasing globalization confronts us with the exciting, but also daunting, challenges of rapid economic and political change. Narrowly conceived recipes for facing these challenges will not work. What is needed instead is a practical instinct born of broad exposure to the liberal arts, grounded in communication skills and tempered by an orientation toward applications of knowledge in the real world.

General Education Requirements 

The courses an Emerson student takes in the General Education Curriculum are grouped in three categories:

  • Foundations: Students receive a solid grounding in writing and speaking skills. Students must take 2 Written Communication courses and 1 Oral Communication course.
  • Perspectives: Students investigate each of a number of ways of pursuing knowledge of their physical and social worlds. They emerge with an understanding of the different kinds of questions that each of these knowledge communities addresses and the distinctive methods they use to find answers. Students must complete one course from each of the following perspectives: Aesthetic, Ethics and Values, Historical, Interdisciplinary, Literary, Scientific, Social and Psychological, and Quantitative Reasoning (or waiver).
  • Global and U.S. Diversity: These courses emphasize global perspectives, multicultural understanding, and the values of social justice and responsibility as crucial preparation for life and work in the contemporary world. Students must take 1 Global Diversity course, 1 U.S. Diversity course, and World Languages (or waiver)

For more information on General Education course choices, please click on the link for each area above or consult the General Education portion of the Undergraduate Catalogue. Note that waivers from certain General Education requirements may be granted based on SAT/ACT exam scores or high school coursework.

Current Emerson students interested in tracking their progress toward fulfilling the General Education requirements can access their DegreeWorks degree audit via eCommon.


Emerson students take courses in writing, speaking, qualitative reasoning, perspectives (aesthetic, ethics and values, historical, interdisciplinary, literary, scientific, and social and psychological), global and U.S. diversity, and world languages.