Earning Credits While Exploring
To graduate from Shippensburg, all students need a minimum of 120 credits (some majors require more). You accumulate these credits by fulfilling requirements in three areas:
- General Education Courses (48 credits)
- Credits for Your Major (the number will vary): Majors normally require around 36 credits but STEM majors may require more than 60.
- Free Electives (the number of credits will vary): With majors that require fewer credits, you have more room for free electives: basically, this means that you can choose courses in which you have an interest. In this case, we strongly recommend that you consider a minor to strengthen your degree and provide you with more skills and options in the job market.
As an Exploratory student, you will fulfill the same initial academic requirements as a declared student currently in a major program. You will take General Education courses while you determine your major.
- Required Skills & Competencies (15 credits): These courses must include Historical Foundations of Global Cultures (HIS105), Thinking Historically in a Global Age (HIS106), Introduction to Human Communication, and Writing Intensive First Year Seminar. You must also take a math course to graduate from Shippensburg, but this course will vary according to your major. History majors, for example, don't need Calculus I, while math majors usually begin with Calculus I. If you have a good idea what you want to major in, check out the math requirements for that major and schedule a math course if you wish. However, if you have no idea what you want to major in, we recommend that you wait to take a math course until you are closer to making a decision. If, however, you are seriously considering a business or STEM major, you should take a math course as soon as possible.
- Categories of Knowledge (33 credits): This section is sub-divided into five categories with specific course requirements for each. Different majors may also have specific requirements for each category. You can find more detailed information about this part of the General Education program in the 2015-2017 Undergraduate Catalog or the Guidebook.
- Diversity Course Requirement: Students are required to take one diversity course to graduate. You can meet this requirement by taking a course that double counts as a diversity course and a General Education, major, or free elective course.
The standard credit load is 15 (five courses) per semester. At 15 credits per semester and 30 per year, you should accumulate 120 credits in four years, which will satisfy most graduation requirements at Shippensburg. However, some majors require more than 120 credits; consequently, it may take longer than four years to graduate with majors in these fields or it may require you to take an overload of credits in the spring or fall or to take courses in the summer.
Exploratory students can schedule as many as three 15-credit semesters of General Education courses, if necessary. By the time you begin scheduling classes (October-November of your sophomore year) for your fourth semester, you must have declared a major because you will have completed your General Education requirements and many of the upper level courses are closed except to students who have declared a major.
You should concentrate on completing the four specific Required Skills courses during your first year, taking two each semester. You should also take courses that will help you investigate specific majors and count for General Education. This way, you can check out majors that might interest you and complete your Gen.Ed. requirements at the same time. For example, if you are interested in business, you can schedule a macroeconomics or a microeconomics course, since both are required for business majors. Even if you decide not to pursue a major in business, either of these courses will count for a General Education Category "D" requirement.
Students schedule their first semester based on General Education requirements and the students' academic major. Exploratory students take general education courses and those appropriate for their expressed area of interests. Changes can be made to the schedule through the dean's office. In November, after consulting with your academic advisor, you will submit your own schedule for the spring semester via the web.
There is no substitute for knowing the General Education program and what categories you need to fulfill. Although your advisor will help you, the ultimate responsibility for creating an appropriate schedule is YOURS.
- Ask yourself, "Why am I scheduling this course?"
- Does it fulfill a General Education requirement?
- Is it required by my major?
- Can it count as a free elective?
- Does it help me investigate a major?
- Does it fulfill a developmental requirement?
- Does it interest me?
- Do I need to retake the course because of a 'D' or 'F' grade? (Always consult your advisor before repeating a course.)
Every course you take should fulfill one of the above criteria. If this does not happen in any instance, see your advisor.
Working with your advisor is critically important to your progress and ultimate success. Your advisor is your link to the system and can save you time and money. Advisors know the academic requirements, they can help you get to know yourself better through personal, academic, and career assessments, and they can recommend resources at Shippensburg that can help you with any problem, personal as well as academic. A high correlation exists between students who work with advisors and academic success; an equally high correlation exists between students who ignore their advisors and academic failure.
You must earn at least a 2.0 to declare any major at Shippensburg. Students who earn below a 2.0 GPA cannot declare a major.
Your first priority is to earn good grades. Better grades give you better options. Some of the most popular majors require higher GPAs to declare. They include:
- Biology (2.5-3.0)
- Communications Journalism (2.3)
- Criminal Justice (2.75)
- Elementary & Secondary Education (3.0)
- Exercise Science (2.75)
- Psychology (2.3-and a screening interview is required)
- Social Work (2.2-2.5 depending on # credits) Suggested Courses