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Earning Credits While Exploring

To graduate from Ship, all students need a minimum of 120 credits. You accumulate these credits by fulfilling requirements in three areas. These areas are not mutually exclusive, meaning some courses may count toward more than one area: 

  1. General Education Courses (48 credits): You will take General Education courses while you determine your major. 
  2. Courses for Your Major (credits vary): Majors typically require at minimum 36 credits, but some may exceed 60.
  3. Free Elective Courses (credits vary): Majors that require fewer credits 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 or double major to strengthen your degree and provide you with more skills and options in the job market.

AEES Courses

AEES courses will fulfill general education credits or free elective credits. The three AEES courses are listed below. You may or may not be required to take all three.

AEES 101: Introduction to Higher Education (3 credits)

Provides an extended orientation to the academic expectations and demands of Higher Education. Introduction to Higher Education lead a systematic exploration of values, beliefs, and skills that assist in the becoming successful in academic endeavors. Students examine the factors which impact their learning, select relevant methods for deepening their learning and thinking processes, and develop self-regulation strategies for maximizing the effectiveness of their efforts. Skill development in learning strategies, reading, writing, and critical thinking are stressed.

AEES 102: Leadership and Community (3 credits)

A systematic exploration of the values, beliefs, and skills that assist in becoming successful in the communities to which one belongs and to society in general. Topics include leadership theory, community identification, career development, and service learning. Self-assessment, diversity, and character development are addressed as subtopics.

AEES 103: Introduction to Exploratory Studies (3 credits)

This course engages you in transitioning to an appropriate major through active exploration of occupational and educational opportunities. By participating in experiential activities, you will practice critical thinking, improve your self-knowledge, and construct conceptual frameworks during the process of selecting a major. You will formally assess your personal characteristics, research possible major choices, and examine associated programs of study.

AEES 190: Writing Tutoring Theory and Praxis (3 credits)

This course provides an opportunity to learn writing center theory and tutoring strategies within a university writing center. Students examine theories that inform composition and writing center studies to learn about processes involved in academic writing across disciplines and how to collaborate with student writers to meet their writing goals. Writing assignments explore the writing process, respond to writing center and composition research, analyze and evaluate theories and praxis, and culminate in a personal tutoring philosophy. Classroom discussions analyze readings, evaluate strategies for tutoring writing, and apply concepts to peer tutorials. This course also involves field experiences where students will encounter unexpected growth and change in their writing abilities, communication skills, and perspectives concerning writing tutoring. Students spend a total of 8 hours observing and co-tutoring in the SU Writing Studio.


General Education Courses

View details about the General Education program.

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.

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.)

 Major Courses 

To view the courses you will take for specific majors, please see the undergraduate catalogue.


Contact the Department of Academic Engagement & Exploratory Studies (AEES) Mowrey Hall, 2nd floor 1871 Old Main Drive, Shippensburg, PA 17257 Phone: 717-477-1395