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General Studies Degree

Executive Director: Dr. Richard Carter
Office: Horrabin Hall 6
Telephone: (309) 298-1929; Fax: (309) 298-2226
E-mail: BGS@wiu.edu
Website: wiu.edu/bgs

Western Illinois University offers a unique online Bachelor of Arts degree program designed to provide non-traditional students an opportunity to earn an undergraduate degree in a manner compatible with their educational needs and lifestyles: The Bachelor of Arts in General Studies degree. This highly individualized and flexible program recognizes that adults may have attended a variety of educational institutions and accepts transfer of passing coursework taken at other regionally accredited colleges and universities. Students may apply for academic credit through the preparation of a prior learning portfolio, which documents specific college-level knowledge gained through nonacademic pursuits that can be related to WIU courses. Students are encouraged to use the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), the Excelsior Examinations, and other testing programs. Additionally, students may use online courses or coursework offered through extension sties towards completion of their degree.

Students with baccalaureate degrees from regionally accredited colleges or universities may not be admitted to the WIU Bachelor of Arts in General Studies degree program. Firefighters who hold a bachelor’s degree who would like to complete additional coursework through the Degrees at a Distance Program and attain a second bachelor’s degree should contact the School of Distance learning, International Studies and Outreach by calling (309) 298-1929 or via email at BGS@wiu.edu.

Admission Requirements

  1. Applicants who have attended other colleges or universities must:
    1. have a C average for all work attempted;
    2. be in good standing at last college or university attended; and
    3. have successfully completed 24 semester hours of coursework at a regionally accredited institution; or have had a scheduled high school graduation date at least five years ago.
  2. Applicants who do not meet the admission requirements identified in 1 above may be considered for admission if they:
    1. have been separated from higher education institutions for five or more years; and
    2. submit a letter of explanation to the School of Distance Learning, International Studies and Outreach explaining past academic performance and why they should be admitted to the Bachelor of Arts in General Studies degree program.

Any former WIU student admitted to the degree program under option 2 above will continue under the last transcripted academic standing status (e.g., academic probation, academic warning). Applicants who do not meet the criteria identified in 1 and 2 above may appeal to the Bachelor of Arts in General Studies Advisory Committee for admission.

Note: Students who have been academically suspended or dismissed from WIU must be readmitted to the University before seeking admission to the Bachelor of Arts in General Studies degree program.

Admission into the Bachelor of Arts in General Studies degree program does not guarantee admission into any other degree program at WIU.

Transfer Credit

All academic credit earned before admission to the Bachelor of Arts in General Studies degree program, regardless of when the credit was earned, may be transferred into the program provided that:

  1. The college or university was regionally accredited at the time the credit was earned.
  2. A grade of A, B, C, D, P, or S was earned.
  3. The credit could be applied at that institution to an associate or bachelor degree program.
  4. The course was not a repeated course.
  5. The course was not remedial or developmental.
  6. A “C” was earned for the equivalent of freshman composition.

National Fire Academy Curriculum

The National Fire Academy higher education curriculum is a certificate program of 13 fire-related, upper-division courses. Members of the fire service may choose to take any number of these courses to enhance their professional growth, and the NFA will award certificates for successful completion. The certificates meet the national fire service and training standards established by the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy and the Department of Homeland Security.

For fire service personnel who would like to take one or more of these courses, and at the same time work toward completing a bachelor’s degree at WIU, the degree associated with the National Fire Academy higher education curriculum is the Bachelor of Arts in General Studies. The NFA has an agreement with WIU’s General Studies degree to provide undergraduate certifications in:

  • Fire Administration and Management
  • Fire Prevention Technology

Through completion of one of the certificates, firefighters will be able to focus their General Studies degree in a fire-related academic area and have the certificate posted on their academic transcript.

Prior Learning Portfolio Credit

A maximum of 30 credit hours for portfolio assessment may be accepted toward credit for graduation. University faculty evaluate and recommend credit for the prior learning. Upon approval of the department chair and college dean, the academic credit awarded as a result of a portfolio evaluation will be entered on the WIU transcript.

Honors Curriculum—Academically qualified students in this department are welcome to complete an honors curriculum in University Honors, Upper Division Honors, or Lower Division Honors. All Honors students must complete the one-hour honors colloquium (G H 299). Lower Division Honors includes General Honors coursework. Upper Division Honors includes honors work in the major. University Honors combines Upper and Lower Division Honors. For more information about honors curricula see the Centennial Honors College page of the catalog or visit the Centennial Honors College website at wiu.edu/Honors.

Degree/Graduation Requirements

All students seeking the Bachelor of Arts in General Studies must successfully complete the requirements listed below.

  1. General Education: Satisfy the University General Education Curriculum Requirements—43 s.h. or the IAI Transferable General Education Core Curriculum Requirements listed below—37–41 s.h.
    Courses approved as equivalent to those in the IAI Transferable General Education Core Curriculum may be used (itransfer.org). Courses available in the University General Education and College of Arts and Sciences Curriculum Requirements may also be used.
    IAI General Education Core Curriculum: 37–41 s.h.
    1. Communication: 9 s.h.
      3 courses, including a 2-course sequence in writing (6 s.h.) and 1 course (3 s.h.) in oral communication
    2. Mathematics: 3–6 s.h.
      1 to 2 courses
    3. Physical and Life Sciences: 7–8 s.h.
      2 courses, with 1 course selected from the life sciences and 1 course from the physical sciences and including at least 1 laboratory course
    4. Humanities and Fine Arts: 9 s.h.
      3 courses, with at least 1 course selected from humanities and at least 1 course from the fine arts.
    5. Social and Behavioral Sciences: 9 s.h.
      3 courses, with courses selected from at least 2 disciplines
    No more than 2 courses from any 1 discipline can be used to fulfill General Education Core Curriculum Requirements.

    Students must earn a passing letter grade in each course used to fulfill requirements. A grade of C or better will be required for satisfactory completion of the Communication writing requirements.
  2. Grade Point Average (GPA): Earn a minimum overall GPA of 2.00 (C). See information about computing GPA.
  3. Semester Hours: Earn a minimum of 120 semester hours. Of the 120 semester hour minimum:
    1. At least 40 must be earned from a senior (4-year) institution
    2. At least 40 must be earned in upper division (junior/senior) level courses from a senior (4-year) institution.
    3. At least 30 must be earned from WIU (at least 16 must be upper division).
  4. MATH Competency: Demonstrate ability to use baccalaureate-level skills in mathematics. (See University General Education Curriculum Requirements)
  5. Writing Requirement: Successfully complete a Writing Instruction in the Discipline (WID) course OR a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies (BGS) online writing course*.
  6. Foreign Language/Global Issues: Fulfill the foreign language/global issues requirement for the degree program.#
  7. Graduation Application: File an application for graduation in the School of Distance Learning, International Studies and Outreach by the following deadlines: Fall semester— July 15; Spring semester—November 15; Summer session—April 15.
  8. Financial Obligations: Clear all financial obligations to the University before proof of degree will be provided.

#The foreign language/global issues graduation requirement may be fulfilled by successfully completing one of the following: 1) an intermediate foreign language requirement; 2) a General Education global issues course; 3) any major’s discipline-specific global issues course; or 4) an approved Study Abroad program.

*BGS online writing courses: BC 323, 325, 328; CS 320; ENG 380, 381; HIST 422; FS 484, 485; PHIL 330; SOC 300, 360; WS 355, 360; UNIV 490.

Undergraduate Certificates

Certificate in Fire Administration and Management: 30 s.h.

Complete the following courses:

  • EM 477—Disaster and Fire Defense Planning (3 s.h.)
  • EM 478—Managerial Issues in Hazardous Materials (3 s.h.)
  • ET 443—Fire Protection Structure and Systems Design (3 s.h.)
  • FS 481—Fire and Emergency Administration (3 s.h.)
  • FS 482—Analytic Approaches to Public Fire Protection (3 s.h.)
  • FS 483—Personnel Management for the Fire and Emergency Services (3 s.h.)
  • FS 484—Fire Prevention Organization and Management (3 s.h.)
  • FS 485—Political and Legal Foundations (3 s.h.)
  • SOC 487—Application of Fire Research (3 s.h.)
  • SOC 488—Community and the Fire Threat (3 s.h.)
Certificate in Fire Prevention Technology: 30 s.h.

Complete the following courses:

  • ET 443—Fire Protection Structure and Systems Design (3 s.h.)
  • ET 444—Fire Dynamics (3 s.h.)
  • FS 481—Fire and Emergency Administration (3 s.h.)
  • FS 482—Analytic Approaches to Public Fire Protection (3 s.h.)
  • FS 483—Personnel Management for the Fire and Emergency Services (3 s.h.)
  • FS 484—Fire Prevention Organization and Management (3 s.h.)
  • FS 485—Political and Legal Foundations (3 s.h.)
  • FS 486—Fire Investigation and Analysis (3 s.h.)
  • PSY 481—Fire-Related Human Behavior (3 s.h.)
  • SOC 488—Community and the Fire Threat (3 s.h.)