General Education

For students enrolled prior to fall 2019.

Bluffton University is a liberal arts institution. The liberal arts and sciences program provides an integrated program of general education for all undergraduate students that complements and supports the courses in their major field of study. This core program strives to place students in an ever-expanding context from individual identity in the first-year course, Becoming a Scholar, to global citizenship in the senior capstone course, Christian Values in a Global Community.

The program is designed to acquaint students with current thought and advances in all the traditional academic disciplines. The liberal arts and sciences program models how an Anabaptist-Mennonite vision of community can be used to develop responses to issues and concerns. The courses listed below are designed to give students the knowledge and basis for life-long learning needed for the challenges of the 21st century.

The general sequence of courses is outlined below, but the precise sequence of general education and major courses will be determined by each student in consultation with the academic advisor.

Liberal arts and sciences

(45-48 hours)


* indicates Liberal Arts and Sciences requirements that must be taken at Bluffton University.

  Fine arts requirement (3)

Choose one course:

Visual Art
ART 135 Introduction to Visual Art (3)
ART 136 Exploring Visual Art (3)
ART 204 Drawing (3)
ART 207 Design 2 (3)
ART 214 Watercolor (3)
ART 217 Ceramics 1 (3)
ART 329 Art History 3 (3)
ART 225 Printmaking 1 (3)
ART 226 Printmaking 2 (3)

THE 135 Introduction to Theatre (3)
THE 136 Theatre for Social Change (3)
THE 257 Performance Studies (3)

MUS 135 Introduction to Music (3)
MUS 136 World Music (3)
MUS 140 Exploring Music (3)

 Natural science requirement (7)

Students are required to take at least seven hours (2 courses) of natural science by choosing one course from two of the four columns below.  At least one course must have a laboratory component.


Life Science



Earth/Space Sciences

Lab Courses
Especially for
General Education

BIO 105The Biological World (4)    PHY 105The Physical World(4)   

Lab Courses
Suitable for
General Education


BIO 135Botany (4)

BIO 205*Invert. Zoology (4)

BIO 230Anat. & Phys. (4) 
CEM 121Gen. Inorg. Chem (5)


PHY 211Physics 1 (5)


PHY 202*Astronomy (4)

PHY 203*Earth Science (4)

Non-Lab Courses
Especially for
General Education
NSC 106Human Biology (3) NSC 105
Chemistry of
Everything (3)

NSC 109Energy (3)

NSC 107Global Climate (3)


*Alternate-year course

  Social science requirement (6)

Students are required to take two social science courses with two different prefixes. They can do this either by taking two courses from group A, or by taking one course from Group A and one course from group B.

ECN 141 Principles of Macroeconomics (3)
GEO 111 Principles of Geography (3)
PLS 100 Introduction to Political Science (3)
PSY 110 Introduction to Psychology (3)
SOC 152 Introduction to Sociology (3)
SOC 162 Anthropology (3)

PLS 251 American Political Process (3)
SOC/SWK 185 Women in Society (3)
SOC 225 Race and Ethnicity in American Society: History and Current Realities (3)
SWK 120 Introduction to Social Work (3)

 Humanities requirement (6)

Students must take two courses to complete this requirement. This may be either both HUM 221 Humanities 1 and HUM 222 Humanities 2. or one of Humanities 1 or 2 along with an approved history or literature course, or both an approved history and an approved literature course. 

Recommended history options:
HIS 200 Foundations of American Civilization (3)
HIS 201 Making of Contemporary America (3)
HIS 210 World History 1 [note: can only be paired with Humanities 2] (3)
HIS 212 World History 2 [note: can only be paired with Humanities 1] (3)
HIS 252 Ohio & the Old Northwest (3)

Upper-level history options:
HIS 301 Studies in American History (3)
HIS 302 Studies in European History (3)
HIS 305 African American History (3)
HIS 310 U.S. Women's History (3)
HIS 320 Civil War & Reconstruction (3) (history majors are given registration priority for this course)
HIS 325 The Great Depression and World War II (3)
HIS 329 World War I and the Rise of Extremism (3)
HIS 331 Nazi Germany and the Holocaust (3)
HIS 332 Cold-War Germany and Europe (3)
HIS 340 Regional & National Studies (3)
HIS 345 Food: A History (3)
HIS/REL 359 Mennonite History & Thought (3)

Literature options:
ENG 160 Approaches to Literature
ENG 240 Survey of American Literature
ENG 243 Studies in American Literature
ENG 256 Survey of English Literature 1
ENG 257 Survey of English Literature 2
ENG 261 Studies in English Literature
ENG 265 Studies in Modern Literature
ENG 282 Studies in the Novel
ENG 367 Shakespeare

MUS 321 Music History 1 meets Humanities 1 for Music Education majors. These majors take HUM 222 Humanities 2 to complete the requirement.

Upper level religion course requirement

Choose one of the following:
REL 115 World Religions (3)
REL 242 Spiritual Disciplines in the Life of the Church (3)
REL 245 Spiritual Formation (3)
REL 248 Principles of Youth Ministry (3)
REL 250 Introduction to Old Testament (3)
REL 252 Introduction to New Testament (3)
REL 273 Christian Theology (3)
REL 274 Christian Ethics (3)
REL 275 History of Christianity (3)
REL 276 War, Peace and Nonviolence (3)
REL 322 Methods of Biblical Interpretation (3)
REL 334 Foundations in Christian Ministry (3)
REL 359 Mennonite History and Thought (3) 

Cross-cultural requirement

Students meet this requirement in one of four ways: (1) completing  LAS 342 Cross-cultural Experience; (2) participating in the Washington Community Scholars' Center (WCSC) semester program, the Chicago Center or the Guatemala semester program; (3) participating in an approved semester abroad program; or (4) electing a minimum of six hours of one foreign language. International students may complete the requirement by completing SOC 162 Anthropology.

The majority of students meet their cross-cultural requirement through experiences offered during the May term. These experiences take place in international locations (e.g., Central America, Europe, Israel/Palestine, China, Trinidad, Botswana) and in domestic settings (Chicago, San Antonio, New York and Native American communities in the Southwest). The experiences available each May are announced on the Bluffton website or in the course listing found on

Please note: a cross-cultural experience will not fulfill the foreign language entrance requirement.

Students who have matriculated at Bluffton and plan to use a language to meet the cross-cultural requirement are required to take the language at Bluffton because of the unique experiential component as part of the language class. If students wish to seek permission to take a language course unavailable at Bluffton to meet the cross-cultural requirement, the student must bring a proposal to the cross-cultural committee, explaining how the experiential component will be met, before the course is taken at another location. Following the completion of the language course and experiential component, a two page summary of the experiential component must be submitted to and approved by the cross-cultural committee before transfer credit will be accepted.

Foreign language course options:
SPA 111 Beginning Spanish 1 (3)
SPA 121 Beginning Spanish 2 (3)
SPA 225 Intermediate Spanish (3)
SPA 307 Advanced Grammar and Composition (3)
SPA 311 Survey of Peninsular Spanish Literature (3)
SPA 312 Survey of Spanish American Literature (3)
SPA 240 Spanish Conversation: Story of the Spanish Speaking World (3) 
SPA 242 Spanish Conversation: Music, Film, and Popular Culture in the Spanish Speaking World (3)
SPA 244 Spanish Conversation: Conflict and Social Change in the Spanish Speaking World (3)   

Arts and Lecture Credit requirement

The Bluffton University Arts and Lecture program provides an opportunity for shared academic and cultural experiences among faculty, staff and students across departments and disciplines. Lectures present ideas, issues and problems significant for general education and society at large.

All undergraduate students are expected to earn a total of 2 credits by graduation. Students earn 0.5 of an academic credit for every 15 unique Arts and Lecture events they attend. At least one-third of the Arts and Lecture credit earned must be from attendance at Tuesday morning Forums.

Students do not register for Arts and Lecture credit, nor will they be charged for this credit. Students accumulate event credit by scanning into and out of an event with their own student I.D. cards.

Seniors need to complete this requirement two weeks before graduation in order to receive their diploma at graduation.

LAS 101, 102, 103, 104 Arts and Lecture Credit (.5 each)
This credit is awarded to students who attend 15 unique events approved for arts and lecture credit. Five of the events must be part of the Forum series. Students are not billed for arts and lecture credit.

Language study requirement

Bluffton University requires all students to have a minimum exposure to a language other than English. This requirement may be met in several ways. Students who have completed a minimum of two years of high school language with grades of C- or higher (even if they have studied two different languages) have met the language study requirement. Students who have taken no high school language are required to take six semester hours of a foreign language at the college level.  Students who have taken one year of high school language are required to take three semester hours of a foreign language at the college level.

Students who transfer to Bluffton with at least 58 accepted transfer hours are exempt from this requirement. Students who have become proficient in a language other than English through intercultural experiences have met this requirement. 
Students completing two semesters of modern language study at the university level have met both the language study and the cross-cultural requirements. Completing a cross-cultural experience does not fill the language study requirement.

Students may enroll in Spanish without taking a placement test, using these guidelines:

Students who would like to attempt to place into a higher level of Spanish may take a Spanish placement exam (free, online, ungraded, and not recorded on the transcript). Performance on the placement exam will not lower the entry level course.