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General Education
Wendell Phillips Center, Room 118
Dr. Gesine Gerhard, Associate Dean & Director of General Education
Cindy Udermann
Administrative Assistant


University of the Pacific
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, California 95211

Welcome to the General Education Program

Pacific's General Education Program exposes students to areas of study outside of their major.  In their General Education classes, students develop essential knowledge and skills that are transferable to other courses at Pacific as well as to their personal and public lives. The mission of Pacific's General Education Program is to promote self-understanding, citizenship, and career development.


  • Self-Understanding
    One goal of Pacific's General Education Program is fundamentally personal: to enrich students' self-understanding and expand their interests in preparation for a fulfilling life. Students are exposed to new intellectual, moral, spiritual, and aesthetic possibilities. Through the interaction with others from different backgrounds and the study of different disciplines, students come to understand who they are and the sources of their beliefs. They thus gain the skills to identify, express and analyze their beliefs and to fashion a philosophy of life that can guide them in their future endeavors. Students may also find life-long pleasure in learning, self-reflection, and conversation.
  • Citizenship
    Another goal is to produce engaged and informed citizens who advance a democratic society by contributing to political and civil life and by committing themselves to the service of others. General education fosters the skills to evaluate complex social and political issues and teaches the moral and political grounds that inform political action and service in a democracy. The health of a society depends on informed and active citizens who can balance the public good and self-interest.
  • Career Development
    Finally, the General Education Program prepares students to enter professional life by developing practical skills that are valuable to employers and essential to civil society. These skills include the abilities to express oneself clearly and cogently in writing and orally, to be diligent and careful in the preparation of one's work, to interpret and evaluate information, to think creatively in order to solve problems, to work independently as well as collegially in groups with a sensitivity toward cultural differences, to use technology, and to treat others ethically in their professional interactions.

 Student Learning Outcomes

Pacific's General Education mission of fostering self-understanding, citizenship and career development is advanced by the completion of three Pacific Seminars and six to nine courses in the Breadth Program, all of which introduce students to the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities and arts.  These courses develop the following intellectual and practical skills:

  • written communication
  • oral communication
  • critical thinking
  • research skills
  • quantitative thinking
  • cross-cultural awareness
  • ethical reasoning
  • civic responsibility
  • aesthetic judgment


The Pacific Seminars

Students at Pacific explore the question of a good society through a series of three academic seminars. These seminars develop students' critical thinking skills about significant personal, social, and political issues by means of extensive writing, reading, and class discussion.

Watch commencement student speaker Davin Kaing '16 reflect on his experience at Pacific.

Pacific Seminar I: What is a Good Society? (First Semester)

PACS 1 is a broad introduction to the question of a good society.  It is a shared intellectual experience, incorporating materials from the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Students meet in small sections to discuss the readings and issues and develop their reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. It constitutes the first-part of Pacific's writing requirement.

Read more about Pacific Seminar I.

Pacific Seminar II: Topical Seminars on a Good Society (Second Semester)

In PACS 2, students choose from over forty different seminars that examine in greater depth one or more of the themes from Pacific Seminar 1. These seminars are taught by faculty from many disciplines across the University. PACS 2 constitutes the second-part of Pacific's writing requirement, and the signature assignment is a scholarly research project.

Read more about Pacific Seminar II.

Pacific Seminar III: What is an Ethical Life? (Senior Year)

In their senior year (92 completed units or more), students from all majors mix together again in PACS 3. This seminar is a culminating general education experience that develops students' capacities for ethical self-understanding and ethical reasoning about theoretical and applied ethical issues. PACS 3 constitutes the third part of Pacific's writing requirement. The centerpiece assignment is the students' own ethical autobiography.

Read more about Pacific Seminar III.

The Breadth Program (6-9 Courses; 3 or 4 units each)

The General Education Program beyond the Pacific Seminars provides students with considerable choice but within a framework that ensures they gain essential knowledge and skills. With the help of their advisors, students choose courses in the breadth program that interest them or that relate to other courses in their planned course of study. The Breadth Program requirements vary from School or College.

  • Six to nine courses, two from each of the three main categories listed below (I, II, and III).
  • Only one class can come from each subcategory or area (A, B, and C).
  • All students must complete a course in area III-A and in area III-B.
  • Students can satisfy subcategory IIIC by taking a second course in subcategory IIIA.
  • Students can take a maximum of two courses from a single department (as defined by subject code, e.g., HIST or ENGL or MPER) to satisfy the breadth requirement.
  • In area IIC, students may take three 1-unit courses in the same discipline of applied music to meet the requirement.
  • Courses in the Breadth Program component of the General Education Program normally have a value of three or four units.
  • Independent study courses cannot be used to satisfy general education requirements.

The catalog year when a student started at Pacific determines degree requirements; General Education courses and transfer course articulations are subject to change. It is the responsibility of the student to be informed of any general education or transfer course articulation changes. The structure of the Breadth Program is as follows:

  • I. Social and Behavioral Sciences

    I-A. Individual and Interpersonal Behavior
    I-B. U.S. Studies
    I-C. Global Studies

  • II. Arts and Humanities

    II-A. Language and Literature
    II-B. Worldviews and Ethics
    II-C. Visual and Performing Arts

  • III. Natural Sciences and Mathematics

    III-A. Natural Sciences
    III-B. Mathematics and Formal Logic
    III-C. Science, Technology and Society