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Bachelor's Degree 1101: What makes up an Ohio State degree (knowing your major not required yet)

Understand the Structure of a Degree

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Types of Undergraduate Degrees

Undergraduate majors are attached to a degree type, each of which is described below.  All degrees are made up of a combination of General Education (GE), major, elective and/or minor coursework. 

BA– Bachelor of Arts:  designed to ensure you are provided with as much info as possible in the central fields of learning in which you do not expect to specialize. The degrees provide a carefully planned series of requirements flexible enough to meet your needs and still offer a sound foundation for later specialization in your major.

BFA– Bachelor of Fine Arts: considered the most prestigious performing or visual arts degree, with extensive coursework in the desired area of study.  These degrees pair liberal arts (GE) courses with major coursework and prepare students be professional artists or performers.

BS-Bachelor of Science: to provide a broad scientific education with special training in one or more of the basic sciences combined with a balanced program in those other disciplines which, with modern science, constitutes the foundation of a liberal arts education.

Degree Requirements

Students in Exploration focus on three types of classes: General Education coursework, courses to explore majors (which often overlap with GE requirements) and prerequisite coursework for majors they are interested in.

GE or General Education Courses- The general education courses at Ohio State are essentially each major's academic core.  Every student at Ohio State no matter what their major must take courses in Writing, Math and Data Analysis, Social Sciences, Literature, Visual Art, History, Science  and sometimes foreign language.  These courses are designed to help students develop critical thinking and analytical skills that will help them be successful in their major courses.  They are considered the foundation of every degree at Ohio State.  These courses are mandatory and must be fulfilled prior to graduation.  Students should expect about  60 credit hours of their degree to be comprised of GE courses.

Major Courses- Each major at Ohio State has a unique set of courses that make up the individual curriculum.  These are the courses that help a student specialize or become an expert in  their chosen area of study.  These courses are typically taken in the junior and senior year. 

Electives- Ohio State offers students the opportunity to take courses in subjects that might be interesting to them.  Examples range from public speaking to horseback riding.   These courses will help the student accumulate the 120 hours the student needs in order to graduate but may not apply to the specific degree.  In this case the course is considered an elective course.  A student could elect to take a foreign language even if their major does not require one simply because they want to learn a valuable skill or a student could take a food science course to help determine if that major is interesting, or a student could take social dance just because they've always thought it would be interesting to learn.  As long as the student consults with an academic advisor about whether it is appropriate to take a n elective course  it is usually encouraged as a way to round out the schedule and the over all undergraduate experience.

Degree Hours

Credit Hours-Twelve credit hours is considered full time and students should generally take 15 credits per term to stay on track for degree.  Students who wish to take more than 18 credits in a term will be charged an extra per credit fee for every credit over 18 and must petition to do so. Waitlisted and audited classes do not count towards credit hour enrollment totals.  Students need 120 hours minimum to graduate, which for some majors means the student will need to take elective coursework or pick up a minor.

Part Time– 11 or less credit hours.  Being part time impacts financial aid.

Full Time– 12 or more credit hours.  Students can take 12-18 credit hours for the same cost.

Expanding Your Degree

Degree Granting Unit—Degree granting units are the academic units from which you obtain a degree.  For example, if you choose to major in Agribusiness the College of Food Agriculture and Environmental Science will be your degree granting unit. Exploration is not a degree granting unit.

Pre-major-Many competitive major programs also offer a pre-major.  Students in a pre-major are enrolled in a college/school (not EXP) and are working on meeting requirements to apply to and be accepted into the major.  Declaring a pre-major allows a student to: be advised by a specialist in their area of interest, enroll in a degree granting unit and in some cases take prerequisite courses only open to students in a college/pre-major/major.

Second Major- This can refer to the completion of two majors in the same college (e.g. Biology and Women’s Studies, both of which are in Arts and Sciences) that are of the same degree type (e.g. BS, BA, BFA, BSBA). You can also add a major to some degree programs--in these cases you would complete the general education requirements specific to one of the programs and add a major to it (completing all requirements for the second major but not completing any additional GE requirements).  An advisor can discuss the possible options for a second major with you.  In this case, you earn one diploma and must complete both majors at the same time.

Dual Degree- This refers to completion of majors in different colleges (e.g. Electrical Engineering in College of Engineering and Accounting in the College of Business), of two different degree types, or completing majors within the same college and degree type where there is no course overlap. When you complete a dual degree, you will complete both the specific major requirements and the required GEC/GE requirements for each college. You earn one diploma for each degree and can complete the degrees at different times or at the same time.

Minor-A minor exposes the student to coursework that gives some proficiency in additional subject matter and consists of at least 14 semester hours of coursework. Minors need to be selected from outside the area of the major in most cases and can complement a major or serve as an opportunity to explore additional academic interests. Coursework used on a minor may also overlap with a GEC/GE requirement in some cases. Certain major programs require that a student declare a particular minor while others leave the option open to the student. Note, not all minors are listed on the ASC site, some colleges/schools offer additional minor options.

How Can I Prepare for Orientation?

​Pre-Orientation Home Page  

Basic, but very important, first steps to prepare

Know yourself- What are your goals, interests, strengths and abilities?

What kinds of classes can I expect to take my first semester?