Bachelor of General Studies


Interdisciplinary Learning

The University's Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) degree program provides an interdisciplinary degree program that facilitates study across the academic disciplines and professional fields. It is designed for students whose academic interest or career objectives require an individualized approach.

This program allows students to design and create their own program of study in conjunction with ongoing consultation with an academic advisor. It consists of University core requirements, major requirements and a 30-credit thematic cluster. To be admitted to the program, students must have completed a minimum of 60 undergraduate credits from an accredited institution and attend a one-hour advising session.

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A minimum of 120 credits must be earned with 42 or more credits in courses numbered 300 or above (this includes 6 credits of capstone courses.) A minimum of 45 credits must be completed in University of Nevada, Reno courses (on-campus, off-campus, telecourse or independent studies). Sixty of the 120 total credits must be earned at four-year colleges and universities. A maximum of 60 acceptable correspondence credits may be applied to this degree. Therefore, General Studies is not a totally external degree. A maximum of four credits applicable to the BGS degree may be earned in recreation, physical education and dance activity courses (numbered 100-199). Dance courses 332, 335 and 338 do not qualify as upper-division credits in this program;

  • A cumulative grade-point average of at least 2.0 for all courses attempted at the University and an overall cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher;
  • All University core curriculum requirements are met by completing the General Studies requirements;
  • Students in the General Studies program may declare no more than two minors;
  • Students must complete a 30-credit cluster of thematically related coursework. Eighteen of the 30 credits must be 300-400 level. The cluster must cross three departments in one college or two colleges. A maximum of 9 credits from each minor may be included in the thematic cluster. The student will design the cluster and may use courses already completed. The cluster form must be received by the advisor two semesters prior to graduation;
  • To be admitted to the program, students must have completed a minimum of 60 credits from an accredited institution;
  • Sixty credits must be earned in the following manner (which is subject to change):

A. Humanities and Fine Arts-12 credits

  • CH 201-Ancient and Medieval Cultures (3 credits)
  • CH 202-The Modern World (3 credits)
  • Core Curriculum Fine Arts Requirement (3 credits).

Refer to the "Fine Arts" section of the Core Curriculum chapter in the University catalog. Select one additional course (3 credits) from the following list.

NOTE: In addition to the courses listed below, students may complete any Fine Arts course from the Core Curriculum list not used to satisfy the Core Curriculum.

  • ENG 131-Introduction to Literature
  • ENG 203-Introduction to Literary Study
  • ENG 223-Themes of Literature
  • ENG 235-Survey of English Literature I
  • ENG 236-Survey of English Literature II
  • ENG 240-Survey of American Literature
  • ENG 244-Introduction to Fiction
  • ENG 252-Introduction to Drama
  • ENG 261-Introduction to Poetry
  • ENG 265-Nature in Literature
  • ENG 266-Popular Literature
  • ENG 271-Introduction to Shakespeare
  • ENG 281-Introduction to Language
  • ENG 282-Introduction to Language and Literary Expression
  • ENG 297-Reading and Interpreting
  • ENG 298-Writing About Literature
  • FREN 221-France and Its Culture
  • GER 221-German-Speaking Europe and Its Culture
  • GER 223-German Literature in English Translation
  • HIST 105-European Civilization
  • HIST 106-European Civilization
  • HIST 347- History of Mexico
  • ITAL 221-Italy and Its Culture
  • ITAL 223-Italian Literature in English Translation
  • JPN 221-Japan and Its Culture
  • RST 101-Introduction to Religious Studies
  • SPAN 221-Iberia and Its Cultures
  • SPAN 222-Hispanic-America and Its Culture
  • Any 100- or 200-level Philosophy course

B. Natural Sciences and Mathematics-12 credits

  • Core Curriculum Natural Sciences Requirement (6 credits)
  • Refer to the "Natural Sciences" section of the Core Curriculum chapter in the University catalog.
  • Core Curriculum Mathematics Requirement (3 credits)
  • Refer to the "Mathematics" section of the Core Curriculum chapter of the University catalog.
  • Select one additional course (3 credits) from:
    Any natural science course from Group A or B not used to satisfy the Core Curriculum.

NOTE: In addition to the courses listed, students may complete any 100-200 level biology, chemistry, geology or physics course OR
ENV 101-Man and the Environment (if credit not granted for ENV 100)

C. Social Sciences-12 credits

  • Core Curriculum Social Sciences Requirement (3 credits).
  • Refer to the "Social Sciences" section of the Core Curriculum chapter of the University catalog.
  • CH 203-American Experience and Constitutional Change (3 credits)
  • Select two three credit courses (6 credits) from the following list:

NOTE: In addition to the courses listed, students may complete any 100-200 level political science, psychology or sociology course, or any 100-200 level HIST, with the exception of HIST 105, HIST 106

  • CRJ 101-Introduction to Criminal Justice I
  • CRJ 102-Introduction to Criminal Justice II
  • JOUR 101-Critical Analysis of Mass Media
  • SW 101-Introduction to Social Work (formally SW 220)

D. Communication and English Composition- 12 credits

  • ENG 102-Composition II (3 credits)
  • Select at least three courses (9 credits) from the following list (courses are 3 credits unless otherwise noted):
  • IS 101-Introduction to Information Systems
  • IS 201-Computer Applications
  • CS 105-Introduction to Computing
  • CS 135-Computer Science I
  • CS 202-Computer Science II
  • ENG 101-Composition I
  • ENG 181-Vocabulary and Meaning (2 credits)
  • ENG 321-Expository Writing
  • Foreign languages through 212-level (2-4 credits each)
  • Any lower division COM courses, with the exception of COM 216.

E. Colleges other than the College of Liberal Arts and the following departments: Biology, Chemistry, Geography, Mathematic-Statistics and Physics-12 credits

Use of upper-division and Physical Education courses (PEX, formerly RPED courses) to fulfill this requirement must be approved by the General Studies advisor.


Farrah Dobbas

DobbesFarrah Dobbas, senior, struggled with completing a major because her learning disability made it hard to pass a language requirement. "Well I have struggled, let's be honest, struggled with school forever." Always having an interest in communications and journalistic reporting, Dobbas was able to construct a degree around her career goals.

Right now she is interning under a major ESPN sideline host and hopes to one day become a host herself. This past summer she was an interviewer for the College National Finals Rodeo in Wyoming. "I grew up rodeoing so that was part of my interest. I plan on going out to Houston in the spring and that's for another rodeo so I would be interviewing again."

Dobbas loves the General Studies major because it gives her the opportunity to do a major and minor in one degree. With a desire to get out into the career field without giving up on a bachelors degree, she found her perfect fit with General Studies. "I think everyone that is a general studies major has a story of their own. Not even saying it's been easier for me, I've actually enjoyed college now."

Aislynn Mueller

Aislynn Mueller

Aislynn Mueller, senior, found general studies as a placeholder for athletics. As a college athlete she needed to declare a major but being a transfer student she didn't have enough units to declare criminal justice. When she finally had enough units to switch majors, "I ended up liking the availability of classes so much that I ended up staying in it."

She admitted at first she was hesitant to declare general studies because of the perception of its title but soon discovered it fit her wants even more. "I feel if I was just criminal justice, I would not look at the justice system the same way with the sociological side. " Besides just learning different sides of law through multiple perspectives she realized the chance to meet and network with professors in many fields of study was beneficial as well. "I have a larger network trying to get my letters of recommendation for law school because I know more teachers."

After she graduates in December 2012, Mueller plans on going to law school. "I was able to graduate a semester early with this degree that was really integrated in many different parts." She is interested in pursuing international law and is going to Spain right after graduating with USAC for a winter program. She plans on getting an internship with Amnesty International before continuing onto graduate school.


Students are required to complete a 30 credit thematic cluster of which at least 18 credits must be upper division (300+). The thematic cluster should be comprised of coursework from three departments within the same college OR from two different colleges. We strongly encourage you to consult with your academic advisor to discuss possible cluster themes and ideas. The cluster must be submitted two semesters prior to graduation. It is the student's responsibility to design the cluster and obtain approval.

Please note: We recommend you do not apply for graduation until your thematic cluster has been approved by the director of General Studies.

Creating the Thematic Cluster

The cluster proposal consists of a well-written essay and the thematic cluster form.

Students will often utilize coursework they have completed in the past that is not being used to fulfill other core or major requirements. Students are welcome to use past coursework, but it is STRONGLY encouraged to include future courses as well. Future course offerings are available online.

The essay should be double spaced and around four pages. It should include the title, name and NSHE ID, an introduction identifying the theme and construct of the cluster, a body consisting of two to four sentences for each course that is proposed describing what was learned (or what is anticipated being learned from courses not yet taken) and how it relates to the theme, and a conclusion that addresses how the cluster courses will benefit the student in their future career, educational or personal goals.

Submitting the Thematic Cluster

The cluster is turned in to the academic advisor for his/her signature. The advisor submits the proposal to the director of General Studies. Typically, cluster proposals are reviewed by the director and will take anywhere from 3-4 weeks for approval. If a cluster is approved by the director it is forwarded to Admissions and Records and is programmed into the student's Academic Advising Report (AAR) and becomes part of their degree requirements. If a cluster is disapproved, it is sent back to the academic advisor who will contact the student and discuss necessary changes. Once the student has made the necessary adjustments and/or revisions, it is re-submitted. This process repeats until the cluster is approved.

Making Changes to a Thematic Cluster

If a student needs to make a change to their cluster, they need to submit official paperwork via their advisor. Usually, if good reason is given why a substitution needs or wants to be made, it is granted. The student should work with their advisor and submit the appropriate paperwork prior to taking the substituted course. If a student wants to completely change the theme or direction of their thematic cluster, a new proposal and thematic cluster proposal form will need to be completed and submitted for approval.


Why should I consider a Bachelor of General Studies degree?
There are many reasons why students select the Bachelor of General Studies major; frequently students are interested in several majors and want a Liberal Arts experience by studying more than one discipline.
How many credits are needed to earn a Bachelor of General Studies degree at the University of Nevada, Reno?
You are required to complete a minimum of 120 credits to complete the degree.
What other requirements are there for this major?
Students must complete requirements in the following categories: 1) core curriculum and general studies; (2) thematic cluster; and (3) 42 upper division credits.
What is a thematic cluster?
The thematic cluster provides students with the opportunity to create a major focus by using courses from either two different colleges OR one college and three departments within that college. Read more about thematic clusters.
Can core classes be used in my thematic cluster?
No, you cannot use core classes in your thematic cluster. Core classes are used to satisfy the Core Curriculum. (Exception: You may use capstone courses in your cluster.)
Can I use transfer credits towards my Bachelor of General Studies degree?
Yes, you should make an appointment to review how transfer credits can be used within the Bachelor of General Studies program.
What career opportunities are available when you graduate with this major?
Bachelor of General Studies and other Liberal Arts graduates have found positions in government, banking, retail, hospitality and the insurance industry.
I am a returning adult learner with many years of work experience; does the University of Nevada, Reno offer college credit for life or work experiences?
Sorry, but the University does not offer college credit for life or work experience.
Can I complete the Bachelor of General Studies degree online?
Possibly, you will need to make an appointment with your academic advisor to discuss this possibility. The University does offer courses online.


General Studies majors are advised by the Advising Center.

Scheduling an Advising Appointment

The Advising Center operates on an appointment basis. Occasionally during the first few days of the beginning of the semester, the center offers limited walk-in hours. Please make sure when making appointments that you have your student ID number available as it is very important for verification in making appointments.

Students are not assigned to a particular advisor, but are welcome to request a specific advisor. Please make sure you arrive on time or early to your appointments. The advisor reserves the right to reschedule appointments if you are late.

Preparing for an Advising Appointment

The Advising Center has helpful tips for preparing for an appointment with your advisor.

Contact General Studies

Phone (775) 784-4684
Location William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center