Academic News

Science and Pathways: A Message from Executive Vice Chancellor Logue

April 16, 2012

Dear CUNY Faculty,

This email clarifies several matters concerning science and Pathways. Included are a description of an important waiver opportunity plus information about a number of matters that have been repeatedly misunderstood in public discussions. Following a brief summary just below, details of all of these items are appended at the end of this message. I would greatly appreciate your transmitting this email and its information widely. Thank you.


Lexa Logue

Alexandra W. Logue
Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost
The City University of New York


  • CUNY’s new general education curriculum (Pathways) includes a minimum of 6 credits of coursework in science.
  • Community colleges and senior colleges can both require students to take additional credits of science.
  • Each campus has many options as to how it wishes to structure its science requirements, including requiring all students on that campus to take a lab course if the campus wishes.
  • Students have options as to whether they satisfy the requirements with courses that are solely designed to meet general education requirements, or that are specifically designed to satisfy STEM major requirements.
  • Unlike CUNY, the SUNY system’s 30-credit general education curriculum does not require students to take any science.
  • Under Pathways, students who have satisfied the CUNY general education science requirements and who then transfer outside of CUNY will have satisfied the general education science requirements at most SUNY campuses, as well as at many other higher education institutions.

Waiver Opportunity

A Hunter science faculty member pointed out to the Central Office of Academic Affairs (OAA) how problematic it would be for students in certain majors/programs that include significant science requirements to complete the Common Core coursework in the Scientific World category (see category II.E. at As a result, OAA will grant the following waiver for category II.E. to all colleges that request it. The waiver will be for students who intend to major in a STEM or health discipline, or who are preparing to apply to a graduate STEM or health program, or who are planning to teach science or math in grades K-12. The waiver will allow these students to substitute any STEM course of at least 3 credits (and at least 3 contact hours) for category II.E., assuming that course is required for at least one type of STEM major at that college. The substituted course must be in addition to the course that the student uses to satisfy category I.C. of the Common Core, the Life and Physical Sciences category. Colleges can apply for this type of waiver to be available for their students by emailing


The science requirements in the 30-credit CUNY Common Core for all CUNY colleges and in the 6-12 credit College Option for senior colleges have been repeatedly misunderstood (please see for the actual description of the complete Common Core). Following is correct information:

  • The CUNY Common Core requires, at minimum, two three-credit three-contact-hour courses in science (for a minimum total of six credits and six contact hours of science). These two courses can be linked together as corequisites to make the equivalent of a single six-credit six-contact-hour course if the college wishes. All colleges can require an additional three credits (and three contact hours) of science (for a total of nine credits and nine contact hours) if they wish by requiring that students take the sixth course of the flexible core from the Scientific World category (category II.E.). Senior colleges can require one or more additional credits of science (with any number of contact hours) using their College Option credits. (See for a full description of the possibilities.)
  • The CUNY Common Core and College Option general education science credits can be lecture, laboratory, or both, at the college’s choice (see for a full description of the possibilities).
  • Given the waiver opportunity described above and the previously approved “STEM Variant” (see bottom section of, students can, in most cases, use science courses of more than 3 credits and/or 3 contact hours to satisfy the science requirements of the Common Core.
  • The CUNY Common Core differs significantly from the SUNY 30-credit general education curriculum for baccalaureate students in that SUNY students do not have to take any science whatsoever-science is optional (see Individual SUNY campuses may have additional general education requirements that include science. However, most of these campuses (see, e.g., Albany, New Paltz, and Stony Brook), specify that students can satisfy the general education science requirement by taking science courses that do not have a laboratory component.
  • Many other major public universities do not require all students to take laboratory courses in order to satisfy their general education credits. Some examples include Penn State, University of California Irvine, University of Michigan, and University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Under Pathways, the general education science courses that CUNY students will take will completely satisfy the general education science requirements for most campuses of SUNY and for many other colleges and universities.