General Education is an educational requirement for an:

  • Ontario College Diploma
  • Ontario College Advanced Diploma

It establishes five themes for courses to help give students the skills to contribute thoughtfully, creatively and positively to the society where they live and work.

General Education strengthens critical analysis, problem solving and communication skills by exploring topics with broad-based personal or societal importance.

The General Education requirement is in addition to the Essential Employability Skills and specific learning outcomes of programs.

Program requirements

The General Education requirement for programs of instruction is set out in the:

While the inclusion of General Education is locally determined, graduates of Ontario College Certificate programs should take courses that incorporate skills beyond their vocational field of study.

For programs leading to either an Ontario College Diploma or an Ontario College Advanced Diploma, graduates must have been engaged in learning that:

  • exposes them to at least one discipline outside their main field of study
  • increases their awareness of the society and culture where they live and work

This will typically be accomplished by students taking three to five courses offered and designed separately from their specific vocational learning courses.

These learning opportunities are normally be delivered using a combination of required and elective processes.

General education courses

General Education courses will include measurable outcomes that provide evidence of student achievement. Typically, students' achievement is demonstrated by their ability to apply these specific learning experiences to a broader understanding of the themes under study.

General Education themes

There are five themes which provide direction to colleges when they develop and identify courses designed to fulfill the General Education requirement:

  1. Arts in society
  2. Civic life
  3. Social and cultural understanding
  4. Personal understanding
  5. Science and technology

These themes provide statements of rationale and offer suggestions related to more specific topic areas that could be explored within each theme. These suggestions are neither prescriptive nor exhaustive. They are included to provide guidance regarding the nature and scope of content that would be judged as meeting the intent and overall goals of General Education.

1. Arts in society


The capacity of a person to recognize and evaluate artistic and creative achievements is useful in many aspects of life. Since artistic expression is a fundamentally human activity, which both reflects and anticipates developments in the larger culture, its study will enhance the student's cultural and self-awareness.


Courses in this area should provide students with an understanding of the importance of visual and creative arts in human affairs, of the artist's and writer's perceptions of the world and how those perceptions are translated into the language of literature and artistic expression.

They will also provide an appreciation of the aesthetic values used in examining works of art and possibly, a direct experience in expressing perceptions in an artistic medium.

2. Civic life


For individuals to live responsibly and to reach their potential as individuals and as citizens of society, they need to understand the patterns of human relationships that underlie the orderly interactions of a society's various structural units.

Informed people will have knowledge of the meaning of civic life in relation to diverse communities at the local, national and global level, and an awareness of international issues and the effects of these on Canada, and Canada's place in the international community.


Courses in this area should provide students with an understanding of the meaning of freedoms, rights and participation in community and public life, in addition to a working knowledge of the structure and function of various levels of government (municipal, provincial, national) in Canada and/or in an international context. They may also provide an historical understanding of major political issues affecting relations between the various levels of government in Canada and their constituents.

3. Social and cultural understanding


Knowledge of the patterns and precedents of the past provide the means for a person to gain an awareness of his or her place in contemporary culture and society. In addition to this awareness, students will acquire a sense of the main currents of their culture and that of other cultures over an extended period to link personal history to the broader study of culture.


Courses in this area are those that deal broadly with major social and cultural themes. These courses may also stress the nature and validity of historical evidence and the variety of historical interpretation of events. Courses will provide the students with a view and understanding of the impact of cultural, social, ethnic, or linguistic characteristics.

4. Personal understanding


Educated people are equipped for life-long understanding and development of themselves as integrated physiological and psychological entities. They are aware of the ideal need to be fully functioning persons:

  • mentally
  • physically
  • emotionally
  • socially
  • spiritually
  • vocationally


Courses in this area will focus on understanding the individual and their:

  • evolution
  • situation
  • relationship with others
  • place in the environment and universe
  • achievements and problems
  • meaning and purpose

They will also allow students the opportunity to study institutionalized human social behaviour in a systematic way.

Courses fulfilling this requirement may be oriented to the study of the individual within a variety of contexts.

5. Science and technology


Matter and energy are universal concepts in science, forming a basis for understanding the interactions that occur in living and non-living systems in our universe. Study in this area provides an understanding of the behaviour of matter that provides a foundation for further scientific study and the creation of broader understanding about natural phenomena.

Similarly, the various applications and developments in technology have an increasing impact on all aspects of human endeavour and have numerous social, economic, and philosophical implications. For example, the operation of computers to process data at high speed has invoked an interaction between machines and the human mind that is unique in human history. This development and other technological developments have a powerful impact on how we deal with many of the complex questions in our society.


Courses in this area should stress scientific inquiry and deal with basic or fundamental questions of science rather than applied ones. They may be formulated from traditional basic courses in such areas of study as:

  • biology
  • chemistry
  • physics
  • astronomy
  • geology
  • agriculture

As well, courses related to understanding the role and functions of computers (for example, data management and information processing), and assorted computer-related technologies, should be offered in a non-applied manner to provide students with an opportunity to explore the impact of these concepts and practices on their lives.