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What Are Typical Core Undergraduate Courses for All College Majors?

Colleges require undergraduates to take several general education classes covering many topics. This article explains the subjects that you might need to take as an undergraduate, regardless of your major.

Typical Core Undergraduate Courses

There aren't any particular classes that all undergraduates must take, but there are some broad subjects included in most undergraduate degree programs. The exact classes required depend on the school. Also, you may able to place out of some undergraduate classes by passing content tests. Among the general topics that you'll probably have to study are:

  • Natural sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Foreign languages
  • English
  • Humanities
  • Social sciences
  • Visual and performing arts

Important Facts About Undergraduate Majors

Degree Levels Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Music
Prerequisites High school diploma, or equivalent; SAT or ACT scores may be required
Online Availability Private or corporate legal offices may require meetings at a client's home, hospitals, or prisons
Possible Careers Graphic designer, technical writer, software developer, teacher, engineer, financial analyst
Median Salary (2020)$53,380 (Graphic Designers)
Job Outlook (2019-2029)4% decline (Graphic Designers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Natural Sciences

Most students must take at least one class in natural science, like biology, physics, astronomy, geology or chemistry. These classes teach you about the laws and theories governing living organisms and the environment. You'll learn how scientists observe natural phenomena, create hypotheses and collect data.

Mathematics

Mathematics courses are generally part of a school's general education requirements. At a minimum, you generally need to understand concepts dealing with coordinate geometry, statistical methods, and algebra.

Foreign Languages

Many colleges require you to take several classes in a foreign language. You can take courses in any one language that the school offers. The foreign language requirement helps you understand world cultures and learn how the structure and vocabulary of another language compare to English.

English

Colleges typically require you to take a writing class within your first year if you haven't placed out of it prior to admission. You'll learn about the process used to write college-level papers, from researching a topic to developing an argument and providing supporting details. Additionally, you must usually take at least one literature class in which you analyze different pieces of writing.

Humanities

You'll be required to take courses in humanities, such as Western civilization or American history. In these courses, you'll learn about the culture and historical context. You will also learn how to analyze visual, written, aural and cinematic works.

Social Sciences

To fulfill your social or behavioral sciences requirement, you may choose from courses in anthropology, psychology, sociology, and geography. You'll be exposed to the methods social scientists use to collect and analyze data.

Visual and Performing Arts

You could take courses in studio art, theatre, music, architecture or art history to satisfy your visual and performing arts requirement. Taking courses in this area will teach you about artistic expression and the creative process.