What Is the Core Curriculum for a College Program?

Colleges usually have a core curriculum that must be completed by students in order to graduate. The typical core curriculum includes a broad base of introductory and foundational courses. Students who don't have a set major when they enter college have the ability to see which subjects they like best. The core curriculum also ensures that students in all majors get a well-rounded educational experience.

Core Curriculum Goals

An institution's core curriculum lets you experience a broad range of courses. It's necessary for every liberal arts program. Completing the core curriculum allows you to experience the whole range of options available at the institution, so you can make an intelligent decision about your future based on your interests. You can also take some lower-level courses related to the major you're considering to make sure you enjoy that area of study before committing to it. Additionally, the core curriculum may help you find a minor or a double major.

If you're certain about your major before entering college, taking courses outside of your major can help you become a well-rounded individual who has a variety of career options. For example, students majoring in music also experience math and science, and students majoring in biology also take some literature. According to Western Oregon University, the core curriculum helps students:

  • Develop problem-solving skills
  • Become more creative
  • Learn new skills
  • Understand issues and global problems
  • Work with others effectively
  • Learn to appreciate culture

Important Facts about College Programs

Common Courses Introduction to statistics, principles of accounting, marketing principles, ethics and professionalism, world history, advanced graphic communication, organizational leadership, human genetics
Programs Undergraduate, graduate
Online Availability Many select schools offer core curriculum courses
Concentrations Finance, art, computer science, business administration, psychology, marketing, social science, humanities, legal studies, history

Sample Core Curriculum

Depending on your major and program of study, your core curriculum will be different. Students who major in liberal arts or a related program will follow a slightly different core than students majoring in math or science. An institution's core curriculum can often be completed during the first two years of study. If you spread core curriculum courses throughout your time in college, however, you can mix challenging major courses with less-challenging introductory ones. The following courses represent some options typically offered in a college's core curriculum:

  • Humanities: English Composition, Introduction to Literature, College Writing, Fundamentals of Speech, Fine Arts, Foreign Language
  • History and Culture: United States Cultures, World Cultures, U.S. History
  • Natural Science: Biology, Astronomy, Physics, Zoology

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