Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the Core?

The Core is a “college within a college” whose students place a high value on liberal education, intellectual engagement, and friendship. Core is a community of students and faculty who think across the disciplines in foundational, integrated courses in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, generally taken in a student’s first and second year. Core is a place where conversations move outside the classroom, to shared experiences in museums, theaters, the opera and dedicated Core residences.

Q: How do I know if the Core is for me?

The Core invites students who welcome an academic challenge. Core’s unique interdisciplinary program provides a foundation for students in any major and serves as an ideal academic home for those who have not yet decided on a specific field of study. Core’s discussion-based approach helps students develop the critical skills necessary for success in upper-level seminars, while the breadth of study enables students to think outside of the box. At the end of the Core sequence, students’ transcripts record their completion of the Interdisciplinary Core Curriculum in Arts and Sciences.

Q: How big are the classes? Who teaches them?

Core classes are discussion-based seminars, capped at 18 students, and led by distinguished full-time faculty from departments throughout CAS. Students are able to form close relationships with both faculty and other students. Core students from all seminars also meet together in weekly plenary sessions, featuring expert lecturers from inside Core and BU more generally, as well as other nationally renowned scholars.

Q: Should I take the Core if I’ve already read some of the books?

Absolutely. Core students read primary works which open up depths of meaning that can only be discovered when revisited. Familiar books will come alive in a new and deeper way when they are read in the Core setting.

Q: Are Core courses more difficult than other CAS courses?

The Core is not meant to be any more difficult than a 100- or 200-level course in another department, but our courses will challenge you to read carefully and think deeply about ideas and important questions in a new and vital way. Core courses will teach you the reading, writing, and critical thinking skills that are essential for success at BU and in your future career.

Q: If I major in a natural science (e.g. biology, chemistry, physics), should I take the Core?

Absolutely. Natural science majors take the Core Humanities and Social Sciences because it enables them to appreciate how science interacts with our culture today. Pre-health students in particular find Core’s consideration of how the sciences, humanities, and social sciences work together a way to keep in touch with the deeper meanings of their scientific studies.

Q: How does Core relate to my major?

Core courses open up any major by examining its foundation and how it relates to other fields of knowledge. As a result, Core courses will exempt you from the introductory courses in many majors. And as Core students come from a wide variety of majors, they are uniquely able to share their different perspectives and benefit from the broader understanding that results.

Q: Will I have time for Core?

Yes. Core classes fulfill Hub and writing requirements, so that students don’t have to choose between their interest in Core classes that advance them toward degree completion.

Q: What if I don’t finish the program?

There are no penalties for not completing the program.

Do you have any other questions?

Contact our department staff by email for a quick response.