Core Curriculum

The Core Curriculum is an integrated sequence of eight courses in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences that serves as a strong intellectual foundation for any undergraduate major or professional pursuit. CAS students who choose to take all of Core often take two Core courses in each of their first four semesters, thereby fulfilling all BU Hub requirements. Spreading Core coursework over three or four years is also possible as long as the Humanities courses are taken in sequence. Students can also take individual parts of the program to fulfill BU Hub or other liberal arts and sciences requirements in their degrees. Core courses are open to students from all BU schools and colleges.

What we study is part of what makes the Core Curriculum special and distinctive: great books, enduring works of music, art and social thought, difficult questions, bold ideas, and groundbreaking discoveries that, over the course of millennia, have formed our contemporary world and how we understand it. Core makes studying this material all the more exciting and relevant by emphasizing connections across centuries, cultures, and disciplinary boundaries. We start putting it all together in the paired courses CAS CC 101 and CC 111, where first-semester students explore our endless fascination with “origins” in accounts that move from ancient civilizations to present-day scientific research.

Core courses are taught in small discussion-based seminars led by some of the University’s most enthusiastic teachers, with supplementary lectures by distinguished scholars from within and outside BU. Students get to know each other and their professors as members of a stimulating and supportive community that also includes peer mentors, graduate writing fellows, and dedicated alumni. Beyond the classroom, Core sponsors a full calendar of cultural and social events on campus, excursions in Boston and beyond, and even opportunities for summer study in Greece. Students enrolled in Core courses are eligible to live with other Core students from a variety of majors and class years in the Core House, or on the Core Floor of Warren Towers.

Completion of the Core Curriculum (all eight courses for humanities and social science majors, or the four humanities and two social science courses for natural science majors and mathematics and computer science majors) is recognized with an annotation on students’ transcripts.

Learning Outcomes

Students enrolled in the Core Curriculum should be able to:

  • Demonstrate broad understanding of the essential content and intellectual context of the works and ideas studied.
  • In the Humanities, read, view, or hear the works studied with comprehension, demonstrating understanding of genre, style, and cultural and historical context.
  • In the Natural Sciences, demonstrate an understanding of fundamental scientific principles and methodology and a grasp of laboratory techniques and principles.
  • In the Social Sciences, demonstrate an understanding of fundamental principles and methodology of Social Science.
  • Communicate clearly and persuasively, both orally and in writing, regarding the works and ideas studied.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the interrelations of the various disciplines of Humanities, Mathematics, Natural Science, and Social Science.

Requirements

All students entering as freshmen in Fall 2018 and after will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, a general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements are flexible and can be satisfied in many different ways, through coursework in and beyond the major (or minor) and, in some cases, through co-curricular activities. Students taking the entire Core Curriculum sequence plus the cross-college challenge satisfy all BU Hub requirements. Students taking only part of the Core Curriculum should consult the BU Hub Bulletin page or Core Curriculum staff to learn which BU Hub requirements are met by the specific Core Courses they will take. The Core academic program consists of eight 4-credit courses: four Humanities courses, two Natural Science/Mathematics courses, and two Social Science courses typically taken over the first four semesters of study as outlined below. A 2-credit Digital Multimedia course and a cocurricular activity based at the Museum of Fine Arts complete the academic program.

First Year

Semester I

  • CAS CC 101 Core Humanities I: Ancient Worlds
  • CAS CC 111 Core Natural Science I: Origins: The Cosmos, Earth, Life, and Human Beginnings

Semester II

  • CAS CC 102 Core Humanities II: The Way: Antiquity and the Medieval World
  • CAS CC 112 Core Social Science I: Religion, Community, and the Birth of the Social Sciences

Second Year

Semester I

  • CAS CC 201 Core Humanities III: Renaissance, Rediscovery, and Reformation
  • CAS CC 211 Core Social Science II: Power, Political Forms, and Economics

Semester II

  • CAS CC 202 Core Humanities IV: From Enlightenment and Romantic Revolt to the Modern World
  • CAS CC 212 Core Natural Science II: Reality, Science, and the Modern World

Students pursuing a Minor in Core Interdisciplinary Studies to build on the academic program will also complete the 2-credit capstone course, normally in the second year of study:

  • CAS CC 250 Core Capstone

Honors in the Major

Students who complete Core with a grade of B+ or higher in all of their courses may apply to do Honors in Core. Generally completed in the junior year, Core Honors entails close work with a Core faculty advisor on a major research paper or project bridging two Core courses or Core and a related course. Core Honors work is not done in the context of a course and is not credit-bearing, so that students may apply for UROP funding if desired. Students may also arrange to do Core Honors work in conjunction with a Directed Study (of either 2 or 4 credits) as appropriate.

Completion of the Core Curriculum with Honors is recognized with an annotation on students’ transcripts.