Columbia College | Columbia Engineering

Core Curriculum

For more than 100 years, the Core Curriculum has prompted students to grapple with the persistent problems of the present by considering the stories, ideas, images, and sounds that have shaped their world.

The Core Curriculum is the cornerstone of undergraduate education at Columbia. It consists of five courses that all students at the College are required to take:

  • Literature Humanities
  • Contemporary Civilization
  • Art Humanities
  • Music Humanities
  • Frontiers of Science
These courses cultivate key academic competencies through the study of stories, ideas, art, music, and scientific research. In addition, students at the College take University Writing, two Global Core courses, and fulfill general education requirements in a foreign language, the sciences, and physical education. Engineering students take either Literature Humanities or Contemporary Civilization; Art Humanities or Music Humanities; University Writing; and the Art of Engineering.

​A Vibrant Academic Tradition

Created in 1919 at a moment of global crisis, the Core was a bold experiment in progressive education and the first academic program of its kind. For over a century, the Core has prompted students to grapple with the persistent problems of the present by considering the stories, ideas, images, and sounds that have shaped their world, while also honing academic skills such as critical analysis and verbal and written communication.
 
The Core experience is not about developing expertise. The purpose is for students to explore ideas, stories, art, music, and scientific discoveries while examining their own personal responses to them and listening to the perspectives of others. The habits of mind developed in the Core cultivate a critical and creative intellectual capacity that students employ long after college.
 

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