The Core

A University of Chicago education is more than a set of skills, a rite of passage, or even the ability to think critically. It is an experience—part of a lifelong dialogue that encourages students to converse across cultures and disciplines—and is guided by 75 years of experience with a Core tradition.

This famed Core curriculum, a model for American general education, is the University of Chicago student’s introduction to the tools of inquiry used in every discipline—science, mathematics, humanities, and social sciences. The goal is not just to transfer knowledge, but to raise fundamental questions and become familiar with the powerful ideas that shape our society.

Not only does the curriculum provide the background for any major and for continuing study after graduation, it also provides a common experience for all students in the College. All students have taken the same sorts of classes and read the same kinds of texts, struggling and triumphing over the same sorts of ideas. This gives every student a common vocabulary of ideas and skills, no matter his or her background before coming to the College.

Core facts

Not everyone takes the same classes, but everyone studies similar disciplines. The Core takes about 1/3 of your time at the College, but could be less depending on AP/IB credit and placement testing. You can begin your major at any time—even first quarter. Many students choose to spend most of their first year in the Core, but this is a conversation you will have with your academic adviser.

Core breakdown

  • Humanities, Civilization Studies, and the Arts (6 quarters)
  • Natural and Mathematical Sciences (6 quarters)
  • Social Sciences (3 quarters)
  • Language Requirement (can be fulfilled with placement credit)

The Core brochure

This brochure, produced by the Faculty of the College and the Admissions Office, details the Core experience.

The Core (PDF)