Academics

The Core Curriculum

As a preeminent Liberal Arts college that encourages a diversity of voices, ideas and perspectives, UChicago’s distinctive Core curriculum provides all students with a challenging, common academic foundation before they begin courses specific to their fields of study.

Approach

Stemming from UChicago’s commitment to relentless learning through determined questioning, challenging of assumptions, and intellectual debate, the Core teaches undergraduates how to think and approach problems from multiple disciplinary perspectives.

The cornerstone of the College’s transformative curriculum, the Core prepares students to explore and debate complex ideas with faculty and peers. Through sequences in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences, as well as a sequence in the historical development of a Civilization, our students engage with the language, questions and methods that characterize broad fields of inquiry.

Our goal is to engage students with the range of insights, habits of mind, and academic experiences that can enrich their own reflections and activities in the world—while here and after they graduate. The result is students’ ability to cultivate their own, unique minds and voices.   

For more information on specific Core sequences and Core Curriculum requirements, refer to the College Catalog.

History

The Core, the College’s unique liberal arts curriculum, originated in the late 1920s, when a group of faculty at UChicago set out to revolutionize the world of general education and higher learning by creating what was called the New Plan.

On March 5, 1931, the New Plan was accepted by the College faculty as a curriculum to synthesize broad fields of knowledge, including in the natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences, and offer an interdisciplinary framework of general education for first- and second-year students in the College.  

The founders of the Core believed that it was the obligation of the modern university to educate flexible minds who would welcome intellectual exploration and see through the temptations of the rigid doctrinal systems that characterized the 1930s. The content of the Core and its sequences is dynamic, and reflects the knowledge and interests of new generations of students and faculty. Yet the founding principle—to teach students how, not what, to think—remains foundational to the College experience and is vital to the intellectual development of University of Chicago students today.