You will graduate Saint Louis University with expertise in the specific subject areas in which you major or minor, but you’ll also leave the College of Arts and Sciences with a well-rounded set of skills that employers seek in recent college graduates.
Our undergraduate core curriculum, a set group of classes you are required to complete, is an integral part of that.
The core exposes you to coursework across the humanities, social and behavioral sciences, the sciences and the arts. This knowledge is applicable in real-world situations in the workforce and your daily life. It will help you become an adept thinker who can make connections across disciplines. You’ll gain the skills necessary for critical thinking, complex problem-solving and clear communication, as well as the ability to work in diverse groups.
While the amount of credit hours required may vary depending on if you are pursuing a B.A. or a B.S. degree, all undergraduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences complete coursework in the following areas:
Why the Core Curriculum Matters
The core curriculum of SLU’s College of Arts and Sciences offers you a broad foundation of knowledge in the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences while also offering you opportunities to investigate new ideas and establish connections with different disciplines.
The skills you learn in one discipline can serve as a basis for exploring another area of study. Developing mathematical skills can prepare you for quantitative study in any field of knowledge while acquiring an understanding of the process of scientific inquiry enhances your ability to evaluate and solve problems effectively in many different contexts.
As you select the courses that match your interest from the core curriculum, you’ll broaden your understanding of the relationship between areas of study. You may also be inspired to round out your education with a second major or a minor in an area of interest.
1. Foundations of Discourse
Purpose: Fundamental to academic and professional success is the ability to communicate ideas clearly, accurately, and in an engaging way. The Core writing component enhances students' capacity to organize, to analyze, to interpret, and to argue persuasively and ethically. The writing component enables students to produce work of increasing complexity for multiple audiences.
Student Outcomes: Students will be able to think, read, and write analytically, critically, and creatively. They will be able to express ideas coherently, to work with a variety of research methods, and to construct effective arguments using appropriate evidence.
Purpose: A key element in Catholic and Jesuit education, philosophy provides a rational and critical way of examining fundamental, enduring questions about the human condition. These questions include the relationship of self and society and the foundations of sciences, aesthetics, and religion, especially the existence and nature of the divine. Philosophy assists students to examine critically their ethical convictions by exploring the best rational justifications for ethics given in Western philosophy. Thus, Core philosophy courses prepare students to approach critically and rationally the problems of the self, society, God, and ethical life.
Student Outcomes: Students will acquire a basic understanding of some of the foundational texts in philosophical thought. They should be able to think independently and creatively about questions relating to humanity, to evaluate and to formulate philosophical arguments, and to understand the possible rational justifications for their beliefs.
3. Theological Studies
Purpose: Growth in theological understanding is rooted in the mission of Saint Louis University as a Catholic, Jesuit institution. The Theological Studies component promotes this growth in three phases:
1. Discovery: Students are introduced to the Hebrew and Christian scriptures from historical and literary perspectives, to fundamental theological concepts, and to the early history of Christianity.
2. Insight: Phase 2 focuses on comparative theology (the search for truth and meaning in the major world religions) and broadens understanding of universal as well as specific theological concepts.
3. Integration: Students learn to apply essential religious and theological insights to specific social and cultural contexts, moral choices, professional and personal lifestyles, and global realities.
Student Outcomes: Students will acquire the capacity for critical, informed, and creative theological inquiry as a means of deepening their understanding of theological concepts and the human condition. Their study of theology will lead them to examine their own religious experience and to apply theological thought to their personal and professional lives in the service of humanity.
4. World History
Purpose: In an increasingly interconnected society, it is important for students to understand the range of human history in all areas of the world. The History component of the Core provides students with an introduction to the political, religious, cultural, economic, and social forces that have shaped the modern world from the origins of humanity to the present. These classes help students develop an understanding of historical causation and expose them to the accomplishments of both Western and non-Western civilizations. By encouraging better appreciation of the factors that created our present society, the History component of the Core enables students to be more effective world citizens.
Student Outcomes: Students will develop an understanding of the historical factors that created and continue to shape the modern world. They will also come to appreciate the world's many diverse cultures and important contributions they have made. Students should be able to understand how seemingly discrete events are linked over time, and they should learn to read carefully and analyze critically.
5. Modern and Classical Languages
Purpose: The Modern and Classical Language component provides students with a level of proficiency in a second language sufficient to insure successful communication in the cultural environment of the chosen language. Integral to the acquisition of communicative competency is the development of cultural sensitivity to different patterns of thought and values. Study of a second language enhances analytical skills, broadens one's vision of the global dimensions of knowledge, and helps foster respect for the value and diversity of human life. The language component can enhance the major field of study and cross-disciplinary inquiry by providing access to information and ideas otherwise unavailable.
Student Outcomes: Students choosing a modern language will demonstrate the ability to handle communicative tasks and to express personal meaning in the second language at a level equivalent to "Intermediate" as described in the language proficiency guidelines of the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Language (ACTFL). Students will also show an understanding and an awareness of cultural differences.
Students opting for a classical language will demonstrate an ability to understand texts of intermediate difficulty in the chosen language.
Purpose: The study of literature is a key element in understanding the imagination and the different ways reality can be perceived. The literature component of the Core promotes an appreciation of the text as a creative act and an expression of the human search for meaning. Students are introduced to various methods of interpreting texts that can also enhance inquiry in other fields.
Student Outcomes: Students will attain an understanding of the power of language to shape ideas, values, and the ways men and women are defined. Using critical methods and theories of interpretation, students will be able to analyze and evaluate different cultural, ethical, and aesthetic dimensions of writing and literature.
7. Fine Arts
Purpose: The arts reflect and engage the world around us. They feed the imagination and provide a unique opportunity to study humanity, aesthetics, and cultural values. Through courses in art history, studio art, music, or theater, students learn to observe critically, to think creatively, and to appreciate different modes of self-expression and cultural expression.
Student Outcomes: Students will be able to identify creative expression and to recognize how art reflects and challenges cultural values. They will demonstrate the ability to evaluate artistic accomplishments.
Purpose: The mathematics Core component promotes proficiency in methods of thought that are inherent to mathematics. These methods include pattern recognition, symbolic abstraction and manipulation, logical and critical analysis, and synthesis. This component helps students develop an appreciation for mathematical modes of thought, a notion of what mathematical skills entail, the development of some of these skills, and a sense of how mathematical methods can be brought to bear in other fields of study.
Student Outcomes: Students will begin to achieve an understanding of mathematics not simply as a collection of memorized formulas and techniques, but also as a logically developed structure whose abstract methods of problem solving have real-life applications. Students will be able to solve mathematical problems and comprehend the logic underlying the solutions.
9. Natural Sciences
Purpose: Scientific inquiry provides a unique way of exploring, knowing, and creating. Courses in science encourage students to think critically about how they can better understand the world around them. These courses help students attain conceptual tools and methodologies to gather, analyze, interpret, understand, and present an array of data. Through the science component of the Core, students develop an understanding of how science benefits and impacts society, empowering them to become active participants in an increasingly complex world.
Student Outcomes: Students will be able to understand and engage in the process of scientific inquiry. They will become familiar with methodological approaches that enable natural scientists to evaluate and solve problems effectively. Students will also appreciate how the scientific process combines technical and creative aspects and depends on the cooperation and interaction of scientists with each other.
10. Social Sciences
Purpose: As future leaders in a complex and inter-related society, students need to understand the human and social world around them. Social science courses promote this understanding by providing knowledge and methodologies that help students examine the foundations of human behavior and the origins and consequences of social institutions. Tools of systematic social inquiry introduced in these classes enable students to construct and critically assess claims about social life and to become more effective and ethical problem solvers. Social science courses help students appreciate how their personal and professional actions can accommodate the world's diversity and promote a more peaceful and just society at all levels of citizenship.
Student Outcomes: Students will acquire conceptual tools and methodologies to analyze and understand their social world. With these tools, they will be able to act in their world more effectively and become forces for positive change. They will gain a better understanding of human diversity. Students will be able to think and write critically about human behavior and community. They will become aware of the various methodological approaches used by social scientists.
11. Cultural Diversity
The Core Curriculum Cultural Diversity component is addressed by two courses: one in "Cultural Diversity in the U.S." and one in "Global Citizenship."
Cultural Diversity in the U.S
Purpose: The Cultural Diversity in the United States requirement is designed to help students gain a better understanding of the cultural groups in the United States and their interactions. Courses that meet the Cultural Diversity in the U.S. requirement should address issues of cultural diversity in the United States on the basis of factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, religion, economic class, age, physical and mental capabilities, and sexual orientation; analyze possible conflict and cooperation arising from such diversity; frame questions of diversity in terms of justice and injustice, equality and inequality; prepare students to meet the challenges of responsible leadership and citizenship in a diverse society; and prepare students to live and work through cultural conflicts in ways that reflect the values of tolerance and inclusion articulated in the University’s mission.
Student Outcomes: Students who complete a Cultural Diversity course in this category will gain a substantial subset of the following skills: Analyze and evaluate how various underrepresented social groups confront inequality and claim a just place in society; examine how conflict and cooperation between social groups shapes U.S. society and culture; identify how individual and institutional forms of discrimination impact leaders, communities and community building through the examination of such factors as race, ethnicity, gender, religion, economic class, age, physical and mental capability, and sexual orientation; evaluate how their personal life experiences and choices fit within the larger mosaic of U.S. society by confronting and critically analyzing their own values and assumptions about individuals and groups from different cultural contexts; and understand how questions of diversity intersect with moral and political questions of justice and equality.
Purpose: The Global Citizenship requirement is designed to educate students about global and transnational problems and to provide students with the tools to address issues of social justice beyond the United States. In our interconnected world, the actions and decisions made by one government or group have a direct impact on people in other areas of the world. As global citizens and public intellectuals, our students must have the knowledge and tools required to make decisions with far-reaching impact. Courses that meet the Global Citizenship requirement should: provide students with the intellectual skills needed to analyze and understand sources of global and transnational cooperation, competition or conflict; provide students with an understanding of the processes that have produced systems of inequality and injustice within and between various parts of the world; address issues of cultural diversity outside the US involving factors such as ethnicity, gender, religion, economic class, age, physical and mental capabilities, and sexual orientation; promote civic engagement by preparing students to understand the future challenges of global leadership and global citizenship; and provide students with opportunities to increase their awareness so to become competent, socially-responsible citizens of the world.
Student Outcomes: Students who complete the Global Citizenship requirement will gain a substantial subset of the following capabilities: Identify sources of and strategies to address conflict, cooperation or competition in a global or regional context; Investigate how people and nations confront inequality and claim a just place, whether in their own societies or in the world; identify how perceptions of “otherness” impact leaders, communities, and community-building in areas beyond the U.S. through the examination of such factors as race, ethnicity, gender, religion, economic class, age, physical and mental capability, and sexual orientation; understand the impact of their lives and choices on global and international issues; and understand how their values are related to those of other people in the world.