Core Requirements & Courses

Core Requirements & Courses

The Boston College Core Curriculum is a program comprised of 15 Core requirements for all Boston College undergraduates.


​The need to make, experience, and comprehend art has been one of the essential, defining human activities since history began. The arts are thus integral to human experience and expression, the development of critical interpretive skills, an understanding of creative processes, and the fostering of imagination and empathy. The critically engaged practice of the arts, arrived at through rigorous training, uniquely nurtures creativity and innovation. Anchored in experimentation and creative problem-solving, the arts challenge students to make connections across traditional disciplinary boundaries. ​

Three credits of coursework in art history, studio art, film, music or theater are required and will address some combination of the following criteria: students will acquire a greater understanding of the technical skills required to create works of art; students will gain knowledge of the aesthetic questions raised by works of art; and students will understand the historical contexts in which such works were created. As a result, students will be able to engage meaningfully with art through creative work and/or to articulate their understanding of art in oral and written expression.

Courses Fulfilling the Core Requirement

Fall 2021

Course Number Course Title
ARTH1101 Art: Prehistoric to Middle Ages
ARTH1102 Art: Renaissance to Modern Times
ARTH1107 History of Architecture
ARTH2213 Islamic Art and Architecture
ARTH2221 Mysteries and Visions: Early Medieval Art
ARTH2231 Early Renaissance Art in Italy
ARTH2251 Modern Architecture
ARTH2258 Modernism and the Avant-Garde, 1900-1945
ARTS1701.01 Art of Creativity: Buzzword to Artwork
ARTS1101.01-05 Drawing I: Foundations
ARTS1102.03-06 Painting I: Foundations
ARTS1104.01 Seeing Is Believing
ARTS1107.01 Design I: Foundations
GERM2203.01 Representing Holocaust
MUSA1701.01 Aesthetic Exercises
MUSA1100.01-06 Fundamentals of Music Theory
MUSA1200.01-05 Introduction to Music
MUSA1300.01-02 History of Popular Music
THTR1170.01-12 Introduction to Theatre
THTR1172.01 Dramatic Structure and Theatrical Process
THTR1120.01-02 Elements of Dance
THTR0703.01 Performing the Immigrant Experience

Students May Fulfill the Cultural Diversity Requirement in Three Ways

Engaging Difference and Justice

Difference Justice & the Common Good

Cultural Diversity

Engaging Difference and Justice

Engaging Difference & Justice courses will challenge students to envision societies in which all can flourish in freedom, integrity, and fullness of life “through the mutual respect their members show to one another in their interactions and relationships.” These courses fulfill the Cultural Diversity Core requirement by engaging with the following learning goals:

  • Students will reflect on the importance of community, shared values, inclusion, and solidarity at all levels of social connection- from the familial to the global.

  • Students will engage critically with past and present instances of injustice. Complex issues concerning race, class, gender, sexuality, dis/ability, religion and other socio-cultural categories may be explored.

  • Students will integrate the theoretical and empirical study of difference and power in their many forms; reflect on their own experiences and identities; and connect academic knowledge to lived experience.

  • Students will imagine how to flourish in communities in ways that evaluate and embrace difference and overcome injustice by becoming engaged global citizens in service of, and in care for, our common home.

  • Students will explore the conditions that need to exist, and how to create those conditions, for all of society’s members to live fully human lives of freedom and integrity.

Fall 2021 Courses

Course Number Course Title
ENGL1184.01-02 Lit Core: Literature, Testimony, Justice
ERAL4200.01 Restorative Justice and Prison Reform
African American History I
Making the Modern World: Design, Ethics, and Engineering
HIST1716.01 Geographies of Imperialism: History of Colonization
Making the Modern World
Ethics, Religion and International Politics
MUSA1300.01-02 History of Popular Music
Holocaust Literature: History, Memory, Legacy
Life, Liberty & Health: The Economics, Policy and Law of Healthcare
UNAS1705.01 When Life Happens: Disability and the Stories We Tell

Difference, Justice, and the Common Good

Difference, Justice and the Common Good Courses fulfill the Cultural Diversity Core requirement by engaging with the following learning goals:

  • Students will be able to explain how power shapes differences and creates injustices in the United States, and how power can be used to achieve justice. In the context of the university’s Jesuit, Catholic mission, and as appropriate in the particular course, students encounter and engage the reality of a broken world that calls out for justice, love, and mercy.

  • Students will develop skills to think more critically about how difference and power have operated both in the past and present. Such skills may include intercultural competence, engaging with diverse others, reflection on one’s own experiences and identity, integrating the theoretical and empirical study of difference and power, and connecting academic knowledge to lived experience.

  • Students will explore the relationship between justice and the common good and imagine how to act constructively in dialogue with people who are marginalized and dispossessed in the pursuit of justice and the common good.

Fall 2021 Courses

Course Number Course Title
Managing Diversity
Black & Popular: Spec Fict by Black Writers
AADS3310.01 Studies in Race, Law and Resistance
ENGL1110 FWS: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration
ENGL1110 FWS: Writing for Good
Citizenship, Immigration and Belonging in the U.S.
HIST4551 American Hate
THEO1707.01 Geographies of Imperialism: Theology of Colonization

Cultural Diversity

A critical component of a liberal education is the capacity to see human experience from the point of view of others who encounter and interpret the world in significantly different ways. Courses in Cultural Diversity, by introducing students to different cultures and examining the concepts of cultural identity and cultural differences, are aimed at developing students' appreciation of other ways of life and providing a new understanding of their own cultures.

More specifically, the Task Force envisions a one-course Cultural Diversity requirement being fulfilled by:

  • courses on Asian, African, Middle Eastern and Latin American cultures
  • courses on minority cultures of the United States derived from these cultures
  • courses on Native American cultures
  • courses that address the concept of culture from a theoretical and comparative perspective either separately or in the context of the courses listed in above.

Cultural Diversity courses could be designed as departmental offerings or as interdisciplinary courses and could approach the culture in various ways: through its religious or ethical values; from an understanding of its historical development; from the perspective of its social, economic and political systems; or from an appreciation of its literary, artistic or other cultural achievements.

The Cultural Diversity requirement functions as a graduation requirement, and, unlike other Core requirements, may be fulfilled by a course above the Core level. It may simultaneously fulfill another requirement of the Core or the major.

Courses Fulfilling the Cultural Diversity Core Requirement - Spring 2021

African & African Diaspora Studies

Course Number Course Title
AADS1110.01 Introduction to African Diaspora Studies
History of Medicine & Public Health/African Diaspora
Introduction to African American Literature
Introduction to African & African Diaspora Religion


Course Number Course Title
FILM3314 Cinema of the Greater Middle East


Course Number Course Title
COMM4421.01-02 Intercultural Communication


Course Number Course Title
EDUC1051 Reimagining School and Society
Family, School and Society


Course Number Course Title
HIST1063 Latin America in the World I
HIST2051 Modern China History
HIST2302 Modern Latin America
HIST1055 Globalization I
HIST1077 Globalization I
HIST1083 Globalization I
Race and Identity in African American History

International Studies

Course Number Course Title
INTL2200 Where on Earth: Global History
Ethics, Religion and International Politics

Management and Organization

Course Number Course Title
MGMT2265.01-02 Globalization, Culture and Ethics


Course Number Course Title
MUSA1320.01-03 Introduction to the Musics of the World
MUSA2307.01 Musics of Asia
Music and Culture in the Middle East

Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Course Number Course Title
Modern Middle Eastern and Arabic Literature (in translation)


Course Number Course Title
PHIL3147 Zen and Philosophy
PHIL4423 Spanish American Philosophy

Slavic Studies

Course Number Course Title
SLAV2169.01 Slavic Civilizations


Course Number Course Title
Language in Society

Romance Languages

Course Number Course Title
SPAN6655 Writing and Memory in the Andean World


History Core courses offer long-term and global perspectives on the social, economic, political, and cultural factors shaping human experience. They introduce students to the importance of historical context and the process of historical change by examining which aspects of human life have changed and which have endured over time and across different regions of the world. Students learn how to interpret the past using primary sources, and they acquire breadth of knowledge, a critical framework, and analytical skills. By studying past events, students develop an understanding of the historical roots of contemporary societies and come to view the present with a sharper eye, appreciating that it, too, is contingent and will one day be re-examined and reconstructed. Through this process, students become better-informed and more open-minded whole persons, prepared to engage in the world.

Studying a broad sweep of time is essential to forming a rich sense of history. Toward this end, and as part of the Core Curriculum, students take two (2) three-credit History Core courses, one pre-1800 and one post-1800. Learning history also involves more than books and lectures. We learn by doing, and the History Core shows that history is alive and that we are part of it. In addition to reading documents, examining artifacts, writing essays, and attending lectures, students move outside the classroom to explore living history in interdisciplinary ways. We make use of the outstanding resources on campus and in the greater Boston area, visiting museums and historic sites, attending special presentations and performances, and conducting oral interviews.

Courses Fulfilling the Core Requirement

Fall 2021

History I

Course Number Course Title
Greek History
HIST1001 Europe in the World I
HIST1067 America and the World I
HIST1701.01 Truth Telling in History
HIST1801 Age of Revolutions
HIST1841 When Worlds Collide: From Contact to the Constitution
HIST1822 Europe from the Outside In

History II

Course Number Course Title
HIST1012 Modern Atlantic Worlds
HIST1094.01-06 Modern History II
HIST1617 Making the Modern World: Design, Ethics, and Engineering
HIST1704.01 Worlds of Moby-Dick: What Historical Forces Shape a Book’s Greatness
HIST1715 Citizenship, Immigration and Belonging in the U.S.
HIST1726.01-02 Encountering Inequalities: The Historical Politics of Inequality
HIST1727.01 War and Peace: History and Literary Truth
INTl2200 Where on Earth: Global History
Life, Liberty & Heath: The Economics, Policy and Law of Healthcare
UNAS1717.01 From Hiroshima to K-Pop: Historical Perspectives


Classical Studies, English, German Studies, Romance Languages and Literatures, Slavic & Eastern Languages and Literatures

Literature, in all its genres, is a fundamental vehicle for understanding human experiences. By taking three credits of the Core Curriculum in literature, students read in order to explore the characteristics and values of their own and other cultures; to discover alternative ways of looking at the world; to gain insights into issues of permanent importance and contemporary urgency; and to distinguish and appreciate the linguistic and formal satisfactions of literary art.

To read literature critically is to examine the human condition through language’s expressive power and to place the reception of literary works in cultural, historical, and social contexts. In Literature Core courses, students will be introduced to disciplinary skills including close reading, analysis of texts, and the practice of writing about them with clarity and engagement. Through shared critical and reflective inquiry, students will explore ways in which meaning is textually produced in the world.

Courses Fulfilling the Core Requirement

Fall 2021

Course Number Course Title
ENGL1080.01-18 Literature Core
ENGL1701.01 Truth Telling in Literature
ENGL1714.01 Reading Man, God, and the Whale in Melville’s Moby-Dick
ENGL1728.01 The Value of Work: Significance through Literature
ENGL1729.01 The Role of Literature in Understanding the Complex Meaning of Justice
ENGL1730.01 Microbes and Us: Exploring Nature and the Human in the Environmental Humanities
ENGL1731.01-02 Encountering Inequalities: Disparity and Protest Art
ENGL1733.01 Crisis and Storytelling in the Age of Climate Change
Classics of Russian Literature
FREN3307 Great Books in French
FREN3393 Life at the Limit: Narratives of Transformation
SPAN3395 Contextos: Introduction to Advanced Textual Analysis
SPAN6652 Hispanic Nobel Prize Winners in Literature
UNAS1705.01 When Life Happens: Disability and the Stories We Tell
UNAS1715.01 War and Peace: Literature and Historical Experience
UNAS171601 From Hiroshima to K-Pop: Filmmakers' Perspectives


Mathematics has been a significant component of human knowledge throughout history, and today its reach has expanded beyond the natural sciences and technology to encompass the social sciences, business, law, health care, and public policy, among other fields. The study of mathematics fosters the use of quantitative methods to analyze diverse problems, the urge to recognize commonality in such problems and seek generalization, comfort with mathematical abstraction, and the ability to solve problems in new and unfamiliar contexts. Mathematics is universal, and a well-educated person will rely on these skills throughout life.

Students taking one (1) three-credit Core course in mathematics should therefore:

  • learn the nature of mathematical inquiry: abstraction and generalization;
  • understand the power of mathematical reasoning to reach conclusions with assurance;
  • communicate solutions clearly and effectively;
  • study and appreciate applications of mathematics to other disciplines.

Courses Fulfilling the Core Requirement

Fall 2021

Course Number Course Title
APSY2217 Statistics for Applied Research
CSCI1101 Computer Science 1
MATH1004 Finite Probability and Applications
MATH1007 Ideas in Mathematics
MATH1100 Calculus I
MATH1101 Calculus II
MATH1102 Calculus I for Math/Science Majors
MATH1103 Calculus II for Math/Science Majors
MATH1105 Calculus II for Math/Science Majors
MATH1180 Principles of Statistics for the Health Sciences
MATH1190 Fundamentals of Mathematics I

Natural Science

Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Physics

We live in a vast and complex universe and natural world, from the largest cluster of galaxies to the smallest subatomic particle. Science is our way of making sense of and understanding nature through systematic observation and experimentation. Scientific knowledge is organized through logical, theoretical, and mathematical frameworks. Mindful of the impact that discoveries and technology can have on our society, we seek to apply scientific understanding to the ultimate benefit of humankind.

The Natural Science Core consists of two (2) three- or four-credit courses in Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences or Physics. Students completing the Natural Science Core will:

  1. expand their understanding of the principles, body of knowledge, and investigative strategies that comprise science and its technological applications;
  2. develop a scientific literacy that will promote curiosity, respect for the scientific method, and general awareness of the limitations of scientific conclusions;
  3. recognize the role of scientific discovery, past, present and future, in interrelated concerns such as human health, societal well-being, and planetary sustainability; and
  4. appreciate the role of science in defining their relationship with the natural world and their position within the cosmos.

Courses Fulfilling the Core Requirement

Fall 2021

Course Number Course Title
BIOL1100 General Biology
BIOL1710.01 Microbes and Us: Exploring Nature and the Human from a Microbiology Perspective
BIOL2000 Molecules and Cells
BIOL2010 Ecology and Evolution
CHEM1105 Chemistry and Society I
CHEM1106 Chemistry and Society II
CHEM1109 General Chemistry I
CHEM1110 General Chemistry II
EESC1110.01 Geology of National Parks
EESC1132.01 Exploring the Earth I
EESC1150.01 Astronomy
EESC1168.01 Earth Processes and Risks
EESC1170.01 Rivers and the Environment
The Living Earth I
EESC1717 Making the Modern World: Design, Ethics, and Engineering
EESC1720 Crisis and Storytelling in the Age of Climate Change
PHYS1100 Structure of the Universe I
PHYS1400 The Art of Physics
PHYS1500 Foundations of Physics I
PHYS2100 Introduction to Physics I (calculus)
PHYS2200 Introductory Physics I (calculus)
PSYC1110 Introduction to Brain, Mind, and Behavior


Philosophy has a permanent and central place in Jesuit higher education and is an important part of the Boston College Core Curriculum. By introducing students to the great philosophical questions, philosophy offers a perspective which makes possible an integrated vision of physical, human and spiritual reality; it weighs propositions fundamental to personal identity, dignity, religious belief, and social responsibility; and it examines moral issues that affect individuals and communities. The philosophy Core teaches critical and analytical skills so that students develop an intellectual and moral framework for considering questions of ultimate value and significance, challenging them to translate philosophical principles into guides for life. All Core offerings in philosophy bring students to reflect critically on the kinds of claims made in different disciplines from the natural sciences to theology by considering questions about the nature of reason, evidence, belief, and certainty. The two (2) sequential three-credit courses in the philosophy Core aim to teach students that the philosophical habit of mind is part of a well-lived life, providing the perspective and tools for critical evaluation of and engagement with contemporary problems and questions.

Courses Fulfilling the Core Requirement

Fall 2021

Philosophy I

Course Number Course Title
PHIL1070 Philosophy of the Person I
PHIL1071 Philosophy of the Person II
PHIL1088.01-16 Person and Social Responsibility I (PULSE)
PHIL1090.01-26 and .23-32 Perspectives
PHIL1721.01 The Value of Work: A Philosophical Examination
PHIL1709.01 Art of Creativity: Crisis and Transformation

Philosophy II

Course Number Course Title
EDUC1050 The Educational Conversation

Social Sciences

Psychology in Education, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology

The social sciences help us better understand the social worlds in which we live. The social science Core requirement explores the influences on the way people think, feel, and behave in those social worlds by considering the nature of the individual, institutions, and social interactions. Although the social science disciplines have different approaches, they share a common methodology—a theory-driven empirical analysis of data that has relevance to real-world issues. The majority of complex problems that we face in today’s world have economic, political, psychological, and sociological dimensions. The social sciences help students to develop skills to grasp the complexity of the world and to understand themselves and their place in the world.

The Core requirement consists of two (2) three-credit courses chosen from one or more of the following disciplines: economics, political science, psychology, and sociology. Core courses in the social sciences emphasize one or more of the following: major concepts and central questions of the discipline, key methods for using logic and evidence to evaluate findings and conclusions, or real-world and policy applications.

Courses Fulfilling the Core Requirement

Fall 2021

Course Number Course Title
AADS1110.01 Introduction to African Diaspora Studies
ECON1101 Principles of Economics
ECON1702 Life, Liberty & Health: The Economics, Policy and Law of Healthcare
EDUC1051 Reimagining School and Society
EDUC/APSY1030 Child Growth and Development
EDUC/APSY1031 Family, School and Society
POLI1021 How to Rule the World (plus six discussion sections)
POLI1041 Fundamental Concepts of Politics (7 sections)
POLI1042 Introduction to Modern Politics
POLI1051.01 Flawed Founders: George Washington and the Mythology of a Heroic President
POLI1061 Introduction to American Politics
POLI1081 Introduction to International Politics
POLI1091 Introduction to Comparative Politics
PSYC1111 Introduction to Psychology as a Social Science
SOCY1001 Introduction to Sociology
SOCY1092 Peace or War:United States/Third World
SOCY1713 Citizenship, Immigration and Belonging in the U.S.
SOCY1726.01-02 Grief and Resistance: Social Responses to American Gun Violence
SOCY2200 Statistics
SOCY2210 Research Methods
SOCY4901 Readings & Research
SOCY7779 Environmental Sociology Workshop I
SOCY7780 Environmental Sociology Workshop II
SOCY8101 Interim Study
SOCY9981 Dissertation Seminar
SOCY9998 Doctoral Comprehensive
SOCY9999 Doctoral Continuation
UNAS1704.01 When Life Happens: Psychology Views Disability
UNAS1719.01 The Rule of Law and the Complex Meaning of Justice


Theology is the disciplined reflection on the mystery of God in the world and on the traditions of belief, worship, and ethics that shape communities of faith. It explicitly reinforces the tradition of Jesuit humanism, which prizes the scholarly investigation of religious faith and its impact on human culture. The study of theology is an essential feature of the Core Curriculum in a Jesuit, Catholic university. This implies an institutional commitment to the Roman Catholic tradition, but also encourages the study and understanding of other theological traditions.

The goals of the Core requirement in theology seeks to:

  • engage the quest for truth and meaning that generate theological insight in Christianity and other religious traditions;
  • explore the fundamental texts and practices that shape Christian theology;
  • understand the dynamic relationship between religious truth-claims and their moral implications, both personal and societal;
  • engage the various disciplinary methods required for theological reflection, including textual, historical, social, and cultural analysis; and
  • relate theological inquiry to the enduring questions animating the broader liberal arts tradition.

The Core requirement in theology is six credit hours and may be fulfilled with one Sacred Texts and Traditions-designated course and one Christian Theology-designated course; alternatively, students may fulfill the Core requirement in theology by completing the twelve-credit sequences THEO/PHIL 1088-1089 Person and Social Responsibility I and II (i.e., the PULSE Program) or THEO/PHIL 1090-1091 Perspectives on Western Culture I and II.

For the core requirement in Theology, including a list of Sacred Texts and Traditions- and Christian Theology-designated core courses, please see the Theology Department website.

Courses Fulfilling the Core Requirement

Fall 2021

Theology: Sacred Texts & Traditions

Course Number Course Title
THEO1420 The Everlasting Covenant: The Hebrew Bible
THEO1421 Inscribing the Word: The New Testament
THEO1422 The Sacred Page: The Bible
THEO1430 Buddhism and Christianity in Dialogue
THEO1431 Islam and Christianity in Dialogue
THEO1432 Hinduism and Christianity in Dialogue
THEO1434 Judaism and Christianity in Dialogue
THEO1710.01 Flawed Founders: King David and the Theology of a Political Hero
THEO1701.01 Spiritual Exercises: Engagement, Empathy and Ethics

Theology: Christian Theology

Course Number Course Title
THEO1401 Engaging Catholicism
THEO1402 God, Self, and Society
THEO1707.01 Geographies of Imperialism: Theology of Colonization
THEO1713.01-02 Grief and Resistance: Theological Responses to Climate Change

Theology: PULSE and Perspectives

Course Number Course Title
THEO 1088
(16 sections)
Person and Social Responsibility I (PULSE)


Boston College’s First-Year Writing Seminar (FWS) is a 15-person workshop designed to help you develop and practice skills in writing and research. Over the semester you will learn to write rhetorically, devising effective writing processes for a variety of purposes and audiences, including but not limited to, academic writing. Each workshop allows you to work creatively on a variety of writing tasks and to put yourself in conversation with other writers. You’ll meet regularly with your instructor to make revision plans, learn to give and receive productive feedback to other writers, and develop skills for revising essays before submitting them for evaluation. You may also work with classmates to present and "publish" your work within various classroom, campus, or internet settings.

One goal of FWS is to teach you a variety of strategies to practice in a range of writing situations which, in turn, will help you to understand and plan for subsequent writing challenges in your future academic, professional, and personal lives. Another goal of FWS is to give you the tools and the incentive to keep writing after the course has ended: in other courses, in your community, and for your own pleasure. Part of learning to write well, especially in academic settings, involves putting yourself into conversation with current arguments using the conventions and tropes of relevant discourses. In FWS you will also be introduced to library resources and will practice writing and documenting secondary research.

Courses Fulfilling the Core Requirement

Fall 2021

Course Number Course Title
ENGL 1010 (65 sections) First-Year Writing Seminar
ENGL 1009 (9 Sections) First-Year Writing Seminar for ELL
ENGL1110 FWS: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration
ENGL1120 FWS: Writing for Good