Core Requirements

Requirements by Discipline

Area I: Mathematics and Natural Sciences

  • (2) semesters of mathematics. At least (1) semester must include a course containing some calculus. MA 11 does not fulfill the core mathematics requirement.
  • (2) semesters of a natural science. Any (2) courses in any of the natural sciences, as well as AY 110 and PY 261, fulfill this requirement. Note: Psychology majors cannot use PY 261 to fulfill this core science requirement.

Area II: History and the Behavioral and Social Sciences

  • (2) semesters of history. HI 10 plus one 200-level course. CL 115-116 (Greek and Roman Civilization) may be used to fulfill this requirement.
  • (2) semesters of anthropology (except for AY 110), communication (CO 100 and CO 130 only), economics, politics, psychology, or sociology. Both courses may be in the same department or they may be in (2) different departments. Also includes ED 241 for Certificate students only.

Area III: Philosophy and Religious Studies

  • (2) semesters of philosophy. PH 101 is required followed by a 200-level course.
  • (2) semesters of religious studies. RS 101 is required followed by a 200-level course.
  • (1) additional course in philosophy, religious studies, or applied ethics.

Area IV: English and Visual and Performing Arts

  • (3) semesters of English. EN 11 and EN 12 are required, plus (1) semester of a 100-level English literature course. Writing courses (EN/W) do not fulfill the core literature requirement. Selected courses offering literature in translation may also fulfill this requirement - see listings under classical studies as well as modern languages and literatures.
  • (2) semesters of visual and performing arts. (1) semester must be in the area of art history; music history; theatre history; or film, television, or media arts history. The other semester may be selected from any of the 3-credit course offerings in art history, music, film, television, media arts, studio art, and theatre.

Area V: Classical and Modern Languages

  • (2) semesters at the intermediate level of any language listed among the offerings of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures or the Classical Studies Program.

Diversity Requirement: U.S. and World Diversity

  • (1) course designated as a U.S. Diversity course and (1) course designated as a World Diversity course. A course used to fulfill the diversity requirement may also count a second time - toward a core, a major, or a minor requirement.

Requirements Overview

Most core courses are taken within the first (2) years at Fairfield University. However, precisely when students should take various core courses depends, in part, upon their major. The faculty advisor will assist students in selecting a schedule that meets all core requirements. Normally, English (EN 11 and EN 12), mathematics, and foreign languages are included in the student's first-year schedule.

Two Fairfield Undergrads chatting outside after class.‌Core courses are organized into 2 groups:

1. In general, the first (10) courses form a common experience for all students, and provide a foundation to help situate work in the major and minor curricula. These (10) semester-long courses should, if possible, be completed before the end of the sophomore year.
2. The second set of (10) semester-long courses is required from particular disciplinary areas, but students are encouraged to make choices among particular departments and topics to fit their unique curriculum plans.

In addition, students must take (2) courses that focus on diversity, (1) on diversity in American society and (1) on diversity in a global and international context. These courses can satisfy core, major, or minor requirements, or can be free electives.

Many core courses can be "double counted" towards fulfillment of core requirements, and towards fulfillment of major and minor requirements. In this way, all core courses provide students with the opportunity to build a broad educational foundation across an interesting array of ideas, skills, and methods, and also with the opportunity to drill down into the more specific study of a discipline that leads to meaningful engagement and interdisciplinarity.


  • Students with majors in the Charles F. Dolan School of Business are required to take specific courses as part of their core curriculum. See the Dolan School of Business core section for such course details. Business students in the Classes of 2015 and 2016 need to take only (2) semesters of a language at any level (elementary or intermediate).
  • School of Nursing students take specific courses as part of their core curriculum and are required to complete either the visual and performing arts or the foreign language requirement.
  • School of Engineering students are exempt from the foreign language requirement.

The Core - Behavioral and Social Science

Pathways to Integration, Take Root!‌The mission of the behavioral and social science core is to engage students actively in scientific approaches to the understanding of both individual and social behavior, so that they can better understand the world in which they live. While unique in their discipline-specific approaches, the behavioral and social sciences - Anthropology, Economics, Politics, Psychology, and Sociology - are based on knowledge of behavior that is collected through systematic observation and subject to empirical verification.

Students of these sciences are presented with alternative paradigms of behavior. They are challenged to think in new ways to understand and solve the problems of individuals and societies. Through their study of the behavioral and social sciences, students will:

  • Develop an understanding of alternative models of individual and social behavior
  • Develop the ability to interpret a variety of forms of empirical data
  • Be able to address behavioral and social science issues in a systematic fashion and use discipline-specific tools to formulate and test solutions to problems

The Core - Classical and Modern Languages

Pathways to Integration, Take Root!‌The study of languages, both classical and modern, is a key element in working and learning across cultures and geographic boundaries. Language in the Core Curriculum focuses on the acquisition of the skills of reading, listening, speaking, and writing, though the emphasis varies according to the chosen language. Students in core language study acquire knowledge about other cultures, literatures, and historical periods. It is expected that students will use the skills and knowledge acquired in language courses in practical and intellectual pursuits.

Through their study of foreign languages, students will:

  • Be able to read a passage of moderate difficulty in their chosen language and, in the case of modern languages, will be able to communicate with a native speaker
  • Learn grammatical and syntactical rules which will facilitate oral and written expression in the language
  • Become acquainted with the life, customs and cultural traditions where the language is or was spoken

The Core - Diversity Requirements

Pathways to Integration, Take Root!‌Prominent among the educational priorities particular to our times are the need to address the pluralistic character of our own society on the one hand, and on the other to become aware of the significant differences which mark societies whose history and cultural patterns do not conform to those of the West. To address these needs, as a graduation requirement students must normally select one course identified as a U.S. Diversity course and one identified as a World Diversity course, or may in some cases satisfy this requirement through study abroad or other approved educational experiences. These courses may be part of the Core Curriculum, Major or Minor courses, or electives.

Through their completion of these requirements, students will:

  • Come to an appreciation of connections between race, class, and gender
  • Become acquainted with the roles of privilege and difference in U.S. society
  • Acquire a sense of the extent of difference and similarity between Western and non-western societies and cultures

The Core - English Requirements

Pathways to Integration, Take Root!We live in a world of words - written, spoken, read, recited, analyzed, debated. In the English Department, students learn to appreciate the inherent value of reading and writing, to value the beauty and power of language. At the same time, our students are trained to sharpen their skills for an ever-competitive job market by developing the ability to write clearly and persuasively, to think critically and creatively, and to engage in thoughtful analysis - skills that are essential to success in our contemporary, global marketplace.

While there are many ways to pursue English studies, we have some basic goals that apply to all of our many, varied programs. Our goals include to:

  • Foster students' abilities to reflect on texts as global citizens and as members of an academic community
  • Impart to students a sense of the history of English language and literature, in its local, national, and transnational forms, as well as their interconnections
  • Teach skills in close reading, textual analysis, thesis development, and argumentation
  • Acquaint students with various types of imaginative literature such as the novel, the short story, poetry, and drama
  • Develop students' analytic and organizational skills through the interpretation of literature and through their own writing
  • Give students further training in the organization and effective articulation of ideas in writing, including in some cases preparation for careers as professional writers or for careers where strong writing skills will be an asset
  • Give students an appreciation of the value of the writing process, including revision
  • Provide a variety of writing experiences, including the application of research methods
  • Address issues such as literacy studies, using new media for composing or reception of text, and training teachers for the language arts

Please note: Instructors in the Core Writing Program can find additional information in Blackboard.


The Core - History Requirements

Pathways to Integration, Take Root!The mission of the history core is to foster an understanding of history as a continuous process in which a variety of forces (economic, geographical, political, social, cultural, intellectual, religious, technological) interact dynamically with one another. The history core fosters an understanding of the foundations of the modern world.

Through their study of history students will:

  • Come to understand historiographical debates, embodied in the conflicting interpretations of the past and reflective of particular historical contexts and the background and circumstances of particular authors
  • Develop written, oral, and research skills to support their ability to undertake critical analyses of any era or area of the globe, and that will be of enduring value in their life and work
  • Develop the historical imagination that enables them to understand the role that socio-economic factors (for example, class divisions and conflict) play in shaping culture and politics
  • Develop a sense of the debt that human societies, now and in the past, owe to the willing and unwilling labor and sacrifices of countless men and women who remain nameless and forgotten


The Core - Mathematics Requirements

Pathways to Integration, Take Root!Mathematics has been an integral part of a liberal education from the days of Plato's Academy, through the Jesuit Ratio Studiorum, to the intellectual life of the modern world. The revolutionary ideas of calculus occupy a unique place in Western intellectual history and make calculus well suited for study at the university level. Fairfield's mathematics core requirement is aimed at presenting this deep mathematical subject as both an object of abstract beauty and a model of deductive reasoning. The calculus is studied as an art and a science. Although an abstract subject, the calculus draws its motivation from and provides applications to a variety of problems both from inside and outside mathematics. The theory is illustrated through applications to problems from geometry, optimization, physics, economics, business, and/or the life sciences.

Through their study of mathematics, students will:

  • Develop an appreciation of the calculus as a model of analytical thinking and as an object of art, illustrating the abstract beauty of mathematics in general
  • Come to understand the basic concepts of the calculus - function, limit derivative, and integral
  • Develop problem-solving ability and a knowledge of the calculus as a tool, applicable to problems from a wide variety of disciplines

The Core - Natural Sciences Requirements

Pathways to Integration, Take Root!The primary mission of study in the natural sciences is to help students develop an understanding of and respect for the scientific method, and the knowledge of the physical world that it has produced. The natural sciences, broadly categorized as biology, chemistry, and physics, are united by their common methodology. To recognize the breadth and increasingly interdisciplinary nature of the sciences, as well as the diversity of student interests, students may elect in-depth study of one natural science or a distribution across several. In their exposure to the scientific method, students learn the importance of critically questioning empirical truth claims and the value of scientific reasoning in assessing such claims.

Through their study of the natural sciences, students will:

  • Learn about the importance of empirical observation, replicability of experiments, falsifiability of scientific theories and hypotheses and the circumstances under which causal inferences can be drawn
  • Gain some competence with the common tools of scientific explanation; mathematical, computational, and/or explanatory models
  • Learn the value of scientific integrity and, through their own experience of data collection and/or analysis, develop an understanding of the role of impartiality, objectivity, and honesty in the scientific method

The Core - Philosophy, Religious Studies, Applied Ethics Requirements

The mission of this area of the core is to lead students to reflect on the perennial questions that all cultures have posed:

  • What does it mean to be a person?
  • Does life have a destiny?
  • Is there an absolute truth?
  • How does one distinguish knowledge from opinion?
  • How does one act ethically for the good of oneself and for the good of society?
  • Why is evil so prevalent in human history?


Through their study of these disciplines, students will:

  • Be able to engage the enduring issues of ancient and medieval philosophy
  • Become familiar with the aims of religion and its meaning for individuals and communities
  • Be able to use the methods of philosophical analysis to understand the links between moral reasoning and the issues that arise in professional fields like business, medicine, and nursing

The Core - Visual and Performing Arts Requirements

Pathways to Integration, Take Root!The visual and performing arts weave together knowledge, skills, and personal and cultural values. Through studying the visual and performing arts, students learn about the interaction of art, society, and the self, and the ways in which that interaction has been influenced by history, (social) context, and theory. Study of the visual and performing arts also encourages students to develop empathy, discernment, and respect for the expressions of individuals and groups and their visions of the world. As they engage in creative work, students develop intuitive, creative, expressive, and aesthetic faculties, and learn to connect these faculties to reasoning skills.

Through their study of the visual and performing arts, students will:

  • Know the major artistic and cultural achievements of Western and non-Western civilizations
  • Examine notions of quality and excellence in the visual and performing arts and the ways in which these aesthetic value judgments have been made historically
  • Acquire competence to produce, interpret, analyze, speak, and write about the visual and performing arts


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