Virginia Commonwealth University

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Core Curriculum

VCU’s Core Curriculum is shared by all students throughout the campus. Through this curriculum, VCU joins ranks with the most prestigious institutions in attempting to convert general studies requirements into cohesive programs of liberal education that enhance and support all programs of study. This results in a quality learning experience that responds to the needs of today’s VCU students.

Along with an emphasis on student-centered learning, the primary goals of the Core Curriculum are to:

  1. Improve students’ levels of competencies in all skill areas;
  2. Blend knowledge and skills from different disciplinary areas into one integrated experience; and
  3. Encourage and promote student engagement in present and future learning.

The six competency areas:

Writing proficiency

Writing proficiency courses provide students with substantive and sustained writing experiences to further develop their writing and thinking competencies.

 Critical thinking

Critical thinking courses encourage critical self-awareness, helping students apply critical thinking strategies to foster more disciplined approaches to learning.

 Information fluency

Information fluency  courses help students navigate library-related services (on-line and on-site) as well as evaluate the legitimacy of sources of information.

Oral communication

Oral communication courses provide students with opportunities to express and develop their oral capabilities.

 Ethical and civic responsibility

Students reflect on their culturally-inherited values, thinking critically about the relationship between these values and global context.

Quantitative Literacy

Students have the ability to understand and use numbers and data analyses in everyday life and in the workplace.

 Highlights of the VCU Core Curriculum:

  • The Core focuses on a set of learning competencies which contribute to life-long learning. These skills areas include written communication, oral proficiency, critical thinking, information fluency, ethical and civic responsibility and quantitative literacy.
  • The Core includes 21 credit hours that all undergraduate students at VCU will complete across all programs of study

The Core Curriculum includes three tiers:

First Tier:

6 credit hours – Focused Inquiry I and II, a two-semester sequence required of all first-year students, provides the foundation for the program.

Second Tier:

As a complement to the first tier, second tier courses across three areas reinforce the learning objectives introduced in the Focused Inquiry sequence.  Courses in the second-tier are drawn from across the university and include:

  • 3 credit hours: A quantitative literacy course.
  • 3 credit hours: A research and academic argument course.
  • 9 credit hours: one course from each of these areas
  • humanities/fine arts;
  • social/behavioral sciences;
  • natural science/mathematics.

To reinforce first tier learning, second tier courses include:

  • specific learning objectives related to the above-mentioned competencies;
  • activities inside and outside of class directed at improving competencies; and
  • assessment regarding student performance in the competencies.

Third Tier:

The third tier culminates in an academic experience integrating the Core Curriculum with the student’s major. This requirement may take the form of a service-learning project, a research project with a faculty member, a study abroad program, a senior thesis paper, a practical internship or a capstone course.  This requirement ties learned experience in the Core Curriculum with a practical application in the major.

For approved Core Curriculum course lists please reference the VCU Undergraduate Study Bulletin.

For more information on the Core Curriculum, call (804) 827-4020.