The Baylor College of Arts & Sciences Unified Core Curriculum

Frequently Asked Questions




1. What is a core curriculum?

A core curriculum describes the required courses that make up the general education portion of an academic degree. All Baylor University degrees require students to complete at least 124 hours of coursework, which is divided into:

  • General education courses (the core curriculum)
  • Courses required for a given major or majors, and
  • Elective courses

2. What degrees are offered by the College of Arts & Sciences?

The College of Arts & Sciences offers four degrees:

  • The Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree is typically pursued by students majoring in humanities and by some students majoring in the fine arts, social sciences and sciences.
  • The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree is typically pursued by students majoring in art, film and digital media, music and theatre arts.
  • The Bachelor of Science (BS) degree is typically pursued by students majoring in the sciences and by some in the social sciences. 
  • The Bachelor of Science in Aviation Sciences (BSAS) degree is pursued by students majoring in aviation. 

These degrees are granted by Baylor University and certified by the College of Arts & Sciences. More than half of all Baylor undergraduates are now pursuing one of these four degrees.

3. What does “unified” mean?

"Unified" refers to the fact that in the Arts & Sciences core curriculum, all four degrees –– the BA, BFA, BS and BSAS –– have the same required core.

4. What is the structure of the unified core?

There are 15 hours of common courses (specific courses that all Arts & Sciences students must take):

  • Chapel (zero credit hours)
  • Cultural Events Experience (zero credit hours)
  • American Literary Cultures (3 hours)
  • The United States in Global Perspective (3 hours)
  • The U.S. Constitution, Its Interpretation, and the American Political Experience (3 hours)
  • Christian Scriptures (3 hours)
  • Christian Heritage (3 hours)

There are 34 hours of distribution list courses (varied courses that can be chosen to satisfy the requirements of a specific topic area):

  • Communication and Media Literacy (3 hours)
  • Contemporary Social Issues (3 hours)
  • Fine Arts (3 hours)
  • Foreign Language and Culture (9 hours)
  • Formal Reasoning (3 hours)
  • Literature in Context (3 hours)
  • Research Writing (3 hours)
  • Scientific Method I (4 hours)
  • Scientific Method II (3 hours)

5. What if I have AP/dual credit for ENG 1302? Will that credit count for a writing credit?

No. You will be required to take one 3-hour course from the Research Writing Distribution List. ENG 1304 may be transferred in to substitute for ENG 1310 (a course on that Research Writing Distribution List).

6. Does my AP/dual credit for HIS 2365 and HIS 2366 count for a History credit?

Yes, one of those courses may count as a substitute in the Contemporary Social Issues Distribution List. (Note: for the 2019-2020 school year ONLY, either of these courses will also substitute for the required HIS 1300.)

7. Questions concerning foreign language requirements:

  • If I matriculate with foreign language credit at the third semester, do I still have to take foreign language at Baylor?

    No. You must, however, have at least 6 hours of residential credit in the Foreign Language and Culture Distribution List. You could, therefore, continue with that foreign language, or you could take a culture course in that Distribution List.

  • If I placed into a 2320-level course, do I still have to take foreign language at Baylor?

    No, but you still must complete the 6 hours of residential credit in the Foreign Language and Culture Distribution list. You could take 2320 and then a 3000-level foreign language course, or you could take 6 hours from a culture course in that Distribution List.

  • I am fluent in a language other than English, took the CLEP exam, and earned 2320 credit. Will this complete my foreign language requirement?

    Yes, but you will still need to take 6 hours of courses from the Foreign Language and Culture Distribution List.

8. Questions concerning the Cultural Events (Fine Arts) Experience (CEE):

  • How do I get credit for attending CEE events?

    Information on events and attendance credit will be available on the CEE website at the beginning of each semester.

  • How many CEE credits can I get per semester?

    You may get up to 4 CEEs per semester, but no more than 4 CEEs per year. Two CEEs per semester is a recommended goal.

9. Do I have to choose the new core, or can I choose the old core, since more of my credit applies there?

Requirements for students matriculating in the 2019-2020 school year may not be changed.

10. Questions concerning electives:

  • Why do I have so many electives?

    It is typical at a university that approximately 1/3 of your requirements are in the core, 1/3 are in your major, and 1/3 are electives. Arts & Sciences requirements are not unusual in this respect.

  • How can I use electives, and what electives are available?

    If desirable, you may wish to build a certificate, minor or second major with the electives. Check with the Undergraduate Catalog and your advisor to help you determine what electives are available.

  • I don't want to take a bunch of electives! Can't I just take the core, and courses for my major?

    It is possible for you to take more courses in your major area than needed. For example, if your degree calls for 36 hours in your major, you could possibly take 54 hours in the major. Eighteen hours from that major area would count as electives.

11. If I change to a different academic unit within Baylor, such as the Hankamer School of Business or Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, will this core still apply?

Many courses –– but not all –– will still apply. Check the Undergraduate Catalog for specific requirements on each school.

12. I received an Associate's Degree along with my high school diploma. Shouldn't all of that coursework complete my core requirements?

Not necessarily, although many courses should count.



1. What are the main differences between the pre-2019 Arts & Sciences core curricula and the new unified core curriculum?

  • First, instead of different requirements for each of the four degrees (BA, BFA, BS and BSAS), in the unified version all four degrees have the same requirements. Whether students are majoring in biology, art, religion or sociology, they have one set of core requirements. These requirements, considered foundational for any Baylor degree, assist students in becoming informed and productive citizens of a democracy and servant leaders of faith communities without regard to their major specialization or vocational interests and aptitudes.

  • Second, the credit hours required in the unified core provide students with much more flexibility in course selection, and in their overall degree plan. For example, the pre-2019 core curriculum requirements for the BA and BS degrees called for between 65 to 79 hours of coursework –– comprising one of the largest core requirements in the United States. By contrast, the new unified core requires 49 hours –– meaning that students have 16 to 30 more hours available to take additional electives, or to successfully complete more second majors, minors and certificates. 

  • Third, there are more common courses in the unified core. Just what are common courses? While some requirements of the core curriculum can be satisfied through student selection, common courses are ones that all Arts & Sciences graduates must take, such as Chapel, the U.S. Constitution and Christian Scriptures. The unified core includes seven of these common courses, instead of the five required in the pre-2019 core. These additional courses allow students to have more vocabularies, texts and experiences in common with their classmates.

  • Fourth, the unified core calls for multidisciplinary courses and upper-level courses. Few such courses were available in the pre-2019 cores. Multidisciplinary courses examine common challenges or areas of interest that require input from various academic disciplines to solve or understand more completely.  

2. What are some of the major changes that have been made to the core curriculum?

  • Creative thinking: A creative thinking component is now required, consisting of one common course and one elective (from a fine arts list).
  • Formal reasoning: The formal reasoning requirement in the unified core includes one course from either mathematics, statistics or logic. While many students may choose a mathematics course, it is no longer a required course.
  • Foreign language: The foreign language requirement in the unified core is nine hours, in contrast to the pre-2019 requirement of six to 14 hours (depending on the degree). Note: there are no longer four-hour foreign language courses in the core curriculum. See the Undergraduate Catalog for details.
  • Writing: The research writing requirement in the unified core is one course, compared to the two courses that were required. ENG 1302, which many students would place out of with dual or transfer credit, is no longer required. And students have multiple choices in the type of research writing course they wish to take to fulfill the research writing requirement.
  • Communication: While most pre-2019 Arts & Sciences degrees did not require a course in communication, the unified core requires one three-hour course be completed in the all-important area of media literacy.
  • History: One common three-hour course in history is required; students previously had to take zero to six hours of history.
  • Science: Two science courses are required in the unified core; pre-2019 students were required to take either two or three science classes.
  • Social science: The social science requirement in the unified core is one course, while pre-2019 requirements in social science varied.

3. What has not changed in the core?

  • Religion: The pre-2019 requirement for two semesters of Chapel and two introductory religion courses remains unchanged in the unified core.
  • Political science: A revised political science course in the U.S. Constitution is required in the unified core as a common course.
  • Literature: Two literature courses are still required. One of these is a common course, while the other is selected from a larger list.

4. Do I have to switch to the new core?

No, you may continue to meet your general education requirements under the catalog year that you matriculated. For many students, it will not be advantageous to switch.

5. If I want to switch to the new core, what steps should I take?

You should make an appointment with your advisor of record, who will help you determine whether this would be advantageous to you. CAUTION: The 2019-2020 general education requirements for students in the BA, BS, BFA and BSAS degrees are significantly different from previous catalogs. You should NOT drop or add courses based on new catalog requirements without conferring with an advisor. Doing so could delay your academic progress and jeopardize your ability to graduate on time.

6. If I switch to the new core, will I be allowed to substitute some of the courses I've taken in the old core in the new core?

No. Substitutions will NOT be approved. Some courses in the old core are, however, required courses or options in the new core.

7. If I switch to the new core, do I have to complete all 12 Cultural Event Experiences (CEEs), or will those be prorated according to my classification?

You will have to take all 12 CEEs. You are limited to taking 4 CEEs a year.

8. If I change to the new core and have completed all my foreign language credits at a different school, am I still required to take 6 hours in residence in the Foreign Language and Culture Distribution List at Baylor?

Yes. You may take 6 hours of language or culture in the Distribution List.

9. I'm not currently in the College of Arts & Sciences, but I'm considering a switch to a major in the College of Arts & Sciences. How do I determine which of my general education courses in my current major will count in the Arts & Sciences core?

You may ask your advisor of record to run an audit for you to determine which courses will count. Arts & Sciences will make some limited substitutions for internal transfers.

10. I'm an Arts & Sciences major now, but I'm thinking about changing to a non-A&S major. Will the courses I've taken for the Arts & Sciences core work in the new major I am considering?

It will be important for you to talk to your advisor of record to determine what will count.



1. May students switch catalog years without seeing their advisor of record?

No. It is against Arts & Sciences policy to do so.

2. Will students be able to transfer in common core courses (ENG 2310, HIS 1300, PSC 2302, REL1310 and REL 1350)?


Will Arts & Sciences allow substitutions for these courses?

No, except for the 2019-2020 school year.


Where can I go to get more information about the College of Arts & Sciences core curriculum?

More information is available at