Core Curriculum

Georgetown Core

Students in Regents Hall

The Georgetown Core Curriculum (Georgetown Core) is a distinctive expression of Georgetown University’s identity as a student-centered research university rooted in the Jesuit and Catholic tradition. The Georgetown Core is a two-tiered program. The first tier is shaped by the University and is shared by all undergraduates as a common core experience. The second tier of the requirement is shaped by the four undergraduate schools, expanding the university Core so as to further the specific mission and tradition of each school.

The Georgetown Core lays a foundation for the course of studies pursued by students.  Ultimately, it is the hope that the entirety of a Georgetown education will lead students to embody as life-long habits the goals described below.

Learning Goals 

The basic purpose of general education is the development of fundamental abilities such as inquiry, analysis, research, critical reading, creative thinking and expression, and communication in multiple modes and media. The Georgetown Core accomplishes these by expanding students’ understandings of the traditions, histories, technologies, and ideas that have shaped the world. In addition, as participants in an intellectual community, students learn to communicate and act with civility, respect difference, address questions of diversity, and engage in difficult dialogues around challenging ideas.

Challenging and complex problems often require the insights of multiple areas of knowledge, both qualitative and quantitative, and the capacity to think and act creatively across fields. The Georgetown Core attends to these by giving students a working appreciation of the questions, methods, contributions, and limitations of various disciplines in addressing complex problems. In their academic work, students are encouraged to incorporate such scholarly ideals as interdisciplinarity, integration, risk-taking, and collaboration.

The Jesuit ideal of cura personalis inspires the Georgetown community to value integration of the intellectual, ethical, spiritual, social, and civic dimensions of life and to do so with wisdom, passion, self-reflection, and interior freedom. The Georgetown Core helps to accomplish this by encouraging students to explore critically their own beliefs and assumptions and consider new, diverse, and unfamiliar beliefs.

Georgetown aims to graduate “men and women for others” who have, as a central life commitment, an active and sustained pursuit of the common good. The Georgetown Core helps to accomplish this by encouraging students to exercise integrative judgments in the face of moral complexities and to take on the responsibilities of global citizenship in a spirit of service and justice.

University Core Requirements 

The core requirements that form the first tier, the common experience across the University, are interpreted and carried out differently across the four undergraduate schools. The shared core requirements are outlined below:

(Check school specific guidelines for fulfilling these requirements at the links below)

Philosophy – 2 courses

Georgetown, with its commitment to the Jesuit tradition, believes that modern men and women should consider reflectively their relationship to the world, their fellow humans, and God. All students take a year of Philosophy and a year of Theology. 

Through the Core, the Philosophy Department is committed to providing courses that promote students’ personal growth as human beings in search of meaningful lives, foster their development as responsible citizens, and offer effective introductions to the discipline of philosophy. 

Theology – 2 courses

Through the Core, the Theology Department is committed to fostering in students a critically appreciative awareness of the religious dimension of human existence, and to assisting students in reflecting upon their own experience and understanding in that enlarged context. The first course provides this foundation while the second course allows students to develop their critical awareness by applying it to a particular area of interest in religion or theology. 

First Year Writing Seminar – 1 course

Every Georgetown student will take one writing course, WRIT-015: Writing and Culture Seminar, that provides students with opportunities to connect their writing with critical reading and thinking, inquiry, and analysis. The Writing and Culture Seminar approaches writing through three interrelated frameworks: writing as a tool for inquiry, writing as a process, and practice writing in different rhetorical situations. Each section focuses on a cultural theme, with readings and assignments that engage students with compelling questions and problems. Seminar readings provide texts for analysis as well as models and motives for student writing. Students are encouraged to complete this course during their first year at Georgetown. 

Integrated Writing – To be completed in major

The second half of the Writing Core is an intensive writing experience located within the student’s chosen major, embedded within the requirements as determined by that program. The Integrated Writing requirement will prepare students to use the relevant forms, styles, and conventions of their chosen area(s) of study. Because writing reflects ways of thinking in academic practice, attention to writing in the major will enhance the student’s learning of concepts, materials, and methods in their fields. Each major’s Integrated Writing requirement is established by the department in order to express the unique conventions and practices of the discipline. 

Humanities: Arts, Literature, and Cultures – 1 course

Every student will take one course in the Humanities: Art, Literature, and Culture. Literature, and visual and performing arts deepen our understanding of many kinds of expressive media, past and present, and the realities they aim to present. Through reading, writing and creative practice, students acquire the intellectual and practical tools to interpret and critique the world. Courses fulfilling this requirement use historical, critical, and/or experiential methods. 

Students explore ancient and modern civilizations, gain insight into the value of other cultures and critically examine their own. They learn to see, evaluate, interpret and communicate human experience through literary texts, artistic creations, material objects, and critical concepts. Those who create or perform works of art experience directly the discipline and revelatory impact of artistic expression. Courses fulfilling this requirement are identified in the course schedule with the HALC attribute in the Schedule of Classes. 

Pathways to Social Justice – 2 courses

Georgetown’s Pathways to Social Justice (PSJ) curriculum prepares students to critically analyze historical and contemporary power differentials. A cornerstone of this requirement is the one-credit University Seminar in Race, Power, and Justice, which is designed to ensure that every student at Georgetown develops a baseline vocabulary for discussing racial difference and marginalization. This seminar will provide the foundation for each student’s engagement with other PSJ-attributed “overlay” courses offered across Georgetown’s Main Campus. Starting in Fall 2024, every Georgetown student must take two three-credit PSJ overlay courses prior to graduation.

By fulfilling the Pathways to Social Justice requirement, students will gain a better understanding of how social, political, geographic, economic, and other cultural factors shape experiences of the world, as well as how these factors contribute to marginalization and inequality. PSJ courses will also explore how communities have resisted marginalization, and will focus on axes of identity that have formed the basis for historical and contemporary marginalization and oppression, including race, gender, class, caste, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Science for All – 1 course

Effective Fall 2019.  The natural science requirement illustrates, in the context of a scientific discipline or disciplines, how scientific understanding is developed, tested, and revised. While the natural science courses may touch on or draw motivation from public policy issues and societal challenges, and should be informed by social contexts, they focus primarily on scientific content, methods, and modes of thought. Overall these courses provide students with a sense of the complexity of natural systems, the volume of evidence that scientists obtain and study, and the breadth and depth of scientific theory and analysis. 

The science requirement only concerns a Natural Science requirement and complements existing requirements in Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning as determined by each school. Students are required to complete at least one natural science course and should consult with their departments on whether a course fulfills the requirement. 

Quantitative Reasoning and Data Literacy – 1 course

Modern life and social interactions in the 21st century are heavily influenced by data. It permeates every aspect: from our personal lives to our roles as citizens in a democratic society. But data – in and of itself – is meaningless. What transforms data into a powerful tool is the ability to know how to gather, assess and extract meaning from it, and to understand both the utility and the limitations of data. To this end, the importance of data interpretation in contemporary society is difficult to overstate. We believe that a well-rounded liberal science and arts education must provide students with the power to use data in order to communicate cogent arguments about complex phenomena.

The Quantitative Reasoning and Data Literacy (QRDL) requirement in the Core Curriculum will help students learn to understand how real-world interpretation of data progresses from a set of numbers, frequently incomplete and with measurement errors, to a visual distillation that clearly conveys meaning. While mathematics and statistics provide a necessary foundation for quantitative reasoning and data literacy, the power of pure mathematics lies in its abstraction. In contrast, QRDL emphasizes a distinctive variety of concrete contexts and applications. Specifically, the QRDL requirement will differ from a mathematics requirement in two important ways. Emphasis will be first on the applications of quantitative methods to academic real-world subjects and second on understanding the inherent messiness of data. This “messiness” might require the use of estimations and approximations, often known as back-of-the-envelope calculations, to determine an appropriate launch point for more precise analysis

School Core Requirements 

It is in this capacity that the undergraduate schools are able to expand on the university Core by furthering the second tier core requirements that relate to the specific mission and tradition of each school. Click on your school below to see your school specific path through the Georgetown Core: