Liberal Arts Curriculum Requirements

All undergraduate students complete the Liberal Arts Curriculum as the core of their studies at Catholic University. The curriculum provides a common educational experience, grounded in the Catholic intellectual tradition and focused on enduring questions, that fosters a holistic understanding of reality and human life. Students develop a broad and versatile set of skills and knowledge that is necessary for success in any field of study or professional work.

For most students, the Liberal Arts Curriculum requires the completion of 15 courses and a focus area. To accommodate for more extensive major requirements, students in some professional programs complete 10 courses and no focus area. Four of the 15 (or 10) liberal arts courses are part of the First-Year Experience Program and are taken in small learning communities (“LCs”). 

Liberal Arts Course Requirements

The following 15 course requirements constitute the core of the Liberal Arts Curriculum. To accommodate for extensive major requirements, students in some professional programs (see “exceptions for professional schools” section below) complete only requirements 1-10. 

  1. Classical Philosophy (LC course) 
  2. Modern Philosophy (LC course)
  3. Foundations in Theology I (LC course)
  4. Foundations in Theology II (ideally taken Sophomore Year)
  5. Rhetoric and Composition (LC course)
  6. Foundations of Mathematics, Statistics, or Quantitative Reasoning
  7. Foundations in Natural Science
  8. Explorations in Literature 
  9. Explorations in Fine Arts
  10. Foundations Social Science 
  11. Philosophy elective course
  12. Theology elective course
  13. Foundations in History or Political Theory
  14. Intermediate Language I
  15. Intermediate Language II

Study of a Language to the Intermediate Level

2 of the course requirements (see 14 and 15 above) are fulfilled by the study of a language through the intermediate level (typically the 104 level). Students who have prior language experience (e.g. spoken at home or studied previously) may take a placement test to either test out of the requirement or into a higher level, potentially needing to take only one or no language courses.

The language requirement is fulfilled by one of the following:

  • Completing language studies through the intermediate level of any classical or modern foreign language.
  • Demonstrating fluency at the intermediate level of any language. 
  • Completing the Foreign Language Substitution, IF a student has a documented learning disability specific to language learning. Contact Disability Support Services to discuss the appropriate accommodations. 

Focus Area

The focus area offers students the opportunity to build upon the 15-course core in a way particular to their preferences and interests and benefiting their academic and career goals. Specifically, the focus area is met by completing a concentration in the liberal arts, which would result in a designation of “Cardinal Scholar” upon graduation, or one of the other approved alternatives.

The focus area requirement is fulfilled by completing one of the following:

  • A Liberal Arts Concentration in either liberal studies or the enduring questions
  • A minor, certificate, or double major/dual degree
  • The study of an additional language to the intermediate level
  • The Bachelor of Science science concentration (BS students only)
  • 2 honors tracks (honors students only)

Exceptions for Professional Programs

To accomodate for extensive major requirements, students in the programs listed below complete 10 liberal arts courses (requirements 1-10 in the liberal arts course requirements list above) and may have exceptions specific to their program. Additionally, students in these programs DO NOT complete the language requirement or a focus area: 

  • Early Childhood and Elementary Education
  • Nursing BSN***

 ***Nursing BSN students complete only 9 liberal arts courses by picking either a Literature or Fine Arts

Additional Details and Information

Up to 2 courses may “double count” for both liberal arts and major requirements, meaning at most 2 major courses can be used to fulfill liberal arts requirements. Students should check their degree audit and consult with their advisors to identify major courses that also fulfill liberal arts requirements. 

Reviewed August 9, 2021