Historical Notes

Course Designators

The following departmental course designators have been used by the College Core Curriculum.
CORE-UA:  Spring 2014 and subsequently.
MAP-UA:  Summer 2011 through Fall 2013.
V55:  Fall 1995 through Spring 2011.
V50:  Fall 1993 through Spring 1995 (pilot phase).

Course Rubrics
The following course rubrics have changed since the curriculum was implemented in Fall 1995.
CORE-UA 2xx, Physical Science, was known prior to Fall 2016 as Natural Science I.
CORE-UA 3xx, Life Science, was known prior to Fall 2016 as Natural Science II.
CORE-UA 4xx, Texts and Ideas, was known prior to Fall 2010 as Conversations of the West.
CORE-UA 5xx, Cultures and Contexts, was known prior to Fall 2010 as World Cultures.

During the curriculum’s pilot phase (Fall 1993 through Spring 1995), the following numbers and rubrics were used.
V50.0001, Quantitative Reasoning
V50.0002, Natural Science I
V50.0003, Natural Science II
V50.001x, Conversations of the West
V50.002x, World Cultures
V50.003x, Societies in Global Perspective
V50.004x, Expressive Culture

Evolution of the College Core Curriculum
In 1988–89, a faculty task force examined the quality of the College of Arts and Science curriculum.  At that time, undergraduate general education in the liberal arts took the form of a distribution requirement under which students selected from a list of approved departmental courses in each of ten areas.  This system had several failings:  While the quality of teaching in individual classes was sometimes high, the courses offered in fulfillment of the distribution requirement were often taught by adjunct faculty or graduate students.  Students were thus denied the opportunity to study with regular members of the faculty in a large portion of their course work.  Second, there was little common agreement about the type, rigor, or amount of work these courses should include.  Third, because the goal of the requirement was simply to assure the distribution of students’ studies, the courses did not relate to one another or provide a coherent foundation for students’ later work.  Finally, there were no firm expectations about when students would complete the requirements.  Classes mixed students early in their careers with others more comfortable with the demands of college, and declared or prospective majors with others interested only to fulfill a distribution area.  Because of this heterogeneity in students’ backgrounds and expectations, these classes were frustrating for students and faculty alike.

Over the next several years, committees of the faculty planned and developed a revised program of undergraduate general education, culminating in the introduction of the College Core Curriculum in 1995–1996.  The program subsequently expanded to the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development in 1997–98, and to the undergraduate college of the Stern School of Business in 1998–99.  Students in the Liberal Studies Program enroll only for Quantitative Reasoning and joined that course in 2000–2001, as have students in the Global Liberal Studies Program since its inception in 2009–2010.  Undergraduates from the Tisch School of the Arts Department of Cinema Studies began the program in 1999–2000; those from the Tisch Department of Dramatic Writing in 2005–2006; and those from Performance Studies in 2015–2016.  Also in 2005–2006, the College of Nursing, previously a Core-participating department within Steinhardt, became a separate school.  In 2006–2007, the College Core Curriculum was adopted by the undergraduate Program in Hospitality and Tourism Management, and by the Program in Sports Management, Media, and Business of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies; the Program in Real Estate joined in 2014–2015.  Since 1998, the program has also offered courses at the University’s global academic centers and during the summer session in New York.

“College Core Curriculum” was the original name planned for program.  When it was first implemented, the need was felt to distinguish the College’s curricular reform from approaches to general education at other institutions; and a decision was made to adopt the name of a prominent early faculty member of the College, Samuel F. B. Morse (1791–1872), whose high achievement as both an artist and scientist symbolized the range of skills and interests the new curriculum was designed to foster.  Although this branding as the "Morse Academic Plan" (MAP) was well-intentioned, it repeatedly proved more confusing to students than illuminating.  In the absence of any evidence that the curriculum was somehow founded on the accomplishments or values of Morse, the acronym “MAP” was meaningless.  In sharp contrast, the “College Core Curriculum” not only makes immediately evident what the program does, but also emphasizes general education as one of the core missions of the College.  On May 1, 2013, the Faculty of Arts and Science approved the restoration of the program’s original name.

In students’ minds, “the Core Curriculum” refers to the total program of undergraduate general education, including the Expository Writing Program and the study of foreign languages, both of which were parts of the earlier system.  Administratively, and in the minds of the faculty, the term is most often used to refer to the two new course sequences that resulted from the work of the curriculum committees:  the Foundations of Scientific Inquiry (FSI), a three-course sequence in mathematics and the natural sciences; and the Foundations of Contemporary Culture (FCC), a four-course sequence in the humanities and social sciences. 

In its design, the Core Curriculum represents an approach to general education very different from the distribution requirement it replaced.  Where the old system was defined by a diversity of content, the Core instead seeks to develop students’ skills and to introduce them to modes of humanistic and scientific inquiry.  To assure the quality and coherence of the offering, each of the new course sequences is administered independently of the academic departments and is governed by a faculty steering committee.  In both sequences, only regular faculty may be recruited to teach the lectures; and every lecture course includes small recitation, workshop, or laboratory sections to assure that students receive close attention to their work and personal concern for their progress.  Designed with the expectation that students should complete the curriculum in their first two years, the program successfully concentrates students’ general education course work into a core experience early in their time at NYU.  Students completed the old distribution requirement in an average of 7.3 semesters, and only 25% finished their requirements by the end of their junior year (i.e., within six semesters).  The same study found students complete the Core Curriculum in an average of 5.3 semesters, with 75% finishing the program by the end of their junior year.