Skip to main content

Core Curriculum

Student Core Resources

First year students begin the Foundations component with a Critical Thinking & Writing sequence, and most also complete a Cultures & Ideas sequence. At least one of these sequences is linked with the student's Residential Learning Community. Both Foundations  sequences are carefully designed and selected for first-year students on the basis of student interest and requirements for majors when students have declared a major. These sequences introduce students to university learning in the context of complex, multidimensional topics and a rigorous intellectual environment in and outside the classroom. They provide students with opportunities to study diverse as well as shared human experience across historical periods and emphasize the relationships among global cultures, including cultures in Europe and North America.

Welcome to Santa Clara University! The Undergraduate Core Curriculum builds foundations and supplies contexts for the more specialized study undertaken in your major. The Core is the broadest of the four categories of courses you must complete to earn your degree. These are:

1) University-wide Core requirements

2) School or Program-specific Core Requirements

3) Major requirements

4) Electives

All students are pre-enrolled in at least one Core sequence before they arrive for Summer Orientation. During Summer Orientation, students consult with advisors as they select additional Core courses and courses for their majors. Their advisors will also help them plan their schedules for the remainder of the academic year.

We hope you will view the Core Curriculum requirements as opportunities to explore new subject areas, challenge yourself, and get to know other students embarking on similar curricular journeys. The Core can help you pursue existing interests more fully, investigate new ideas and subjects, and round out the discipline-specific knowledge related to your major.

College of Arts and Sciences Requirements
Students in the College of Arts and Sciences should consult Chapter 3 of the Undergraduate Bulletin for the complete list of Core requirements for their programs and majors.

Leavey School of Business Requirements
While the Undergraduate Core Curriculum is shared by all students, the Leavey School of Business requires some specific or additional Core courses for their majors. An explanation of additional Business School requirements can be found in Chapter 4 of the Undergraduate Bulletin.

School of Engineering Requirements 
The School of Engineering requires some specific or additional Core courses for their majors. An explanation of additional Engineering School requirements can be found in Chapter 5 of the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Other Program-Specific Requirements
Some students—for example, those in the University Honors Program and students majoring in certain disciplines—satisfy the Undergraduate Core Curriculum or School requirements by taking special sections of the courses, special equivalent courses, or special courses in their major. Students should check with their advisors to ascertain whether their major or program has additional or specific Core requirements.

Core requirements for transfer students vary depending on how many transfer credit units are accepted by Santa Clara. Please review carefully your degree audit on eCampus to ascertain which Core requirements you may have already satisfied before registering for classes. Santa Clara students who transfer from the School of Engineering to the Leavey School of Business or the College of Arts and Sciences will be expected to complete the Core Curriculum requirements of the program into which they transfer.

Students who transfer to Santa Clara University should consult Chapters 7 and 8 in the Undergraduate Bulletin as well as the chapters relevant to their school or college.  

The following Core requirements must be satisfied at Santa Clara University:

  • Civic Engagement
  • Science, Technology & Society
  • Advanced Writing
  • Experiential Learning for Social Justice
  • Pathways
  • For the Religion, Theology & Culture requirements, see below

Usually the Critical Thinking & Writing (CTW) and Cultures & Ideas (C&I) requirements will be satisfied before transfer students matriculate. Transfer credit for CTW may include exemptions granted at other schools and credit granted through Advanced placement and International Baccalaureate test scores. Information about possible substitutions for CTW and C&I courses is available in the Registrar's Office.  

Transfer students who enter the University with fewer than 44 units must take all three Religion, Theology & Culture courses in the required sequence.  Transfer students matriculating with 44 or more units of transferable college credit, which does not include any Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate test credit, must complete two courses from any two of the following three categories: Religion, Theology & Culture 1, 2 or 3. 

All students, including transfer students who matriculate with 44 or more units, will have to have completed 88 units by the end of the term when they register in order to enroll in a course satisfying RTC 3. However, transfer students who matriculate with 44 or more units do not have to complete RTC 1 or 2 before enrolling in RTC 3.

Graduation requires 60 units of upper division credit.