Curriculum

The Goal

Our aim is to give our students the best possible foundation in the global liberal arts and sciences and to help them develop the ability to think analytically, read critically, and write effectively. These are the skills that every student needs to complete a bachelor’s degree at NYU and, beyond that, to become successful in his or her chosen profession or with graduate studies. The curriculum covers the development of civilization from ancient times to the present. The subject matter is organized to concentrate on one historical period at a time, with interrelated courses that deal with materials from all of the humanities. Students read original historical texts from around the world and throughout history, rather than textbooks.

Freshmen Curriculum Requirements

All freshmen are required to complete a two-semester freshman writing course focusing on expository writing, the presentation of argument, and the elements of research. The freshman core courses Cultural Foundations I and II and Social Foundations I and II are based on the study of great works from antiquity to the Enlightenment. In the Cultural Foundations sequence, students study literature, the visual and performing arts, and music. In the Social Foundations sequence, students focus on philosophy, religion, political and social theory, and history. Taken together, the two sequences can be seen as a large-scale cultural history. The sequences also provide an introduction to skills in critical analysis and synthetic thinking that students need for successful study in all academic disciplines. In addition to the core curriculum, freshman students usually take a course in the natural sciences.


For Freshman year abroad requirements, please go to the Study Away pages.

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Sophomore Curriculum Requirements
During the sophomore year, students continue the core sequence with Cultural Foundations III and Social Foundations III, which take the study of great works from the Enlightenment to the contemporary world.  In addition to the genres and media covered in the first year, the courses introduce modern mass forms like film, radio, television, and the internet.  Normally, students who will transition to CAS take a second natural science course as well.

In the sophomore year, each student with the aid of his or her adviser also chooses elective courses from NYU’s extensive offerings. These electives are designed to help students select a major or begin work in a particular field.