Core Education at Oregon State University is a shared experience where students gain knowledge and develop skills to pursue their future. Alongside their major, Core Education prepares students to be adaptive, proactive members of society who are ready to take on any challenge, solve any problem, advance in their chosen career and help build a better world. Oregon State delivers Core Education through the Foundational Core and Signature Core.  

42-48 Credits

Total credits required to complete CORE EDUCATION.
Students will complete this requirement through the Foundational and Signature Core.

31-35 Credits

Foundational Core
credit requirements.

11-13 Credits

Signature Core
credit requirements. 

Foundational Core

Through the Foundational Core, students develop fundamental skills and a breadth of knowledge that promote lifelong learning and creative problem-solving. Students begin to explore and address complex topics, which will serve them well in any academic or professional endeavor.  

Students will complete each category in the Foundational Core (31-35 Credits). The Foundational Core courses are lower division.

Writing Foundations serves as an introduction to college-level writing and key rhetorical concepts.

Arts and Humanities courses will promote the development of critical thinking and inquiry through the study of the arts and humanities. Students will reflect on the relationship between the course content and their lived experience. Creative expression is a fundamental human activity that results in the production of objects, environments, and experiences that engage the senses, emotions, and/or intellect. The humanities grapple with a range of human experiences through time and across cultures. The arts and humanities include knowledge of history, philosophical traditions, major religions, diverse cultural legacies, performing arts, literature, film, the visual arts, and music. 

Quantitative literacy and analysis skills are vital in our information-rich world.  This category provides students with options among algebra, calculus, and statistics courses allowing them to develop critical thinking skills with essential mathematical concepts and models.

This category develops skills related to communication competency from a social science perspective. In this category, the focus of communication is on ways in which verbal and nonverbal messages are crafted and the potential impact these messages could have, media are the different tools (or channels) used to convey those messages, and society refers to the social context of message creation and reception. The knowledge, skills, and abilities gained from this category are integral to best practices in higher learning and are one of the most sought-after skills by employers. The combination of communication and media provides relevance to applications within emerging digital technology in order to use technology effectively, rather than be used by it. To demonstrate communication competence, students will develop and deliver communication products reviewed by both the instructor and co-learners. 

Social Sciences includes courses that concern people and institutions and how they relate with one another. This includes studies of individuals, families, communities, markets, movements, and political structures from the perspective of contemporary social science.  

Scientific Inquiry and Analysis includes two natural science courses, each with a lab. Students will be engaged in the high-impact practice of scientific inquiry while exploring the generation and use of scientific evidence. These courses involve developing knowledge of basic scientific concepts, how science works, collaborative group problem-solving, and science communication to a general audience. Labs accompanying these courses will engage students in the process of science from observation and hypothesis testing through data collection and analysis, culminating in the communication of results.  

The inequitable distribution of social, economic, and political power in the United States and globally is sustained through systems of oppression, which represent a variety of discriminatory institutional beliefs and practices. These beliefs and practices obscure the origins and operations of systemic oppression in daily life, such that this inequitable power distribution is assumed to be the natural order.  

 The foundational course in the Difference, Power, and Oppression requirement engages students in a lower-division course focusing on critical reflection about the complexity of the structures, institutions, and ideologies that sustain systemic oppression, discrimination, and the inequitable distribution of systemic power and resources within and across communities. Such examinations will enhance and promote responsible, ethical, and anti-racist engagement in our diverse university community and society in the United States and beyond.

Signature Core  

Through OSU’s unique Signature Core, students apply their critical thinking skills to seek solutions and take action to make a positive impact in their chosen field and in society. Students will further develop the skills necessary for navigating a complex and interconnected world.   

Students will complete each category in the Signature Core (11-13 Credits)

Through the Transitions category, Oregon State University commits to consciously and deliberately supporting students beginning their OSU educational journey. Students will formulate goals and strategies for their personal, academic, and professional growth; identify ways to engage in their communities; familiarize themselves with tools and resources for student success; and understand the common values that guide OSU’s undergraduate education.  

Student surveys suggest that nearly all students list career-related goals as a primary reason they come to college. The Beyond OSU requirement is intended to incorporate career development into the curriculum, thereby ensuring that every student has the skills and knowledge needed to find meaningful work in their field or advance in their current career after completing their academic journey at OSU. The focus of Beyond OSU will be on career preparation activities that prepare students for their post-graduation goals. Beyond OSU will also help students connect their experiences to the career readiness and career advancement skills both employers and universities have deemed necessary to succeed in the working world: the NACE Career Competencies

Beyond OSU is a minimum non-credit requirement, meaning students are not paying additional money to enroll in a course or to take credits to receive education and support the university deems critical to student success. Non-credit requirements are not meant to be a check box or add a burden to students, rather they are ensuring all students get to plan for their future and economic advancement. Beyond OSU I emphasizes educating students on career development concepts related to students’ career goals. Beyond OSU II requires students to gain insights through participating in experiences and apply those concepts to their future goals. 

The advanced Difference, Power, and Oppression requirement is an upper division and field-specific course that engages students in critical reflection on the complexity of the structures, institutions, and ideologies that sustain systemic oppression, discrimination, and the inequitable distribution of systemic power and resources within and across communities. Such examinations will utilize a field-specific focus in order to enhance and promote responsible, ethical, and anti-racist engagement by preparing students to understand and disrupt these systems as they manifest in their field. 

A central goal of this category is to have students wrestle with complex, multifaceted problems, and work to solve them and/or evaluate potential solutions from multiple points of view. Overall, this is a course that is designed to deepen how students think about problem-solving in ways that transcend disciplinary-specific approaches. Specifically, we want to help students achieve transdisciplinary thinking - a method of studying complex problems that integrates ideas from diverse scholarly fields in order to deal with the inherent complexity of some urgent problems of the present human situation (Oxford).   

In response to longstanding campus interest in implementing a teamwork component into general education requirements, Seeking Solutions courses will include interdisciplinary student teamwork as a core component. Teamwork is a prominent component of best practices in general education. In addition, stakeholder groups, notably our industry partners, consistently emphasize that working in groups with disparate others (people with different backgrounds, goals, and priorities) is an area in which students need experience and practice. 

In accordance with our goals for learning and general education at OSU, the issues and problems focused on in this category will be considered from the angle of the global dimension. 

Writing Elevation provides students with quality intermediate-level writing instruction, practice, and feedback between the Writing Foundations and Writing Intensive Curriculum (WIC) categories. The courses in this category will also strengthen the connections between writing and students’ chosen field of study. The goal of this requirement is to elevate students’ ability to write within a range of contexts, while also preparing them for their chosen academic discipline and WIC courses.   

Beyond the writing skills and practice gained in WR I and WR II courses, students need to learn to write as members of the discipline or disciplines in which they have chosen to major.  Writing Intensive courses, which are taken in the major, typically in the junior or senior year, introduce students to the genres, purposes, audiences, content, and conventions of writing in the major.  Student writers gain experience with the resources used in their field and the formats and documentation style used to communicate knowledge.   Through inquiry-based writing in the discipline, students gain understanding and knowledge of disciplinary goals and concepts.  Students are encouraged to complete Writing Foundations and Writing Elevation requirements before enrolling in their WIC course.