While college is certainly a time to explore your interests by taking classes in a variety of subjects and disciplines, few schools will allow you to graduate simply by enrolling in courses of your own choosing. Most colleges and universities require students to complete a set of “core” classes, which are classes every student must take in order to obtain a degree.
Core classes, which when grouped together are also known as the core curriculum, can vary depending on the school, program, or degree. At some schools, students must fulfill a foundation of basic, general core requirements such as reading, writing, and critical thinking, regardless of the major they plan to pursue.
Other schools designate core courses as classes that every student in a particular major is required to take in order to obtain a degree in that field. These courses serve as the basis for the rest of the work you will do in your chosen field of study.
For example, for a business degree, you may be required to take core courses covering the basic principles of business, including accounting, statistics, and marketing, among others. Or, in a psychology department, core courses may include introductory courses on topics such as psychobiology, memory and cognition, and even the history of psychology.
Many schools require students to achieve a certain grade point average within their core curriculum in order to graduate with a degree in that field of study. These courses also must be completed in addition to other requirements for the major, including elective classes and any other classes required for a particular area of concentration.
While core classes vary from one school to another, if you decide to transfer schools, it’s often possible to transfer credits and apply them to your new school’s core requirements. Many students start out taking core classes at a community college and then transfer their studies—and those credits—to a four-year college or university.
To request the transfer of course credits, you’ll need to petition the appropriate department, and you’ll also need to include documentation including a transcript, course descriptions, and possibly even a course syllabus with your request. Sometimes there is a transfer fee involved, and again, a certain grade may be required for the credits to transfer.