What Courses Do You Take in the First Two Years of College?


The first two years of college are often devoted to taking general courses that provide a foundation for your college education. These courses are known as the core curriculum. The requirements for categories of skills that are included in the core curriculum, such as communication and multiculturalism, are determined by the state's higher education coordinating board. However, individual colleges and universities often have flexibility with selecting the individual courses they choose to fulfill these requirements.

Math Adds to Your Foundation

  • Mathematics is one category that usually appears in the core curriculum. Math courses are designed to teach underclassmen students skills that are useful in other courses, such as economics or physics, as well as to help them learn reasoning skills. Usually, students can select from a list of math courses that are approved for their major. However, if you have a major in the sciences or in math, you may need to follow a sequence of required math courses instead. In addition, if you require remedial math, the remedial course may not fulfill the math requirement and you may need to take additional math courses after you successfully complete the remedial course.

Communications Counts

  • Most states also require that college students take one or more courses in the communications category. Communications courses are designed to introduce beginning college students to the requirements of college writing and speaking. This category can often be fulfilled by a wide variety of courses, and different colleges choose to fulfill this category in a variety of ways. However, courses that typically appear in the communications category include composition, speech, technical writing, business writing, interpersonal communications and foreign languages.

Speaking of Science

  • Courses in the sciences are another key component to the core curriculum of most universities. Courses in the sciences teach college underclassmen the scientific method as well as deductive reasoning. These courses can include courses in biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy and more. Some universities require that students take science courses with a lab component, whereas others only require that students attend a lecture. In addition, science majors, math majors and students with majors in health and human services may be required to take a specific sequence of math courses rather than just select the one that interests them most.

Many More to Pick From

  • Other categories of courses that may appear in the university's core curriculum include courses in the humanities, the fine arts, social sciences, history and government. These courses teach students additional skills and provide them with a varied background in a number of topics, as well as teaches them the basics in government and history that they need to know to be considered a well-educated person. However, the requirements for these courses can vary widely and what may constitute a course in government for one state may count as a course in social sciences or the humanities for another state. Even the requirements for universities in the same state can be very different, which can make transferring credits difficult.


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