Elon Core Curriculum

For a full explanation of the Elon Core Curriculum, please see our Core Curriculum website

The Elon Core Curriculum is the set of courses and experiences that are shared by every undergraduate. The Core complements the major, providing the liberal arts and sciences so important to Elon’s mission and so vital for globally engaged citizenship in a democratic society. It is an opportunity to explore ideas and expand one’s worldview. In the process, students gain the lifelong benefits of complexity of thought, personal fulfillment, economic opportunity, and global awareness.

The mission of the Elon Core Curriculum is to help students cultivate the intellectual curiosity, abilities, and knowledge required for lifelong learning as global citizens. To fulfill this fundamental mission of a liberal arts education, the Elon Core Curriculum is organized around three broad domains—inquiry, knowledge and communication—with specific goals for each. Further, this educational mission is deepened through intellectual reflection and practical engagement and is guided by two fundamental principles. First, ethical reasoning must guide the pursuit and use of knowledge. Second, personal and social responsibility must be fostered to encourage students to commit themselves to an intellectual life in the service of their community, country and the world beyond them.


Learning Goals

Curiosity & Questioning: The identification of significant issues and the framing of relevant questions

Research Skills: The knowledge and application of modes of inquiry across disciplines

Broad Base of Knowledge: A breadth of knowledge spanning aspects of the social, material, and natural worlds

Global Perspective: An understanding of the interconnectedness of the human experience within and across cultures and environment
Communication Skills: The preparation and presentation of ideas and information orally, visually, and in writing

Critical Thinking: The analysis, interpretation, evaluation, and synthesis of information from multiple sources: oral, visual, and written

Problem-solving: The integration and application of learning to address complex problems.

Equitable Thinking: An understanding of methods to address or remedy injustice and inequality. 


The program consists of seven elements:

1. First-Year Foundations

The First-Year Foundations launch the Elon experience by challenging students to think critically, engage globally, and communicate effectively. The Foundations consist of courses in writing and math, as well as a signature Elon course called “The Global Experience.” The Common Reading Program supplements the Foundations by facilitating shared intellectual experiences both in and out of the classroom.

COR 1100 - The Global Experience

ENG 1100 - Writing: Argument and Inquiry (a grade of C- or better is required for graduation)

STS 1100 - Intro to Statistical Reasoning; or other approved STS/MTH courses such as STS 1000, MTH 1510, MTH 2510, MTH 2520 and STS 2120


2. Experiential Learning Requirement (ELR) – 2 units

The Experiential Learning Requirement (ELR) prepares students for lives of meaningful work and service. By engaging students in opportunities that integrate knowledge and experience, the ELR fosters an understanding and life-long appreciation for learning. Students engage in a process that includes preparation, action, and reflection to develop the habits of mind required to learn effectively from experience and the commitment to put knowledge into action as responsible global citizens.

Two units of experiential learning are required to fulfill this requirement. Units may be obtained in the following ways:

Global Engagement (Study Abroad/Study USA)


A student may satisfy Elon’s ELR through participation in global engagement in the following ways as articulated in the Elon University Academic Catalog:

Study Abroad / Study USA
o Designated 4 credit hour Study Abroad/Study USA course = 1 unit
o Designated 8 or more credit hours of Study Abroad/Study USA = 2 units

A diverse range of Study Abroad/Study USA experiences is available through application in the Isabella Canon Global Education Center:

• Dual degree programs encompassing two years abroad,
• Semester- and year-long programs through approved affiliates and exchanges,
• Center-based semester programs with an Elon faculty member,
• On-campus semester courses with travel embedded (minimum of 45 instructional hours across the semester, including a minimum of 8 travel days),
• Cohort-based programs and open programs,
• Faculty-led short-term programs in winter and summer (minimum of 45 instructional hours across no fewer than 18 travel days),
• Other petitioned, individually vetted and specially approved curricular programs from accredited colleges or universities.


Undergraduate Research


A student may satisfy Elon’s Experiential Learning Requirement through participation in mentored undergraduate research in the following ways as articulated in the Elon University Academic Catalog:

• Enroll in 1 credit hour of research (courses numbered 4998 or 4999) = 1 unit
• Elon’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) = 2 units

One semester hour of undergraduate research credit requires a minimum of 40 hours of work over a number of days appropriate to the specific research setting, to be determined by the faculty mentor. The length of the SURE program is 8 weeks in length and is non-credit hour bearing.

Eligibility Requirements
• Sophomore, junior, or senior standing
• Minimum 3.0 GPA
• Approval of faculty mentor and department chair



A student may satisfy Elon’s Experiential Learning Requirement through participation in a professional development experience in the following ways as articulated in the Elon University Academic Catalog:

• Internship – 1 credit hour of internship= 1 unit
• Individual Professional Development Workbook- 40 hours= 1 unit


For students in the College of Arts and Sciences, one semester hour of internship credit requires a minimum of 40 hours of work over a number of days appropriate to the specific internship setting to be determined by the faculty mentor in collaboration with the on-site supervisor. For students in the Love School of Business and School of Communications, one semester hour of internship credit requires a minimum of 80 hours of work at the internship.

Individualized Professional Development Experience Workbook

These are non-credit bearing experiences with 40 hours equating to 1 unit that take place in a professional workplace. The number of hours per day is determined by the staff supervisor in conjunction with the on-site supervisor. 

Eligibility Requirements
• Minimum 2.0 GPA
• Completion of departmental prerequisites
• Approval by Faculty Mentor/Internship Director

Service (Community-Based Learning)


• Designated community-based learning course = 1 unit or 4 credit hours
• Pre-approved service or civic engagement experience mentored by the Kernodle Center = 1-2 units (40+ hours per unit)

Direct Service

The Elon University Community-Based Learning Faculty Advisory Committee requires a minimum of 15 days for students engaged in direct service. The number of hours per day is determined by the faculty mentor. Students participating in a one-credit Alternative Break Course are required to volunteer with a local community agency related to the issue topic that they will focus on during their Alternative Break in order to receive ELR credit.

Service ELR Workbook

The committee recommends that students completing the service ELR workbook, have a minimum of 15 days of direct-service with one community partner. The number of hours per day are to be determined by the advisor and community partner.

Once the workbook is completed, the Director of the Kernodle Center reviews and evaluates the materials and decides if it meets the ELR requirements before submitting a pass/fail notification to the Registrar’s Office.

Community-Based Learning Designated Courses

For class-based (project-based) courses, in order to receive Service-Learning course designation and Experiential Learning Requirement credit, the project must engage students in at least 40 hours of experiential learning. For community-based courses, 40 hours are also required; it is recommended that 15 to 30 of these hours be completed through on-site, direct service.

Students engaged in project-based or indirect service work over a number of days to be determined by the faculty mentor.




A student may satisfy Elon’s Experiential Learning Requirement in Leadership in the following ways as articulated in the Elon University Academic Catalog:

• Taking a 4 credit hour course that has the Leadership ELR designation= 1 unit
• Completing a leadership experience that has been pre-approved by the Center for Leadership and mentored by the Center for Leadership or faculty/staff member = 1-2 units (40+ hours per unit)
o The Common Good (change maker) project. This involves a proposal and execution of a project that is advised/mentored by a faculty or staff member and at least 40 hours in planning and implementing the project.
o The Leadership ELR workbook. Students who complete the ELR workbook must have an approved leadership position*, a faculty/staff advisor through the process, and finish all assignments in a satisfactory manner as determined by the advisor and Director of the Center for Leadership.

One Leadership ELR credit requires a minimum of 40 hours of work over a number of days appropriate to the specific leadership role, to be determined by the Center for Leadership in collaboration with the leadership mentor.

* Approved leadership positions include a role/title within an organization, campus program, or classroom where the student has direct responsibility in the oversight of other peers or the execution of functions necessary for success in the context within which they are involved. The student must complete at least 40 hours within that role/title.


Other courses or experiences with ELR designation, approved by the Core Curriculum Council

Examples of ways a student could complete the ELR include the following:

  • Two credits of internship or research (in one term or across two terms)
  • Two winter term study abroad courses
  • A semester study abroad program
  • One community based learning course and one credit of research
  • One leadership experience and one credit of internship
  • Many other combinations

3. Advancing Equity Requirement

Complete a 4-credit course designated as Advancing Equity to graduate from the university. These courses can be from the students’ majors, minors, or other Core Curriculum requirements.

4. World Languages Requirement

Learning another language encourages engagement with other cultures and enhances one’s ability to participate meaningfully in local, national, and international settings. Advanced proficiency in a second language also deepens one’s understanding of multiple worldviews and historical perspectives.

To fulfill this requirement, students must meet one of the following:

  1. complete a language course numbered 1020 (Elementary II) or higher at Elon, or receive transfer or study abroad credit for the same;
  2. place into a language course numbered 2000 or above upon arriving at Elon, using a department of world languages and cultures approved placement instrument;
  3. score 4 or 5 on an AP language exam or similar exam.

In order to ensure consistent treatment of all students, each student must take the language placement test by October 1 of their first full year at Elon. Students are allowed two tries (both before October 1); the higher score is counted. That score stands and may not be replaced by later testing.


5. Studies in the Arts and Sciences

Studies in the Arts and Sciences courses allow students to explore different approaches for understanding the world. Students learn to think through the lenses of different disciplines and use diverse bodies of knowledge in pursuit of a thoughtful, meaningful life.


Exploring the complex possibilities of human experience and creativity through text, image, sound, and performance.

Eight semester hours total consisting of one literature course plus one course from acting, art, dance, drama and theatre studies, music, music theatre, philosophy, theatrical design and technology, or other designated courses.

In your Expression courses you will:

  • Investigate how art/philosophy reflect the human experience.
  • Develop and practicing skills, creativity, analysis, and critique.
  • Distinguish between a variety of genres or styles.
  • Understand the importance of form, culture, history, and/or mode.
  • Explore what can we know and how should we live.


Inquiring about and interpreting the ways that cultural and historical contexts inform human experiences.

Eight semester hours chosen from at least two of the following: art history, history, religious studies, world languages and cultures, or other designated courses.

In your Civilization courses you will:

  • Study diverse regions and cultures as they developed over time.
  • Develop linguistic proficiency, intercultural competence, historical self-awareness, and critical thinking.
  • Articulate insights into socially-constructed and historically-shaped rules, norms, discourses and biases.
  • Question profound issues and confront obstacles, problems, and assumptions in varied contexts.


Fostering ethical engagement through systematic examination of the individual, social, cultural, institutional, and/or environmental contexts that shape (and are shaped by) human interactions.

Eight semester hours chosen from at least two of the following: anthropology, economics, geography, human service studies, political science, professional writing and rhetoric, psychology, public health studies, sociology, or other designated courses.

In your Society courses you will:

  • Carry out systematic and ethical inquiry using a variety of research tools including qualitative and quantitative methods. 
  • Compare, critique, and apply different theoretical, disciplinary, and cultural perspectives
  • Cultivate a self-reflexive understanding of power, inequality, and privilege.
  • Appreciate the value of human difference, diversity and inclusion.
  • Learn how to enact positive change based on sound and ethical reasoning.


Understanding methods or models to make sense of the natural world.

Eight semester hours total consisting of one physical or biological laboratory science course plus a second course chosen from biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, environmental science, mathematics, physics, statistics, or other designated courses.

 In your Science/Analysis courses you will:

  • Apply a quantitative and/or computational approach.
  • Seek objective truths by applying knowledge of fundamental laws of nature.
  • Encounter a world in which humans are not the focal point.
  • Conduct experiments or observations.
  • Make inferences based on data.


6. Advanced Studies

Advanced Studies courses provide the opportunity to pursue depth in the arts and sciences outside the major. Many students use these courses to complete an interdisciplinary minor, a minor or double major in the arts and sciences, or a semester study abroad experience.

To fulfill this requirement, students must complete eight semester hours of 3000-4000 level courses outside the major field, chosen from departments and areas listed under the Studies in the Arts and Sciences. COR courses do not count in Advanced Studies.


7. Integrative Core Capstone Seminar

Elon Core Curriculum Courses

These seminars are the capstone of the Elon Core Curriculum. They are opportunities for students to integrate and apply what they have learned during the Elon experience. More than 40 different seminar topics are offered each academic year, allowing students a wide range of choices. Every capstone seminar is interdisciplinary and writing-intensive, and includes a capstone project.

To satisfy this requirement, students must take an Elon COR course outside the major field at the 3000- or 4000-level during their third or fourth year of study.

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