Most colleges and universities have required core courses for all undergraduate students. No matter your major, your school may want its graduates to have a solid foundation in basic subjects like math, English, social sciences, history, lab science, and possibly a foreign language.
To save time and money, consider taking some of these core courses online. This frees up your college schedule for classes that most interest you or may allow you to graduate early. Online classes also usually cost less than your school’s tuition per credit hour, saving you money in the long run.
Let’s learn more about core college courses, including what they are and how you can fulfill your core requirements through online learning.
What Are Core College Courses?
Core courses are also known as general education (or gen ed) requirements. The specific classes considered to be “core” requirements typically differ from school to school. For example, one college may require you to take four semesters of math, while another school only requires a single math course.
There’s also a difference between required classes and distribution requirements. For example, your school may require a certain amount of credits in math, or they may require you to take specific math classes. Depending on these requirements, you may be able to fulfill them through online learning.
No matter what the exact requirements are per school, nearly all colleges require courses in certain subjects or specific classes, like English Composition or Writing 101. Here are some common gen ed classes you might need to take to fulfill your school’s graduation requirements and earn your degree.
English courses help you improve your communication skills and articulate your ideas in presentations. No matter what your major, all fields benefit from these skills. As you move out of college and into your career, it’s important to know how to effectively communicate with potential employers and teammates.
Some standard English courses include:
Beyond English, the other humanities will encourage you to develop an appreciation for art, literature, history, and culture. Whatever your major, humanities classes will teach you about the similarities and differences that make up human societies throughout the ages.
Common humanities classes include:
Math is a typical core course for most degrees. Colleges and universities want to make sure their students graduate with a solid understanding of basic math principles. No matter what you do or where you go in life, you’ll likely need to use math at some point.
Some of the core math courses you’ll need to take might include:
Most schools will require at least one natural science class with a lab component. These classes help you understand how the natural world works, including earth science, biology, or chemistry. This helps you develop a sense of how the most basic principles of life work together.
The most common science courses include:
Social Science Classes
Unlike the natural sciences, social science is concerned with societies and human relationships. When you’re able to grasp how different people work together or how different systems affect the world, you’ll be better able to make the most of your post-college career in almost any field.
Common social science requirements include:
Foreign Language Classes
Some schools will require you to take foreign language classes to prepare for working in a global economy. Spanish is, by far, the most common foreign language for college students to take as part of their general education requirements.
Other popular or common foreign languages to study in college include:
- Spanish I
- French I
- German I
What's the Purpose of Core Classes?
Colleges and universities want their graduates to possess a diverse skill set and comprehensive knowledge. In today’s world, you need more than just specific training in your field. Your school wants to make sure you understand how everything connects.
Math majors need to take English classes to develop strong communication skills when presenting their ideas. English majors need history classes to understand how societies have evolved over the years and how that relates to literature.
Core classes also offer exposure to disciplines students might not otherwise explore based on their majors. As a student, you never know what might pique your interest beyond your intended degree path.
These requirements also promote a sense of community and a foundation for interdisciplinary collaboration. This approach means that students will graduate with the adaptability and versatility they’ll need to work and thrive in a dynamic world.
Can You Take Core Classes Online?
Yes! Be aware, however, that not all online courses guarantee that you’ll be able to earn or transfer the credit. Even if you take for-credit courses, you should first make sure that your school will accept the transfer credits and count them toward your graduation requirements.
Depending on your school’s policies and requirements, it may take some time to find online courses that are equivalent to certain general education classes at your school. Make sure you plan ahead when it comes to finding online core classes, completing the assignments, and transferring your credits to count toward your degree.
How to Get Credit for Your Core Classes
There are many ways to get credit for your core classes in addition to simply taking them as part of your regular schedule. You can:
- Take summer classes at your school
- Take AP classes in high school
- Take classes at your local community college
- Take classes through an online learning platform like StraighterLine
If you take classes at another college, university, or online learning platform, you’ll need to transfer the credits you earn. Research your school’s transfer policies before signing up for online classes. If you don’t know how to transfer credits, speak with your academic advisor. Not all colleges align in credit equivalency, and overlooking this can lead to wasted time and money. Make sure the online classes you want to take will transfer to your school and fulfill the credits you need.
Check to see if your university has partnerships with other schools that offer the online classes you want to take. If they do, it’ll make the credit transfer process much more manageable and guide you to other schools that probably offer equivalent classes.
Take Your Core Classes with StraighterLine
StraighterLine offers 60+ courses that can fulfill core requirements at over 150 partner colleges and universities. More than that, all StraigherLine courses that offer credit are approved by the American Council on Education (ACE) for transfer at many non-partner schools.
Our online core classes start at just $69 plus the price of a monthly membership and include e-textbooks and 24/7 student support. This makes earning credit for your core classes easy and affordable, giving you more time to take the courses you’re really interested in on campus.
Explore our courses today to start earning credits toward your degree through a flexible online learning platform.