Liberal Arts Core Curriculum

The First-Year Seminar

(3 credits FYS-101)

All first-year students and qualifying transfer students begin their college careers by enrolling in a First-Year Seminar. First-Year Seminars enable students to experience a small and lively learning community while encountering the essential elements of academic inquiry: analytical reading, critical thinking, and well-reasoned writing. The seminars also offer students the opportunity to become part of a vibrant community of learners while focusing on a specific topic that poses challenging intellectual questions. Students are encouraged to read complex texts with care, to think about complicated ideas with discrimination, and to write essays with efficacy and force. Topics vary from seminar to seminar. Incoming students have the opportunity to rank their preferences for different seminar topics.


(3 credits)

The purpose of the mathematics requirement is to develop students’ ability to recognize and analyze patterns, structures, and representations, and to communicate quantitative arguments. The mathematics requirement prepares students to analyze, model, and solve problems in a mathematical framework, as well as to implement strategies in problem solving. Students gain a fuller understanding of these skills by applying them in other disciplines.


(3 credits, one designated pre-modern History course)

In a rapidly changing world, the past can seem irrelevant. Understanding and actively engaging in a changing world, however, requires an understanding that all of modern life has historical origins that have determined the shape of today. This requirement provides students with exposure to pre-1800 historical developments that form the foundation of modern systems of thought and ideals of education, thus conveying essential knowledge of the basic dimensions of Western or World intellectual cultures. Its purpose is to lay a twofold foundation: a factual foundation concerning the people and ideas that have shaped conceptions of liberty and the liberal arts tradition of education; and a sound foundation in historical methodology through the interpretation of historical texts and their impact on ideas, events, and people.

Cultural Diversity

(3 credits; courses fulfilling the Cultural Diversity requirement are identified in the course catalog and may be used to fulfill another Liberal Arts Core requirement)

In an age of global and cultural pluralism, we need to explore social or cultural groups different from our own. The purpose of this requirement is to prepare students to understand, critically appreciate, and respect culturally diverse thought and action. Courses that address cultural diversity include: those that focus on some aspect of a contemporary non-Western culture; those that focus on ethnicity, gender, race, class, sexual orientation, or those who are differently-abled; and Modern Foreign Language courses with a cultural component. Courses fulfilling this requirement carry the designation (CULTURAL DIVERSITY) at the end of the course description.

Natural Sciences

(7 credits, from two different disciplines, chosen from Biology, Chemistry, Geography, Geology, Physics, and Environmental Science and including one laboratory course)

NOTE: Geology and Geography are considered to be in the same discipline.

Successful participation in our technologically advanced society depends on one’s ability to understand, appreciate, question, and challenge conclusions made by the scientific community. This requires knowledge of the natural world and an understanding of the methods, concepts, value, uses, powers, and limitations of science. This requirement enables students to use some of the methods of the natural sciences and requires students to understand the concepts, principles, and theories of different scientific disciplines.

Physical Activity

(2 credits, from two different Physical Education activities)

We recognize that lifetime involvement in physical activity enhances one’s quality of living and that education does not involve only the mind and the intellect; it also involves the body. To encourage students to develop new psycho-motor skills and to pursue a lifetime of physical activity, we require that students successfully complete two different Physical Education activity courses. In these courses, students will develop the skills necessary for these pursuits and will be introduced to the benefits of maintaining wellness.

Social Sciences

(6 credits, from two different disciplines, chosen from Anthropology, Economics, Political Economy, Psychology, and Sociology)

In our increasingly complex world, it is essential that we are able to understand and analyze both group and individual human behavior. The social sciences seek to explain parts of human behavior through observation, participation, comparison, interpretation, logical reasoning, surveys, and, when amenable to scientific manipulation, experimentation. The purpose of this requirement is to enable students to use the methods of the social sciences in the study of individuals or of the groups, cultures, societies, polities, and economies which organize social life.

Fine Arts

(5 credits, from at least two different disciplines, chosen from Art, Music, and Theatre)

Enhanced intuitive and imaginative abilities foster an intellectually and emotionally rich life, and are therefore essential components of a liberal arts education. At The College of Idaho, students are encouraged to develop their aesthetic, intuitive, and imaginative capacities through the visual and performing arts. A more specific goal of this requirement is to promote an understanding of the principles, practices, and, where applicable, the histories of art, music, or theatre, and to encourage an appreciation for the pleasures and challenges of creative work.


(6 credits, from at least two different disciplines, chosen from Literature, Philosophy, and Religion)

Educated individuals "read" in the fullest sense—discerning complexities and finding meaning in informed ways. Courses in the Humanities examine narrative representations of the human experience and explore various means of discovering, producing, and evaluating texts. In literature courses, students investigate the powers and limits of language as a medium for exploring the human experience. In philosophy courses, students study argumentation and major issues in Western thought in order to address the fundamental questions of meaning and value through critical, rational examinations of belief. In religion courses, students develop a critical appreciation and understanding of religious experience and expression.

A Major Field of Study

See departmental or program requirements. Please note that departments may require transfer students to complete an approved amount of course work (ordinarily at least one-fourth of the requirements) at The College of Idaho before majors can be certified.

Independent Work

Some type of independent work at the upper-division level is required for graduation. Honors study and courses designated by departments, some internships, and independent studies meet this requirement. Also see independent study and/or internship regulations.

Total Minimum Semester Credits: 124 Credits

This includes only those credits from courses that were passed.

Upper Division Course Work

At least 40 credits of the 124 credits required for graduation must be in courses numbered 300-0499.

Academic Requirements

  1. A grade-point average of at least 2.00 (a) in the College of Idaho record and (b) in the entire undergraduate record.
  2. A grade-point average of at least 2.00 in the major field (a) in the College of Idaho record and (b) in the entire undergraduate record.
  3. If the student graduates with a minor, a grade-point average of 2.00 in the minor field (a) in the College of Idaho record and (b) in the entire undergraduate record.

For purposes of calculating grade-point averages, only those courses which are applicable to the College of Idaho degree are considered.

Residence Courses: 30 credit minimum.

These credits must be earned in courses taken on the The College of Idaho campus. Ordinarily the student must earn this credit after attaining senior standing (90 credits). Dual-degree candidates in pre-engineering must earn this credit after they have attained junior standing (60 credits). For students who want to take advantage of a special educational opportunity away from the campus during their senior year, the Vice President for Academic Affairs may waive the requirement that this credit be earned after attaining senior standing.

Departmental Restriction

No more than 50 credits in any one department may be counted toward the required minimum of 124 credits (a minimum of 74 credits outside any one department is required). Exception: In the Mathematics and Physical Sciences Department no more than 50 credits in any discipline may be counted toward the required minimum of 124 credits ( a minimum of 74 credits outside any one discipline is required). The Mathematics and Physical Sciences Department defines computer science (CSC), mathematics (MAT), physics (PHY), and geology/geography (GOL/GOG) as different disciplines.

Other Credit Limitations

The responsibility rests with students to see that their programs of study satisfy all the requirements for graduation listed in the catalog. Advisors and other members of the faculty and staff will assist in any way possible.