General Education Core

General Education Philosophy

Consistent with the University mission, the general education core provides the foundation to develop the breadth of knowledge, intellectual understandings and skills that NLU graduates will demonstrate. A coherent general education core is fundamental to further, in-depth study and serves as a catalyst for lifelong learning. The core enables students to acquire critical inquiry skills and to recognize the interrelationships of areas of study. Analytical skills, information technology literacy, and ethics, values and respect for human diversity are infused throughout the core.

Integrated Competencies

The following skills, knowledge and abilities are integrated throughout the student’s academic experience in the university:

Information and Technology Literacy

Students will learn to access information efficiently and effectively; evaluate it critically and competently; and use it accurately and creatively. They will be able to identify technological applications and devices appropriate to tasks and will acquire skills necessary to use them effectively.

Analytical Skills

Students will learn to evaluate ideas and outcomes, solve problems, and make informed decisions based upon consideration of evidence, reason, and implications.

Ethics, Values and Respect for Human Diversity

Students will gain an understanding of the personal and social importance of ethical values and social reasoning. They will develop recognition of and respect for the diversity of social organizations and cultures throughout an ever-changing and evolving world.

Fields of Knowledge

  1. Communications

    Students will learn to acquire and exchange information accurately from a variety of sources. Using appropriate methodologies, they will develop the ability to speak, read, write and listen with understanding and critical discernment.

    Appropriate coursework or experiences: Oral and written communications

  2. Humanities

    Students will examine the human condition through the study of a variety of fields and disciplines, including language, literature, history, philosophy, religion and ethics.

    Appropriate coursework or experiences: History (U.S. and Western; intellectual history), literature, philosophy, religion, foreign language, linguistics

  3. Fine Arts

    Students will be exposed to, experience, participate in and create artistic expression in a variety of forms and contexts.

    Appropriate coursework or experiences: Art, music, theatre

  4. Quantitative Reasoning

    Students will understand quantitative concepts and perform basic operations at the college level. They will understand the possible multiple interpretations of data and will be able to respond critically and appropriately to concepts, arguments and conclusions based on numbers and statistics in both abstract and concrete contexts.

    Appropriate coursework or experiences: Mathematics/statistics, research methods

  5. Physical and Life Sciences

    Students will learn and apply appropriate scientific methods in order to identify, understand, compare, apply and evaluate natural and physical phenomena.

    Appropriate coursework or experiences: Chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology, biology, microbiology, genetics, ecology and conservation, zoology

  6. Social Sciences

    Students will understand the organization of social institutions and the emergence and structure of society through the application of appropriate concepts, as well as theoretical and methodological frameworks.

    Appropriate coursework or experiences: Anthropology, economics, geography, cultural and ethnic history, political science, sociology

  7. Behavioral Science

    Students will understand concepts and theories that seek to explain human behavior, mental processes and development throughout the life span, and the application of behavioral science principles in a variety of settings.

    Appropriate coursework or experiences: Psychology and related behavioral science areas

The above competencies will be documented by students and assessed by the University on the basis of the knowledge, skills and abilities acquired prior to admission to NLU, during coursework at NLU and as part of field experiences.

NLU requires all students to have a minimum of 60 quarter hours of coursework (or the equivalent) in general education credit, including at least one course (four quarter hours or more) in each of the seven field-of-knowledge areas above. Many degree programs have additional general education requirements beyond the 60 quarter hour minimum. Please refer to the individual program descriptions.

Students who have completed an Illinois Articulation Initiative (IAI) general education core at another Illinois college or university may transfer this core to meet NLU’s general education core requirements. Departments or programs may require additional courses.

Students who are interested in transferring NLU’s general education core to another IAI college or university must work closely with their advisor to ensure that they choose the appropriate course distribution and levels of courses to meet IAI requirements.