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 skills, and collaborative and civically-minded perspective that all NLU graduates will demonstrate. A coherent general education core is fundamental to further, more specialized study and serves as a catalyst for lifelong learning and professional success. The core enables students to acquire critical inquiry skills and to recognize the interrelationships of areas of study.

Integrated Competencies

The following learning outcomes, based on the Degree Qualifications Profile, are integrated throughout the student’s academic experience in the university and as a part of their General education coursework:

Specialized Knowledge

Students identify core practices and terminology related to general education studies. Students investigate trends, analyze facts and form interpretations to generate cohesive arguments.  Students utilize technology to deliver written and oral communications.

Intellectual Skills

Students develop both traditional and nontraditional cognitive skills: analytic inquiry, use of information resources, engagement with diverse perspectives, ethical reasoning, quantitative fluency and communicative fluency, emphasizing the importance of making, confronting and interpreting ideas and arguments from different points of reference (e.g., cultural, technological, political).

Professional Practice

Students cultivate skills necessary for a career readiness, including: decision making, change management, negotiation, organization and prioritization, leadership, teamwork, and emotional intelligence.

Fields of Knowledge

1. Communications

3 courses , 2 writing and 1 Speech                                                                                           

Students will 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

3 courses, at least 1 Humanities and 1 Fine Arts                                                                        

Students will examine the human condition through the study of a variety of fields and disciplines, including language, literature, history, philosophy, religion and ethics. They will also be exposed to, experience, participate in and create artistic expression in a variety of forms and contexts.

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


3. Mathematics

1 course 

Students will identify quantitative concepts and perform basic operations at the college level. They will recognize 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


4. Physical and Life Sciences

2 courses, 1 Physical Science and 1 Life Science, at least 1 must have a lab designation    

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

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


5. Social and Behavioral Sciences

3 courses, at least 2 disciplines represented

Students will analyze 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. Additionally, they will identify 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: Anthropology, economics, geography, cultural and ethnic history,  political science, sociology, 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, meeting the course requirements for each field as described 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 as a part of their programmatic requirements.

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.