Brandeis Core Requirements

A strong, general education foundation is built through work in a variety of interconnected elements. The fundamental goals of the Brandeis core are to provide the skills, knowledge, and perspectives necessary for students to succeed personally and professionally as citizens of a rapidly changing, globalized world. Through these requirements, undergraduates will learn to explore issues related to justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion in the United States and the world, make sound evidence-based arguments and decisions, think critically, communicate effectively, assess and manipulate quantitative information, understand historical and cultural context, and operate efficiently within a digital domain.

For students entering Brandeis beginning fall 2019, the basic outline of the requirement structure is as follows:

A. Brandeis First Year Experience and University Writing Seminar
First-year students entering in the fall of 2019 and thereafter must satisfactorily complete one University Writing Seminar (UWS) course and attend one of two Critical Conversations offered in the same semester. Critical Conversations will feature two University professors who will discuss contrasting approaches to a specific topic, and connect back to a UWS writing assignment.

Students will take an online writing assessment to determine their level of writing proficiency. Upon evaluation of the writing assessment, some students may be placed in Composition, a course taken in their first semester. These students must then take a UWS in their second semester.

Transfer students may have their credits evaluated to see if they have successfully completed the necessary course to satisfy the first-year writing requirement. If they have not, they should take the online writing assessment or contact the University Writing Program for ways to complete this requirement.

B. Writing Intensive
All students will satisfy the writing intensive requirement as defined in the requirements for the major. Allowing students to fulfill the writing intensive requirement in the course of completing a major provides opportunities for students to learn how core skills are used in field-specific contexts.

Through writing assignments, opportunities for revision, focused writing instruction, and review of exemplary writing in the discipline, writing intensive assignments further develop writing skills necessary for successful written communication in specific fields of specialization. Students will learn to evaluate and employ disciplinary writing conventions, styles, and formats, and how to convey arguments and use evidence and rhetorical strategies for appropriate audiences. Writing intensive courses usually involve frequent assignments, opportunities for rewriting and consultations with the instructor. Courses numbered in the 90s are not eligible for a writing intensive designation.

C. Oral Communication
All students will satisfy the oral communication requirement as defined in the requirements for the major. Allowing students to fulfill the oral communication requirement in the course of completing a major provides opportunities for students to learn how core skills are used in field-specific contexts.

Oral Communication courses enhance students' ability to communicate and listen effectively in a range of contexts, critically evaluate orally presented information and arguments and consider specific techniques for using language as a communication tool. Courses numbered in the 90s are not eligible for an oral communication designation.

D. Digital Literacy
All students will satisfy the digital literacy requirement as defined in the requirements for the major. Allowing students to fulfill the digital literacy requirement in the course of completing a major provides opportunities for students to learn how core skills are used in field-specific contexts.

Learning outcomes for Digital Literacy include acquiring one or more of the following abilities: to evaluate the validity of digital sources; create and use digital media; analyze, present and reason about large sets of data; generate or utilize appropriate software in the discipline; and become adept at utilizing data bases, as defined by the major. Courses numbered in the 90s are not eligible for a digital literacy designation.

E. Quantitative Reasoning
All students will take one course that is designated as meeting the quantitative reasoning requirement. These courses from various disciplines share a commitment to enabling students to understand, interpret, analyze and evaluate numerical data and other quantitative information.

F. Global Engagement

World Languages and Cultures
Gaining proficiency in a world language opens the possibility for international discovery to students, enabling them to communicate and collaborate with others across cultures, to gain access to information through sources in languages other than English, and to explore issues from a range of perspectives in order to respond more creatively to global challenges. As part of the Global Engagement requirement, the goal of the world languages sequence is to prepare students to better understand and to more effectively participate in a different culture. Students will deepen their knowledge of a world cultural tradition, strengthen their ability to speak, listen, read, and write in the language of that culture, and as a result, they will expand their capacity for empathy toward others. Students will be better prepared to navigate an increasingly international marketplace, whether in the U.S. or abroad.

Students who fulfill the world languages sequence will demonstrate a range of intermediate-level proficiency skills in a language other than English (including American Sign Language). These essential skills, as described by the ACTFL Guidelines, enable students to create in another language in order to express personal thoughts and needs, to engage in meaningful ways during social interactions, and to participate in the events of everyday life. Students of Ancient Greek, Latin, and Biblical Hebrew will focus exclusively on reading, writing and cultural knowledge.

Students may satisfy the world languages sequence by successfully completing an intermediate-level language course (usually numbered in the 30s) at Brandeis. Students are strongly encouraged to begin fulfilling the world languages sequence as soon as they matriculate; students taking more than one course to satisfy the requirement are encouraged to complete the sequence without interruption.

Alternatively, the requirement may be satisfied by taking an exemption exam offered by the appropriate language department, by having earned a score of 4 or 5 on the appropriate Advanced Placement Exam or a score of 620 on the appropriate CEEB SAT II exam, or by having earned a score of 5 or higher on the appropriate International Baccalaureate Higher Level Exam. SAT II test scores are not accepted for fulfillment of the language requirement in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean.

All students who want to continue learning a language in which they already have experience should contact the appropriate language department in order to take a placement test. The format of the placement tests will vary according to the language.

Specialized courses are available to students who grew up speaking Chinese, Russian, or Spanish at home, and who want to strengthen their skills in reading and writing in order to use their home language to fulfill the Brandeis language requirement. Students who receive a passing grade in HISP 108a (Spanish for heritage learners) will satisfy the language requirement; students who receive a passing grade of C minus on the final exam for RUS 29b (Russian Language for Russian Speakers) will satisfy the language requirement; students who receive a passing grade in CHIN 29a (Pathways for Chinese Literacy) will need to pass CHIN 30a (Intermediate Chinese) to satisfy the language requirement.

The 30-level course that satisfies the language requirement cannot be taken on the pass-fail grading option. Students who enroll in lower-level language classes (10 or 20) in pursuit of fulfilling the requirement may take only one of these courses on the pass-fail grading option.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Studies in the United States
For the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Studies in the United States requirement, students will complete one semester course that focuses on the dynamics, developments, and divisions within U.S. society, and explore the historical and contemporary experiences, interests, and perspectives of a wide range of groups and institutions that have shaped life in the United States.

Difference and Justice in the World
For the Difference and Justice in the World, students will complete one semester course that focuses on the social, cultural, political, and/or economic diversity of human experience within the global or transnational context, and engage in the study of peoples in countries outside the U.S., their histories, arts, cultures, politics, economics, environments, and religions.

G. Schools of Thought
In order to achieve a broad understanding of the approaches, perspectives, insights, and methodologies of a variety of disciplines students will complete one semester course in each of the four schools of the university: creative arts, humanities, science and social science.

Because "double-counting" generally is encouraged, most students will satisfy the schools of thought distribution requirement in the context of others, for example, in satisfying the requirements of a major or a minor. Among general university requirements, the only limitations on double-counting are as follows: The three-course foreign language sequence may not be applied toward the humanities component of this requirement. No single course in a student's program may satisfy both the quantitative requirement and the science component of this requirement. No courses numbered in the 90s, nor credits from exams such as AP or IB, may apply toward this component. Finally, a single course may be used toward the school of thought distribution in only one school.

H. Health, Wellness and Life Skills
Provides students with the tools to successfully balance and succeed in social, professional, community, and global commitments. Students will complete this non-credit requirement by completing three modules or course equivalents, including one in Navigating Health and Safety (required instruction in alcohol and drug education and sexual assault prevention, with other module options such as self-defense, CPR, First Aid), one in Mind and Body Balance (with instruction in areas such as physical fitness, nutrition, stress management, faith and spirituality), and a third in either of those two areas or in Life Skills (with topics such as financial literacy, career development, negotiation skills, and reducing your carbon footprint).