Core Curriculum

What Purpose does MCLA's core curriculum serve?

MCLA’s Integrative Core Curriculum represents the core of our liberal arts mission: through our Core Curriculum, we prepare students for a diverse world; for decision-making that leads to academic, professional and personal success; and for an appreciation of civic responsibility. Students will be invited into an experiential and integrative education that challenges them to develop themselves as critical thinkers, researchers, communicators and problem solvers.  

What are the Hallmarks of MCLA's Core Curriculum?

Integrative Learning

MCLA’s Core Curriculum is designed to develop students’ skills in Integrative Learning, an approach to teaching that supports the development of skills enabling students to make connections among concepts and experiences, so they can apply information and skills to novel and complex contexts.​

Students who integrate their learning can…​

  • Choose appropriate forms of expression to effectively communicate with audiences from different backgrounds and perspectives;​
  • Defend their positions making reference to diverse perspectives;​
  • Synthesize contrasting/conflicting information and perspectives to accurately understand problems;​
  • Apply contextually-appropriate methods and approaches when analyzing and solving problems;​
  • Make connections across disciplines and personal experience when solving problems;​
  • Engage in meaningful self-reflection and evaluation of their own learning and contributions.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

MCLA’s Integrative Core Curriculum is grounded in our institutional commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Rather than requiring students to take a single course related to these themes, our curriculum provides students with multiple opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge needed to not only succeed in a diverse world but also to be a part of making it more equitable and inclusive. 

What DOES THE journey through MCLA'S core look like? 

Our Core Curriculum invites students to move through three domains of learning, which work in tandem with courses in their majors to provide a truly holistic, interdisciplinary and integrative learning experience. 

Integrative Core Curriculum

Tier 1: Integrative Foundations

Tier II: Integrative Content

Tier III: Integrative Capstone

Students practice foundational skills: critical thinking and reflection; information literacy; communication; and personal wellness. Students further develop and apply their abilities in these same skills across five different domains of scholarship. Students integrate their advanced knowledge and skills to address complex contexts and problems.

Critical Reading, Thinking, Writing
3 credits

Health & Wellness
3 credits
Quantitative Reasoning
3 credits
Creative Arts
3 credits
Human Heritage
3 credits
Self & Society
3 credits
Capstone Seminar
3 credits

Tier 1: First-Year Seminar

Creative Arts
3 credits
Human Heritage
3 credits
Self & Society
3 credits

Central Themes & Hallmarks

One of students' Tier II courses must be cross-listed as a First-Year Seminar, which uses course content to introduce students to successful strategies for thriving at MCLA. Language, Culture & Communication
3 credits
Science & Technology
3 credits
Science & Technology (Lab)
3-4 credits
Integrative learning enables students to make connections among concepts and experiences so they can apply information and skills to novel and complex contexts.
First-Year Seminar
Cross-listed with a Tier II course
      Students sequentially develop the skills and knowledge needed to not only succeed in a diverse world but also to be part of making it more equitable and inclusive.


Tier I: Integrative Foundational Level (9 credits) 

Tier I  introduces students to foundational skills required for living and learning in a diverse campus community and world. ​

  • In their Critical Reasoning, Thinking, and Writing course, students learn to read a diversity of texts, to write for diverse audiences, and to integrate information from diverse sources in their academic work (​3 credits).
  • In their Quantitative Reasoning course, students learn how to address complex, real-world problems by using quantitative analysis, interpreting mathematical information, drawing appropriate conclusions, and presenting their results to diverse audiences (3 credits).
  •  In their Health and Wellness course, students learn about wellness in the context of broader social issues and concerns and begin to understand how their own wellness beliefs and practices are shaped by their position in society ​(3 credits).
  • In their First Year Seminar (FSEM), which is cross-listed as a Tier II course, students learn how to reflect critically on the ways in which their own experiences and identities impact their academic learning – an important step toward recognizing that we each experience the world from a unique perspective.

Tier II: Integrative Content Level (25-26 Credits)

Students apply the foundational skills they learned in Tier I to material in five different academic domains. In all of these domains, students are continuing to build skills for success in a diverse world, with the domains explicitly engaging with content related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

  • Self and Society emphasizes concepts of diversity and identity, requiring students to explore the complexity of elements related to their own and others’ identities, including culture, history, values, politics, and beliefs. They practice perspective-taking and develop inclusive communication skills (6 credits)
  • Language, Culture, and Communication not only teaches students to communicate effectively in a language other than English but it also highlights cultural differences in verbal and nonverbal communication and further develops students' skills in bridging such differences ​(3 credits).
  • Human Heritage enables students to expand their perspective-taking skills by evaluating historical events, ideas, and circumstances within both historical and contemporary contexts (6 credits). ​
  • Creative Arts  facilitates students’ reflection on their own encounters with the creative arts, with reference to broader historical and cultural contexts (3 credits). 
  • Science and Technology trains students to evaluate sources of scientific information, communicate with diverse audiences,  and apply scientific concepts to a variety of situations and issues to test a hypothesis or solve complex problems in both lab and non-lab courses. (7-8 credits)

Tier III: Integrative Capstone Level (3 Credits)

  • Integrative Core Capstone: In this culminating Core course, students integrate the diverse knowledge-base they've acquired from Tiers I and II as they collaborate with peers to address novel problems from multiple perspectives. Each Capstone – regardless of its disciplinary foundation or topical focus – requires students to recognize diversity and to use it as a tool for creating equitable and inclusive solutions to real-world challenges. In addition, students are required to make explicit connections to previous learning and to reflect on how the complexity of their own and others’ identities shapes their interaction with their communities. (3 credits)