​Core Education at Penn College prepares students for the work they do throughout their education and beyond. The principles and skills learned in Core Education courses prepare students, by being developed and reinforced throughout the entirety of their coursework.

Core Education Model

Our model divides the traditional core curriculum into two domains Foundations and Perspectives and shows how all four domains – Foundations, Perspectives, Specialization, and Integration – combine in a complete education.


Foundations are the practical, intellectual, and social skills: communication, collaboration, critical and ethical thinking, quantitative thinking, and technological literacy that are crucial to every student at every stage of education and at every stage of life.

Because these skills are so important to students and employers, Foundation skills are introduced in a series of specialized, required courses, and then developed and reinforced in every program from the first day of classes through the completion of internships, capstone work, and graduation. All Foundation courses provide students with meaningful opportunities to use and develop their Foundation skills. The five Foundations are:

  • Communication. The ability to find and comprehend information and ideas from others, and to compose spoken and written work that transmits ideas or information to others to create shared understanding.
  • Collaboration. The ability to work with others to establish objectives, allocate work, measure performance against standards, evaluate results, document the process, and apply what was learned in present and future processes.
  • Critical & Ethical Thinking. The ability to analyze and evaluate situations and arguments from multiple perspectives, including the values that shape our self-identity and our relationships with other people, other cultures, and our environment, in order to form intellectually and ethically defensible judgments.
  • Quantitative Thinking. The ability to explain and use the vocabulary, symbols, and methods of mathematics in order to identify patterns, describe relationships, reason logically, and make informed decisions.
  • Technological Literacy. The ability to describe, develop, evaluate, select, and use a wide variety of tools and tool systems in the classroom, the workplace, and in everyday life.


Perspectives are points of view. They offer a variety of ways of understanding, interacting, and influencing the world. Through Perspectives, students identify, explain, and utilize the approaches used by academics and professionals to study, analyze, or understand problems, and offer solutions.

Students develop an understanding and use the skills, concepts, and methods of the Perspectives in a wide variety of situations—ranging from specific courses that focus on a single Perspective, to courses that combine a variety of the Perspectives, to daily interactions between students, faculty, staff, and members of the community. The five Perspectives are:

  • Arts. Develops an understanding and appreciation of the creative process and aesthetic experience. It encourages the exploration and analysis of a variety of creative processes and problem-solving strategies, as well as an understanding of the diversity of artistic experience and expression.
  • Global & Cultural Diversity. Examines the connections between our own lives and the lives of people around the world. It encourages a broad, critical review of our own experience and the experiences of other individuals and cultures, as well as an enhanced understanding of the cultural, social, economic, and political factors that shape our world. In practice, this perspective encourages our students to become global citizens who are prepared to understand, participate in, and shape civic society. Thus, an understanding of the functions and structures of civil societies, as well as the ability to participate in the roles and responsibilities of citizenship are integral to global and cultural diversity.
  • Historical. Provides a foundation for exploring the past with an eye towards understanding the present and thinking critically about the future. Through an analysis of multiple perspectives and sources the interpretative framework of history provides context for understanding and evaluating contemporary institutions, politics, and cultures.
  • Natural Sciences. Develops scientific knowledge and understanding as a process characterized by gathering, organizing, evaluating, and analyzing empirical evidence. This perspective also augments quantitative and inductive reasoning skills through a variety of problem-solving strategies. The scientific method, a cornerstone of the natural sciences discipline, encourages a systematic approach to problem-solving characterized by investigating hypotheses that lead to predictable outcomes through repeatable experimentation.
  • Social Science. Applies the principles of the scientific method to the study of humans as individuals and in groups. The goal of the social sciences is to understand and improve the quality of life and the quality of experience using research and application as pathways to solving economic, political, and social problems.


Specialization, the most familiar part of a college education (the traditional major), requires a depth of knowledge and a high-level proficiency within a clearly defined area of study. Students at each degree level learn and apply concepts, skills, and methods specific to their field or major course of study. Specialization is tied to Foundations and Perspectives and builds on the skills, knowledge, and approaches developed in these domains.


Integration, the link between Foundations, Perspectives, and Specialization, is the identifying characteristic of a college-educated person. Integration requires students to combine the deep knowledge and high proficiency of Specialization with the broad knowledge gained through Foundations and Perspectives.

Students at each degree level produce work that integrates concepts, skills, and methods from their primary field of study with appropriate skills, knowledge, and approaches from the Foundations and Perspectives. Students have many opportunities to demonstrate their integrated approach to education, from program coursework to Immersion sequences to Capstone projects or other summative experiences.

Degree-Specific Core Education Requirements

  Bachelor of Science/Combined Bachelor/Master's Associate of Arts Associate of Applied Arts or Applied Science
Foundations 18-20 credits 18 credits 12 credits
Communication 9 credits
ENL111, ENL121 or ENL201, and SPC elective
9 credits
ENL111, ENL121 or ENL 201, and SPC elective
6 credits
ENL111 along with ENL 121 or ENL201 or SPC elective
Quantitative Thinking 6-8 credits
MTH designator (course(s) determined by major from Catalog)
6 credits
MTH designator (course(s) determined by major from Catalog)
3 credits
MTH designator (course(s) determined by major from Catalog)
Technological Literacy 3 credits
CSC 124
(or equivalent)
3 credits
CSC 124
(or equivalent)
3 credits
CSC 124
(or equivalent)
Critical & Ethical Thinking Introduced in FYE 101 and other Foundation courses. Introduced in FYE 101 and other Foundation courses. Introduced in FYE 101 and other Foundation courses.
Collaboration Introduced in FYE 101 and other Foundation courses. Introduced in FYE 101 and other Foundation courses. Introduced in FYE 101 and other Foundation courses.
Perspectives 19 credits 19 credits 6 credits
(as below, plus one 3-credit Perspective course of choice)
Arts 3 credits 3 credits  
Global & Cultural Diversity 3 credits 3 credits  
Historical 3 credits 3 credits  
Natural Sciences 7 credits
(includes a 4-credit course with lab)
7 credits
(includes a 4-credit course with lab)
3 credits
Social Science 3 credits 3 credits  
Exploration Electives* 6 credits
(from approved list)
Total Credits 43-45 credits 37 credits 18 credits

​ *Students select courses from the list of approved Exploration Electives (Foundations, Perspectives, or current COR electives), or in the case of accreditation/certification requirements or program standards, these 6 credits may be prescribed by the program from the approved list of Exploration Electives.

Certificate Core

Majors leading to a certificate in a special field of study focus on occupational preparation and skill development. They range in length from two to four semesters. Core requirements include:

  • Communications: 3 credits
  • Mathematics: 3 credits