New core curriculum to debut in fall

What you need to know about major changes to core class requirements

Jennifer Givens, Assistant Feature Editor

Ready for it or not, the new core curriculum will be implemented this fall. Here are a few fast facts to help prepare you for the new transition.

In a presentation on Mar. 28, Special Assistant Director to the Dean and Core Director Kristin Moran, Ph.D., discussed the new curriculum with students to help prepare them for the transition.

Moran explained that not all currently enrolled students will have to switch over to the new core. Rising seniors and juniors need not worry, the new curriculum is optional for students who enrolled before spring 2017. Students who begin USD fall 2017 or after are automatically enrolled in the new core.

“I advise students to take classes that can accommodate both core curriculums,” Moran said. “One thing to remember, if a student opts for the new core, the core and major [courses] have to come from the same course catalog. No one is required to go to the new core unless they are entering USD in Fall 2017.”

The new core has four fewer classes than are required in the old core. Students still need 124 units to graduate, and 48 of those units must be from upper division classes. The new curriculum requires two theology and religious studies courses instead of three, and one science and technology course with a lab instead of two natural sciences.

Additionally some course categories will change. For example, social science will be replaced by social and behavioral inquiry, and only one class of this type will be required, not two. Logic is no longer required.

The new core also promotes integration and changemaking opportunities. All incoming students must join a Living Learning Community (LLC) and will participate in an integration experience in the spring semester of the yearlong LLC program. If an existing student opts into the new core, she or he will be waived from the LLC integration classes, but will be required to participate in an advanced integration project.

“[There are] two parts to the requirement to students who start next year,” Moran said. “[In the LLC], students will get an intro to integration as a way of problem solving. For example, if you are a student in an LLC and you take your first course in communication and your theme is cultivate, then you can take Natural Disasters in spring. The idea is when you are taking your spring course your faculty member will give you an assignment with what you learned in fall and spring.”  

Only existing students who switch to the new core, and incoming students in fall 2017 must do the advanced integration project.

Moran explained that changes are meant to align USD with the curriculums of other universities and to equip students with skills employers are looking for.

“We changed core because we had too many [core classes] compared to other universities,” Moran said. “We wanted to utilize an outcome-based model to help students to achieve. A lot of the new core appeals to companies and what they are looking for in employees. It’s changing the way we provide the curriculum.”

The new core creates opportunities for other classes to integrate subjects into a student’s major. One example of this could be combining business classes with philosophy or ethics and creating a class such as business ethics or legal ethics.

The Theology and Religious Studies Department is also updating its entire curriculum to connect some classes back to Catholic Christianity and how the religion applies to the subject being taught. 

Junior Cyrus Lange wasn’t aware that the new core would be implemented so soon.

“I don’t think it was really advertised well,” Lange said. “I think I saw something about it on a poster somewhere, but that’s it.”  

Lange has already finished the classes for a Theology minor, but he worries that the new core doesn’t respect those who don’t want to take classes in Catholicism.

“I did a theology minor after my required three religion classes because I liked it so much, but I did not take one class in Catholicism or Christianity,” Lange said. “It doesn’t make sense to change comparative discourse to normative discourse with the new titles in the new core. It doesn’t make classes inclusive when you reframe everything from your own [Catholic] perspective.”

Current students are skeptical of the offer to switch into the new core. Junior Taylor Hickerson explained that, even though the new core isn’t required for her, if she chose to switch, it would alter her expected graduation date.

“If I opted for the new core, it would keep me here longer, which I can’t possibly afford,” Hickerson said. “Also, since I am currently taking logic and have spent the time I’ve been here fulfilling the old core, it would be detrimental for me to switch since the classes would not count.”

If students opt into the new core, and have taken logic like Hickerson, the units will only count toward elective credit. Students switching to the new core will also need to re-declare their majors and may have to take extra classes to account for changes in major curriculum as well. There is a “what if” guide available to help students find out what classes transfer over as core and what are now electives.

While some USD students are excited about the new core, others are unsure. More information regarding the new core can be found at, or you can speak with your advisor about the changes.