More relevant, more responsive to the changing world

Core Education reimagines the foundation of a college degree.

Oregon State’s general education curriculum, the Baccalaureate Core, dates back to the late 1980s and has remained mostly unchanged since 1994. 

The world, however, has not.

The university’s values, ambitions and community have evolved — dramatically in many cases. And so have students’ needs. To better prepare them for personal and professional success, Oregon State is replacing the Bacc Core in summer 2025 with a state-of-the-art, 21st century-focused general education program: Core Education.

Developed over several years in collaboration with faculty, students, administrators, employers, alumni and community college partners, Core Education outlines several goals for student success. They include developing creative problem-solving skills, professional skills, knowledge to advocate for social and environmental justice, the ability to understand multiple perspectives and more.

Another goal of Core Education is to make a college degree more attainable. The new curriculum requires fewer credits and improves the process for applying transfer credits toward general education requirements, removing two common barriers for many students.  

Core Education is divided into two parts. The Foundational Core, which begins in students’ first year at OSU, focuses on areas like writing, communication, scientific inquiry and analysis, social sciences and diversity, equity and inclusion.

The Signature Core, which is integrated throughout students’ college experience, includes courses like Beyond OSU, where students set their career goals and obtain the skills to achieve them. Students also participate in Seeking Solutions, where they work together to study complex topics like climate change and poverty — and evaluate potential solutions. 

“Our world is complex, increasingly becoming interconnected, and we really need people from different educational backgrounds to think about how to solve these problems in a collaborative way,” says McKenzie Huber, Core Education director.

At many public universities in the U.S., DEI programs and social justice courses are being shut down. But Oregon State is updating its one-of-a-kind Difference, Power and Discrimination curriculum that was added to the Bacc Core in the 1990s. Renamed Difference, Power and Oppression, the revised curriculum helps students understand institutionalized systems of power, privilege and inequity in the United States and learn how to dismantle them within their spheres of influence. DPO has expanded to two courses, one in the Foundational Core and one in the Signature Core — and coursework continues to adapt as strategies to address racism and inequality evolve.

“When students leave OSU — no matter what they do with their lives — they need to be able to tackle issues from a variety of different viewpoints and know how to work as a group with different perspectives,” says John Edwards, co-chair of the Bacc Core Reform Committee and Associate Dean in the College of Liberal Arts.

Students are only at Oregon State for a few years. Core Education ensures what they learn here lasts a lifetime.