A transition from a previous core program is in process. This page is currently under development and will soon more fully reflect the new program.

NYU Abu Dhabi’s Core Curriculum forms the heart of our mission to provide an international student body with an outstanding, expansive education. The Core draws on the diversity and cultural wealth of the world’s traditions and spans the content and methodologies of 21st-century disciplines across the Arts and Humanities, Engineering, Science, and Social Science. It offers Core Competencies that will help graduates address major global challenges, including the pursuit of Equality, Justice, Peace, Health, Sustainability, and a rich understanding of Humanity. It fosters modes of thinking and habits of mind central to well-rounded intellectual development and to global citizenship and leadership.


The NYUAD Core consists of:

  • 2 Core Colloquia, each of which addresses a significant global challenge from a multidisciplinary perspective.

  • 4 Core Competency Courses, one each in:
    • Arts, Design, and Technology
    • Cultural Exploration and Analysis
    • Data and Discovery
    • Structures of Thought and Society

  • One course designated as filling a Quantitative Reasoning (Q) requirement, one that fills an Experimental Inquiry (E) requirement, and one that fills an Islamic Studies (X) requirement. These will be drawn from courses across the curriculum — in and out of the Core — as indicated in the forthcoming bulletin.

  • All Core courses develop students’ abilities to formulate precise questions and arrive at well-reasoned and effectively communicated conclusions about themselves and the world we share.

Core Competency Courses

Core Competency Courses offer students an in-depth grounding in one of four foundational competencies. These courses demonstrate the role of academic and artistic disciplines in developing these competencies, and their relevance to the world beyond the university. They also enable critical reflection on students’ primary courses of study. Core Competency requirements can be satisfied from offerings in Abu Dhabi and select courses in the GNU, including some J-Term courses.

Students will take a minimum of one course from each of the categories below. In choosing courses, students are advised to complement their major studies. Although some divisional courses will be designated as counting toward the Core, coursework that applies toward a student’s major may not be double-counted as a Core requirement.

  • Arts, Design, and Technology courses teach students to think critically and work creatively toward innovations in arts practice, design and engineering, creative writing, data visualization, programming, and performance.

  • Cultural Exploration and Analysis courses pursue understanding and appreciation of diverse cultural forms and perspectives, and the ability to navigate differences to establish cross-cultural understanding

  • Data and Discovery courses develop the ability to use experimental and quantitative methods to understand the world

  • Structures of Thought and Society courses allow students to examine past, current, and potential future global frameworks for thinking, social organization, and behavior.

Core Colloquia

Core Colloquia are small, discussion-oriented seminars designed to help students deepen their understanding of significant global challenges, including the pursuit of Equality, Justice, Peace, Health, Sustainability, and a rich understanding of Humanity. Taught by faculty from all divisions, these seminars offer multidisciplinary, global perspectives and substantively engage two or more of the Core Competencies. Core Colloquia explicitly aim to nurture civic awareness fundamental to global citizenship and leadership by developing students’ abilities to grapple with the complex conceptual and ethical dimensions of global issues, to communicate respectfully across cultural difference, and to devise problem-solving strategies. Colloquia are fourteen-week courses taught in Abu Dhabi. Students are encouraged to take at least one Core Colloquium during their first year.