Core Curriculum

Expanding Horizons

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 Core is our mission, manifested.

Core Structure

The NYUAD Core consists of two Core Colloquia, each of which addresses a significant global challenge from multidisciplinary perspectives, and four Core Competency Courses, one each in the four categories.

  • Confronting Global Challenges

    Taught by faculty from all divisions, Core Colloquia aim to offer multidisciplinary, global perspectives and substantively engage two or more of the Core Competencies. These seminars help nurture civic awareness fundamental to global citizenship and leadership by developing your 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. They remind us that your individual academic experiences contribute to our collective efforts to make NYUAD a new model of higher education for a global world.

    The cooperation needed to address the world’s most pressing challenges depends upon a rich understanding of humanity itself, a sense of how societies and individuals have developed in relation to one another and to other species, to the environment, to technologies, and to ideas — both sacred and secular — about the universe. When it comes to tackling such challenges, Core Colloquia may raise questions to which there are no easy answers. But learning to pose good questions is itself an important skill, as is learning to approach them from multiple points of reference. Rather than simply taking the idea of a “global perspective” as a given, these courses require us to ask what it means to think about such enduring and urgent challenges across cultures, borders, disciplines, languages, and time.


    Taking classes outside of your comfort zone is also very important. I really enjoyed the core: reading literature, for example, inspired me in different ways — maybe even unconsciously in my science and my thinking.

    Gloria Jansen, Class of 2018


Taking core classes outside of my element, such as a textile class with regional seminars, looking for gorillas in Uganda, and learning how saris are made in India, are some of the biggest highlights of my four years at NYU Abu Dhabi.

Merima Šabanović, Class of 2018

Trekking With Gorillas

Students travel to Uganda to observe a critically endangered species as part of the Core course, Extinction.

What is a Number?

Core course shows how simple numbers can build entire civilizations and lead to the world’s greatest inventions.