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.

Core Competency Courses

No single course can provide competency in a subject or mode of thought, but the Core offers opportunities to begin to develop competencies in key areas that will be fundamental to students’  education at NYUAD and throughout the rest of their lives. The Core Competencies represent a well-rounded approach to inquiry, to habits of mind, and to modes of scholarly and creative practice.

The four competencies are:


Students are required to complete four courses, each of which satisfies a Core Competency requirement. They may include specifically designed Core courses or they may be courses offered within other academic programs.

Core Competency requirements can be satisfied from offerings in Abu Dhabi or approved courses in NYU’s global network, including some J-Term and summer courses. Although some divisional courses may cross-list as Core Competency courses, coursework that applies toward a student’s major or minor may not be used to satisfy a Core requirement.

In practical terms, this means that if students take a Core course and choose later to apply it to a major or minor, they will need to take another course from the same Core category — ideally with a different disciplinary orientation — to fill the Core requirement. Most students will only count one intensive courses (J-Term or summer) toward the Core, and in no case will credit be granted for more than two intensives. However, Core courses are always available as general electives; to date most NYUAD students have graduated with more Core courses than were actually required.

Core Colloquia

Core Colloquia are small, multidisciplinary, 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. Colloquia combine at least two of the broad areas of knowledge the Core Competencies.


Students are required to complete two Colloquia, one ideally in the first year. These courses can be found only in the Core and will not be cross-listed with major or minor programs.

Quantative Reasoning, Experimental Inquiry, and Islamic Studies (Q, E, X)

In order to graduate every student must have taken at least one course designated as flling a Quantitative Reasoning (Q) requirement, one that fills an Experimental Inquiry (E) requirement, and one that flls an Islamic Studies (X) requirement. 


These courses are drawn from across the curriculum — in and out of the Core — and are not restricted in any way by double-counting policies. A single course can fill the Q or E requirement (or both, depending on the course) at the same time it fills a requirement in the Core or a major, minor, or general elective.

First-Year Writing Seminar

In addition to the six required Core courses, all students will enroll in a First-Year Writing Seminar (FYWS) during one of the first two semesters. FYWS introduces students to the reading, writing, oral expression, and critical-thinking skills essential to a liberal arts education.

Physical Education

Students are required to complete two seven-week physical education activities. There are plenty of interesting options from which to choose. Physical activity is often an excellent way to break up time spent on academics and students are encouraged to participate in physical activities well beyond the two required.