Like all other Calvin students, engineering students are required to take a certain number of courses comprising Calvin’s core curriculum. These courses establish a foundation and context for your engineering studies and are an important part of your experience in the engineering program. While you can find a complete list of engineering core curriculum requirements in Calvin’s online catalog, here’s a summary.

During your first year

  • One interim course centered on the topic of developing a Christian mind.
  • One first-year seminar course in which you’ll cultivate the skills and mindset to help you thrive in college.

During or after your first year

  • One course in general English written rhetoric. (Depending on your level of English literacy, you may instead be required to take two courses.)
  • One "Oral Rhetoric for Engineers" course, which focuses on communicating your ideas effectively with peers and the public.
  • Three courses in health and fitness chosen from a very wide range of options. One course will focus on personal fitness, another on lifetime activities, and a third on sports or dance (exemptions possible—see below).
  • Two years of high school foreign language classes, or one year of college-level foreign language courses.
  • One history course chosen from a wide range of options.
  • One philosophy course.
  • One religion course.
  • One literature course.
  • One economics course.
  • One course in the arts.
  • One cross-cultural engagement course.

Some of these requirements, such as the history or health and fitness requirements, give you a large number of courses from which to choose to meet the requirement. The complete list of core requirements for engineering students in the Calvin catalog shows the options currently available.

Please note that the above list is a summary only and omits certain details and options. When planning your engineering studies, be sure to consult with the complete list as well as with your advisor.

Frequently-asked questions

Why do engineering students take these core requirements courses?

Calvin’s core curriculum is designed to provide a foundation and context for the engineering courses you take. Drawing on a long tradition of liberal arts education, the core curriculum prepares you to think clearly, communicate effectively, and act virtuously in your chosen career—whether in engineering or another field.

We invite you to view the core curriculum not as a mere list of requirements to be checked off or as an impediment to your engineering studies. Rather, the core curriculum exists to help you become an engineer who is also a good citizen and a leader in your field.

Is it possible to graduate with an engineering major in four years?

Yes—each of our engineering programs is carefully designed to complement the core curriculum and can be completed in four years, and 80 percent of Calvin engineering students do so! With some planning, you can even fit studies abroad and other cocurricular opportunities into your four-year plan.

Can I be exempted from any of the core requirements?

Yes—engineering students who meet certain prerequisites can be exempted from certain core requirements:

  • If you participate in a varsity or junior varsity sport for a full season, you may be exempted from one or more of the health and fitness required courses.
  • If you’ve studied a foreign language in high school for at least two years and received a grade of C or better each term, you may be exempt from the language requirement. If you’ve taken one year of a foreign language at another college, you may be exempted as well.

Consult with your advisor for details or if you have further questions.

Do I need to achieve a certain grade level to complete these core requirements?

Some of the core requirement courses do require that you pass with a certain grade. For example, the written rhetoric course must be completed with a grade of C or better.

I have other questions about engineering core requirements.

We’d be happy to answer any additional questions you have. If you’re already in contact with an academic advisor in the engineering department, we invite you to contact them. If not, contact the engineering department and we’ll address your questions.