Core Requirements

The Core provides a common intellectual foundation for all Southern Virginia students. It focuses on great artistic, literary, philosophical, political, scientific, and social achievements, comparing these when appropriate with insights of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Core courses emphasize careful writing, critical thinking and analytic reasoning. Students discuss, write and present on issues of the highest importance to humanity, thereby preparing themselves to be articulate and knowledgeable leader-servants. The Core requires two courses in a second language or culture to ensure deeper understanding of another people and of language. In general, the Language and Culture requirement aims to give students a breadth of cultural understanding beyond the dominant cultural heritage of citizens of the United States.  The core requires competence in mathematics in order to reason well about quantitative data and claims. Finally, it ensures attention to the well-being of others and oneself by encouraging meaningful service and wholesome physical activities.

Download the Core Checklist

University Writing

Freshman Writing. Students must take WRI 120 College Composition during their first year. This course is waived for those scoring 4 or 5 on an Advanced Placement English test. Students scoring 20 or lower on the ACT verbal test or 500 or lower on the SAT verbal test must take  WRI 110 Introduction to Composition in their first semester.

Advanced Writing.  Students must take WRI 320 Advanced Composition in their junior year.


Students must take five courses in the great achievements of civilization during their first two years, completing one or two civilization courses per semester.

Take these three courses:

Take one course from among these five:

Take one course from among these seven:


Students must take a general education math course during their first two years. Choose one of the following:

A placement test is available online to help you determine which math course to take. Students with a strong background in algebra are encouraged to take Calculus I. Students without a good background in high school algebra should take MAT 100 Intermediate Algebra before taking one of the above courses.

Natural Sciences

Students must take two general education science courses during their first two years: one in biology, the other in chemistry or physics. One of these courses must have a lab component. BIO 114 Biological Concepts, CHE 114 Chemistry Today, PHY 114 Physical Science are lab courses especially suited for those not intending to major in biology or to pursue a career in medicine. If you intend to start medical, dental, or veterinary school in the year following graduation from Southern Virginia, you should take General Chemistry I and II in your first year and consult with the premed advisor.

Social Sciences

Students must take one course from among the following:

Fine Arts

Other parts of the core curriculum introduce students to significant artistic, literary, and philosophical works and important ideas, especially in the West. The requirement in Fine and Performing Arts, however, offers students the opportunity to participate in the creation of artistic works of their own, by developing artistic skills, and learning to evaluate quality in one’s own work, and in the work of others.

Students who major or minor in the arts, or maintain a scholarship in the fine or performing arts, will typically fulfill this requirement in their coursework. Students who are not focused in the arts should fulfill this requirement by taking an introductory course in the arts, from the following list:

The following courses or sequences also fulfill the Fine and Performing Arts requirement:

*Vocal Chamber Music & Opera Workshop can each count as 1 semester of the other and fulfill the 2-semester requirement.

Language and Culture

Students must take two courses, in either culture or language. Students who take any two 3-credit courses in foreign language (including two different foreign languages) satisfy this requirement. In addition, any combination of two culture courses, or a language course and a culture course, also satisfies the requirement.

Leadership and Service

Students must take SVU 101 Becoming a Knight (3 credit hours) in their first year at Southern Virginia. Although not a requirement for graduation, it is also expected that during their time at Southern Virginia, students will develop a leadership and service portfolio in which they document meaningful service led and provided to individuals and institutions in the external community, at church, and on campus, consistent with the mission of the university. In developing their service portfolios, students are strongly encouraged to give an average of at least 15 hours of service per semester.

Health and Wellness

Students must take PER 143 Health and Wellness or two physical activity courses (2 credits). Physical activity courses at the 100-level receive a pass/fail grade. Physical activity courses marked “R” may be taken twice for Core credit.

Adequate Progress

Inasmuch as the Core provides the common intellectual foundation for upper division work at Southern Virginia University, we encourage students to engage fully in the Core early in their Southern Virginia experience. The following standards help to promote adequate progress through the Core.

By the end of the first year: Students must complete the freshman writing requirement (WRI 120 College Composition) and the leadership and service requirement (SVU 101 Becoming a Knight). Students should also make significant progress through the Core requirements needed by the end of the second year (see below). It is recommended that first-year students take one or two civilization courses each semester, take one physical activity course, and complete at least one of their natural sciences requirements.

By the end of the second year: Students must complete the civilization requirement (5 courses), the mathematics requirement (1 course), the natural sciences requirements (2 courses, including a lab), two physical activity courses, and one foreign language or HUM 235R course.

Although earlier completion is recommended, the social sciences elective, the fine arts elective, the second foreign language or HUM 235R course, and any remaining physical activity courses may be taken during the last two years. WRI 320 Advanced composition should be taken by the end of the third year.


Up to 14 credit hours of Institute of Religion coursework accepted by Southern Virginia University and taught by qualified faculty may count towards the Southern Virginia University bachelor’s degree.  A student may count no more than two credit hours of institute coursework per semester or term toward the degree. The University awards pass/fail credit for institute coursework.