Art Professor talking to student with computer in front of them


Belmont General Education Curriculum

Immerse yourself in a fulfilling general education experience in the heart of Music City.

Belmont's BELL Core Curriculum provides you with a liberal arts education that promotes an interdisciplinary approach to solving the world's complex issues. The BELL Core nurtures your ability to transform the world while also serving as a complement to majors across the University.

As you progress through the curriculum you will engage in courses that explore a range of topics: from the foundational First Year Seminar - which explores "ways of knowing" or, simply, how do we know what we think we know - to the reflective Senior Capstone - which contemplates how your BELL Core courses have complemented your major coursework.

Your learning doesn't stop there.

The BELL Core Curriculum values the importance of extending the boundaries of learning beyond the classroom and applying classroom learning to the real world. For you, this means engaging with your colleagues in tackling some of the most important problems plaguing the world today. You might collaborate with a classmate from a different major to connect disciplines and present solutions to these problems that ensure a life abundant for all.

The BELL Core Curriculum is divided into three subcategories: Signature Courses, Foundations Courses and Degree Cognates.


These put Belmont’s unique signature on a liberal arts education by providing vertical structure and establishing two particular areas of strength.

  • First-Year Seminar (3 hours)
  • Interdisciplinary Learning Communities (hours count elsewhere)
  • Junior Cornerstone (hours count elsewhere)
  • Senior Capstone (1-3 hours)
  • Writing, First and Third Year (6 hours)
  • Religion, First and Third Year (6 hours)

These are the proper foundation of every human being’s education, representing a spectrum of learning that is roughly akin to the traditional liberal arts.

  • Oral Communication (3 hours)
  • Social Science (3 hours)
  • Humanities (3 hours)
  • Fine Arts (3 hours)
  • Quantitative Reasoning (3 hours)
  • Lab Science (4 hours)
  • Wellness (3 hours)

These distinguish the various degrees from one another, indicating the extension of liberal learning that is appropriate to each distinct degree. You are only required to take the hours listed under the particular degree you are pursuing. 

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA): 15 hours
    • 3 additional hours in Social Science
    • 3 additional hours in Humanities
    • 6 hours in Foreign Language
    • 3 additional hours in Science
  • Bachelor of Science (BS): 15 hours
    • 6 additional hours in Social Science
    • 3 additional hours in Humanities
    • 3 additional hours in Math
    • 3 additional hours in Science
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA): 12 hours
    • ECO 2210: Principles of Macroeconomics (3 hours)
    • ECO 2220: Principles of Microeconomics (3 hours)
    • MTH 1150: Elementary Statistics (3 hours)
    • 3 additional hours in Humanities 
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): 10 hours
    • MTH 1151, Elementary Statistics for the Sciences
    • PSY 1100: General Psychology (3 hours) OR
      • PSY1200: Introduction to Psychological Science (4 hours)
    • CEM 1020, General, Organic, and Biochemistry (4 hours)
Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH): 13 Hours
    • BIO 1120, Principles of Biology II (4 Hours)
    • MTH 1151, Elementary Statistics for the Sciences (3 Hours)
    • PSC 1300, U.S. and World Affairs (3 Hours)
    • ECO 2220, Principles of Microeconomics (3 Hours)
  • Bachelor of Social Work (BSW): 12 hours
    • 6 additional hours in Social Science
    • MTH 1550, Elementary Statistics
    • PSY 1100: General Psychology (3 hours) OR
      • PSY1200: Introduction to Psychological Science (4 hours)
  • Bachelor of Music (BM): no Degree Cognates
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA): no Degree Cognates

To learn more about each of these categories and to see the courses that fall into each, view our description of program requirements.

Dear Students and Prospective Students,

Many think about education solely as vocational preparation—major in this, get a job in that.  It often doesn’t work that way, though.  Most people have jobs that aren’t in their college major; according to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, only 27.3% do.  So, if their major is the most important qualification for their job, how do they get jobs without that qualification?

There are very few golden tickets in life.  Your college major doesn’t guarantee you a job.  Your college education, however, is the ticket to employability.  Unemployment is significantly lower among those with college degrees (according to government statistics).  More importantly, it’s the ticket to a life better lived.  A steady paycheck is an important part of living, but it’s only a part.  In fact, the paycheck stands in the same relationship to life as your general education does to your major—it’s what makes the rest of it possible.  If you don’t have a life, however you define it, then the only thing the paycheck enables or enhances is survival.

As they say, that’s not nothing.  But it’s also not nearly everything.  The reason we value income is because it enables us to make more and better use of other things—to enable our dreams and enhance whatever happiness we pursue.  We can dream without it, be happy without it, and survive without it.  But with it, if we use it correctly, it’s easier to realize our dreams.

The same is true of general education.  Your major’s not nothing—but it’s also not nearly everything.  The universe is big, and people are a lot (literally and metaphorically).  It’s impossible to know all of the universe, and you do need to know some part of it (your major) really well.  But if that’s all you know, you’re missing out, and not just on the rest of the universe.  If you know only one part, you also don’t know that part as well as you could (and should).

Think of it like a band.  You might be the greatest guitarist of all time.  (Unless Eric Clapton is reading this, you’re not.  But I said “might.”)  But you need to understand more than the guitar; you need to understand something about the other instruments, and about the people playing them, too, if you’re going to work together as a band.  You need to understand something about the audience if you’re going to reach them.  You need to understand something about money and laws if you’re not going to be taken advantage of by your manager.

Now think of all the other things you need to understand at least a little about to function in the rest of your life—the parts where you aren’t playing the guitar.  The parts where you’re a human—a parent, an employee, a friend, a citizen, a consumer…yeah, see if you can find an end to that list.  I can’t. 

That is the secret of general education, and why it is so valuable.  It teaches you important and connected context, but it also teaches you how to learn.  That is the key to both of the things we’ve been talking about.  Learning well and easily makes life a lot better, and it also makes you more employable.  That’s how all those people get all those jobs that aren’t their majors and why many CEOs weren’t business majors.  They learned how to learn.

You’re (almost) never going to perfectly anticipate your career, and even if you do, it’s going to change by the time you get it, or shortly thereafter.  So you need to be able to take in and process new information well, whether to keep your job or advance in it.  Or, for that matter, to bridge from what you do know to the job that you find.

So maybe you find out you’re not in Eric Clapton’s league.  (Welcome to a very large club.)  You’ve devoted your life to the guitar, you know it inside and out, and you realize that you’ve sharpened as much as you can.  Athletes face this every day, too—the realization that they are better than 90% of the others, but not good enough to make a living at it.  They have a lot of specialized knowledge, but they can’t put it to direct use.

If you (and they) paid attention to becoming a better writer or speaker, you can take what you know about guitar (or they about their sport) and help other people understand it better.  Turns out, people get paid to do that.  General education helps you learn specialized knowledge, but it also helps you put your specialized knowledge to other use.  You paid attention in math, so you can run a ledger, and understand statistics.  You paid attention in science, so you get how to eliminate alternative explanations to decide what information is reliable.  All of these, combined with that specialized knowledge, open more and new doors for you—working in scouting, or managing artists, or…

Well, that’s the part for you to figure out.  Your general education classes will teach you how to figure things out, so when the time comes, you’ll be able to.  Or at least, they will if you let them. 


Dr. Nathan Griffith

Learning Outcomes

Among the many things that you will take with you upon completion of the BELL Core Curriculum, the following are Learning Outcomes that every student can expect to learn along the way.

Graduate smiling at person taking their picture on their graduation day

Connecting Disciplines

The BELL Core engages students in a range of individual disciplines including humanities, social sciences, sciences, arts, quantitative reasoning, religion and wellness. You'll learn how to recognize the connections among disciplines and develop an integrated, contextualized understanding of the world around you.

2 students sit together and look at laptop outside


The BELL Core seeks to develop your writing, speaking, listening and presenting skills. You'll learn how to effectively communicate complex and interesting ideas in ways that are compelling, substantive and persuasive.

2 students sitting on the lawn while collaboration over song as one of them plays the guitar


The BELL Core encourages students to learn, grow and support each other as team members. You'll learn how to solve problems through collaboration, bringing the contributions of diverse peers together toward a solution.

2 students sit at study table and take notes on school work assignment

Critical Thinking

BELL Core students will pose meaningful questions and seek imaginative answers using evidence-based reasoning to solve complex problems and contribute new knowledge to the world. You'll learn how to critically evaluate knowledge claims and competing sets of evidence, toward forming your own reasoned conclusions.

2 students hugging outside of Beaman student life center


The BELL Core encourages students to act as ethical citizens by increasing their cultural knowledge and social understanding. You'll learn to consider various viewpoints, think deeply about public values and engage in civil discourse across even passioned disagreements.

Purpose: Vision and Values


General Education at Belmont University fosters the skills, knowledge, perspectives, values, and dispositions that will enable students to apply their understandings and abilities beyond the classroom, encouraging them to become responsibly engaged in their community and in the world.


The diverse educational communities of a comprehensive university have a common interest in liberal learning. Liberal learning nurtures each student’s capability for transforming human culture and complements professional and vocational pathways. Liberal education involves acquiring fundamental intellectual skills; becoming conversant with a variety of human ideas, cultural perspectives, and conceptual frameworks; and developing habits of ethical reflecting and acting in an interdependent world. This vision of General Education enables Belmont University to achieve its vision to be a premier teaching university, bringing together the best of liberal arts and professional education in a Christian community of learning and service.


These values will be infused throughout the courses in the General Education curriculum and pursued through a wide variety of active learning experiences, all of which seek to meet the learning goals delineated below:

  • The importance of life-long intellectual growth and development;
  • The importance of moral values and personal commitments;
  • The importance of the application of classroom learning to the "real world";
  • The importance of extending the boundaries of learning beyond the classroom.