The Mudd Core Curriculum

Introducing Harvey Mudd College’s flagship Core Curriculum, a set of mandatory classes for Mudders spanning all STEM disciplines as well as the humanities! Starting freshman year, Mudd students begin taking courses in everything from biology to chemistry to computer science, plus engaging hands-on labs and intensive writing classes with their peers. 

As a rising freshman, it’s completely normal to start college without a solid idea of what you want your career path to be, making Core the perfect time to do some exploring! Instead of feeling intimidated by the seemingly infinite choices, the Core picks your classes for you, balancing education in all kinds of STEM subjects while ensuring you gain an adequate foundation in writing and the humanities. By taking a variety of classes, you get a feel for all possible flavors of STEM, allowing you to better decide what you want to do in the future. Maybe what you thought you liked just isn’t for you, or maybe something you never thought you’d get into becomes your new passion!

Professor writing on a chalkboard

Learning about Riemann sums in Math 19, one of my Core math classes. Photo credit: Serena Mao

Speaking of careers, jobs tend to spill over across disciplines, as any subject is inextricably intertwined with multiple others. For instance, computer science is often used in biology, which can often be combined with chemistry to develop new technologies. Having a solid foundation in multiple subjects prepares you for the real world, where you won’t be solely working within one discipline. You might even start exploring these overlaps starting freshman year; for example, CS 5 Green specifically teaches students the applications coding has within biology!


An equation I found especially interesting in special relativity, another required course for freshman (and also my favorite)! Photo credit: Serena Mao

Another lesser acknowledged benefit of the Core is the simple fact that every single Mudder takes it. In fact, in different sections of the same class, professors use the same class structure, lectures, and homework, meaning students taking the Core can collaborate with quite literally anyone in their year. That way, it’s easy to make friends with peers who might be interested in different majors, and access to homework help is practically everywhere. 

While other colleges might offer more flexibility in class choices, Mudders embrace HMC’s Core Curriculum as a way to build a strong foundation in a range of STEM disciplines and foster a tight knit community among their classmates. Maybe next year, you’ll join us in taking the Core, discovering where your true passions lie!