Ever since Cicero, the Roman statesman, invented the phrase “artes liberales,” the liberal arts and sciences have been the touchstone of excellence in education for all individuals, regardless of their professional aspirations. This is because these studies liberate an individual from narrowly vocational concerns and have been shown to free the mind to be creative. Today, this educational approach focuses on direct and critical engagement with the great ideas of the past and the present, on the development of the essential skills of analysis and communication, and on in-depth knowledge of one or more disciplines. A shared background in the liberal arts and sciences also has the power to transform a diverse group of students into a real community organized around the life of the mind. 

Our aim is to give NYU Shanghai students a strong, globally-oriented foundation in the liberal arts and sciences. This curriculum will help students develop the ability to think analytically, read critically, and write effectively. It will also cultivate their creativity in solving problems, their tolerance for ambiguity, and their respect for diversity of opinion and the exchange of ideas. Finally, through the core curriculum, the majors, and international experiences in the NYU global network, students will learn to recognize themselves as part of a global community. The crucial role that China plays in that global community will be emphasized throughout the curriculum.


To graduate from NYU Shanghai, you will complete 128 credits of course work, distributed among core general education requirements, major requirements, and electives. While English is the language of instruction at NYU Shanghai, proficiency in Chinese is also required of all students by the time they graduate. The precise level of proficiency expected depends on the major course of study. Nonnative Chinese speakers will benefit from multiple modalities of language instruction that will enable them to meet their needs and aspirations.

Typically, you will complete the core curriculum during your first two years and the bulk of your major requirements your second two years. 

Core Curriculum

There are six components to the NYU Shanghai core curriculum: Social and Cultural Foundations, Mathematics, Science, Algorithmic Thinking, Writing, and Language.  In each of these areas, the needs of each student will be carefully assessed upon arrival, and a program of study will be developed to address them.

For specific information about our curriculum, please refer to the Undergraduate Bulletin.