In each undergraduate degree program, the institution requires the successful completion of a general education component at the collegiate level that (1) is a substantial component of each undergraduate degree, (2) ensures breadth of knowledge, and (3) is based on a coherent rationale. For degree completion in associate programs, the component constitutes a minimum of 15 semester hours or the equivalent; for baccalaureate programs, a minimum of 30 semester hours or the equivalent. These credit hours are to be drawn from and include at least one course from each of the following areas: humanities/fine arts, social/behavioral sciences, and natural science/ mathematics. The courses do not narrowly focus on those skills, techniques, and procedures specific to a particular occupation or profession. If an institution uses a unit other than semester credit hours, it provides an explanation for the equivalency. The institution also provides a justification if it allows for fewer than the required number of semester credit hours or its equivalent unit of general education courses.
In Fall 1999, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) established guidelines in the Texas Education Code for a fully transferable common core curriculum at all public universities in the state . Responding to Texas Education Code 61.822 on the Core Curriculum, THECB, with the assistance of advisory committees composed of representatives of institutions of higher education, developed a "recommended core curriculum of at least 42 semester credit hours, including a statement of the content, component areas, and objectives of the core curriculum" .
In accordance with these guidelines, Prairie View A&M University requires a 42 semester credit hour general education curriculum, commonly called the core curriculum. As noted in the University's Core Curriculum Evaluation Report and Plan submitted through the Texas A&M University Board of Regents to the THECB, the general education curriculum is designed to provide students, a foundation in the broad knowledge and skills which will enhance study in the major areas; prepare students change and grow with their own needs and the needs of society; and to enable students to function as contributing members of a democratic society and of the global community. The underlying assumption embodied in the curriculum is that specialized knowledge changes, but the process of thought and the ability to apply the thought in a variety of contexts continues throughout one’s life. A solid and meaningful general education curriculum should consist of more than basic courses taken during the freshmen and sophomore years. For example, the humanities and social science requirements may extend throughout the undergraduate experience, thereby enriching coursework in the junior and senior years. Such an approach provides for the development of additional competencies essential to the optimal development of the individual .
The central mission of the Prairie View A&M University core curriculum is "to develop in each undergraduate student the capability to perform effectively in academic and professional settings. The program stresses critical thinking, independent learning, problem-solving and communication skills necessary for outstanding performance in a multi-faceted, modern, and changing society" . A rationale for courses in each area of the core and specific semester credit hours for each area was presented to the THECB in the fall of 2004 .
At Prairie View A&M University, the 42 SCH general core represents 31% to a maximum of 35% of a student's coursework, given that degree plans have a minimum of 120 SCH and up to 135 SCH of requirements. The basic university core includes the following :
|Natural Science||6 SCH|
|Visual and Performing Arts||3 SCH|
|Political Science||6 SCH|
|Social and Behavioral Science||3 SCH|
All courses use the semester credit hour as the unit, and options in the core curriculum emphasize a broad focus in their respective fields, as shown in the approved areas of study  and example course descriptions from Arts , Computing , and English . Additionally, each core area has been linked to University Exemplary Objectives through a written rationale disseminated in the Undergraduate Course Catalog .