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The Trinity Curriculum

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Credit requirement—Thirty-four credits are required for graduation. Most courses at Duke are 1.0 credit classes which means that you will take roughly 34 classes at Duke. (Two AP credits or other credits earned prior to matriculation can count towards the 34 needed. Specific information on AP scores required for credit at Duke is provided in the Trinity Placement section.) 

Major requirement—You must complete the requirements of one major. Majors generally require 10-12 courses, but some require more—the specific requirements can be found on each department’s website. For a complete listing of current majors with links to major requirements, see

General education requirements of the Trinity curriculum

  • 2 courses in EACH OF 5 Areas of Knowledge (AOK) – introducing you to a broad range of academic disciplines 
  • 2 courses in EACH OF 5 Modes of Inquiry (MOI) – introducing you to different approaches to learning about the world 
  • 1-3 courses in a foreign language, the sixth Mode of Inquiry 
  • Writing 101 in your first year 
  • 1 seminar in your first year 

An important objective of the Trinity College curriculum is to expose you to a variety of academic disciplines. The Areas of Knowledge requirement ensures this breadth of exposure by requiring you to take two courses in each of five general areas noted in the chart below. For the QS requirement, one of your classes must be from math, computer science or statistics. The departments listed below are not exhaustive and other departments offer classes in each area. There are literally hundreds of classes you can choose from to meet each requirement. 


Arts, Literature, Performance (ALP)Art, Dance, Drama, Music, English, Global Cultural Studies, Foreign Languages 
Civilizations (CZ)Art History, History, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Classical Studies and language coursework especially at the 200-level 
Natural Sciences (NS)Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Studies, Psychology & Neuroscience, Evolutionary Anthropology 
Quantitative Studies (QS)Math, Statistical Science, Computer Science, Economics 
Social Sciences (SS)Cultural Anthropology, Psychology & Neuroscience, Economics, Public Policy Studies, Sociology, Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies 

The general education requirements also include the completion of six Modes of Inquiry (MOI), i.e., different approaches to learning about the world. Two courses are required in each MOI except for foreign language which can be one to three courses depending on the level you begin at, and Writing which requires three courses. Many departments offer courses for each MOI. 

Cross-Cultural Inquiry (CCI). Courses with the CCI code provide you with the tools to identify culture and cultural difference across time or place. 

Ethical Inquiry (EI). Courses coded EI encourage you to develop and apply skills in ethical reasoning, to critically assess the consequences of your actions and to sharpen your understanding of the ethical and political implications of decision-making. 

Science, Technology, and Society (STS). STS courses explore how science and technology have affected societal development and how the needs of society have influenced scientific and technological development. 

Foreign Language (FL). You are expected to complete at least the intermediate level in a foreign language. Detailed information on the language requirement can be found at policies/foreign-language.

Research (R). Research courses encourage you to become an active participant in the discovery, critical evaluation and application of knowledge. Because Duke is one of the world’s leading research universities, you will have many opportunities to become involved in research beyond this curricular requirement. 

Writing (W) (WRITING 101 and 2 additional W-coded courses required). Effective writing is central to learning and communication. The writing requirement provides you with sustained engagement with writing throughout your time at Duke. 

Trinity College offers approximately 50 majors, 50 minors and 20 certificate programs. 

MAJOR: typically consists of 10-12 courses, but may require more. You have until the middle of your fourth semester to declare a major, allowing you time for exploration. 

MINOR: requires five courses. A secondary area of study that some students use to explore another area of strong academic interest. 

CERTIFICATE: similar to a minor, but differs by being explicitly interdisciplinary, i.e., involving courses in several different departments. Six courses are usually required for a certificate. You can learn about different certificate programs at

You will find many departments at Duke offering courses relevant to your interests. 

How do you know which requirements a course satisfies?

All classes have curriculum codes assigned that indicate which general education requirements a course satisfies—the curriculum code attached to a class can be found in the Class Details in Class Search or Advanced Search in DukeHub. A single course can satisfy multiple general education requirements (AOKs and/or MOIs). 

What should you consider when choosing your first semester classes?

Duke students pursue many different career and educational paths from a wide variety of majors. The Academic Advising Center and our partners in the Career Center strongly encourage you to use your first year to identify an academic path that most interests you.