Why a University Core?
All students at BYU should be taught the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Any education is inadequate which does not emphasize that His is the only name given under heaven whereby mankind can be saved....
Because the gospel encourages the pursuit of all truth, students at BYU should receive a broad university education. The arts, letters, and sciences provide the core of such an education, which will help students think clearly, communicate effectively, understand important ideas in their own cultural tradition as well as that of others, and establish clear standards of intellectual integrity. (BYU Mission Statement)
Most graduates, five years after completing their degrees, are not employed directly in the areas of their majors, and studies show that those who do best in the long term are those whose breadth of education, rather than specialized training, has given them versatility. A university provides marketable skills; it bestows credentials necessary to some future goal; its graduates, statistically, make more money. But students who enroll at the university seeking only these things—or worse, students who graduate having sought only these things—cheat themselves of the best the university has to offer.
Students benefit most who desire to savor and to ponder, to recognize (in whatever eventual major) the hidden likenesses among the subjects they study, to aim at integration and wholeness. Students benefit most who take the university with them: changed by their experience, they have developed educated habits of mind; they have deepened their faith; they have learned to integrate the sacred and the secular; and they have learned that the craving for knowledge is not fully capable of satisfaction within a lifetime. Students benefit most who become lifelong learners, engaged in service to their fellow human beings.
That it integrates sacred and secular education is the hallmark of a BYU baccalaureate. All disciplines at BYU are "bathed in the light and color of the restored gospel" (Aims, "Spiritually Strengthening"). Religion courses—both Doctrinal Foundation and electives—are not intended as only a devotional supplement to the educational enterprise of the university. At once rigorous and inspiring, they engage the mind and the heart in an ever deeper understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ through close and meticulous study of the scriptures and the teachings of the living prophets.
General education joins with religious education to make university education different from specialized vocational training. It builds a foundation for intellectual development; it increases our understanding of civilization—of humankind's most valuable knowledge and achievements in the arts, letters, and sciences. General education teaches us the importance of critical thinking, an awareness of the past, aesthetic sensibility, and moral judgment. These, together with the training provided in verbal and quantitative skills and in manipulating symbolic systems, help prepare us for a lifetime of learning, effective communication, responsible action, forming and judging arguments, and appreciating and creating the good and the beautiful.