Liberal Arts

About the College

Clarence E. Lang, Dean, College of the Liberal Arts

Students in the College of the Liberal Arts have access to a world-class education in the core values of the Liberal Arts, to enriching out-of-class experiences, and to a Penn State family invested in your success. We call this unique combination of opportunities the Liberal Arts Edge. Training in the Liberal Arts tradition helps students to think critically and creatively, to communicate artfully, and to motivate and inspire others. Working with their departments, graduate students have many opportunities to conduct research appropriate for their disciplines, and obtain appropriate experiences teaching and apprenticing with faculty.


Mission and Goals

Building upon its status as one of the premier public liberal arts institutions, the College of the Liberal Arts seeks to offer a transformative 21st-century education that prepares students to thrive in today’s society. The College will fulfill this mission by:

  • Providing an education that combines core liberal arts values with research, teaching, and global experiences that allow students to apply skills in real-world contexts and grow personally and professionally
  • Recruiting and retaining the best liberal arts faculty to help students develop wisdom and skills to influence and respond to change
  • Supporting graduate students with placement in academic and non-academic careers as they complete their educational experience.


Departments and Schools

Department of African American Studies

The Department of African American Studies is a meeting ground for scholars, students and thinkers committed to the study of African American and African-descended peoples in the Americas. As we foster meaningful engagement with the economic, social and political conditions of black life on campus and beyond, we seek to build a vibrant community of inquiry and innovation at Penn State.


African Studies Program

The African Studies Program offers many opportunities for students to learn about important historical, social, political, and economic features of the African continent. The African Studies Program seeks to expand student knowledge of Africa by, among other things, highlighting Africa’s place in the global community, the vital geo-resources sustaining the world’s ecosystems, the depth of its artistic creativity and the resourcefulness of its peoples.


Department of Anthropology

Anthropology is the study of humanity—our biology and behavior, past and present. Anthropologists study living people across cultures and populations; past people through fossil, archeological, and historical records; as well as living and extinct nonhuman primates. Our students gain holistic, integrative social science training in and out of the classroom.


Department of Applied Linguistics

Our mission is to advance understandings of language use and language learning from a range of anthropological, sociological, and psychological perspectives. Our faculty are committed to teaching and mentoring students. They are recognized worldwide for their topically and geographically diverse research involving a broad spectrum of languages and settings.


Department of Asian Studies

The Asian Studies program offers students opportunities to study in Asian Studies, Chinese and Japanese. At the graduate level, we offer dual-title doctoral programs in partnership with History, Comparative Literature, Applied Linguistics, and Political Science. Students who take courses in our department learn to think critically, to make literary, political, and historical judgments, to understand the impact of the past on the present, and of present choices on the future. Our language programs offer deep immersion in new cultural contexts and broaden linguistic and social horizons.


Department of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies

CAMS is the study of ancient civilizations that arose and flourished around the Mediterranean basin (including Egypt, Greece, Rome, Anatolia, Israel, Mesopotamia, and North Africa) from the “cradle of civilization” in Mesopotamia (ca. 4000 BCE) to the end of Greco-Roman antiquity (ca. 600 CE). CAMS investigates the whole scope of the ancient Mediterranean world and trains students to interpret the linguistic and archaeological evidence of the greatest ancient cultures.


Department of Communication Arts and Sciences

CAS is committed to the study, teaching, and practice of human communication for the betterment of Pennsylvania, the nation, and the world. Using methods and theories that span the humanities and social sciences, we create knowledge about the role of communication in diverse interpersonal, communal, national, international, and cultural settings.


Department of Comparative Literature

Our department offers exciting ways to study literature and culture in a global context, to examine global media (print, visual, electronic), and to explore questions of ethics, human rights, and the real-world contexts of literary and cultural production. Training students in important skills such as analytical writing, argumentation, and communication in an international context, Comparative Literature provides many of the key components to success in the global economy.


Department of Economics

Economics studies the allocation of scarce resources. At the core of economics are theories of how individuals, firms, and other organizations make choices and interact, taking into account constraints on their behaviors. Among the topics studied in economics are: the determination of prices and quantities in various types of markets; the effects of taxes, subsidies, and regulations; economic growth and income distribution; international trade and international finance; and more.


Department of English

Our students explore the imaginative and practical uses of English through courses in literature, writing, rhetoric, and language. They develop perspectives on human nature and cultural values through American, British, and other English literatures; they learn how to gather, analyze, synthesize, and communicate information; they gain mastery over their language. These skills help English majors find careers in such fields as publishing, business, industry, government, and teaching.


Department of French and Francophone Studies

The French language is the most direct route to 150,000,000 people in over 40 countries and territories of Europe, Africa, Asia, North America, and Latin America. If your goals include a future that requires contact with these diverse peoples or if your plan is to teach French, we offer a variety of options that will fit your needs: French/business, French/engineering, French language and culture, French language and literature, French language and linguistics, and applied French.


Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures

We offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in German and Russian. Other Slavic languages offered include Ukrainian, Polish, and Czech. Our award-winning faculty is committed to teaching and research in the areas of language, literature and culture.


School of Global Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

The School's purpose is to promote the study and knowledge of languages, literatures, and cultures worldwide. Its member departments offer graduate and undergraduate degrees, study abroad programs, student research opportunities, internships, and more.


Department of History

The Penn State Department of History offers a small, focused, PhD program designed to prepare students for careers inside or outside academia. Our program admits students in four primary fields, which reflect faculty strength: 1) the United States; 2) Latin America; 3) Early modern global; and 4) China & South Asia.


Jewish Studies Program

Our interdisciplinary program ranges globally in scope from the Israelite origins of the Jewish people to the experiences of postmodern Jews in the 21st century. Our distinguished faculty offer courses across a diverse array of fields and topics, with perspectives that combine the humanities and the social sciences. We offer a major and minor in Jewish Studies, a minor in Hebrew, and a certificate in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.


School of Labor and Employment Relations

The School of Labor and Employment Relations offers Masters Programs that focus on human resources, employment relations, and labor. Students in our programs benefit from being part of the school’s tight-knit academic and practitioner community, while enjoying the benefits of being associated with a large, world-class university known around the globe.


Department of Philosophy

The graduate program in Philosophy has particular strengths in Continental Philosophy, Critical Philosophy of race, and Feminist Philosophy. Graduate training in Philosophy at Penn State focuses on these areas while providing all graduate students with a strong foundation in the history of philosophy and encouraging genuine dialogue across multiple philosophical traditions, including continental, analytic, and American Philosophy. Graduate students have the option of pursuing dual-title doctoral degrees in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies or African American and Diaspora Studies. Doctoral minors in social thought and literary theory, criticism, and aesthetics are available as well.


Department of Political Science

The Department of Political Science at Penn State provides doctoral students with opportunities to develop their expertise as researchers and as teachers in four areas: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political methodology. We also offer dual-title doctoral degrees with Asian Studies, Women’s Studies, African Studies, and Social Data Analytics.


Department of Psychology

Penn State’s Department of Psychology trains the next generation of leaders, innovators, and cutting-edge professionals in five areas: clinical (adult and child), cognitive, developmental, industrial-organizational, and social psychology. Students in our program become first-rate scientists and thinkers; learn through active participation (conducting their own research, using state of the art research methodologies, teaching the next generation of students, and effectively using their expertise to assist and improve the community) and translating research into action to help improve people’s lives.


Department of Sociology and Criminology

Ranked among the top programs in the nation, Penn State’s Department of Sociology and Criminology offers 3 MA programs (MA in Sociology; MA in Criminology; MA in Sociology and Demography) and among PhD programs (PhD in Sociology; PhD in Criminology; PhD in Sociology and Demography; PhD in Sociology and Social Data Analytics).


Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese

Our department is at the forefront of literary, linguistic and cultural studies in the United States. Our mission is to provide training that not only meets the highest standards of professional research but also prepares students for civic engagement and intellectual autonomy.


Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Women's Studies is an interdisciplinary field of research and teaching that places women’s lives, perspectives, and experiences at the center of inquiry. Women’s Studies asks questions regarding the diversity of women’s lives and experiences throughout history, contemporary problems from the perspectives of women and gender, and how changes in fundamental assumptions about the production of knowledge have transformed conventional areas of study. We offer dual-title masters and doctoral degree programs with Art Education, Comparative Literature, Curriculum & Instruction, English, French, Geography, History, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, and Rural Sociology.



D. Scott Bennett
Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies
College of The Liberal Arts
105 Sparks Building
University Park, PA 16802