Liberal Arts

About the College

Clarence Lang, Susan Welch Dean of the 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. Your training in the liberal arts tradition will make you sought after for your ability to think critically and creatively, to communicate artfully, and to motivate and inspire those around you. However, a world-class education cannot be limited to the classroom. We encourage every student to participate in study abroad, research, and internship experiences, and we offer guidance and financial support to make those experiences possible. Our Liberal Arts alumni network cares passionately about the success of our students and offers financial support, mentoring, and internships, so that you can have the best Penn State experience possible.

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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 internships, research, 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
  • Connecting students with the vast network of college alumni who serve as mentors and help students build professional networks.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Department of Asian Studies

The Asian studies department offers undergraduate majors and minors in Asian Studies, Chinese, and Japanese, with plans to also expand the Korean and Hindi programs. Students who take courses in our department learn to think critically; to make literary, political, and historical judgments; and 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. The topics studied by our students include 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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School of Global Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

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

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Department of History

History majors acquire skills critical in today's workplace. History majors learn how to learn. Increasingly, the work world places a premium on this kind of flexibility. Most people change jobs frequently, and jobs themselves are transformed rapidly, which means workers need to learn new skills all the time. History majors can have a long-term edge in this type of environment because they are taught how to conceptualize an issue, research it, weigh evidence, and make conclusions.

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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 offers 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.

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School of Labor and Employment Relations

Our school offers B.S. and B.A. majors in Labor and Employment Relations. LER majors learn about all aspects of work and the employment relationship, including: the best strategies for recruiting and hiring a productive workforce, the laws that protect employees in the workplace, effective human resource practices and policies, the challenge of balancing work and family pressures, the impact of globalization on work and the workforce, and more.

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Department of Philosophy

We educate undergraduates with an eye toward both of these features of philosophy: its rich and varied historical traditions and its ongoing contemporary relevance. Students not only learn the greatest thinkers, theories, and texts of the history of philosophy, they are also challenged to develop their own ideas, to apply philosophy to their own lives, and to use philosophy to address the pressing issues of our times.

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Department of Political Science

Students interested in American politics, the politics of other nations, international relations, and/or political theory can pursue four degree options in the political science department. We offer B.A. degrees in political science and international politics. The department also offers two B.S. degrees—one in political science, the second in social data analytics—that emphasize data analysis and research across all areas of political science.

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Department of Psychology

Many people associate psychology with psychological therapy and the practice of clinical psychology. There are actually many other important areas of scientific psychology, such as cognitive, developmental, industrial/organizational, and social psychology.

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School of Public Policy

The School of Public Policy brings together expertise from across the University to educate the next generation of problem solvers and leaders. Current focus areas include data/science analytics, health policy, children and family policy, labor and employment relations, information technology, international policy, and criminal justice.

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Department of Sociology and Criminology

Ranked among the top programs in the nation, the sociology program offers undergraduate students a broad liberal arts education with courses in family, religion, government, race, class, and gender, among other areas. The criminology program is one of the nation's top programs in this area. Our undergraduate program promotes an understanding of crime and the criminal justice system and how they are related to human behavior, social environments, and government policy.

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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.

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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.

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Baccalaureate Degrees

Associate Degrees

Minors

Certificates

College Procedures

Change of Campus

Permanent Change of Campus to University Park: Students must (1) meet with a campus representative to review criteria for changing prior to submitting a change of campus request and (2) initiate the change of campus process by using the Update Campus application found in the Student Center.

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Concurrent Majors

A Concurrent Majors Program is one in which students take courses to concurrently meet the requirements of at least two majors, with graduation for all majors in the program occurring during the same semester. Students requesting more than one major program shall, for each major, meet the same acceptance standards and graduation requirements as met by all other students. Approval for admission to each major must be obtained from the colleges and departments offering the majors. Students should meet with their Liberal Arts adviser. Application to a Concurrent major is on LionPATH under Update Academics.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT CONCURRENT MAJORS

READ SENATE POLICY 60-00: COMPLETING MORE THAN ONE UNDERGRADUATE MAJOR PROGRAM

Academic Warning

A student who fails to earn a 2.00 cumulative grade-point average will be placed on academic warning. A student placed on academic warning will have a hold placed on registration and will be required to meet with an academic adviser in order for this registration hold to be removed. To remove academic warning, the cumulative grade-point average must be 2.00 or higher.

A Liberal Arts academic adviser will contact students as soon as they go on academic warning to review the steps required to continue scheduling courses at Penn State. Students must schedule an appointment with an adviser through Starfish and must complete an Academic Self-Assessment Form before the meeting to be discussed with the adviser.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ACADEMIC WARNING

READ SENATE POLICY 54-20: ACADEMIC WARNING

Academic Suspension

A student in academic warning who fails to maintain a semester grade-point average of 2.00 or higher will be academically suspended. A student who has been academically suspended may not schedule courses at the University for two consecutive semesters. (Note: Summer session is equal to one semester.) Students seeking re-enrollment to the College of the Liberal Arts must receive written support by submitting a written statement (in addition to the required re-enrollment form).

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ACADEMIC SUSPENSION

READ SENATE POLICY 54-40: ACADEMIC SUSPENSION

Resources

Academic Advising

There are nearly 20 advisers in the College of the Liberal Arts who are ready to partner with you to plan and realize your academic, personal, and career goals. Our advisers help keep you on track toward your degree and work with you to navigate co-curricular opportunities.

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Career Enrichment Network

The Career Enrichment Network is a resource for Liberal Arts students who are seeking opportunities to engage in career-related, international, and professional development activities. Whether you’re interested in a full-time internship, a study abroad experience, on-campus research, or you’re seeking funding to help support your enrichment activity, the Network is the place to start your search.

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Office of Diversity and Inclusion

The College of the Liberal Arts typically has the most diverse student population of any college at Penn State. Minority students can count on funding, support services, cultural events, and research and professional development opportunities. One of those resources is Earl Merritt, the Director of Diversity and Inclusion in the College of the Liberal Arts, who meets one-on-one with students to help them reach their goals.

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First-Year Experience

The First-Year Experience program allows students to learn more about the College of the Liberal Arts and Penn State. Programming and events center around helping students become acclimated to the University, as well as begin to identify with the college, their peers, and their teachers. 

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Alumni Mentor Program

The Liberal Arts Alumni Mentor Program is your opportunity to leverage the influence of the Penn State Alumni Network. The program pairs students with Liberal Arts alumni working in fields related to students’ majors.

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Honors Programs

Schreyer Honors College

The Schreyer Honors College, regarded as one of the nation’s top programs of its kind, promotes achieving academic excellence with integrity, building a global perspective, and creating opportunities for leadership and civic engagement. Schreyer Scholars, including those admitted after their first or second year of enrollment, are a diverse and motivated group of approximately 2,000 students at University Park and 20 Commonwealth campuses. The College strives to educate students who will have an important and ethical influence in the world, to improve educational practice, and to continue to be recognized as a leading force in honors education nationwide.

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Honors in the College of the Liberal Arts

The Paterno Fellows Program is an innovative program offered jointly by the College of the Liberal Arts and the Schreyer Honors College. The Paterno Fellows experience offers "an education for leadership" in the best tradition of the liberal arts. It molds well-rounded students who are ready for the world and prepares them for citizenship, for lifetime learning, and for the satisfaction derived from an exemplary education. Students aspiring to become Fellows are challenged to perform to their full potential and offered the support they need to achieve their academic goals. Paterno Fellows distinguish themselves in areas traditionally associated with the liberal arts: ethics, service, and leadership; excellence in communication; and international and intercultural awareness. Students aspiring to the program have two years to become Fellows and Schreyer Scholars by meeting specific requirements that are outlined in the Paterno Fellows Student Handbook found on the program’s website.

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Contact

COLLEGE OF THE LIBERAL ARTS
118 Sparks Building
University Park, PA 16802
814-865-1438
laus@psu.edu

http://la.psu.edu