Humanities, B.A. (University College)

Program Code: HUMUC_BA

Program Description

This major helps students appreciate, understand, and interpret relationships among the arts, ideas, media, and values that have shaped Western and world cultures. Students are taught to become active learners who can synthesize, interpret, and communicate knowledge and experience through writing, speaking, and creative expression in a variety of media. The School helps students meet these goals by offering a range of interdisciplinary and discipline-based courses in the arts, art history, communication studies, English, history, literature, music, philosophy, theatre, and writing. The course of study includes interdisciplinary courses which examine topics and time periods from the perspectives of multiple Humanities disciplines. These courses engage students in cross-disciplinary critical thinking and analysis and prepare them for work in an increasingly interdisciplinary world. Students also choose two Humanities subfields to investigate in greater depth, choosing from history and global cultures; the visual and performing arts; philosophy and religious studies; and literature and writing. Students are also encouraged to combine this major with a minor in such fields as business administration, writing, and communications. The Humanities major prepares students for careers in the arts, arts administration, business, corporate communications, government, teaching, museum work, and law, as well as providing a foundation for graduate study in a liberal arts field.

What is Humanities?

Humanities is an area of study that focuses on combined studies and research in the humanities subjects as distinguished from the social and physical sciences, emphasizing languages, literatures, art, music, philosophy, religion, creative and professional writing, theater, history, and global cultures.

You Might Like This Program If...

  • You are interested in critical thinking and interdisciplinary analysis.
  • You are drawn to literature and the arts.
  • You want to prepare for a professional field such as medicine or law.
  • You want a career in the arts, teaching, communications, business, government, or museum work.

Entrance to Major

Entry to the Humanities major requires the completion of 27.1 or more credits and a 2.00 or higher cumulative grade-point average.

Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities, a minimum of 120 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 0-15
Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements 24
Requirements for the Major 51

3 of the 24 credits for Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements are included in the Requirements for the Major, General Education, or Electives and 0-12 credits are included in Electives if foreign language proficiency is demonstrated by examination. 

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Knowledge Domains

  • Arts (GA): 6 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 6 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 6 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 9 credits

Integrative Studies (may also complete a Knowledge Domain requirement)

  • Inter-Domain or Approved Linked Courses: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement    

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

B.A. Degree Requirements

Foreign Language (0-12 credits): Student must attain 12th credit level of proficiency in one foreign language. See the Placement Policy for Penn State Foreign Language Courses.

B.A. Fields (9 credits): Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arts, Foreign Languages, Natural Sciences, Quantification (may not be taken in the area of the student's primary major; foreign language credits in this category must be in a second foreign language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the first language)

Other Cultures (0-3 credits): Select 3 credits from approved list. Students may count courses in this category in order to meet other major, minor, elective, or General Education requirements, except for the General Education US/IL requirement.​

Requirements for the Major

At least 36 of the last 60 credits must be earned at Penn State, according to University Policy 83-80.

To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn a grade of C or better in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
HUM 100NFoundations in the Humanities: Understanding the Human Experience Keystone/General Education Course3
HUM 200NExplorations in the Humanities: The Quest Keystone/General Education Course3
HUM 300NInterpretations in the Humanities Keystone/General Education Course3
HUM 400NExpressions in the Humanities Keystone/General Education Course3
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
Select two Humanities (HUM) courses of the following:6
World Mythologies in the Arts Keystone/General Education Course
The Western Tradition I Keystone/General Education Course
Religion and Culture
Philosophy and Literature
Texts and Culture
Thematic Studies
Selected Periods in the Humanities
Seminar in Interdisciplinary Humanities
Research Project
Independent Studies
Special Topics
Foreign Studies
Supporting Courses and Related Areas 1
Select 12 credits in one of the four following areas and 9 credits in a second area:21
History and Global Cultures
HIST, CMLIT, and SPAN courses
Intercultural Communication Keystone/General Education Course
The World Novel in English
Modern Continental Drama
Introduction to International Studies Keystone/General Education Course
Performing and Visual Arts and Art History
Basic Photography for Communications
Graphic Design for Communications
Basic Video/Filmmaking
Film History and Theory Keystone/General Education Course
Philosophy and Religious Studies
PHIL and RLST courses
Literature and Writing
ENGL and CMLIT courses
Writing for Media
News Writing and Reporting
Writing for the Screen I
Depth Reporting
Select 12 credits from AMST, ART, ARTH, CAS, CHNS, CMLIT, COMM, ENGL, FR, HIST, HUM, INART, MUSIC, PHIL, RLST, SPAN, or THEA and/or 12 credits that can be used toward a minor in an area of the student's interests12

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university’s academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.



James Precht
Associate Professor of History
2201 University Drive
Lemont Furnace, PA 15456

Lindsey Simon-Jones
Associate Professor of English
2201 University Drive
Lemont Furnace, PA 15456


Adam Gustafson, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator
Olmsted Building, W355
Middletown, PA 17057

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2021-22 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition (Note: the archive only contain suggested academic plans beginning with the 2018-19 edition of the Undergraduate Bulletin).

Humanities, B.A. at Fayette Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
ENGL 15 or 30H3CAS 1003
General Education Course (GQ)3General Education Course3
HUM 100N3General Education Course3
World Language level 13-4World Language level 23-4
General Education Course3General Education Course3
 15-16 15-16
Second Year
General Education Course3General Education Course (GQ)3
World Language level 33-4General Education Course3
General Education Course3ENGL 202A or 202B3
HUM 200N3General Education Course3
General Education Course3Select course in first subfield (1)3
 15-16 15
Third Year
HUM 300N3Select HUM required course (3)3
Select course in first subfield (1)3Select course in first subfield (1)3
Select course in second subfield (2)3Select course in second subfield (2)3
General Education Couse3BA Degree required course3
BA Degree required course3Select additional course in specific area or in support of a minor3
 15 15
Fourth Year
HUM 400N3HUM required course (3)3
Select course in first subfield (1)3Select course in second subfield (2)3
Select additioanl course in specific area or in support of a minor3BA Degree required course3
Select additional course in specific area or in support of a minor3Select additional course in specific area or in support of a minor3
BA Degree required course3Elective3
 15 15
Total Credits 120-123

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

Bachelor of Arts Requirements:

Bachelor of Arts students must take 9 credits in Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Fields (Humanities; Social and Behavioral Sciences; Arts; World Languages [2nd language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the 1st]; Natural Sciences; Quantification). The B.A. Fields courses may not be taken in the area of the student’s primary major. See your adviser and the Degree Requirements section of this Bulletin.

Bachelor of Arts students must take 3 credits in Other Cultures.
See your adviser and the full list of courses approved as Other Cultures courses.

Program Notes

  • Students must complete a 3-credit course in "United States Cultures (US)" and a 3-credit course in "International Cultures (IL)." 

Career Paths

The Humanities major prepares students for careers in the arts, arts administration, business, corporate communications, government, teaching, museum work, and law. Penn State Harrisburg's Career Services office provides numerous resources for students, including: assistance with resumes and interview preparation online resources for finding full or part time, and co-op/intern positions strategies and information on attending and getting the most out of job/intern fairs information and guidance in preparing for graduate study at Penn State or elsewhere.


Opportunities for Graduate Studies

The Humanities major also provides a foundation for graduate study in a liberal arts field, including Penn State's Master of Arts in Humanities program.




2201 University Drive
Lemont Furnace, PA 15456
724-430-4251 or 724-430-4249 or


Olmsted Building, W356
Middletown, PA 17057