Liberal Arts & Sciences

As defined by the New York State Education Department (22 October 2009)

Courses of a general or theoretical nature that are designed to develop judgment and understanding about human beings’ relationship to the social, cultural, and natural facets of their total environment.

Working corollaries for counting liberal arts courses:

  1. Independent of specific application
  2. Theoretical understanding as opposed to practical application
  3. Breadth and scope in principle covered
  4. Not definitely directed toward particular career or specific professional objectives 
  5. Not chiefly “how to” in manipulative skills or techniques 
  6. Not “applied” aspects of a field

The liberal arts and sciences comprise the disciplines of the humanities, natural sciences and mathematics, and social sciences. 

  1. Examples of course types that are generally considered within the liberal arts and sciences:
    1. Humanities:
      • English—composition, creative writing, history of language, journalism, linguistics, literature, literature in translation, playwriting
      • Fine arts—art appreciation, history or theory
      • Foreign languages—composition, conversation, grammar, history of the language, literature of the language, reading, translation studies
      • Music—music appreciation, history or theory
      • Philosophy—comparative philosophy, history of philosophy, logic, schools of philosophy
      • Religion—comparative religion, history of religion 
      • Theater—dramatic interpretation, dramatic literature, dramaturgy, history of drama, playwriting 
    2. Natural sciences and mathematics: 
      • Natural sciences—anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, earth science, geology, physics, zoology 
      • Mathematics—calculus, mathematical theory, statistics 
      • Computer Science—broad survey/theory courses 
    3. Social sciences: 
      • Anthropology, cultural studies, economics, geography, government, history, political science, psychology, sociology 
      • Criminal justice—introductory and broad survey courses
      • Communications—interpersonal communication, mass communication, public speaking, speech and rhetoric 
  2. Examples of course types that are generally not considered within the liberal arts and sciences: 
    • Agriculture
    • Business—administration, finance, human resources, management, marketing, production 
    • Computer applications (e.g., word processing, database, spreadsheet), programming (e.g., specific languages)
    • Health and physical education
    • Home economics 
    • Education and teaching methods
    • Library science 
    • Music—studio, performance, practice courses—voice, instrument, direction, conducting 
    • Office technologies and practice
    • Performing and related arts—acting, costume design, dance, direction, lighting, production, scene construction, sound production 
    • Specialized professional courses in such fields as accounting, architecture, dental hygiene, dentistry, engineering, law, medicine, nursing, nutrition, pharmacy, podiatry, veterinary medicine
    • Studio art—drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture 
    • Technology/technician fields— construction, data processing, electrical, electronics, graphic arts, mechanical, medical, refrigeration repair
    • Television and radio production
    • Theology—pastoral counseling, ministry