College of Arts and Sciences

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W. Andrew Marcus, Acting Dean


114 Friendly Hall

About the College

The College of Arts and Sciences is the academic and intellectual hub of the University of Oregon, providing a core liberal arts curriculum to the vast majority of UO undergraduates—even those who will go on to earn a degree in one of the professional schools such as journalism or business.

The University of Oregon was founded in 1876 on a liberal arts curriculum, which has evolved over time to meet the needs of contemporary students. Owing to the breadth and depth of the curriculum provided by the College of Arts and Sciences, the University of Oregon is known as the premier liberal arts institution among the state’s public universities.

The fundamental academic mission of the college is to foster a solid and broad general education, which includes the cultivation of quantitative, analytical, and communication skills; an understanding of social and intellectual history; an appreciation of literary and artistic expression; and habits of creative and critical thinking.

Building on its foundational undergraduate curriculum, the college offers fifty major degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Moreover, the College of Arts and Sciences is the heart of the university’s research enterprise. The college has more than 800 faculty members, most of whom are engaged in active research programs and make original contributions to their respective fields of knowledge. Because of this, students have the opportunity to learn from leading researchers while receiving a liberal education that prepares them to be successful global citizens in the twenty-first century.

Liberal Education

Social, political, and economic change is accelerating at a phenomenal pace. Many careers exist today that did not exist ten or even five years ago, and the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that young people today will have had ten to fourteen jobs by the time they are thirty-eight years old. Those best prepared for the future will be those who have developed a capacity for resourcefulness, judgment, analysis, leadership, clear communication, and an informed global perspective—in other words, the skills and knowledge that come from a liberal arts education.

Even students who plan to move into specialized postgraduate careers will benefit from an educational foundation that emphasizes how values, history, and context combine with creative thought and informed inquiry to determine the best way forward, in both professional and civic life. Thus a liberal arts education provides an essential framework for a lifetime of work and growth in a world where many professions are undergoing profound, sweeping transformations.

Academic Programs

The College of Arts and Sciences offers numerous disciplinary and interdisciplinary degree programs and majors, a varied selection of minors, and several certificates. These are described in detail in the pages that follow. As part of the requirements for graduation from the University of Oregon, every student undertakes in-depth study in an area of specialization that is the student’s major. Many students find it advantageous to complete a minor or certificate in an area of specialization that complements the major. Some minor programs offer a student whose major is in the College of Arts and Sciences the chance to gain expertise in subjects offered by a professional school.

Preparatory Programs. The college has preparatory programs for professional specializations. Information about these programs—those offered by the College of Arts and Sciences and those offered elsewhere in the university—is in the Academic Resources section of this catalog.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities. The University of Oregon is smaller than most public research universities because it does not have schools of medicine, agriculture, public health, engineering, or veterinary medicine. This means that it can offer a learning environment scaled for faculty-student interaction that is more like a private liberal arts college than a large research institution.

Undergraduate students are encouraged to participate in faculty research projects. Arrangements must be made with the individual faculty member and the department.

Opportunities are plentiful: last year, almost 800 undergraduates enrolled in research credit hours in the College of Arts and Sciences. In addition, more than twenty departments in the College of Arts and Sciences offer an honors program with an undergraduate research thesis requirement.


Students who have declared a major, or who are premajors in a particular field, plan their programs with advisors in their major departments. Majors should be chosen by the middle of the sophomore year. Many entering freshmen—and some students at more advanced stages—have not decided on a major or even the general direction of their academic work. These undeclared students are assigned academic advisors by the director of college advising and the Office of Academic Advising.

Preparation for Kindergarten through Secondary School Teaching Careers

Students who complete a degree in a College of Arts and Sciences department are eligible to apply to the College of Education’s fifth-year licensure programs in middle-secondary and elementary teaching. More information is available in the College of Education section of this catalog, or by visiting

College Scholars

College Scholars is an honors-track program that provides an opportunity for high-achieving and motivated students to enrich their undergraduate education through unique course offerings and intensive interaction with some of the college’s finest faculty members. The program attracts and challenges academically strong and gifted students, and fosters excellence by enhancing the core elements of a liberal arts education: critical reasoning; curiosity; written and oral communication; literary and artistic expression; ethical and moral judgment; and philosophical, historical, scientific, and other forms of inquiry.

Admission. Students are invited to apply to the program if they have a high school GPA of 3.75 or higher and comparable performance on standard tests: SAT combined reading and mathematics score of 1200 or higher, or ACT combined score of 26 or higher. Students are invited to apply for admission during the winter before their freshman year.

Required Elements

Freshman Colloquia. In these 1-credit courses, entering freshman college scholars meet distinguished faculty members who discuss current research and opportunities for undergraduates within their departments. Students are required to complete two colloquia during their first year at Oregon. Each term, freshman colloquia are offered in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

General-Education Courses. Students in the program have the opportunity to enroll in special courses that satisfy UO general-education requirements needed for graduation. These courses are typically limited to twenty-two students and are taught by accomplished faculty members. Students are expected to complete four College Scholars general-education courses, typically two courses during the first year and two during the second year. In the first year, a Reacting to the Past course is included as one of the two required courses. At the University of Oregon, Reacting to the Past courses are unique to the College Scholars program. In these courses, students learn about pivotal events in history by taking on roles to act out some part of what took place. This format promotes understanding of the larger underlying ideas, improves critical-thinking skills, encourages students to take an active role in their own learning, and develops their ability to do so.

Above and Beyond. Students in the College Scholars program are expected to pursue additional opportunities as they advance to their second through senior years (e.g., research assistantships, internships, departmental honors). Advising and mentoring is available to students enrolled in the program to facilitate this requirement, both formally through College Scholars events and informally through peer advising. 

Other Opportunities

Global Scholars Hall. Students in the program may choose to live in the Global Scholars Hall, which has an atmosphere that encourages intellectual and personal growth; resident assistants in the honors hall are drawn from College Scholars and other honors programs.

For more information, visit

Arts and Sciences Courses (CAS)

101 (H) Reacting to the Past (4) Centers on complex, exciting role-playing simulations of decisive historical events and develops key analytical skills in close readings of classic texts.

110 Humanities College Scholars Colloquium (1R) Introduces fields in the humanities to freshman honors students. Faculty members discuss their research, the nature of their fields, and career opportunities. Pre- or coreq: acceptance into the College Scholars program. R twice for a maximum of 3 credits.

120 Science College Scholars Colloquium (1R) Introduces fields in the sciences to freshman honors students. Faculty members discuss their research, the nature of their fields, and career opportunities. Pre- or coreq: acceptance into the College Scholars program. R twice for a maximum of 3 credits.

130 Social Science College Scholars Colloquium (1R) Introduces fields in the social sciences to freshman honors students. Faculty members discuss their research, the nature of their fields, and career opportunities. Pre- or coreq: acceptance into the College Scholars program. R twice for a maximum of 3 credits.

399 Special Studies: [Topic] (1–5R)

401 Research: [Topic] (1–12R)

404 Internship: [Topic] (1–12R)

407 Seminar: [Topic] (1–12R)

409 Practicum: [Topic] (1–12R)