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Academics

Academics

Step inside the classroom

The College of the Liberal Arts provides our students with the opportunity to pursue a transformative, globally respected Penn State education. Led by world-class scholars and teachers working within the humanities, social sciences, and languages, our departments, programs, and research institutes will provide you with a classic liberal arts education that also puts you on the path to a gratifying career.  

During your education, you’ll be instilled with all the core liberal arts values—communication, critical thinking, ethical decision-making, and appreciation for other cultures and other times—while having the opportunity to pursue out-of-classroom experiences like internships, education abroad, and research that allow you to apply your skills in real-world contexts and grow personally and professionally. You’ll get to work with scholars leading their respective disciplines, collaborate with students with similar interests, and connect with our vast network of college and University alumni who can serve as mentors and help you build your professional network. 

Three students in a Spanish class sit on a bench outside Willard Building on a nice day.
Three students in a Spanish class sit on a bench outside Willard Building on a nice day.
A student participates in a virtual reality demonstration during a communication arts and sciences course.
A student participates in a virtual reality demonstration during a communication arts and sciences course.

Degree Programs

With nearly 150 undergraduate majors, minors, integrated undergraduate-graduate degrees (IUGs), associate degrees, and certificates to choose from, the College of the Liberal Arts truly has something for everyone no matter what your academic or career aspirations are. Taught by first-rate faculty with deep research and professional experience, our programs are intellectually rigorous and constantly evolving to meet the needs of an ever-changing workplace.  

Departments

Our college is made up of highly accomplished teachers and researchers devoted to their individual focuses within the humanities, social sciences, and languages. Each department and program promotes and nurtures your academic journey through in-person and online instruction and research, all with the goal of producing graduates well-prepared to be exemplary professionals and global citizens. Meanwhile, our centers and institutes facilitate interdepartmental and interdisciplinary research and outreach geared around numerous subjects of academic and societal importance.  

McCourtney Professor of Civic Deliberation Debbie Hawhee teaches ENGL 487W Climate Rhetoric in the fall of 2022.
McCourtney Professor of Civic Deliberation Debbie Hawhee teaches ENGL 487W Climate Rhetoric in the fall of 2022.

Student Services

Committed to developing deep interpersonal relationships with students, the college’s Student Services staff will connect you with all the resources and opportunities you’ll need to succeed before and after you receive your degree. Located in Sparks Building, the college’s academic and administrative home, our Students Services include the following offices: 

  • Academic Advising 
  • Academic Scholarships 
  • Career Enrichment Network 
  • Chaiken Center for Student Success 
  • Office of Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity 
  • Paterno Fellows Program 
The Career Enrichment Network is an underrated resource that I would advise Liberal Arts students to take advantage of. They’ll help you narrow down career choices to find those that align with your passions and help you determine a future that is really meant for you. They’ve even helped me with my resume and interviewing skills. The College of the Liberal Arts has really prepared me.
Kauffman, Alexis
Alexis Kauffman
The academic advising staff was great and super helpful when making a plan that ensured I completed my four majors in four years.
Brennan, Harrison
Harrison Brennan
I love education and learning. However, I came into college not knowing what I was signing myself up for, to be honest. Academic scholarships, enrichment funding and grants helped me through every part of my undergraduate career as they allowed me to continue my education, study abroad and pursue other opportunities outside the classroom.
Amanda Mohamed is the spring 2024 Liberal Arts college marshal.
Amanda Mohamed
Graduating with three degrees, Amanda, the spring 2024 Liberal Arts college marshal, made the most of her time as an undergraduate student. Her love of learning took her abroad to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Santiago, Chile, which in turn helped her land a human resources internship with First National Bank Corporation. On campus, she conducted research as a fellow for The Brain Tracking Lab and was a Lion Ambassador. Amanda is pursuing a master's degree in higher education at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Amanda Mohamed is the spring 2024 Liberal Arts college marshal.
Amanda Mohamed
“The Chaiken Center means community. I know it is a place I am welcomed and validated.”
Anonymous
“The Chaiken Center means so much to me—mostly it means unity. I really like having a space I can go that is linked to a part of my identity here as a student.”
Anonymous
Amanda Mohamed is the spring 2024 Liberal Arts college marshal.
Acadmic AdvisingCampus LeaderCareer Enrichment NetworkCivic and Community EngagementFirst-GenGlobal and International StudiesLabor and Human ResourcesPaterno FellowSchreyer ScholarSpanish

Amanda Mohamed

’24
Labor and Human Resources
|
Global and International Studies
|
Spanish
|
Civic and Community Engagement (minor)
Labor and Human Resources
Global and International Studies
Spanish
Civic and Community Engagement (minor)
Graduating with three degrees, Amanda, the spring 2024 Liberal Arts college marshal, made the most of her time as an undergraduate student. Her love of learning took her abroad to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Santiago, Chile, which in turn helped her land a human resources internship with First National Bank Corporation. On campus, she conducted research as a fellow for The Brain Tracking Lab and was a Lion Ambassador. Amanda is pursuing a master’s degree in higher education at the University of Maryland, College Park.
DanielZahn (1)
Career Enrichment NetworkCommunication Arts and SciencesEducation AbroadEnglishEnrichment FundingPaterno FellowsPhilosophyResearch

Daniel Zahn

’20
English
|
Philosophy
|
Communication Arts and Sciences
English
Philosophy
Communication Arts and Sciences
As a student, Daniel, a Paterno Fellow alumnus, participated in a linguistics research project in Bassila, Benin made possible by the Career Enrichment Network, where his research focused on everyday language use.
MitchellWooten (1)
Career Enrichment NetworkEconomicsPolitical Science

Mitchell Wootten

’19
Political Science
|
Economics minor
Political Science
Economics minor
Mitchell, a policy specialist for Google, advises current students to take advantage of Penn State’s career resources, including the Liberal Arts Career Enrichment Network. Mitchell says his Liberal Arts education provided analysis tools needed to be an effective leader and communicator.
NoraVanHorn3 (1)
Campus LeaderCareer Enrichment NetworkChineseGlobal and International StudiesInternshipPaterno FellowsPhilosophySustainability

Nora Van Horn

’22
Philosophy
|
Chinese
|
Global and International Studies
Philosophy
Chinese
Global and International Studies
Nora created a lasting change for sustainability at Penn State. She helped establish the University Park Undergraduate Association’s Department of Sustainability and the University’s Environmental Sustainability Fund to support on-campus sustainability efforts.
GwendolynBoe (1)
Career Enrichment NetworkCourse SpotlightCriminologyEducation AbroadEmbedded Course

Gwendolyn Boe

’23
Criminology
Criminology
Gwendolyn spent a week in Curaçao as part of CRIM 425. She said the trip focused on studying organized crime and that “being there and hearing from the people directly involved helped me understand the true impact and the challenges that these people face.”
Hamza-Al-Aufi (1)
Career Enrichment NetworkChapel InternsEconomicsEIDEnrichment FundingInternational PoliticsInternational StudentInternship

Hamza Al Aufi

’23
Economics
|
International Politics
Economics
International Politics
Hamza, an international student, received funding through the Virginia Todd Chapel Executive Internship Program, which allowed him to intern with Swiss Re America Holding Corporation in Armonk, New York. He learned about the opportunity by meeting with a career coach in the Liberal Arts Career Enrichment Network.
The Paterno Fellows Program has emphasized the importance of building a global perspective which motivated me to make the decision to study abroad. I was also able to utilize resources, such as academic advising and career coaching, in the process of applying to the program.
Morgan Zipfel (1)
Morgan Zipfel
It is nice to see other dedicated students in the Paterno Fellows Program who are really passionate about doing a lot and succeeding. It’s nice to be pushed and encouraged while also knowing that we all have a common goal, which is to see more change and success within ourselves, the college, and life in general.
CadenVitti
Caden Vitti
My Liberal Arts education helped me become a lifelong learner. It instilled a curiosity for all things that will shape my future career and goals.
CAS-Emma Lutz
Emma Lutz
The Paterno Fellows Program has encouraged me to become more involved with campus organizations and my community. I value the people I have met through these opportunities and the experiences I have gained.
LuisinaKemanianLeites
Luisina Kemanian-Leites
The Paterno Fellows Program encouraged me to study abroad. It also helped motivate me to master the French language even prior to leaving for France and led to an experience that I will never forget. The Paterno Fellows Program also required that I take a number of ethics courses, many of which helped to inform me on issues of gender, race, and ability.
KatoGriffiths (1)
Kato Griffiths
Being a Paterno Fellow has helped me boost my engagement on campus and enrich my experience as an international student at Penn State. From participating in its distinguished academic community to hearing from exceptional leaders during events and leveraging financial support, I believe being a Paterno Fellow provides significant benefits for students to transform their academic experience.
Leo Girlando original
Leo Girlando

Honors Education

Pursuing an honors education not only demonstrates your commitment to a quality college experience but it could very well put you at an advantage when the time comes to apply for a job or graduate school. Available to students within and aspiring to the University’s Schreyer Honors College, the Paterno Fellows Program is the college’s signature honors experience and includes enhanced out-of-class requirements. The college also has a couple departmental honors programs.  

Career Enrichment NetworkCommunication Arts and SciencesEducation AbroadEnglishEnrichment FundingPaterno FellowsPhilosophyResearch

Daniel Zahn

’20
English
|
Philosophy
|
Communication Arts and Sciences
English
Philosophy
Communication Arts and Sciences
As a student, Daniel, a Paterno Fellow alumnus, participated in a linguistics research project in Bassila, Benin made possible by the Career Enrichment Network, where his research focused on everyday language use.
DanielZahn (1)
Campus LeaderCareer Enrichment NetworkChineseGlobal and International StudiesInternshipPaterno FellowsPhilosophySustainability

Nora Van Horn

’22
Philosophy
|
Chinese
|
Global and International Studies
Philosophy
Chinese
Global and International Studies
Nora created a lasting change for sustainability at Penn State. She helped establish the University Park Undergraduate Association’s Department of Sustainability and the University’s Environmental Sustainability Fund to support on-campus sustainability efforts.
NoraVanHorn3 (1)
Communication Arts and SciencesCriminologyEnglishPaterno Fellows

Blake Toliver

’22
Criminology
|
English
|
Communication Arts and Sciences minor
Criminology
English
Communication Arts and Sciences minor
Blake, a Paterno Fellow alumnus, served as the Black Caucus Representative for the University Park Undergraduate Association and was president of the Multicultural Undergraduate Law Association. “Having a Liberal Arts degree has allowed me to be well-rounded in my studies. This should enable me to bring numerous skills to the table that aren’t limited to only one area of study. This has given me more options in terms of my career pursuits.”
Blake-Toliver (1)
Enrichment FundingGermanMultidisciplinary StudiesPaterno Fellows

Kiara Smith

Letters, Arts, and Sciences
|
Nutritional Sciences
|
German minor
Letters, Arts, and Sciences
Nutritional Sciences
German minor
Kiara spent a summer in Berlin earning credits towards her German minor. “The Paterno Fellows Program and the College of the Liberal Arts helped to fund my trip, which meant that while I was in Berlin I was able to focus more on my experiences and learning than on calculating and worrying about the cost of everything. Instead of staying in my room to save money, I went out and took day trips to places just outside of Berlin and a weekend trip out of Poland; I went to museums and cafes and bars where I got to meet Germans and make German friends.”
KiaraSmith2 (1)
Course SpotlightEnglishPaterno Fellows

Kiera Sargent

’23
English
English
Through ENGL 411, Kiera was able to explore Centre County, Pennsylvania both inside and outside the classroom. She said the class was like no other class she’s taken before. The Paterno Fellow most appreciated the conversations and connections she was able to build with the Centre County residents outside of Penn State.
KieraSargent (1)
Campus LeaderEconomicsEIDInternational StudentPaterno FellowsPolitical Science

Esha Pathak

’22
Economics
|
Political Science
Economics
Political Science
Esha, from Mumbai, India, used her time at Penn State to make a significant change for international economics students. Thanks to the Paterno Fellow and Schreyer Scholar, these students now get two extra years to find work in the United States before their visas expire.
EshaPathak (1)
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