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Liberal Studies

BA in Liberal Studies

This program is designed for students eight years or more out of high school who seek a flexible degree program that encourages them to bring together their personal and professional goals in the design of their academic major. The  major encourages students to combine liberal arts studies with a specialization. Specializations are available in any of the minors offered by American University. 

Admission to the Program

 After admission, students submit a written proposal stating their core interests, along with a 300-word essay explaining their goals and the relationship among chosen areas and courses. 

University Requirements

  • A total of 120 credit hours 
  • 6 credit hours of college writing 
  • 3 credit hours of college mathematics or the equivalent by examination 

General Education Requirements

  • A total of ten courses, consisting of one foundation course and one second-level course from each of the five curricular areas in an approved sequence 
  • No more than two courses may be taken in the same discipline 

Major Requirements

  •  42–48 credit hours with grades of C or better 

The major consists of a 24 credit hour core area and an 18–24 credit hour specialization, both of which offer a number of structured alternative choices. 

Core Area

  • 24 credit hours chosen from fields of study in one of three core areas: the humanities, the social sciences, or sciences/ mathematics. 

The core area must include course work in four fields of study: 6 credit hours are to be taken in each field; at least 3 credit hours in each of the four fields must be earned in a course at the 300 level or higher. For students taking the Sciences/Mathematics core, a minimum of 6 credit hours in total must be taken in courses at the 300 level or higher. No more than three courses taken for General Education credit may also count toward core area requirements. Six of the eight courses taken to fulfill the core area must be offered by the College of Arts and Sciences. 

Fields of Study by Core Area


Art, Art History, Foreign Language, Jewish Studies, Literature, Performing Arts, Philosophy, Religion  

Social Sciences

American Studies, Anthropology, Communication (designated courses) *, Economics, Education, (designated courses) *, History, Political, Science, Psychology (designated courses) *, Sociology 


Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Information Systems, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology (designated courses)*, Statistics 

* Designated courses: academic counselors will provide students with a list of approved courses. 


In addition to the core area courses, students in the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies program are required to complete 18–24 credit hours in a specialization chosen from the list of university-approved minors. Note: if the minor taken for the specialization requires 24 or more credit hours, students may request reducing their core requirements from 24 to 21 credit hours. However, the core must still include at least 18 credit hours offered by the College of Arts and Sciences. 

Students may select a specialization that complements their core area, or they may choose a specialization that is a new area of study. In all cases the student is encouraged to design a core area and a specialization that reflects the student’s particular interests and goals. 

Requirements for the specialization in the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies degree are met when a student completes the requirements for a minor approved for the program. No more than two courses taken for General Education credit may be applied to a student’s specialization.