You are here: American University College of Arts & Sciences News CAS Introduces Thirteen New and Revised Programs and Degrees this Fall

Contact Us

Battelle-Tompkins, Room 200 on a map

CAS Dean's Office 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20016-8012 United States

Back to top

CAS Introduces Thirteen New and Revised Programs and Degrees this Fall

Programs to prepare students for changing world and workforce

By  | 

This fall, the College of Arts and Sciences will introduce a wide variety of new and redesigned programs that will prepare our students to succeed and make a difference in the post-Covid world:

  • New Major: Chinese Studies
  • New Minors: Cybersecurity; Latina/o/x Studies; Neuroscience
  • New Certificates: Digital Technology; Disability, Health and Bodies
  • Revamped Degrees: BA in Asia, Pacific and Diaspora Studies; BS in Data Science; BA in Liberal Studies; BA in Philosophy; BS in Neuroscience; BA in Religious Studies; and BA in Spanish Studies.

Núria Vilanova, associate dean of Undergraduate Studies and associate professor of World Languages and Cultures, says she’s excited to see how much energy and creativity is emerging from all the corners of the College of Arts and Sciences when it comes to developing new programs. “Faculty and staff have given their best amidst this difficult year to offer our students renewed academic experiences in line with the ongoing challenges of our society and our world,” she says.

New Minors and Majors

Undergraduate Minor in Neuroscience

The minor in neuroscience, in AU’s new Department of Neuroscience, is designed to give non-neuroscience majors a fundamental knowledge base in the field. Students will pursue basic coursework in biology and psychology, with core courses in neuroscience and advanced electives.

Neuroscience is of interest to students in a broad range of disciplines, from psychology majors who wish to pursue neuropsychology, to future special education teachers, to students who are interested in neuroeconomics or public health and policy work. Electives can be selected from neuroscience, psychology, biology, chemistry, computer science, and many other disciplines, depending on the individual student’s interests and career goals.

The minor in neuroscience will give AU students a unique opportunity to engage in STEM at AU and take advantage of the cutting-edge facilities in the new Hall of Science.

Undergraduate Minor in Cybersecurity

According to The US Bureau of Labor Statistics, cybersecurity jobs are among the fastest-growing career areas nationally. The bureau predicts cybersecurity jobs will grow 31 percent through 2029 — more than seven times faster than the national average job growth. To prepare students for these careers, AU’s new cybersecurity minor is designed for majors in both scientific and non-scientific fields and is open to students from all departments, colleges, and schools. No matter what students are studying, this new minor will enhance their training and prepare them for careers in cybersecurity-related fields.
Offered by the Department of Computer Science, the minor provides students with the necessary computer science and cybersecurity background and skills to specialize in cybersecurity. It requires 20 credit hours that include three computer science introductory courses and three cybersecurity courses. Students who enroll in the minor will acquire a basic understanding of computer science and programming, as well as a firmly grounded understanding of cybersecurity. 

Bachelor of Arts in Chinese Studies

This fall, Chinese joins Arabic, French, German, Spanish, and Russian in the Department of World Languages and Cultures. The demand for Chinese speakers by both government and the private sector has never been greater. Knowledge of the language and the culture transcends academic fields, and it gives a competitive edge to students studying business, politics, economics, and history, as well as students pursuing School of International Service degrees, including international development, peace and conflict resolution, global environmental politics, and US foreign policy.

At 36 credit hours, the BA in Chinese Studies is well suited to be either a first or second major for many students. Two longstanding, popular topics, “Newspaper Chinese” and “Chinese Civilization,” will become permanent courses (CHIN 410 and 411), which will be required parts of the major.

Undergraduate Minor in Latina/o/x Studies 

Housed in the Department of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies, Latina/o/x Studies is an interdisciplinary minor that focuses on Latin American origin communities in the United States. As a branch of US race and ethnic studies, Latina/o/x Studies courses explore questions of race, ethnicity, and racialization. Operating from a comparative framework that examines Puerto Rican, Dominican, Mexican/Chicana/o/x, Central American, and other Latin American populations, the minor explores common interests and differences affecting US Latina/o/x populations.

Latina/o/x Studies capitalizes on the university’s location in the DC Metropolitan area, home to communities with roots in all parts of the Americas. A minor in Latina/o/x Studies will bring together the study of culture, literature and film, race and ethnicity, language, history, indigeneity, art, electoral politics, public health, gender and sexuality, policy, and environment as they relate to Latina/o/x peoples in the United States.

In support of the new minor, a new course subject prefix (LTST Latina/o/x Studies) was created, and LTST 200 “Introduction to Latina/o/x Studies” will serve as the foundation of the minor, along with SOCY451 “Latinx Studies.”

Undergrad Certificate: Disability, Health & Bodies

The certificate, offered by the Department of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies, introduces students to the disciplines of Critical Disability Studies, Critical Mad Studies, Critical Autism Studies, Critical Body Studies, and Critical Fat Studies. These emerging fields encourage students to explore questions related to disability, neurodivergence, and bodily difference from an intersectional, interdisciplinary perspective.  

Students will examine a variety of perspectives that challenge and redefine legal, physical, policy, and attitudinal barriers toward disabled people and those deemed "different." The interdisciplinary program draws from analysis developed by scholars and practitioners in American studies, public health, psychology, philosophy, religion, advocacy, politics, and law.   

In support of the new minor, two new courses in the Department of American Studies will be offered: “Disability, Health and Normality” (AMST 285) and “Mental Health, Madness, and Neuroqueerness” (AMST 385).

Undergraduate Certificate: Digital Technology Generalist

Students across the College of Arts and Sciences will have the opportunity to pursue a certification in digital technology, regardless of their majors. Today and tomorrow’s workforces will increasingly require technological knowledge of data analytics, cybersecurity and communications — expertise that is valued in nearly every industry. Together with the Greater Washington Partnership, three digital technology tracks will provide students access to careers at the regions’ top industry employers.

Students will have the option of selecting one of three tracks that align with their major: Arts and Humanities, Economics, and Sciences. The credential consists of 13-16 credit hours and can begin during a student’s first or second year. Students will take courses on statistics, data analysis, ethics, communications, and cybersecurity. Participants will become members of a cohort that attend career events and have opportunities to network with local employers.

Newly Designed Programs

Bachelor of Arts in Asia, Pacific and Diaspora Studies

Offered by the Department of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies, the Asia, Pacific, and Diaspora Studies Minor is dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of Asia and the Pacific, as well as their diasporic communities, in a dynamic global context. Students will examine historical and contemporary formations of global culture by the study of people, cultures, and ideas that move in and across Asia, the Pacific, and their diasporic communities spanning the Americas and beyond. Students will explore the history and legacies of imperialism, colonialism, as well as gender/sexuality, class, and ethnicity/racial relations.

The program’s lively, interdisciplinary course offerings are both deeply local and attentive to national and worldwide frameworks. They are grounded in critical inquiry and a concern for social justice.

The program supports students interested in the acquisition of Asian languages, such as Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Persian, and Arabic. Students are encouraged to spend time abroad as part of their academic experience. Options include studying in a wide variety of Asian nations or learning about Asian diasporas in a number of locations around the world.

Bachelor of Science in Data Science

The Department of Mathematics and Statistics’ newly revised BS in Data Science offers students the opportunity to select a complementary minor of their choosing, such as statistics, business, or cybersecurity. This allows students to apply their data science knowledge to any field of study in which AU offers a minor, and it greatly expands the ways students might make use of their learning. 

The department also added six credits across two required fields, “Ethics” and “Communication,” which are geared towards directing students to complete some of their AU CORE requirements in areas that also complement data science. 

Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience

This fall, students will see several changes to the Neuroscience major. These changes take advantage of the new Department of Neuroscience to expand the options for electives and allow for greater individual specialization for majors. To provide a strong foundation in the science of behavior, Intro to Psychology has been added as a major requirement. There is more flexibility with electives, including Organic Chemistry, which will no longer be a required course. Other electives can be selected across a wide range of disciplines including neuroscience, psychology, biology, chemistry and computer science, and can be tailored to each student’s individual career goals.

Additionally, students can now minor in neuroscience. The minor enables students in other majors to develop a core knowledge base in neuroscience without the extensive coursework in chemistry, physics, and lab-based neuroscience that the major requires.

Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies

The newly redesigned Liberal Studies BA degree has been converted for adult learners and return-to-school applicants who want to complete unfinished college degrees using a combination of previously earned credits and new coursework in relevant job skills.

The degree includes classes in integrative quantitative literacy, as well as technology and innovation, to complement students’ other coursework. Students may transfer credit from their previous college experiences and enroll in new courses at AU to complete a custom-designed major that promotes their professional and academic goals. Beyond a series of key required courses, the bulk of the degree is created from a concentration in one of the CAS academic clusters, plus an outside minor in any field of study where a minor is offered by AU.

Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy

This reimagining of the existing BA in Philosophy comes out of an explosive burst of creativity from within the Department of Philosophy and Religion. The new structure allows students to explore philosophy in great depth while allowing them enough elective options to customize their degree toward their academic and career goals.

The current major requirements include a single required foundation course followed by a series of selective credit in various categories: history of philosophy, moral/political philosophy, and critical perspectives. A small concentration (6 credits) and elective credits (6 credits) are finished with the major capstone.

Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies

The changes to the Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies, within the Department of Philosophy and Religion, increases the number of course options to fulfill the foundation requirement of the major, strengthens the additional selective requirements of the major by adding recently approved coursework and new courses currently under curriculum review, and offers students three areas of concentration to allow students to direct their study toward their own interests and academic or career goals: religion and global society; religious ethics and the body; and religion, culture, and politics.

Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Studies

The Spanish Studies bachelor’s degree within the Department of World Languages and Cultures has been restructured. The internship, which was previously required for the major has been eliminated, and the remaining requirements restructured to count existing coursework in Spanish toward the major.  

The department also developed a new way to apply language study capstone experiences. Spanish Studies, like all the language majors in WLC, will implement the new capstone this fall. Following a research project attached to their language topic course, students will be able to produce a substantial paper written in the language of their major under the supervision of a faculty member.