College of LAS « Illinois

Find the Right Major for You

Sciences and Letters Curricula | Specialized Curricula | Teacher Education

With 70 majors to choose from, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has something for just about everyone.

The college divides its fields of study, or majors, into three categories:

  • Sciences and Letters Curricula
  • Specialized Curricula
  • Secondary Teacher Education

Each category has core graduation requirements set by the college as well as requirements unique to each field of study. See LAS’s degree requirements.

Students are expected to declare the major in which they plan to graduate preferably no later than the end of the fourth semester. At that point, you must consult with an advisor and submit a list of advisor-approved courses during your fifth semester.

You may not act as your own advisor when completing the required major plan-of-study form. See the guidelines for declaring or changing a curriculum or major.

Sciences and Letters Curricula

The Sciences and Letters Curriculum encompasses the traditional majors in the liberal arts and sciences as well as individual plans of study, interdisciplinary majors, and international studies.

  • The Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts and Sciences is awarded to students completing a major in actuarial science, astronomy, atmospheric sciences, chemistry, Earth systems, environment, and society concentrations, geology, integrative biology, mathematics, math and computer science, molecular and cellular biology, physics, psychology, statistics, and statistics and computer science.
  • The Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences is awarded to students completing any of the other majors.
  • Students in the Sciences and Letters Curriculum must fulfill a core set of requirements established by the college as well as the requirements specific to their major. See the degree requirements.

Majors in the Sciences and Letters Curriculum

  • Actuarial Science
    An actuary is a combination of business executive, mathematician, financier, sociologist, and investment manager.
  • African American Studies
    Provides students with a transdiciplinary perspective on the origin, role, and policy implications of race in the United States and world political economy, society, and culture, over time.
  • Anthropology
    Combines scientific and humanistic interests in a modern social sciences framework.
  • Art History
    Interpret art as a record of social and personal experience, assess complex arguments critically, and understand a diverse range of artistic traditions.
  • Astronomy
    Based upon both a broad and an in-depth exploration into astronomy and allied disciplines.
  • Atmospheric Sciences
    Prepares students for careers in meteorology, environmental science, climate, remote sensing, science education, atmospheric chemistry, computational science, and other related areas.
  • Biology
    Also see majors in Integrative Biology and Molecular and Cellular Biology.
  • Chemistry
    The study of the composition and properties of matter and the investigation of the laws that govern the combination of elements.
  • Classics
    The study of the languages and cultures of ancient Greece and Rome. Options are currently available in the following areas: Classical Archaeology, Classical Civilization, Classics, Greek, and Latin.
  • Communication
    The use and impact of communication messages in human interaction.
  • Comparative and World Literature
    Develops not only reading, writing, and language skills, but also the awareness of cultural differences and interrelations. Options are currently available in the following areas: Comparative Literature and World Literature.
  • Computer Science and Anthropology
    A flexible program for students who plan to pursue technical or professional careers in areas requiring a sound grounding in computer science. In anthropology, both hardware and software are revolutionizing fieldwork, and has also made significant quantitative advances, necessitating specialized computer science skills that are often related to new imaging capacity. Subfields may include biological anthropology, sociocultural, linguistic anthropology, and archaeology.
  • Computer Science and Astronomy
    A flexible program for students who plan to pursue technical or professional careers in areas requiring a sound grounding in computer science. In astronomy, computational challenges test the limits of currently available hardware and software and have led to significant advances in computational science.
  • Computer Science and Chemistry
    A flexible program for students who plan to pursue technical or professional careers in areas requiring a sound grounding in computer science. In chemistry, imaging technologies, quantum chemical calculations, molecular dynamics simulations, computational modeling, and visualization are now widely used in all areas of the field. Specializations may emphasize biophysical chemistry, chemical biology, biophysics, or biological physics.
  • Computer Science and Linguistics
    A flexible program for students who plan to pursue technical or professional careers in areas requiring a sound grounding in computer science. In linguistics, aspects of the computer-natural language relationship will be examined. Students will be exposed to the tools of both disciplines—formal methods, philosophical analysis, computer programming, and empirical research.
  • Creative Writing
    Permits students to work in creative or professional writing.
  • Earth, Society, and Environmental Sustainability
    Understanding and solving scientific, social, and environmental challenges by studying the Earth as a system—how physical processes, public policy, and social forces interact.
  • East Asian Languages and Cultures
    Gain knowledge of the civilizations of East Asia, competence in an East Asian language, and a solid familiarity with East Asian cultures through multiple disciplines.
  • Economics
    Studies the problems caused by scarcity and how individuals, institutions, and societies may deal with these problems.
  • English
    Instructs in literature, literary theory and criticism, the English language, expository and creative writing, writing studies, film, cultural studies, and more.
  • French
    Explore literary history and interpretation, contemporary critical theory, Francophone literature, the study of civilization, historical and applied linguistics, and more.
  • Gender and Women’s Studies
    Examine ways in which sex and gender have structured human societies and explore women’s and men’s cultural identities and social roles in relation to race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, and globalization.
  • Geography and Geographic Information Science
    Geographers ask where things are located on the surface of the earth, why they are located there, how places differ, and how people interact with the environment.
  • Geology
    Scientific study of the Earth with application to anthropology, civil engineering, information science, law, regional planning, and societal issues such as geologic hazards, natural resources, and pollution.
  • German
    A traditional study of German providing students with a balanced knowledge of its language, literature, and civilization.
  • Global Studies (formerly International Studies)
    A flexible major that complements existing majors while imparting skills for analyzing and solving world problems.
  • History
    The study of the human experience in different cultures and time periods.
  • Individual Plans of Study
    Customized majors that fulfill educational needs not served by existing fields of study.
  • Integrative Biology
    Provides solid preparation in genetics and evolution, structure and function, ecology and behavior, and comparative physiology and molecular biology.
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
    Select from several options that cross disciplinary boundaries: American civilization, Jewish studies, Medieval studies, or Renaissance studies.
  • Italian
    Promotes the language, literature, linguistics, and culture.
  • Latin American Studies
    Incorporates an integrated exploration of a major world area.
  • Latina/Latino Studies
    An interdisciplinary field of study drawing upon the humanities and social sciences, exploring the experiences and lives of Latina/os in the context of the United States.
  • Linguistics
    Prepares students for various careers in which the scientific study of language is of significance.
  • Mathematics
    Provides fundamental background for mathematics.
  • Mathematics and Computer Science
    Prepares students for professional or graduate work in mathematics and computer science.
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology
    Offers a solid preparation in molecular biology, molecular genetics, microbiology, cellular biology, biochemistry, physiology, and structural biology.
  • Philosophy
    The oldest, broadest, and most fundamental form of inquiry, philosophy improves one's ability to think clearly, and to construct, analyze, and criticize arguments of any kind.
  • Physics
    Geared for those who plan to pursue technical or professional careers in areas requiring a sound grounding in physical science and mathematics.
  • Political Science
    Encourages students to acquire a broad understanding of political science and to pursue selected subfields of the discipline in depth.
  • Portuguese
    Promotes the language, literature, linguistics, and culture.
  • Psychology
    The scientific study of human and animal behavior is designed to better understand behavior and help solve problems faced by individuals and communities.
  • Religion
    Designed for students seeking a broad liberal arts education with a focus on religious studies.
  • Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies
    Involves the study of a complex world area in a manner that draws together the approaches of different disciplines, while building knowledge in a single discipline.
  • Slavic Studies
    The study of the language, literature, and culture of Russia. Students can concentrate in Russian language, literature, and culture; Polish studies; South Slavic studies; Czech studies; or Ukrainian studies.
  • Sociology
    Studies the organization and construction of social relations, including stratification, social movements, institutional change, and intergroup relations.
  • Spanish
    Promotes the language, literature, linguistics, and culture.
  • Statistics
    The science of modeling, summarizing, and analyzing data uses mathematics and computing tools to make predictions and decisions in the face of uncertainty.
  • Statistics and Computer Science
    For students with strong interests in both statistics and computer science.

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Specialized Curricula

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers several specialized curricula that prepare students for professional study or graduate pursuits. In keeping with this prescribed goal, each curriculum consists of a more rigidly structured course of study than what is generally described for majors in the Sciences and Letters Curriculum. Each specialized major is designed to meet the demands of an outside accrediting agency.

  • The Bachelor of Science is awarded to students completing any of the specialized curricula.
  • Students in Specialized Curricula must fulfill a core set of requirements established by the college as well as the requirements specific to their major. See the degree requirements.

Majors in Specialized Curricula

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Teacher Education

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Education have developed a coherent set of experiences on campus, in schools, and in communities that will prepare our students to become skilled, knowledgeable, and committed teachers.

There are two ways that students may obtain teacher certification through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences:

  • Teacher Certification in Foreign Languages
  • Teacher Certification in Arts and Sciences

More detailed information pertaining to specific course requirements for each of the programs in both groups is provided by academic advisers. Only through regular communication with the teacher education adviser may the student be assured of the appropriateness of his or her program.

Students are advised that certification requirements may be altered at any time by the State Teacher Certification Board or by the legislature. In such cases, students may be compelled to satisfy the new requirements to qualify for the University's recommendation for certification. Also see the Council on Teacher Education section for information pertinent to all teacher education and specific areas of teacher education listed in the LAS Programs of Study section of this catalog.

  • Illinois law and Council on Teacher Education policy require that all candidates for admission to a teacher preparation program pass the Illinois Certification Testing System Test of Basic Skills prior to admission. Illinois law and Council on Teacher Education policy require that all candidates for certification pass an oral proficiency test in their content major language prior to student teaching.

Foreign Languages

Students may pursue programs preparatory to the teaching of the following languages:

Arts and Sciences

Students may earn a bachelor of science or arts degree in the following areas:

  • These students complete a teaching option offered through an LAS major and the Teacher Education Minor in Secondary School Teaching. Upon completion of the option and the Teacher Education Minor in Secondary School Teaching, students will earn a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as teaching certification. Conferral of the degree of Bachelor of Science or Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences prior to completion of the minor requires approval by petition to LAS Student Affairs.
Additional Requirements for the Arts & Sciences Option

Students following any of the teaching options in the Sciences and Letters Curriculum must complete the course requirements for that curriculum as well as the college's core requirments. When they select their major, they may also select a “Pre-Teaching professional attribute,” which reflects their intent to complete the requirements for teacher certification as part of their undergraduate program.

Transfer into the Teaching Option within a major can be made only by students who have received approval to complete the Teacher Education Minor in Secondary School Teaching. Approval for the Teacher Education Minor in Secondary School Teaching is gained by successful application to the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education.

Two prerequisite courses must be completed before transfer to the Teaching Option in any major: EPSY 201 and EPS 201 or EPS 202. Additionally, each major stipulates other prerequisite courses that must be completed before admission to the Teaching Option. Interested students should see the academic advisers in the major for information on prerequisite courses.

Many students will be able to complete all the prerequisite courses for transfer into the Teaching Option of their major by the spring of their sophomore year; those students may be able to complete the requirements for the Bachelor's degree in LAS, the Teacher Education Minor in Secondary School Teaching and all other requirements for teacher certification in four years.

Students who establish eligibility to transfer into the teaching option of their major in the spring of their junior year will need five years to satisfy the requirements for teacher certification.

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