Arts and Sciences Education
The academic program offered cooperatively by the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Natural Sciences provides what is sometimes referred to as a “liberal arts” or an “arts and sciences” education. No matter what area of knowledge a student intends to specialize in, the program of study will require courses in both colleges. The colleges work together to ensure that the individual interests and needs of the students pursuing an arts and sciences program are met.
Guidelines for developing a coherent plan of study are provided by major requirements, by sequential prerequisites, and by optional patterns of emphasis. Departmental majors, areas of specialization, and interdepartmental programs are designed to enable every student to study at least one field in depth. These programs are sufficiently broad in scope to allow students in the same major to develop quite different plans of study in pursuit of their individual interests and goals. Each student should choose courses that are intellectually challenging and that contribute to his or her long-term objectives.
Arts and sciences students are required to take a certain number of courses in the natural sciences, the social and behavioral sciences, and the humanities. Consequently, whatever their fields of study, they have the opportunity to learn something about the basic differences in the ways questions are raised and answered in several fields of inquiry, and about the techniques for validating the answers and putting the results to use. At the same time, they may gain some of the philosophical and historical perspectives that illuminate and give form to general or specialized knowledge and help to reveal its relevance.
Both teachers and students sometimes make the assumption that independent and creative study is exclusively for the gifted. In fact, the primary requirement is that the student be highly motivated, although he or she must also demonstrate ability. The departments that make up the two arts and sciences colleges encourage all qualified students to work independently in special honors courses and seminars and in conference, studio, or laboratory work. The student is free to define a major, to determine whether a given assignment will be an adventure or a chore, free to develop its latent possibilities or merely satisfy its explicit demands. True creativity presupposes more than a gift for innovation; it requires an unceasing commitment to thinking and working at one’s highest level.
As competence is gained in a chosen field, the mind should be progressively sharpened, disciplined, and enriched. The student who leaves arts and sciences studies with an enhanced understanding of self and humankind, of cultural and historical heritage, of the world and the universe, and of the moral values that make it possible to live a meaningful life, will have made the most of education, having gained something over and above the objective of vocational preparedness.
Financial Assistance Available through the College
Special scholarships established by individuals and foundations are open to undergraduates in the College of Liberal Arts. Financial assistance is also available in many College of Liberal Arts departments, centers, and programs for specific undergraduate majors.
Students with financial need should apply for aid through the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid. The Study Abroad Office also administers a number of awards designed to help qualified students participate in international programs.
Information on College of Liberal Arts scholarships is given online. Information on scholarships awarded through individual departments, centers, and programs is published on their websites.
The assistant dean for the Student Division, under the guidance of the associate dean, oversees advising activity for all students in the College of Liberal Arts. The Student Division provides administrative and logistical support for all operations relating to students, including adviser training, official degree checks, and graduation certification.
Liberal Arts advisers embrace the idea that advising is teaching, and foster student development through partnerships and practices dedicated to student success. Advisers work with students to identify and achieve academic and life goals and establish a timely graduation plan, encourage critical thinking strategies, and stimulate intellectual and cultural development. In these ways, advisers teach the value of a liberal arts education for engaged, self-directed learners.
Departmental advisers work directly with their students regarding course selection. They also initiate petitions affecting the major or minor; encourage co- and extracurricular activities, including study abroad; and administer honors programs.
Students who have not yet declared a major work directly with Student Division advisers, who guide students through the process of selecting courses and exploring majors. Student Division advisers also work with students on withdrawing from classes, appeals for exceptions to standard policies and procedures, graduation applications, certifying all graduates’ academic programs, and nonacademic issues.
Every student in the college has access to appropriate advisers throughout his or her academic career. In addition, students can create and view their own advising audits using IDA, the Interactive Degree Audit system. The advising audit is produced for advising purposes only and is not an official degree audit.
Liberal Arts Career Services (LACS) provides career assistance to current and newly graduated liberal arts students. The goal of the office is to connect College of Liberal Arts students with postgraduate and experiential learning opportunities throughout the world.
Through job search advising, résumé critiques, mock interviews, credit-based classes, and a variety of workshops and programs, LACS helps students develop the skills needed to succeed in the job search and in the workplace. LACS also provides comprehensive pre-law advising services, including application assistance and review and law school admission advising.
To connect students to the workplace, LACS manages job and internship postings, provides job and internship fairs and events, and manages an on-campus interviewing program involving a variety of employers and opportunities. Students have access to career management tools and resources with an online recruiting system, LiberalArts@Work. LACS maintains a resource room with books, DVDs, company literature, and job postings.
Hundreds of companies are assisted by LACS each year through computer-based résumé searches, information sessions, and on-campus interviewing. Résumé books for a variety of career fields are available to employers at no charge.
As a complement to the assistance available from LACS, the University’s Sanger Learning Center and the Vick Center for Strategic Advising and Career Counseling in the School of Undergraduate Studies provide career services to all students. The centers offer professional assistance to students in choosing or changing their majors or careers, and planning for graduate study.
For liberal arts students who have completed a teacher certification program, Education Career Services in the College of Education assists with the education job search. Certification candidates must register with Education Career Services, George I. Sánchez Building 216, at the beginning of their student-teaching semester. The office also assists those who wish to find teaching jobs at the college level or in private schools, community colleges, or overseas schools in which certification is not required. See Preparation for Teacher Certification for additional information.
The University makes no promise to secure employment for each graduate.
The Foundation Scholars Program (FSP) is an academic transition program for highly motivated first-year students. Foundation Scholars are students who bring a demonstrated record of academic achievement and are strongly motivated to maintain a tradition of academic excellence at The University of Texas at Austin. The goal of FSP is to work with students to create community, develop leadership skills, and connect students to resources at the University. For more information, see https://liberalarts.utexas.edu/student-affairs/first-year-programs/Foundation-Scholars-Program/.