LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences Offers a Breadth of Programs, Experiences

From history to psychology and from French to political science, the College of Humanities & Social Sciences – formerly known as the College of Arts & Sciences – is one of LSU's largest and most diverse colleges.

Students from the College of Humanities & Social Sciences' Department of Geography & Anthropology participate in a research project in Belize.
Photo provided by HSS

It provides opportunities to learn and conduct research in traditional and emerging disciplines in 11 degree-granting departments, 10 interdisciplinary programs and two ROTC units. The faculty members are actively engaged in teaching and research and offer numerous opportunities for student involvement in these endeavors.

"Our college has a deep commitment to excellence – in its teaching and in its scholarship – and to the creation of a vibrant intellectual community in which faculty, graduate students and undergraduates alike wrestle with the great questions of the day," said Gaines Foster, dean of the LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences, or H&SS.

Anthropology isn't just "anthropology" when a student is studying the ancient civilizations of South America with a professor who takes select students with him on archeological digs in Peru. English isn't just "English" when a student is taking a screenwriting class taught by one of the writers of HBO's "Treme" or by a professor who has had two films debut at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. H&SS professors have real world experience, and they apply that knowledge by giving students the best education possible.

"Our faculty include scholars whose work is known and respected throughout the nation and the world," Foster said. "Many of them teach introductory courses, and faculty throughout the college are committed to undergraduate teaching. They enjoy working with students one-on-one, offering help and advice. They serve as mentors as young students begin their own research projects. H&SS even has a program, ASPIRE, which not only facilitates undergraduate research but provides funding for its students to present papers at national and international conferences."

Mission and Vision

The College of Humanities & Social Sciences is the dynamic center of the university. For undergraduates from throughout the university, as well as its own majors, H&SS courses develop the communication and critical thinking skills students will need for success in college and in life.

Mary Manhein, director of the Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services, or FACES, lab, works with students in a forensic anthropology class.
Photo by Eddy Perez/University Relations

Through its diversity of disciplines and approaches, H&SS also strives to help students understand who they are and who they want to become, to develop a critical understanding of their own society and cultural traditions, and to gain a greater appreciation of other societies and cultures. At the heart of a university education, these skills and perspectives prepare students to be better citizens of and leaders in the state, nation and world.

"My favorite part of my job is that it puts me in a position to help students," Foster said. "Often that means helping shape policies from which they benefit. Other times it means getting them matched up with the right faculty members or having them helped by our college's excellent counselors."

Foster said that the best part of his job as dean is the times he gets to work with students personally.

"In part for that reason, I have started what is called the 'Dean's Seminar,'" Foster said. "It's an undergraduate seminar designed to bring together select students from across the college to examine an important topic. This semester, Wayne Parent in the political science department and I are team teaching the seminar on the topic of 'Southern Identity in a Multi-Racial Age.' We have 14 students, and each week bring in faculty from H&SS's various disciplines to examine the issue from their area of expertise. It's great fun."

The college faculty's scholarship and creative activities address the same key issues as its teaching and thereby help Louisiana and the world better understand age-old questions and address immediate needs. Its engagement with the community includes the operation of a Pscyhological Service Center and Speech and Hearing Clinic, as well as two climate centers and the Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services, or FACES, lab, which uses forensic anthropology to identify bodies and help find missing persons.

Majors Offered

For undergraduates from throughout the university, as well as its own majors, the College of Humanities & Social Sciences' courses develop the communication and critical thinking skills students will need for success in college and in life.
Photo by Jim Zietz/University Relations

The diversity and breadth of the various curricula offered through the college provides students with a foundational base of skills that can be used not only in the classroom, but in further study or a future career as well. These skills include analytical reasoning, communication and critical thinking.

"The H&SS curriculum offers students opportunities to explore diverse interests even as they develop basic skills – communication and critical thinking – that serve them well in many professions and endeavors," Foster said. "Our departments offer various ways in which to explore human behavior and diverse cultures and societies – to understand the world in new ways. Students who enter college unsure of what they want to study have time to experiment with various disciplines within H&SS before deciding on a major and even then, can settle on an interdisciplinary major."

Foster said that some students and, more often parents may ask, "What can you do with a major in the humanities or social sciences?"

"My first response is always, 'What can't you do?' That's a glib answer that evokes an important point. The basic analytical and communication skills that H&SS courses provide prepare students for a host of careers," said Foster, who pointed out that one H&SS alumnus was an English major who started a T-shirt store and another was a political science major who now runs a successful business.

"When he hires people, he wants to know if they can think, write and talk," Foster added. "Those are the skills our college teaches. And, at the same time, students develop insights and perspectives that will help them have a richer life and be better citizens."

The following programs are offered through the college:

A student participates in the Assistant Professor David Chicoine's Caylán Archaeological Project in Peru to help map out and excavate the 3,000 year-old-settlements there to gain a better understanding of life in the Formative Period.
Photo provided by HSS

Anthropology Anthropology is, at its core, the study of humankind. Because it is such a broad field, students are encouraged to take classes in the sciences, social sciences and humanities. LSU's anthropology courses include archaeology, cultural anthropology, folklore, physical and forensic anthropology and anthropological linguistics.

Communication Sciences & Disorders Students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication disorders learn about the linguistic, developmental, physiological and acoustic aspect of oral communication. The department's graduates become speech pathologists, which allows them to apply this foundational knowledge to the study of the nature and treatment of disordered speech, language and hearing.

Communication Studies Students explore how people sustain and change, experience, and interpret the world through symbolic action. Students study rhetoric, performance studies, and communication theory and, upon graduation, they are positioned to enter graduate or professional school, management training programs, public relations careers, positions with non-profit organizations and performance companies,

Economics The College of Humanities & Social Sciences offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics. This is an intercollegiate program offered with the E. J. Ourso College of Business.

English With concentrations in creative writing, literature, secondary education, and writing and culture, the Department of English at LSU offers something for everyone studying the English language.

French How good is the LSU French program? It has been recognized by the Cultural Services office of the French Ambassador to the United States as a Centre d'Excellence, and honor given to only 15 university French programs in America.

Geography Students interested in learning more about the world around them from a geographical perspective can earn either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree in geography at LSU. Students interested in human geography enter the BA program, while those interested in program mapping sciences or physical geography normally enter the BS program.

History – LSU's faculty bring history to life every day in a department as old as LSU itself. Faculty members are experts in everything from the Civil War to Chinese Confucianism, and while LSU is one of the nation's premier locations for studying Southern history, the department is also known for its work in the Middle Ages and Renaissance Studies, British history, and European intellectual history.

Students from Sharon L. Williams' poetry class share a meal together after presenting their Poetry Anthology project to community partner Connections for Life.
Photo by Eddy Perez/University Relations

Interdisciplinary Studies – The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies degree program at LSU has five areas of concentration, each of which creates a thematic interdisciplinary major: health sciences, studies in organization, leadership and society, writing and performing arts, and interdisciplinary studies. The latter concentration allows students the freedom to create their own academic focus, built around minors in three different departments.

International Studies – LSU's program blends elements of cultural anthropology, geography, history and political science to give students a cosmopolitan view of world issues and prepare them for the challenge of working across linguistic and cultural boarders.

Liberal Arts – LSU's liberal arts program is divided into six concentrations: African and African American studies, art history, classical civilization, disaster science and management, film and media arts, and women's and gender studies.

Philosophy – As the principal discipline in which reasoned analysis of fundamental issues of meaning and values takes place, courses in philosophy equip students for a wide range of opportunities in academia and beyond. A background in philosophy is helpful for further studies of law, linguistics, computer science, or any of the humanities or social sciences. Students can also follow a concentration in religious studies.

Political Science – Students interested in a career in government, academics or the private sector will all find something for them in the Department of Political Science. Students develop the knowledge and analytical skills necessary to contribute to the well-being of the nation, while the department as a whole acts as a valuable source of expertise for the local, state and national government.

Andrea Sonnier, secondary education English major, has been working with Lisi Oliver, English professor and director of the Interdepartmental Program in Linguistics, on a project to revamp literacy education for deaf students in public schools.
Photo by Jim Zietz/University Relations

Psychology – LSU offers a Bachelor of Science in psychology, emphasizing the scientific, methodology in psychological research. It also provides a strong background for graduate-level training in psychology, counseling, social work and related degrees.

Sociology – Sociology is the study of society. It is the who, what, where, when, why and how of social interaction. Students are taught by an outstanding array of faculty members, who provide the skills necessary to solve social and economic issues and challenges.

Spanish – As one of the three most widely spoken languages in the world, and the second most widely used language in the United States, knowing the Spanish language, customs and idioms can give students a critical edge in the world that awaits students after their graduation.

Numerous minor options are available in Humanities & Social Sciences. These include aerospace studies, African & African American studies, anthropology, art history, Asian studies, Chinese, Chinese culture and commerce, classical civilization, communication studies, disaster science & management, economics, English, film and media arts, French, geographic information systems, geography, German, Greek, history, international studies, Italian, Jewish studies, Latin, linguistics, philosophy, political discourse studies, political science, professional leadership, psychology, religious studies, rural sociology, sociology, Spanish and women's & gender studies.

Through the college's degree programs, students further develop skills in analytical reasoning, communication and critical thinking. The H&SS Communication Studio, Studio 151, helps to hone these important tools, and also gives students a chance to enhance their communication abilities by providing state-of-the-art workspaces and technology for written, oral, visual, and technological communication projects.

The College of Humanities & Social Sciences provides opportunities to learn and conduct research in traditional and emerging disciplines in 11 degree-granting departments, 10 interdisciplinary programs and two ROTC units - Army ROTC and Airforce ROTC.
Photo by Eddy Perez/University Relations

Each year, students from the H&SS receive recognition for their outstanding undergraduate accomplishments. In years past, students have been designated as Truman Scholars, Goldwater Scholars, members of the USA Today All USA College Academic Team, members of the LSU Tiger Twelve, and have received many other distinguished awards. In fact, the only two LSU students ever designated as Rhodes Scholars both earned degrees from H&SS.

"The strength of any college is in its students and faculty – and the bond they form," Foster said. "I think the fact that our students and faculty continue to receive important awards testifies both to the their individual abilities but also to the college's success in forming that all important bond."

In addition to its varied undergraduate curriculums, H&SS offers 15 graduate programs, with many offering both master's and Ph.D. degrees. These programs include anthropology, communication disorders, communication studies, comparative literature, creative writing, English, French, geography, Hispanic studies, history, liberal arts, philosophy, political science, psychology and sociology. Within these varied graduate programs, the college involves its students in research that answers fundamental questions and develops new knowledge even as it prepares them for productive professional careers.

For more information on the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, visit