The College of Arts & Sciences provides the fundamental training needed by all persons who wish to become college graduates. Students in all undergraduate schools and colleges in the University take more than half their courses during the first two years in the College of Arts & Sciences. In addition, the College provides pre-professional curricula for students who take their professional training elsewhere. Thus, pre-medical, pre-dental, pre-pharmacy, pre-law, pre-ministerial, pre-optometry, medical records administration, pre-nursing, and physical therapy training are available within the College of Arts & Sciences.
Majors are offered in the following: anthropology, biological sciences, chemistry, communication, criminology, economics, English, foreign languages, general liberal arts, general science, geoscience, history, interdisciplinary studies, international business, mathematics, medical technology, microbiology, music, physics, political science, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and social work.
Students who are undecided about a specific curriculum should select the Undeclared category. Advisors are available to assist these students in developing their educational and career goals. A student is permitted to delay a decision as to a field of concentration for one year.
Minors are available in the following: aerospace studies, African American studies, anthropology, biological sciences, chemistry, communication, data analytics and society, English, foreign languages, gender studies, geography, geology, geoscience, history, international studies, leadership, linguistics, mathematics, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology, religion, social justice studies, sociology, and statistics.
In addition to these majors and minors, courses are offered in Air Force ROTC, archaeology, Army ROTC, corrections, and gerontology. Information concerning these offerings can be found in this section of the catalog.
The educational mission of the College of Arts & Sciences is two-fold: to provide students with a liberal education that will facilitate intellectual development and stimulate a life-long pursuit of knowledge, and to give students an in-depth education in at least one specialized area necessary to prepare them for a career or for advanced study.
The College offers curricula in the fine arts, the humanities, the sciences, and the social sciences. These curricula are designed to introduce students to the basic methods of inquiry in diverse disciplines, to develop their analytical abilities, to improve their skills in writing and speaking, and to broaden their perspectives on humanity and culture in the natural and technological worlds. Additionally, they provide intensive preparation in one or more academic disciplines.
A liberal education attained in this context should ensure that graduates of the College have gained an understanding and appreciation of human culture. They should have examined the social, historical, political, philosophical, and economic dimensions of the human condition and humankind’s perception of the world as it is expressed through the fine arts, language, and literature. They should have learned the use of quantitative and scientific methods and should have participated in the universal quest to comprehend natural phenomena and to utilize this knowledge beneficially and ethically.
Students in the College of Arts & Sciences are assigned an advisor in their home department, and the student's advisor assignment may be updated throughout their time in the major. Students should consult their assigned advisor for course scheduling each semester and for assistance in navigating academic concerns and needs.
The College of Arts & Sciences offers three degrees: the Bachelor of Arts, the Bachelor of Social Work, and the Bachelor of Science. All B.A., B.S., and B.S.W. students take a common set of requirements consisting of 25-29 semester credit hours in basic skills, 9-10 semester credit hours in natural sciences, 6 semester credit hours each in humanities and social sciences, and 3 semester credit hours in fine arts, computer literacy, and a junior/senior level writing course. The B.A. and B.S.W. curricula require 12 additional semester credit hours each in humanities and social sciences. The requirements for all three degrees as well as the curricula for specific areas of study are described below. Details for B.S.W. degree requirements are listed under Social Work.
In order to qualify for a second bachelor’s degree at Mississippi State University, the candidate must meet the following requirements:
- The student must satisfy all course requirements for the degree sought; and
- The student must satisfy residency requirements at Mississippi State University after the first degree has been conferred (30 hours upper division work).
The major department from which the second degree is sought shall determine completion of requirements.
College Requirements for All A&S Degrees
The College of Arts & Sciences has identified graduation requirements that must be satisfied by all students pursuing degrees conferred by the College. Furthermore, these requirements (listed immediately below) must be satisfied from a list of courses approved by the College. These approved courses are taken from a longer list of courses satisfying general education requirements, which can be found in the Academic Policies section of this Bulletin. However, majors in the College of Arts & Sciences must be aware that there are numerous courses on the General Education list that are not on the College approved list. Copies of the College courses approved list are available both from the Dean’s Office and from advisors.
Bachelor of Arts Degrees and Requirements
A Bachelor of Arts degree is offered in the following areas: anthropology, chemistry, communication, criminology, economics, English, foreign languages, general liberal arts, history, mathematics, music, philosophy, political science, and sociology. A minimum of 120-124 credit hours is required in all B.A. programs, 31 of which must be upper-division (3000-level or higher) courses in residence at Mississippi State University through Arts & Sciences. The Bachelor of Social Work is offered in Social Work and follows the same basic regulations as the B.A. degree except that courses must be taken in proper sequence and a minimum of 124 hours is required.
The liberal arts include certain basic academic disciplines that contribute to the development of intelligent, moral beings. Over the centuries various subjects have at one time or another been spoken of as “liberal arts,” but the objective of liberal-arts training has remained unchanged. Whether students major in liberal arts or whether they merely take a few basic courses in that field, the liberal arts will enable them to develop those fundamental habits of good citizenship and cultural awareness that are expected of all members of our society.
The curriculum in liberal arts at Mississippi State University is intended to provide:
- a broad educational experience in the liberal arts, regardless of professional objectives;
- adequate preparation for admission to professional schools and graduate schools in the liberal arts disciplines;
- specialized training of a professional or pre-professional nature, as offered by the several liberal-arts departments.
Bachelor of Science Degrees and Requirements
A Bachelor of Science degree is offered in the following areas: biological sciences, chemistry, general science, geoscience, interdisciplinary studies, mathematics, medical technology, microbiology, physics, and psychology.
The Bachelor of Science degree is awarded:
- on the completion of not fewer than 124 semester credit hours of study including 31 upper-division Arts & Sciences approved credits and the common curricula for Arts & Sciences approved by the dean and an official advisor.
- on the transfer of satisfactory credits from other institutions, provided the candidate, during at least one academic year in actual residence, receives 31 credits in upper-division courses in the College of Arts & Sciences.
Graduation Requirements in the College
Arts & Sciences majors are responsible both for knowing the graduation requirements associated with their degree program and for keeping track of their own progress toward graduation. Departmental advisors are available to offer students informed answers to their questions and, during registration, to review and approve their course schedules. In addition to the graduation requirements outlined above, students pursuing majors in the College of Arts & Sciences need to be aware of a number of special requirements having to do with graduation.
- 75-hour check sheets: Students who have completed 75 or more semester hours (including ‘S’ hours) must meet with their advisors and complete a 75-hour check sheet or they will be unable to register for courses. A completed 75-hour check sheet allows a student to determine which graduation requirements are not completed at the time the check sheet is filled out; this then allows the student to identify those remaining courses they still need to pass in order to graduate. A 75-hour check sheet cannot be completed until all transfer course work and/or independent study is on record with the Office of the Registrar.
- Off-Campus Study: Arts & Sciences majors are expected to take courses on the Mississippi State University campus when possible. If the desired courses are not offered, or if special circumstances exist, students may receive permission from the Dean to take courses off campus.
- CLEP Credit: The College does not allow graduation requirements in English Composition, Literature, or Public Speaking to be satisfied by the awarding of CLEP credit.
- PE: Only two 1-hour PE courses may be used toward graduation requirements.
English and Foreign Language Requirements
The English and foreign language requirements apply to all Arts & Sciences students. Since departments have the authority to require specific foreign languages for their majors, students must become familiar with the language required by their individual major. The foreign language requirement is ordinarily satisfied:
The B.A. degree requires a 3rd-semester proficiency in a foreign language. Students may fulfill the requirement through placement tests administered by the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literature or by passing nine hours of a foreign language. One year of a foreign language taken at the high school level allows a student to bypass one semester of foreign language. Students are encouraged to take the foreign language placement test before enrolling in a foreign language course.
The B.S. degree requires a 2nd-semester proficiency in a foreign language. Students may fulfill the requirement through placement tests administered by the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literature or by passing six hours of a foreign language.
Students For Whom English is a Second Language. Students for whom English is a second language must fulfill the English and foreign language requirements as stated in this bulletin. Most majors allow these students to use their native languages to fulfill the foreign language requirement, but students planning to use their native language in order to satisfy the foreign language requirement are urged to check with their major department to determine if that language is acceptable to the department. The following conditions must be met for students using a native language:
- Complete a Request for Foreign Language Requirement Exception form and obtain approval by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
- The native language is a recognized mode of communication in conducting official business in a given country and taught in the primary and secondary schools of the country (regional languages and dialects do not qualify as official languages).
- If the student is a native speaker of one of the major languages taught on campus, credit will be satisfied by taking a 4000+ level course in that language.
- If the student is a native speaker of any other language, the student may choose an alternate course from a list provided by and approved in writing by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
In the Department of English, a maximum of 12 semester hours total of English as a Second Language (ESL) and freshman composition courses including the required EN 1103 and EN 1113 may be counted for graduation. Proper placement of international students from ESL courses into English composition courses is important to students’ academic success.
The College offers appropriate curricula for students who plan to enter schools of dentistry, law, medicine, theology, nursing, optometry, pharmacy, and physical therapy. These are described with the departmental entries in the following pages.
Arts & Sciences Core
In order to satisfy College graduation requirements, students seeking B.A., B.S., or B.S.W. degrees must take the number of courses indicated in each of the areas below. By satisfying these College requirements, students will also satisfy all analogous General Education requirements.
B.A. and B.S.W. students must complete 12 hours in A&S Humanities and 12 hours in A&S Social Sciences in addition to the two courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences required of all majors. Hence, a student must complete a total of 18 hours in A&S Humanities AND 18 hours in A&S Social Sciences.
These additional 24 hours are not limited to the specific courses listed below; they may be satisfied by others in the Arts & Sciences Humanities and Social Science disciplines as long as they satisfy the distribution requirements for the major.
While all of the courses below satisfy college-wide requirements, individual departments may require that particular courses in each area be taken to satisfy requirements for their majors.
NOTE: Courses separated by “OR” cannot be taken in combination. Students will not receive credit in Arts & Sciences for two courses which are separated by “OR.”
Also, Honors classes satisfy requirements and students who qualify are encouraged to take the Honors sections.