The College of Arts and Sciences offers programs of study leading to five degrees: the Bachelor of Arts, the Bachelor of Science, the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, the Bachelor of Science in Education, and the Bachelor of Music. The programs are designed to carry out the educational objectives of the University through courses in the arts and humanities, the social sciences, the natural sciences and mathematics.

The curricula of the College are primarily organized around the major disciplinary fields of inquiry traditionally recognized in the wider world of higher education, both in the United States and abroad. In each of its varied and diverse parts, the College offers challenging opportunities for general education and for intensive academic exploration, for breadth and for depth. Consequently, candidates for degrees in arts and sciences, regardless of the specific degree or major, are required to demonstrate high capability in general as well as in specialized study.

College Core Curriculum

This curriculum is based on an interrelated set of principles that emphasize intellectual and practical skills, transferable tools for integrative learning, and disciplinary perspectives. It recognizes writing, oral communication, and information literacy as central tools for learning and disseminating new knowledge that permeate the entirety of the learning experience. The curriculum is intended to help students understand the synergistic and complementary relationships among academic disciplines and their varied approaches to describing, analyzing, comprehending, interpreting, and critiquing a range of phenomena in both human cultures and the physical and natural world. In doing so, it will prepare students to apply the skills, knowledge and sense of responsibility they have gained to new settings and complex problems as engaged citizens in an interconnected world.

Although students will satisfy the requirements in different ways, each student must devise a program in accordance with the College Core Curriculum and the University Writing Requirement.

Components of the College Core Curriculum

Intellectual Skills

Tools for Critical Engagement

Disciplinary Perspectives
(two from each division; one course must meet the divisional learning goals)

Disciplinary Depth

One course from each of the Tools for Critical Engagement categories may also count as a course within the Disciplinary Perspectives categories, but not the Disciplinary Perspectives course(s) used to meet the CCC learning goals. AP and IB credits may only be used to fulfill requirements that are not linked to learning goals. Those credits transferred from other institutions may be used to fulfill requirements with or without learning goals only when approved by the appropriate department chair or the coordinator of the CCC. Any course that fulfills a College Core Curriculum requirement can count toward a major or minor or to fulfill the Writing Requirement.

The following descriptions articulate the learning outcomes for each of the types of courses within the components of the curriculum.


Transferable knowledge and a range of intellectual abilities drawn from different modes of inquiry across disciplines are essential components of any liberal education. These courses help students develop important academic capacities for use during their undergraduate career and in the rapidly changing world they will enter after college.

Foundation Seminar

(one writing-intensive W1 course in the fall of the first year)

Students will develop writing, reading, speaking, listening, and information literacy skills necessary for collegiate-level academic work.

Students will develop capacities for independent academic work and become self-regulated learners.

Lab Science

(one course from the list of designated courses)

Students will develop a unified understanding of scientific theory and practice in modern natural science.

Students will demonstrate an understanding of the development of science as an intellectual pursuit and of the ways in which scientific ideas are formulated, modified, and come to be accepted.

Students will demonstrate skill in the application of scientific techniques and methods, including the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, and communication of results.

Foreign Language

(one course from the list of designated courses)

Students will study language as a complex multifunctional phenomenon — as a system for communicating thought and information and as an essential element of human thought processes, perceptions, and self-expression — that allows students to understand different peoples and their communities.

Students will examine the world, their own culture, and their own language through the lens of a foreign language and culture.

Integrated Perspectives Course

(one team-taught interdisciplinary course taken during the sophomore or junior year from the list of designated courses)

Students will recognize, construct, and evaluate connections among different intellectual methods, ways of learning, and bodies of knowledge.


Courses in this category provide students with an opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge to problems and issues that challenge us today or have done so throughout history.

Diversity in the United States

(one course from the designated list of courses)

Students will acquire contextualized knowledge about some aspect of complex group interactions in the United States.

Students will use concepts and tools of inquiry from at least one discipline to analyze issues related to the diversity of cultural experiences in the United States.

Students will reflect critically on the ways in which diversity (broadly understood) within the United States shapes the experience of citizens and persons residing in the United States.

Environmental Connections

(one course from the designated list of courses)

Students will analyze, evaluate, and synthesize complex interrelationships between humans and the natural world.

Students will evaluate critically their personal connections to the natural world in one of the following ways: reasoning about ethical issues, directly experiencing the natural world, connecting to their community, or relating individual choices to larger societal goals.

Students will apply knowledge of the physical, cultural, or social connections between humans and the natural world, according to their interests and disciplinary preferences, in at least one of the following ways:

  • Tracing the fundamental physical interconnections between humans, other species and the environment
  • Explaining how natural systems function and how human actions affect them
  • Distinguishing between human impacts and natural changes
  • Elucidating the concept of sustainability
  • Analyzing past cultural constructions of the environment
  • Analyzing current cultural narratives that shape our relationship to the environment
  • Analyzing societal mechanisms that influence our relationship to the environment
  • Assessing governance and political conflicts regarding human-environment relationships
  • Understanding the role of technological, economic and scientific knowledge in environmental decision-making and power relations between social actors.

Global Connections

(one course from the designated list of courses)

Students will use concepts and tools of inquiry to examine the beliefs, history, social experiences, social structures, artistic or literary expressions, and/or traditions of one or more cultures or societies located outside the United States.


Students will use appropriate tools of inquiry to understand the interdependent nature of the global system and the consequences this interdependence has for political, economic, and social problems.

Quantitative Reasoning

(one course from the designated list of courses)

Students will demonstrate college-level knowledge of a body of mathematical and/or statistical techniques suitable for modeling and analyzing real world questions/situations, and will gain some experience in such modeling, including experience in building, describing, testing, analyzing, and making predictions from such models.


Based on a focused course experience, students will apply basic mathematical and/or statistical techniques at a college level of sophistication in the analysis and modeling of real-world questions or problems, including experience in building, describing, testing, analyzing, and making predictions from such models.


Students will formulate questions and propositions for quantitative analysis, translate the question into a form appropriate for the chosen quantitative model, and interpret and evaluate the results of the model in ways meaningful to the problem at hand. Students will demonstrate the ability to assess the validity and limitations of quantitative models and an understanding of the role of the assumptions made in the construction of these models.


Courses in this category expose students to a wide range of modes of intellectual inquiry. To ensure that students sample broadly from the curricular offerings of the College of Arts and Sciences, they are required to take two courses from each of the College's divisions — the Division of Arts and Humanities, the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and the Division of Social Sciences. One course in each division must meet the learning goals stated below.

Arts and Humanities

(two courses; one must be from the designated list of courses)

Textual Analysis and Interpretation:

Students will interpret texts with awareness of the texts' basic orientation in the world (historical, philosophical, religious, linguistic, etc.).

Students will construct arguments and evaluate canons using the evidence and tools of critical analysis appropriate to the object of inquiry.

Students will develop an appreciation of the fundamental ambiguities and complexities involved in all human attempts to answer questions about knowledge, values, and life.


Arts Literacy and Practice:

Students will appreciate, evaluate, and articulate the aesthetic and formal elements of a work of art.


Students will comprehend and interpret works of art within historical and cultural contexts.


Students will synthesize conceptual, formal, aesthetic and technical elements resulting in the performance or creation of works of art.

Natural Sciences and Mathematics

(two courses; one must be from the designated list of courses)

Students will demonstrate knowledge of scientific and/or mathematical content and principles in a disciplinary field.

Students will develop skills that enhance their ability to think critically about scientific, technological, and/or mathematical issues.

Social Sciences

(two courses; one must be from the designated list of courses)

Students will understand and examine the ways in which individuals interact with, and are shaped by, social groups, institutions, and social structures and how these social constructions shape history, space, values, culture, and behavior.


Students will understand how behavior is shaped by biological and environmental history and the choices made throughout life.


Students will apply principles of social and/or behavioral analysis drawn from various theoretical frameworks to critically interpret behavior and/or social issues.


The Major(s)

The disciplinary depth component of the curriculum provides students with the opportunity for sustained study in an academic discipline. Students learn to think deeply about a set of linked topics and the methodology of academic investigation in a specific field or a set of subfields, and within these categories they extend and develop their own ideas with more sophisticated and informed analysis. They acquire the intellectual confidence that comes from mastery of a body of knowledge and develop the skills to apply their learning beyond their coursework.

The academic major provides students with a framework for focused disciplinary study. Through a set of linked courses defined by faculty in departments and programs, students develop expertise in their discipline. Students in major courses have common academic backgrounds, and therefore upper-level major courses can address academic material at a sophisticated level.

Academic Conventions of Writing, Speaking, and Information Literacy

The College faculty has identified writing, speaking, and information literacy as essential intellectual competencies that need to be mastered by competent graduates. In-depth and discipline-specific study affords students an opportunity to practice these activities at a high level; therefore the curriculum of each major helps students meet the learning goals of speaking, information literacy, and writing through a variety of means.

Writing: Students will develop their writing abilities through coursework in the University Writing Program. Courses in the major will allow students to apply their writing ability to address and investigate issues at a more sophisticated level due to their mastery of the subject matter. These courses will allow students to write about topics they know best.

Speaking: Students will develop skills in formal presentation at a level reasonable for a college graduate in the particular major. Ways in which this skill can be obtained and practiced include but are not restricted to a course with student presentations, honors thesis defense, talk in a student colloquium series, presentation at a conference, or presentation of significant course projects.

Information Literacy: In the Foundation Seminar and in many other courses students have achieved basic competency in finding, analyzing, evaluating, and effectively using various sources of information. Courses in the major will build on these skills and introduce students to field-specific information retrieval techniques and to critical evaluation of content as customary in the field.

Culminating Experience

In addition to completing a body of specialized coursework, students in each major will complete an approved Culminating Experience usually in their senior year. Second-semester juniors may complete a Culminating Experience in a major with permission of the adviser and the department chair or program coordinator. The successful Culminating Experience will draw together a student's disciplinary experiences and provide a more coherent appreciation of the major's academic discipline. The structure of the Culminating Experience is left to the discretion of the faculty in the department or program offering the major (subject to the review of the Arts and Sciences Curriculum Committee). Types of Culminating Experiences will vary by major, but they may include a senior seminar, interdisciplinary course, independent study project, service learning, or an honors thesis.

Majors may be pursued in either the Bachelor of Arts degree program or from among the several Bachelor of Science and professional degree programs offered by the College of Arts and Sciences. When a major is available in more than one degree program, the choice of degree will likely depend upon the student’s overall educational objectives: those seeking to emphasize a broader grounding in the liberal arts may choose the Bachelor of Arts degree program; those seeking to emphasize more sustained study in the major field may choose one of the Bachelor of Science or professional degree programs. Regardless of the choice of degree program, however, students will have the opportunity to fulfill all of the objectives of a liberal education and of specialization and to prepare for future endeavors, including advanced study.


The Bachelor of Arts degree program provides both a minimal and a maximum number of courses to be studied in the major. Accordingly, in addition to meeting the College Core Curriculum requirements and objectives, the student is encouraged, and has ample opportunity, to pursue electives which will supplement and further broaden the educational experience.

The end and aim of such an extended, and extensive, liberal studies education is the development and orientation of an intelligent and a responsible individual. The liberal studies are the starting point and constant preoccupation of men and women who are committed to the belief that knowledge is important for its own sake and that the pursuit of perfection is worth all the work that it requires. After college, students who have elected liberal studies may discover great practical advantage, for they have laid the foundations for an understanding of their cultural heritage, of the contemporary world, of the hierarchy of values, and of themselves. They also have learned much about their own abilities, their strengths, and their limitations.

For the student who has professional ambitions, and who therefore faces the prospect of spending from three to six years in specialized graduate study, the curriculum of liberal studies is invaluable. Graduate schools as well as training programs in industry are coming to expect a liberal education as a qualification for admission.

Liberal education is not incompatible with specialization. It is liberal education that gives a broader usefulness to specialization. Graduate and professional schools and employment training programs expect that specialized instruction be based on a liberal foundation. Because it establishes the conditions for development of an individual's potential, such a foundation becomes a means of achieving a higher degree of professional and technical competency. It stabilizes the balance of judgment and supports the resourcefulness and the creativity of the specialist.

The process of attaining the Bachelor of Arts degree serves in achieving the goals of a liberal education. Each student who is a candidate for this degree, with the assistance of a faculty adviser, is required to plan a personal program of study. It is obvious that the planning of such a program is itself a task of considerable difficulty and that it may well be the most demanding responsibility a student must face. When it is wisely carried out, it will represent a major achievement of the undergraduate years.

The major must be chosen no later than the second semester of the sophomore year. (Occasionally a student will undertake a double major, which entails meeting all obligations of each of the two fields selected.)

Three types of major programs are available:

The Established Departmental and Interdepartmental Majors

Students who wish to pursue a major in a discipline may do so by selecting from among many established programs: animal behavior, anthropology, studio art, art history, biology, chemistry, classics, comparative humanities, computer science, East Asian studies, economics, education, English, environmental geology, environmental science, environmental studies, French, geography, geology, German, history, international relations, Italian studies, Latin American studies, linguistics, mathematics, music, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology, religion, Russian, sociology, Spanish, theatre, and women’s and gender studies. Students select a major during the fourth semester of study, at which time the program of studies is established in consultation with an academic adviser and approved by the department or interdepartmental program chair concerned. A major normally requires a minimum of eight courses.

The Individual Interdepartmental Major

Students in the Bachelor of Arts curriculum who wish to investigate subjects, issues, or interests that cannot be served practically by the offerings of an established major may do so by proposing an interdepartmental major. This major shall consist of not fewer than eight or more than 12 courses chosen from among the offerings of two or more departments. This procedure will require also the completion for credit of a senior project to serve as a means of unifying the experience of the interdepartmental major. All proposals for individual interdepartmental majors are evaluated and approved by the associate dean of the College. Any additional requirements or special adjustments in this program will be proposed by the student and the principal adviser and approved by the associate dean.

For an interdepartmental major, students should follow this procedure:

  • In consultation with professors and advisers in the departments offering courses clearly related to their special interests, they should define the limits and the central purpose of a major program of interdepartmental study.
  • Next, with the assistance of their advisers, they should prepare a formal proposal including (1) a statement of the reasons they wish to pursue an interdepartmental major, (2) a list of the courses that will constitute their program of study, and (3) a preliminary description of the senior project and the ways in which it will serve to unify and integrate the various courses of study. (A complete and detailed description must be submitted before registration in the spring of the student’s junior year.) This formal application normally is due before spring break of the sophomore year.
  • Having satisfied these obligations, students should obtain endorsements of their proposals from those members of the faculty with whom they have conferred and from the heads of the departments in which they plan to complete their major.
  • Finally, they should be assured that their advisers will continue to assist them, and that one of them will serve as principal adviser or sponsor.

The College Major

Whereas most majors are based upon a field of study and primarily emphasize mastery of the subject, the college major does not require competence in only one academic discipline, but focuses instead upon the overall intellectual development of the individual student. In so doing, it offers maximum freedom in meeting educational interests, but at the same time imposes unusual responsibility for designing a coherent program. In cooperation with their advisers, an acceptable course of study is prepared. They also must complete a senior project which will integrate the diverse material they have studied. This project is planned not later than the final months of the junior year.

To register as a college major, students must prepare a detailed statement of educational goals, projecting a series of courses for the ensuing semester and providing a rationale for their program. This statement must be endorsed in writing by three faculty members, one of whom will initially become the student’s adviser. At registration for each succeeding semester, another proposal specifying courses for that term must be submitted to the adviser and the dean. Admission to the college major program after five semesters of study requires approval of the dean. Additional information about the college major may be obtained from the Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Maximum Concentration

Within the 32 courses required for the Bachelor of Arts degree, a maximum of 12 courses may be taken in a single department. However, this 12-course limitation does not apply per se to the following departments: art and art history; classics; languages, cultures, and linguistics; sociology and anthropology; or theatre and dance. In these departments the limitation applies to each of the programs in which a major is offered.

In those rare instances in which serious deficiency in a student’s major program occurs, the student affected may submit a petition through the faculty adviser and department chair to the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences requesting that an exception be made to the 12-course limit. This right of petition is to be exercised only when a serious deficiency develops in a student's chosen major and after the seriousness of the deficiency has been assessed in the light of the student’s demonstrated pursuit of a broad, liberal education. Evidence of such pursuit should include the use of elective courses, which go beyond the minimal requirements, to more fully realize the disciplinary breadth and the broadened perspective objectives (as noted in the discussion of those requirements). The petition must be recommended by a faculty adviser and endorsed by the student's department chair.


The Bachelor of Science and the professional degree programs require and permit greater specialization. Each of these programs has more extensive major and major-related requirements than do comparable majors in the Bachelor of Arts degree program. Unlike the Bachelor of Arts degree, each of these degree programs does not limit the number of electives which may be taken in the major beyond the minimal requirements.

Natural Sciences and Mathematics

The Bachelor of Science curricula are offered for those who seek an education founded upon the sciences but including instruction in the humanities and social sciences. These curricula, based on the requisites of scientific knowledge, provide a thorough preparation in the field of the student’s major interest without neglecting complementary study in other areas. After completing one of these curricula, the student is qualified to pursue graduate or professional studies, or to enter research positions in industry. Bachelor of Science students generally enter Bucknell having already selected a major.

The College of Arts and Sciences offers Bachelor of Science majors in animal behavior, applied mathematical sciences, biology, cell biology/biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, environmental geology, geology, interdisciplinary studies in economics and mathematics, mathematics, neuroscience, and physics.

Professional Degree Programs

The Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (B.S. B.A.), Bachelor of Science in Education (B.S. Ed.), and Bachelor of Music (B. Mus.) programs provide professional development that is strongly grounded in the larger context of a liberal education. Students in these programs, like those in other Bachelor of Science programs described above, devote a larger proportion of their studies to the major than candidates for the Bachelor of Arts degree.

Students pursuing the B.S. B.A. degree may major in Accounting and Financial Management, Global Management, Managing for Sustainability, or Markets, Innovation and Design. The B.S. Ed. degree leads to certification in Early Childhood Education (Pre-K-4). The B. Mus. program offers majors in performance, music education, and composition.

Pre-Health Professions Preparation

The coursework for admission into the various graduate programs in the health sciences may be completed through work toward either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in practically any department. Most graduate programs require a minimum of undergraduate work equivalent to one year each in biology, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and mathematics; however requirements vary both by discipline and by program within a discipline. Students planning for such careers should consult the catalogs of the schools of their choice for specific requirements and suggested courses and register with the Pre-Health Professions Adviser as soon as possible after enrollment in Bucknell.

Integrated B.S./M.S. Degrees

Undergraduate students who have completed three years at Bucknell with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.80, and who show aptitude for graduate study, may apply for admission to the integrated Bachelor of Science/Master of Science degree program available in the departments of chemistry or mathematics. This program permits selected students to complete all requirements for both degrees in five years.

Writing Competency

To satisfy the University writing requirement, a student must successfully complete three writing courses: one course designated W1 (which must be taken during the first year and which must be taken before the W2 courses) and two W2 courses (usually taken after the first year, but, in any case, at least one of which must be taken after the first year). Lists of W1 and W2 courses are available from the Registrar's office web page ( under Course Information.

Writing courses are designed to enhance the student’s understanding of the writing process and to emphasize that writing is a way of learning as well as a communication skill. They may be taken in any department, including the student’s major.



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