Apr 20, 2024  
Butler University Bulletin 2023-2024 
Butler University Bulletin 2023-2024

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Jay Howard, PhD, Dean; Elise Edwards, PhD, Associate Dean for Faculty and Program Development; LuAnne McNulty, PhD, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs; Jennifer L. Poor, PhD, Associate Dean for Student Academic Affairs

College Website

The power, importance, and centrality of the liberal arts are affirmed daily in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS). The College offers 33 majors and 36 minors across 12 departments and four programs in the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. Students in the College are encouraged and expected to explore different ways of understanding the world, to experience cultures diverse from their own, to practice critical thinking, to appreciate the value of and joy associated with learning, and to recognize the power their education provides them for personal gain and social change. A liberal arts degree from Butler positions students to do almost anything with their lives beyond Butler and to make a difference in their lives and in the lives of those with whom they interact.

We work on a daily basis to strengthen ties between students and faculty members. Students and their faculty mentors work closely together both in and out of the classroom. They conduct collaborative research projects, make joint presentations at professional meetings, and publish the results of their work in the literature of their disciplines. They talk about ideas, the future, and the world. And they very frequently remain in touch long after graduation.

We also believe that learning takes place in many settings in addition to the classroom. Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences participate in internships in Indianapolis and around the world, and they regularly study abroad and in various field locations.

Core Values of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

The liberal arts’ basic and historic purpose is at once to teach us to think for ourselves, to act wisely and well in the world, and to undertake occupations useful to ourselves and others.

Liberal arts education seeks ultimately to open us to the human condition in its pains and joys, thereby to nurture our personal integrity, and to foster in us compassion and respect for those whose lives we share in our own communities and around the world.

Liberal arts education rests on a paradox: thinking soundly for oneself means first listening carefully to the thoughts of others. The liberal arts urge us to cultivate ourselves through the consciousness of others; careful attention to their ideas and actions help us refine our own.

Liberal arts education is pluralistic. It is composed of many voices, each appropriate to time and place, some discordant, none absolute. It seeks to develop in us wit to judge which skills are appropriate at which times. Liberal arts education is restless. It takes nothing for granted. Its characteristic activity is not uncritical assent but critical judgment. It scrutinizes sacred truths of every sort.

The liberal arts develop not only critical but also creative skills, not only rational analysis but also creative expression. They seek to develop and realize the fullness of the human personality. Their exercise aims as well at preparing students to educate themselves long after they have left formal school. Liberal arts education is meant to train its students for public responsibility, not just private good.

A liberal arts education is as much about the journey as the destination. It takes as much delight in the minute-by-minute quirks of learning as in the fulfillment of distant goals. It balances the will to know with empathy and wonderment.

The Latin word “ars” means at once skill, knowledge, and practice. A liberal arts education begins with the skills of language and thought.

It teaches us to read well; to listen well; to write clear, concise prose; to speak privately in conversation, publicly in discussion, and formally in speeches; to judge one’s audience and regard one’s own words through the eyes and ears of others; to learn proper ways of integrating and citing the words and thoughts of others into one’s own work; to do these things reasonably well in languages and worldviews other than our own.

It teaches us to set out a case or hypothesis or argument; to evaluate the rigor of others’ arguments; to find and judge information in libraries, on the internet, and in other repositories. It teaches us modes of ascertaining truth and falsehood; resourcefulness appropriate to moral and aesthetic judgment; methods of logical, experimental, scientific, mathematical, and statistical reasoning.

These skills allow us to tackle and solve increasingly difficult and challenging problems, appreciate sources of bias and means of overcoming them, and entertain arguments from dissonant points of view. They develop in us a sense of subtlety, depth, and complexity.

A liberal arts education sees the cultivation of these skills not only as an end in itself but also as a preparation for the pursuit of knowledge and the other purposes of human life. The Chinese I Ching (Book of Changes) well captures a fundamental quality of liberal arts education when it intimates that knowledge and practice cannot be mastered until they have been regarded from different perspectives.

As students of the liberal arts, we cultivate as fully as possible the legacy of human thought, imagination, creativity, and research; observe nature; confront and evaluate important theories that shape our understanding of the world and how to care for it; figure out how societies, our own and those of others, work and can be improved; weigh the costs and benefits of modern human life to the individual and the planet; seek to grasp and reduce the sources of human hatred and conflict; aim to understand and strengthen what inspires human cooperation; explore the workings of the human mind and body; unknot claims of teachers, politicians, advertisers, scientists, preachers, columnists, and your roommate; ponder history from the earliest epochs to the unfolding present; investigate the mechanisms of the cosmos, from the atom to the stars; delve into the past experiences of our own and other societies, as well as the current news; make ourselves at home in other cultures; make those from other cultures at home among ourselves; see the interplay between our beliefs about the natural world and our beliefs about religion, politics, and culture; search out purpose, ponder the meaning of life, scrutinize the human heart, and weigh conscience; discover the sweep of living systems, from microbes to biomes; learn to account for ourselves in a moral world that is neither black nor white; engage in a careful search for truth; know the ways of money and the nature of work; wrestle with ideas about God; fathom the relations between technology and human life; raise children-our own and those of others; consider the well-being of future generations; appreciate the beauty and uses of mathematics; forge agreements with loved ones, friends, and enemies; and engage ourselves in the principles, purposes, and practice of public life.

As students of the liberal arts, we do these things as part of a community with venerable roots-a community still evolving in space and time, a community of thought, imagination, value, labor, and action.

General Information

College Graduation Requirements–Bachelor of Arts Degree

Students may be graduated upon completion of 120 semester hours, including the Core Curriculum, 40 hours of upper-division work (courses numbered 300 and above), the foreign language requirement, and a major in the College.

College Graduation Requirements–Bachelor of Science Degree

To receive a bachelor of science degree, students must, in addition to satisfying the regular University, College, and major requirements, complete at least 60 hours of courses in the natural sciences and mathematics–specifically courses in biological sciences, chemistry, physics, astronomy, mathematics, computer science, software engineering, and Core Curriculum courses in The Natural World and Analytic Reasoning.

Foreign Language Requirements

Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences seeking the degree of bachelor of arts or bachelor of science must demonstrate competence in a foreign language by earning at least 6 hours of credit in one foreign language at the 200 level or above. Foreign language courses are offered at the 100 level for students in need of preparation for more advanced study. Although 100-level courses do not satisfy the foreign language requirement, they do count as credit hours toward the degree. All first-year students must take a placement examination. Further information is available in the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures and the Department of History, Anthropology, and Classics. American Sign Language (ASL) also fulfills the LAS language requirement. Students should contact the College of Communication’s Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences program for more information on ASL. Students with Liberal Arts and Sciences secondary majors whose primary majors are in other colleges must fulfill the foreign language requirement.


Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences must declare their majors in the Office of the Dean. They then will be assigned an advisor in the department of their major. Programs are planned in consultation with this advisor and bear his or her approval. Students who change majors must also declare this change in the Office of the Dean. Students may choose majors from any of the following fields in the College:

  • Actuarial Science
  • Anthropology
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Chinese
  • Classics
    • Ancient Languages Track
    • Greek and Roman Culture Track
  • Computer Science
  • Criminology
  • Data Science
  • Economics
  • English
    • Concentration in Literature
    • Concentration in Creative Writing
    • Concentration in Literary Theory, Culture, and Criticism
    • Concentration in Professional Writing
  • Environmental Studies
    • Concentration in Applied Local Food Systems
  • French
  • German
  • History
  • Individualized Major
  • International Studies
  • Mathematics
  • Multilingual
  • Neuroscience
    • Concentration in Biological Neuroscience
    • Concentration in Computational Neuroscience
    • Concentration in Psychological Neuroscience
  • Peace and Conflict Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Public Health
  • Race, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Religion
    • Religious Studies Track
    • Religious Leadership Track
  • Science, Technology, and Society
    • Concentration in Technology Studies
    • Concentration in Health Studies
    • Concentration in Justice, Equity, and Democracy
  • Sociology
  • Sociology (with Specialization in Social Work and Social Policy)
  • Software Engineering
  • Spanish
  • Statistics

All majors consist of at least 30 hours in the subject with a minimum of 20 hours in courses numbered above 299. Ten hours of each major must be completed at Butler University. Grades below C- and courses taken pass/fail do not count toward the major.

Students may earn double majors (two majors within the College) or add a secondary major (a major in another college) to their major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Combined Majors

Combined majors consist of at least 40 hours in closely related fields, with 20 hours of upper-division courses, and must have the approval of the chair of each department or program concerned.

To assist students considering combined majors, LAS departments have developed standard lists of requirements for certain combined majors:

  • Anthropology and Religion
  • Anthropology and Psychology
  • Criminology and Psychology
  • History and Anthropology
  • History and Classics
  • History and Political Science
  • Philosophy and Psychology
  • Philosophy and Religion
  • Philosophy and Sociology
  • Political Science and Psychology
  • Psychology and Anthropology
  • Sociology and Criminology
  • Sociology (with Specialization in Social Work and Social Policy) and Criminology
  • Sociology (with Specialization in Social Work and Social Policy) and Psychology

Students may consult departments or the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences website for further information on these combined majors. They may also petition departments to consider other combined majors, or they may elect to propose an individualized major.


Students who choose to add minors to their programs indicate their choice on a form available in the Office of the Dean. They confer with the chair of the department for advising. The College offers minors in the following areas:

  • Actuarial Science
  • African Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Applied Local Food Systems
  • Asian Studies
  • Astronomy
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Chinese
  • Classics
  • Computer Science
  • Criminology
  • Data Science
  • Economics
  • English
    • Concentration in Literature
    • Concentration in Creative Writing
    • Concentration in Professional Writing
  • Environmental Studies
  • Ethics
  • French
  • Geography and Global Societies
  • German
  • History
  • International Studies
  • Mathematics
  • Medical Spanish
  • Museum Studies
  • Neuroscience
  • Peace and Conflict Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration: A Sociological Perspective
  • Race, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Religion
  • Science, Technology, and Society
  • Sociology
  • Spanish

A minor must consist of at least 18 hours of coursework in the subject. Ten hours of each minor must be completed at Butler University. Grades below C- and courses taken pass/fail do not count toward a minor.

For-Credit Internships

An academic internship (or for-credit internship) is an internship which is accompanied by academic work and for which the student receives academic credit. This internship is typically a short-term (semester or less) educationally valuable professional experience that one undertakes at a work site away from the University. Faculty-supervised research, apprenticeships, or work as laboratory or teaching assistants do not count as internships. Neither does participation in service-learning or practicum courses.

  • There is no limit on the number of academic internship hours for which a Butler student may enroll, but a maximum of 12 credit hours may count toward the 120 credit hours required for graduation.
  • A student cannot receive academic credit from more than one department or program for a single internship experience.

To ensure awarding of academic credit, appropriate paperwork must be filed prior to the start of the internship.

Degree after Completing One Year of Professional Study

Candidates for the degree of bachelor of arts or bachelor of science may be permitted to spend their senior year in an approved school of medicine, dentistry, law, religion, or forestry, and may receive a degree from Butler University provided they complete the following:

  • All Core Curriculum requirements of Butler University for the bachelor’s degree.
  • Foreign language requirement of the College.
  • 98 hours with a minimum GPA of 2.0. (Transfer students in LAS pre-professional programs who have successfully completed at least 64 semester hours at Butler University, of which at least 10 hours are upper-division, and who have a total of at least 98 hours, also may spend the senior year in professional school and complete the requirements for the BA or BS degree at Butler.)
  • All requirements for the major.
  • At the professional school, a number of credits equivalent in hours and grade points to the omitted work of the senior year at Butler University.

Preparation for Teacher Licensure

Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences may seek a teaching license, but preparation for licensure is handled by the College of Education. Students may choose a primary major in the College of Education and a secondary major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Alternatively, students may choose a primary major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, while taking courses required for licensure in the College of Education. In either case, advising concerning requirements for licensure is handled by the College of Education.

Associate Degree

To earn an associate degree, students are required to complete a minimum of 60 semester hours, including the University Core Curriculum with a reduced number of Butler Cultural Requirement events. A cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 is needed to graduate. The elective hours taken as part of an associate degree program may be taken in a particular field or major. Students may consult the Office of the Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences for further information concerning the degree.

In addition, the last 20 hours must be taken in residence at Butler unless permission for an exception is granted. Students who hold associate degrees may later earn bachelor’s degrees. To do so, they must complete a minimum of 15 additional hours at Butler University and all requirements for the second degree. A minimum of 20 hours of the associate degree must be taken at Butler University.

An associate of science (AS) degree is awarded if the majority of the elective hours are in a department that awards a bachelor of science degree to four-year degree recipients. Others receive the associate of arts (AA) degree.

Graduate Programs

Graduate programs in the College require a 30-hour major, plus a thesis, or a 36-hour major (non-thesis option), depending upon departmental requirements. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers the following graduate degrees:

  • Master of Arts in Literature
  • Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Information about these degrees is listed under the entry for the Departments of English.

For general information on applying and admission to any Butler graduate program or course, see the Admission Information and Requirements chapter . College- and program-specific requirements are detailed below.



African Studies

Go to information for African Studies.

Biological Sciences

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Chemistry and Biochemistry

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Computer Science and Software Engineering

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Go to information for Economics.


Go to information for English.

History, Anthropology, and Classics

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Individualized Major Program

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International Studies

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Mathematical Sciences

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Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Go to information for Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.


Go to information for Neuroscience.

Peace and Conflict Studies

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Philosophy and Religious Studies

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Physics and Astronomy

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Political Science

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Go to information for Psychology.

Public Health

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Race, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Go to information for Race, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Science, Technology, and Environmental Studies

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Sociology and Criminology

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