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message from the dean:

The social mission of the arts and humanities at UC San Diego is central to a great public university. They teach us how to read and write and show us ways of teaching others to live fully and creatively in society…
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Office of the Dean
Division of Arts and Humanities
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive # 0406
La Jolla, CA 92093-0406

tel: (858) 534-6270
fax: (858) 534-0091
dean-ah@ucsd.edu

Why Major in the Arts or Humanities?

A Message to Prospective Undergraduates

It is not uncommon for the student of the Arts or Humanities to be confronted with questions like: “what are you going to do with that?”, or “that’s fun, but how are you going to make a living?” As typical and trite as these questions might sound they are nevertheless alarming and many undergraduates worry that a major in the Arts or Humanities is not as useful or rewarding as a degree in, say, the sciences or engineering. To compound these worries many undergraduates find themselves burdened by rising tuition and an increasingly competitive job market upon graduation, and thus find themselves needing to justify their academic pursuits in a way that makes seeming financial sense. However, those with experience in the field know that much of the typical skepticism surrounding study in the Arts or Humanities is unfounded.

While it is perhaps true that it is easier to quantify the benefits of an Engineer’s bridge, or a Biologist’s vaccine, advancements in the Arts and Humanities have a profound and no less tangible affect on our lives and our society; a world without Music and the Visual Arts would make the internet an austere place to navigate, just as the Constitution of the United States would have been robbed of much of its most cherished content if it weren’t for the work of the moral and political philosophers of the Renaissance. Or imagine the affect of film without the acting of Charlie Chaplin, or the printing press without the nuanced pen of Jane Austen. There is simply no way around the fact that students who choose to major in the Arts or Humanities place themselves at the heart of one of society’s most salient productive endeavors.

It is also true that a major in the Arts or Humanities cultivates distinctive skills and talents that are useful in a wide array of careers outside of one’s area major area, as well for personal development. Majors in the Humanities are rigorous and clear thinkers and writers, and majors in the Arts develop an uncanny ability for verbal and visual self-expression. Moreover, students from the Arts or Humanities are likely to score just as high on average on many graduate level standardized tests as their counter-parts in the Sciences. Whether they go on to specialize in an academic field, or whether they go on to work as lawyers, news reporters, or graphic designers, majors in the Arts or Humanities have a unique and diverse skill set to draw on whatever they decide to do. Finally, a major in the Arts or Humanities is unique in its ability to develop students capacities for critical self reflection and development, making their experience of life more rich and diverse.

UCSD’s Division of Arts and Humanities is a special place to pursue one’s passions. Our faculties in every field are renowned, as is our commitment to an open and diverse intellectual environment. Just see what current students and alumni are saying about their experience here.