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I'm confused about college degrees and majors.

  1. Nov 25, 2007 #1
    My heart is with physics, but I know that a Liberal Arts education is a better fit. The thing is, as I read through the literature and programs, I have become confused:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowdoin_College" [Broken]

    I'm interested in a liberal arts degree. I see these majors but I don't see "liberal arts" in that list. Should I take that to mean that while I might pursue a liberal arts degree, I also declare a major from that list? I had thought that liberal arts would be the major. I don't understand this.

    The University of Maine Graduate School offers "Advanced Degree Options," which includes "Liberal Studies" in a list like "Accounting, Animal Sciences, Biochemistry, Biological Engineering..."

    http://factsheets.umaine.edu/UWP/7c-GRD.pdf [Broken]

    They offer an MA (Master of Arts) in Liberal Studies (at the graduate level).

    http://www2.umaine.edu/graduate/content/File/mals-brochure.pdf [Broken]

    Does this mean that one can have an MA in Liberal Studies with a major in x? I guess my confusion might be a misunderstanding of what a major is versus a degree. I thought they were the same thing.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 25, 2007 #2
    A "liberal arts education" / "liberal arts degree" is not a specific major or program. If you take any major (including Physics) under the header of the "College of Arts & Sciences" at most universities in the U.S. you're required to take all sorts of stuff like literature courses and history courses and whatnot in addition to your physics courses. This is what is meant by a liberal arts degree. There may be a "liberal studies" major at some colleges, this has nothing to do with a "liberal arts degree."
  4. Nov 25, 2007 #3
    The liberal arts have a historic meaning.


    Specifically degrees with a major in something like philosophy, english literature, or history are what is standardly considered the "liberal arts degree." But generally, getting a liberal arts degree pretty much means you're studying in a college titled "arts and sciences" and not in a business college or school of engineering.
  5. Nov 25, 2007 #4


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    Malignamius, you are expecting too much worth of a "Liberal Arts" degree program. Could you use a major field of Physics with either a minor in another subject area? Maybe include some advised courses of English, languages, and social sciences. Also, you checked and made a quote from a wikipedia article of a college. If you want to look at college and university programs, check a real website of the institution or check an actual copy of the catalog. Many institutions offer an official "Liberal Arts" or "Liberal Studies" program. You could attend one of those, and place extra emphasis on Mathematics and/or Physics.
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