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About the College of Arts and Sciences

The Saint Louis University College of Arts and Sciences, established in 1818, is SLU's oldest and largest academic unit.

We offer academic degrees across a range of subjects and fields, including the humanities, sciences, visual and performing arts and social sciences, as well as opportunities and hands-on experience outside of the traditional classroom.

SLU's College of Arts and Sciences provides undergraduate students with a liberal education based on a core curriculum designed to educate the whole person. Our graduates are prepared to make value-centered, ethically-based judgments. They are academically competent in their chosen disciplines. And they are prepared to enter their professional or academic future inspired to be effective leaders for change.

Graduate students at the College of Arts and Sciences are leaders within their disciplines. At SLU, they gain the knowledge and skills that lead to breakthroughs in research and discoveries that are consistent with Jesuit values. Based on that 500-year-old educational tradition, our goal is to truly educate the whole person — mind, body, heart and spirit.

This holistic approach is designed to ensure that our graduates are rigorously prepared not only for the world of work, but also for the work of the world.

College of Arts and Sciences Mission

The College of Arts and Sciences is the heart of Saint Louis University, a Catholic, Jesuit institution whose mission is the pursuit of truth and the transmission of knowledge for the greater glory of God and for the service of humanity.

To fulfill this mission, the college aims to:

  • educate both undergraduate and graduate students in an atmosphere of personal concern;
  • encourage intellectual excellence, aesthetic appreciation, and critical thinking while still fostering spiritual and moral awareness;
  • challenge students to be ethically responsible members of a diverse society who continue to pursue and further their intellectual and moral development and critically reflect on their social commitment;
  • contribute to the discovery, synthesis, interpretation, and dissemination of new knowledge through significant research and publication; to serve academic and professional groups and the local and global communities by the application of knowledge to human issues and concerns.

Mission Statements of Departments and Programs

African American Studies


The African American Studies Department strives to complement the mission of Saint Louis University by serving as a critical link to the University's overall mission to make a difference in human lives and the quality of human life. The Program encourages research and teaching about Africana civilizations, framed in the context of world historical, legal, social, economic, and cultural development. The African American Studies Department seeks to bring creative tension to the traditional canons and values, which have served as the foundation of the liberal arts education, and broaden the scope of intellectual discourse to include cultural contexts.

American Studies

The mission of the American Studies Department at Saint Louis University is to provide an interdisciplinary approach to the study and analysis of the cultures of the United States and their development over time. It seeks to produce leading-edge scholarly and artistic publications, exhibitions, and performances from its faculty and students. Our department trains students to apply humanities and social science methods to literary, historical, visual, digital, and material culture sources, while cultivating skills in critical thinking, clear writing, and persuasive speaking. Through internships and collaborations with a variety of community institutions, we encourage students to engage in the world around them and to reflect ethically on the problems and issues addressed in the classroom.


Our mission, for the betterment of humanity and the natural world, is to foster an inclusive learning environment that advances understanding of biology through research and promotes inquiry, critical thinking, knowledge, and lifelong learning.


The Department of Communication believes that messages matter. We foster students’ abilities to produce and interpret messages in an ethical and thoughtful manner, so they can achieve their personal, professional, and civic goals in a diverse, global landscape.

We facilitate a better understanding of communication across a vast array of contexts to improve the quality of people’s lived experiences and create a more inclusive, equitable and just society.

We serve our university, discipline, and communities as advocates, allies, activists and scholars.


The Department of English trains students in the practice of writing and the study of literature. We engage the art of language in its full range of expression, including the production, distribution, reception, and interpretation of texts. In keeping with SLU's Jesuit mission, the Department cultivates habits of imagination and eloquence grounded in the rhetorical and literary traditions and as well as in encounters with emerging technologies, diverse cultures, and marginalized voices. Our students emerge as creative citizens prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

Undergraduate: Our students explore a variety of technologies of the word, including print and digital, oral and aural. Small classes taught by faculty at all levels promote community, mentoring, and dialogue. Major and minor studies begin with topics-based courses linking literary study to questions of social justice, gender, faith, and ecology. Students go on to take classes in literary forms, historical periods, cultural contexts, and rhetoric and argumentation. As they advance, majors concentrate in creative writing; literature; or rhetoric, writing and technology. Students may qualify for our Research Intensive English/Honors Program. Beyond the classroom, our students participate in the English club, publish creative work and original research, and pursue professional internships. Students may also participate in interdisciplinary programs in African American Studies; International Studies; Film; Medical Humanities; and Women’s and Gender Studies.

Graduate: Our master’s and doctoral candidates acquire the knowledge and skills demanded in an evolving profession. Our nationally ranked program begins with instruction in broad literary and rhetorical histories; students go on to develop expertise in argumentation situated within an area of specialization within British, American, and Postcolonial literatures. Students take courses in medieval and early modern literature, the long 19th century, modern/contemporary literature, and rhetoric and composition. There are also several student-led reading groups, including Woodewalkers (Medieval Literature), Athenaeum (Transatlantic Nineteenth-Century Literature), Rhetorica (Rhetoric and Composition), and the Postcolonial/South Asian Reading Group. Through instruction in research, pedagogy and technological innovations in the Humanities, our program prepares students to be post-secondary and university teachers and administrators. Many graduates also successfully pursue careers outside this academy.

Forensic Science

It is the mission of the Forensic Science Program to provide quality education necessary to perform scientific examinations of forensic evidence, promote truth and justice in the communities we serve, and enhance the forensic science community through research and innovation. 

Health Care Ethics

The mission of CHCE is academic research integrated with teaching, learning and service in health care ethics. Our mission brings the Catholic, Jesuit tradition into interdisciplinary discourse with our pluralistic society within the context of health care. CHCE advances the University’s overall mission of service to the community both by instructing emerging health care professionals in the integration of values with practice across all the health sciences colleges and schools, and by progressing research and scholarship in the field of bioethics.

CHCE service, educational, and research programs are fully aligned with this mission statement. All CHCE faculty members have research agendas aligned with the mission of the center and the University. Our educational programs seek to give health professions students the intellectual tools that uphold human dignity and promote social justice. We do so by providing interdisciplinary learning opportunities for our graduate and undergraduate programs offered in a variety of formats (lecture, small group, self-directed learning) and a diversity of locations (through our practica and service learning opportunities).


The Department of History combines a commitment to tradition as well as to innovation. The faculty enjoy a long-established reputation for teaching and dedication to student learning on the undergraduate and graduate levels. The Department understands history to be an essential part of higher education that provides a core foundation for all of the liberal arts. Knowledge of the past allows for meaningful contemplation of and practical solutions to the issues and problems of the modern world. By providing students with an understanding of the past, the Department sets as its educational mission a commitment to student awareness of different cultures and perspectives that have created the Western tradition in a global society. To that end, the Department of History introduces students to historical surveys in American, European, and non-Western history. Through its curriculum, the Department of History exposes undergraduate majors not only to historical events, but also to the methods of historical research, with special emphasis on the critical skills necessary for thoughtful reasoning and intellectual exploration. The Department is also committed to excellence in graduate education. It seeks to provide an opportunity for graduate students to develop into effective teachers and rigorous scholars so that they can become leaders in the historical profession. Crucial to the success of undergraduate and graduate education is the Department of History's firm commitment to maintaining and strengthening its national and international reputation for scholarship. In fulfilling its mandate within a research university, the Department seeks to establish an environment conducive to scholarly investigation and significant publication.

Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Foreign language study, long a constitutive part of liberal arts education, helps develop analytical and synthetic reasoning and provides a better understanding of a person's first language and of language in general. The primary mission of the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures is, however, to foster the students' intellectual and spiritual maturity by introducing them to other cultures and by deepening their understanding of their common multicultural heritage through language and literature.

The Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures believes that the study of foreign languages in their cultural contexts liberates the student from a single pattern of thinking and acting. Having gained familiarity with another way of life and mode of apprehending reality, the mind is brought to see that patterns of thought and elements of culture can be widely variant, rather than fixed and absolute. Hence, one of the fruits of language study is a broader understanding both of oneself and of the person and customs of others.

A similar invitation to a wider view of life, culture, and reality is made by creative literature insofar as it deals with meaning in a concrete and comprehensive manner. At the same time, by its aesthetic impact and selected, highly concentrated focus, literature can become more "real" than life, revealing things about the reader and about the human condition that are not accessible through other disciplines. Literature also fosters the development of a personal synthesis of the manifold experiences of life. Within the enduring Catholic tradition at Saint Louis University, the study of letters plays a substantive role in the development of a Christian humanism that can inform and enrich students' personal lives, as well as prepare them to make more significant contributions to society at large. It is precisely to those college graduates who can function in more than one language and culture that greater opportunities for employment and advancement will accrue. In similar fashion scholars gain access to sources important to many disciplines which are otherwise inaccessible. The Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures serves the College by offering core courses in Hindi, Italian, and Portuguese; core courses, certificate programs, minors, and majors in French, German, Greek, Latin, Russian, and Spanish; and master's degrees in French and Spanish. The faculty participates both personally and professionally in local community organizations and projects and contributes to the University's national and international reputation through its publications and participation in learned societies.

Mathematics and Statistics

The mission of the Department of Mathematics is to further knowledge of, and develop professional skill in, mathematics. This mission, guided by the Jesuit character of the University and the liberal arts character of the College, provides students with exercise and growth in moral and intellectual habits so they may fulfill their respective vocations in life and be intelligent, ethical, and useful members of society. The faculty form a community of scholars whose research enriches their teaching and contributes to the solution of human problems.


Our mission is to educate students in the discipline of neuroscience. We accomplish this by integrating empirical science and theory, focused on the understanding of the brain and nervous system. We encourage intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, and ethical responsibility in our teaching. We seek to contribute to the improvement of the human condition through conveying the discoveries about the brain and nervous system through our curriculum. We educate students to be professionals and challenge them to be ethically responsible, to be committed to serving others, and to respect human diversity in all its forms.


The mission of the Department of Philosophy at Saint Louis University is to provide philosophical education appropriate to the Catholic and Jesuit goal of education. This goal is rooted in the basic Catholic belief that all human experience-scientific, philosophic, aesthetic, religious, and moral- reveals and speaks to the existence and nature of God as well as to the dignity and value of all human beings in themselves and as members of the human community. The Department of Philosophy carries out this mission on three levels:

By educating the whole person of graduate and undergraduate students for a basic openness to God and concern for human well-being and by developing in them the habit of attention, the art of expression, the ability to assume upon reflection a new intellectual position, the capacity to enter quickly into another person's thoughts, the willingness to submit to censure and refutation, the capability of indicating assent or dissent in graduated terms, the aptitude for regarding minute points of accuracy, the facility to work out what is possible in a given time, and the virtues of taste, discrimination, mental courage, and self- knowledge;
By enhancing the visibility of Saint Louis University in general and the Department of Philosophy in particular in the national and international community of philosophical scholars;
By promoting the welfare of Saint Louis University by service to it and by participating in its life at all levels. The Department of Philosophy accomplishes the first part of this mission by providing challenging core courses, conveying the richness of the Catholic tradition, presenting excellent undergraduate courses for its majors and fostering a sense of community among them, integrating graduate students into the discipline of philosophy, honing their teaching skills, and equipping them to take their place in the profession. To achieve the second part of the mission, the Department seeks to create an atmosphere of collegiality in which faculty can carry on research, publish productively, participate in conferences, and disseminate seminal works by renowned philosophers through its international journal, The Modern Schoolman. Finally the Department realizes the third dimension through extensive faculty involvement in college and university committees and through the promotion of lectures and conferences designed to enrich intellectual discussion within the University. By questioning ultimate presuppositions, asking ultimate questions, and examining issues of ethics and justice, a strong philosophy department at Saint Louis University is essential for preserving the Catholic tradition and seriously engaging the contemporary intellectual milieu, both to learn from it and criticize it.

Political Science

The Political Science Department analyzes the exercise of political power as it relates to governance, citizenship, and justice at all levels: local, national, and international. Insight of this kind is crucial to understanding, and potentially solving, fundamental social problems like war, poverty, and oppression in all its forms. In its teaching, the department aims to enable SLU students to assess the root causes of political phenomena, thereby preparing them to be truly men and women for others: informed and engaged world citizens and effective leaders able to make positive contributions to society.


The Department of Psychology's mission is to contribute to the improvement of the human condition and to promote human welfare through understanding, past knowledge through scholarship, discovery of new knowledge through basic and applied psychological research, and dissemination of knowledge through teaching, publication, and service. The Department seeks to sustain itself as a community of scholars, in which all are teachers and all are learners, in an environment that fosters scholarly, professional, and personal growth. The Department seeks to examine, understand, and explain the behavior and experience of individuals and groups, including the family, organizations, and institutions. Members of the Department of Psychology respect and seek to understand human diversity in all its forms.

Sociology and Anthropology

The mission of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology is to promote the disciplines of sociology and anthropology through teaching and research within the overall mission of Saint Louis University. The Department's approach to this variety of social forms is both theoretical and applied and therefore the Department strives to provide essential knowledge and understanding for the creation of a just society as emphasized in the Jesuit tradition and in the spirit of the Gospels.

Theological Studies

The Department of Theological Studies furthers the mission of Saint Louis University through academic study, teaching, and research in the various disciplines of theological studies, especially in the Catholic tradition. To this end the Department provides a spectrum of courses on religion generally and on the biblical, historical, systematic, ethical, and spiritual dimensions of Christian faith to meet the general educational requirements of all University undergraduates, of undergraduate students majoring or minoring in theological studies, and of professional and graduate students in Catholic theology and in Christian historical theology. In addition to these strictly academic tasks which constitute the principal responsibilities of the Department, service to the church and to the community generally in ways proper to the special expertise of members of the Department is also recognized. While the Catholic tradition is central to the work of the Department, this tradition is studied in the context of the whole Christian tradition and in relationship with all the religious communities of the world. The Department of Theological Studies also affirms its interrelationships with the other humanities and social sciences and its commitment to interdisciplinary involvement throughout the University.

Visual and Performing Arts

The Department of Visual and Performing Arts serves as a dynamic center for teaching, creating, and researching in the arts at Saint Louis University.

The Department of Visual and Performing Arts is an integral part of our Jesuit Catholic university, whose mission “encourages and supports innovative scholarship and effective teaching in all fields of the arts.” We, the faculty, actively engage with that mission as creative artists, committed educators, curious learners, and dynamic scholars who are innovators, storytellers, performers, experimenters, researchers, writers, craftspersons, builders, inventors, and collaborators.

Above all, SLU students are the heart of our work together as the center of the arts at SLU. Our department comprises four distinct programs — Art History, Music, Studio Art, and Theatre and Dance — that allow students to forge their diverse paths in this world with their own approach to the arts. Our students also regularly explore our liberal arts university’s numerous other majors and minors and find connections to the arts across many academic disciplines.

SLU endorses the arts visibly on our campus through its several arts-dedicated spaces, including a student art gallery, two performance theaters, and three campus art museums. Students also gain from our urban location in the vibrant center of St. Louis with two public art museums, four theaters, several art galleries and one concert hall all within a few blocks of campus.

Women's and Gender Studies

The mission of the Women's and Gender Studies Department is to offer to the students of Saint Louis University a challenging inter- and multi-disciplinary academic program. The Women's Studies Department focuses on women's accomplishments, conditions, and contributions within their cultural contexts, thus illuminating the values implicit in women's places in societies both in the United States and internationally. Looking at gender as a determinant across and through disciplines, Women's and Gender Studies crosses boundaries of traditional fields of study, offering fresh views of their subject matter and creating a new coherent way of understanding human experience. Women's and Gender Studies endeavors to eliminate gender discrimination in the educational process by offering courses that examine women's experiences and the ways class, ethnicity, and age intersect with gender-related issues. Women's and Gender Studies also supports and sponsors programs designed to cultivate gender sensitivity on the part of the entire University community. It serves as the only student forum on campus for the discussion of women's issues and concerns.