Bachelor of Arts Degree

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  • Course description
    In Gallatin's undergraduate program, you combine study in your area of concentration with a liberal arts education focusing on the great books and the history of ideas. Whether you are a recent high school graduate or an adult returning to college, you will find that Gallatin’s unique synthesis of flexible arrangements for study and high academic standards provides an outstanding educational experience.

    Your course work will consist of courses within Gallatin as well as in the various schools of New York University. In addition to classroom courses, your curriculum may also include independent studies, internships, study abroad, and private lessons in the arts.

    The many nonclassroom study opportunities and the wide range of day and evening courses offered by NYU make it possible to pursue a degree, either full time or part time. The freedom and flexibility of the Gallatin approach will pose many challenges, but if you have the maturity and motivation, Gallatin will enable you to design a program that suits your unique interests and goals while providing you with a solid foundation in the liberal arts.

    Advising is a central part of the Gallatin experience. With over 2,000 New York University courses from which to choose and the opportunity to develop your own independent studies and internships, you will find that one of the most important people in your life at Gallatin is your adviser. Each student is assigned a faculty member who shares the student’s academic interests and serves as personal adviser.

    Nearly 200 of the University’s professors serve as Gallatin advisers, and you will be teamed with a teacher who has expertise in your area of concentration. Your adviser will help you plan your schedule and ensure that your program has depth, breadth, coherence, and the elements that will help you reach your career and educational goals. Your adviser will become your guide, your teacher, your career counselor, and above all, your intellectual mentor.
    The Concentration

    Rather than declare a major in a particular academic department, Gallatin students develop a concentration that is individualized to suit their interests and goals. There are no official requirements for the concentration. Instead, you and your adviser will decide together what courses and nonclassroom activities will best prepare you for further study in graduate school or for a particular career path. Usually the concentration involves combining work in two or more academic disciplines and taking courses in several departments and schools of the University. Gallatin students create concentrations in a broad variety of areas, including prelaw and premedicine, the performing arts, arts management, writing and communication, women’s studies, environmental studies, and education. Students can choose areas of concentration that combine such diverse disciplines as music and philosophy, art and business, or premedicine and journalism. The possibilities are endless, and you can develop a concentration that will prepare you for a wide variety of careers — as a lawyer, an arts administrator, a media specialist, an entrepreneur, a writer, a teacher, or an artist.

    The Curriculum

    While Gallatin students usually take most of their courses in the other schools of the University, the School offers a core curriculum of courses in writing, the great books, the history of ideas, the arts, and interdisciplinary studies. The ancient ideal of a classic liberal education is very much alive at Gallatin, and these core courses give every student a grounding in the liberal arts and the world’s finest literature and provide an experience that is shared by all Gallatin undergraduates.

    The liberal arts provide us with general knowledge about our culture, develop our intellectual capacities to reason and judge soundly, and enlarge the spirit and imagination. Each student must complete at least 32 credits in liberal arts courses in the humanities, social sciences, mathematics or science, and expository writing. The liberal arts requirement may be fulfilled by taking courses either in Gallatin or in other schools in the University. New students satisfy this requirement during the freshman and sophomore years, while transfer students may transfer in some or all of these credits.

    A central component of Gallatin's curriculum is the “great books.” Almost every Gallatin course—from the rhetoric classes and the freshman seminars to the various interdisciplinary seminars—focuses on important and influential primary texts from the ancient world to the modern era. This emphasis on the great books has always distinguished Gallatin from other nontraditional programs as well as from most traditional programs. It reflects one of the underlying assumptions of the Gallatin educational philosophy: that a college education may include career training, but should also prepare students for life in a broader sense. This means cultivating a sense of history and a taste for art, learning to think independently and critically, and encountering the great minds and literary works of the past.

    First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminars

    All Gallatin freshmen take a First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar to introduce them to the goals, methods, and general philosophy of university education and to the interdisciplinary, individualized approach of the Gallatin School. In these small seminars of 20 students, students have ample opportunity for class discussion and participation. Each seminar focuses on some aspect of the human experience and includes several great books drawn from various cultures, historical periods, and academic disciplines. Through their encounters with these books, students examine the cultural legacy that has shaped us as individuals and as a society, explore the many connections between the ideas embodied in the great books and our daily lives, and discover the pleasures and challenges of the pursuit of knowledge.

    First-Year Writing Seminars and First-Year Research Seminars

    All freshmen take two expository writing courses. These writing courses prepare students for the kinds of analytical and critical writing they will be doing in most undergraduate courses. These small writing workshops are limited to 15 students and are taught by experienced professors and professional writers. Every effort is made to individualize the course according to each student’s skills, interests, and needs.

    Interdisciplinary Courses

    In Gallatin's interdisciplinary courses, students read significant works in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Each class is small and focuses on a particular theme that has historical or contemporary relevance. The titles of some of these courses suggest the range of topics: Utopian Visions and Earthly Paradises; Humans and Nature; Brave New World of the Renaissance; Art and Thought of the Greeks; Body and Soul; and Authority, Modernity, and Democracy. In these courses, you will have an opportunity to study Homer and Plato; Dante and Shakespeare; Nietzsche, Freud, and Marx; Joyce and Woolf; as well as important contemporary writers such as Toni Morrison, Elie Wiesel, and Stephen Jay Gould.

    Arts Workshops

    Since many students choose areas of concentration with an arts focus, the Gallatin School offers an extensive array of arts workshops. These small classes of 12 to 15 students are taught by accomplished professionals in the arts. Topics include playwriting, fiction writing, acting, jazz, Shakespeare in performance, and choreography.

    Other NYU Courses

    Students at Gallatin take most of their courses in the other schools, departments, and programs of NYU: the College of Arts and Science, the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, the Leonard N. Stern School of Business, the Tisch School of the Arts, the School of Continuing Education, and the Shirley M. Ehrenkranz School of Social Work. Most courses in the University are open to Gallatin students, provided they have fulfilled the prerequisites, but it should be noted that in some cases enrollment is restricted to students in a particular department or school. Your faculty adviser will work closely with you to combine courses taken in the various schools of NYU with independent studies, internships, and Gallatin’s stimulating interdisciplinary courses to fashion a meaningful, coherent, and personalized program.

    The Senior Colloquium

    The undergraduate experience culminates with a senior colloquium—an oral examination with three faculty members in which the student discusses a number of the books that have played a formative role in his or her thinking about a particular issue or theme, usually associated with the student’s area of concentration. The student’s book list includes ancient and Renaissance classics, as well as modern works in the humanities, arts, and the social and natural sciences. The colloquium experience provides seniors with an opportunity to explore ways of integrating their academic, professional, and personal experiences with the great books they have been reading and the ideas they have been examining in their Gallatin courses.


    Gallatin students can avail themselves of New York City’s vast resources, which provide myriad opportunities for practical experience and fieldwork. Each semester many students are placed in internships with such organizations as Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; Bellevue Hospital Center; Manhattan Theatre Club; the United Nations; the mayor’s office; New York State Council on the Arts; 20/20 (ABC TV); Capitol Records; Working Woman magazine; Bear, Stearns and Co.; and a variety of other organizations and firms. These placements are just a small sample of the many interesting and challenging internships that help undergraduate students to get hands-on training in their fields.

    Independent Study

    Credit may be earned for independent projects formulated with a professor chosen for his or her expertise. The work may relate to the student’s intellectual or creative goals or may be based on learning experiences related to the student’s professional and career aspirations.

    Private Lessons

    Through private lessons, students in the Gallatin School are given the opportunity to receive academic credit for their studies at performing or visual arts studios in the New York area. Undergraduates who want to study dance, voice, instrumental music, or acting can study outside of NYU at such renowned studios as Joffrey Ballet School; the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute; the Playwrights Horizons Theatre School; Alvin Ailey American Dance Center; and the Broadway Dance Center. Students may elect to be tutored by some of the city’s great artists, performers, and teachers, with the approval of the Gallatin faculty. Gallatin provides guidelines on the number of credits one may earn. Private lessons may be taken on a pass/fail basis only.
    Course Equivalency Credit

    Some students are resuming their undergraduate education after years spent in pursuits that provided them with knowledge equivalent to that gained through formal university education. These students may apply for course equivalency credits by documenting mastery of material comparable to that covered in specific New York University courses. Students submit a course equivalency portfolio that is rigorously evaluated by an NYU professor currently teaching a comparable course.

Other programs related to liberal studies

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