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The Liberal Arts Major

The Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree combines the flexibility of a diverse course of study with a simple structure:

General Education Requirements  35 Credits
Liberal Arts Major  60 Credits
Electives or Minor  25 Credits
     BLA Degree Total120 Credits

As with all Bachelor degree programs at the University of Alaska, at least 42 of the 120 total credits must be upper-division courses (300 or 400 level), and 45 credits in the BLA degree must be completed through UAS.

The Liberal Arts Major (60 credits) is divided into two areas, Core and Emphasis. The Liberal Arts Core provides all BLA students with a common set of courses that develop communication skills, critical thinking and cross-disciplinary knowledge. The Liberal Arts Emphasis is where students deepen their interdisciplinary knowledge and gain practical experience by pursuing an intensive course of study in Interdisciplinary Studies, a Designated Emphasis, or an Independent Design.

A Core Foundation in the Liberal Arts


The Liberal Arts Core (18 Credits) provides a common academic orientation in the Humanities for all BLA students, across their many fields of study.

Upon full admission to the BLA degree program, students enroll in HUM 200 Orientation to the Liberal Arts and HUM 210 Student Portfolio.

Orientation to the Liberal Arts introduces the students to classic themes and issues in the history and development of the Humanities in a seminar setting, a participatory approach to learning in which students lead the examination and discussion of the course readings. 

The Student Portfolio is designed to assist students in planning their program of study, in consultation with their BLA faculty advisor, and is used for purposes of continuing self-assessment throughout the student's BLA program. 

Students must complete the Orientation and Portfolio courses within the first three semesters upon full admission to the BLA degree; those who do not will be dropped from the program and must reapply for admission.

Additional courses in the Liberal Arts Core include:

  • One upper-division course in Communications, Literature or Writing (3 credits).
  • One course in Philosophy: Introduction to Philosophy, Logic, or Ethics (3 credits).
  • One course in either Math, Natural Science, or Social Science.

The Liberal Arts Core also includes two courses in Cultural Diversity.  At UAS, these courses include: Alaska Native languages and culture, world languages, world history, and other approved diversity courses in anthropology, art, communication, literature, and other humanities and social sciences. Students who have completed study abroad courses or have transfer credits from other universities should consult with their BLA faculty advisor about whether some of those courses might fulfill this cultural diversity requirement.

The Capstone Experience


At the conclusion of their studies, all BLA Majors complete a 499 Capstone course in their area of emphasis. The Capstone helps students synthesize learning and sill acquired in the undergraduate program.

Within the Capstone course, the student may produce written or creative work, performance or media production, a thesis, research or project report and prepare a portfolio which is presented at a conference or forum. 

Emphasis Areas

All of the options in the Liberal Arts Emphasis (42 Credits) have the same basic requirements: After a student is officially admitted to the BLA degree program, she or he must decide upon an emphasis within the Liberal Arts Major: Interdisciplinary Studies, a Designated Emphasis in Alaska Native Languages and Studies or Outdoor and Adventure Studies, or an Independent Design.

  • At least 24 credits must be completed at the upper-division level.
  • A minimum of 18 credits completed through UAS.
  • A Capstone course or experience.

Courses used for General Education Requirement credit cannot be used to fulfill Liberal Arts Emphasis credits. In the case of any overlap (such as a GER course also being a required course for your major), other disciplinary courses of equal credits may be substituted.

Interdisciplinary Studies

Interdisciplinary Studies.

Most BLA students pursue an emphasis in Interdisciplinary Studies. Each student selects a Primary Field, a Secondary Field, and completes a Capstone course.

The Primary Fields (24 Credits, 15 at the upper-division level) are:

  • Alaska Native Languages and Studies
  • Anthropology (including both Cultural & Biological Anthropology)
  • Art (including the two-semester History of World Art survey)
  • English
  • Government/Political Science
  • History (including a two-semester History survey)
  • Humanities (12 credits each in two fields)
  • Social Sciences (selecting two disciplines from an array of available Humanities options)
  • Sociology

The Secondary Fields (15 credits, 6 at the upper-division level) are:

  • Alaska Native Languages and Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Art
  • Biology
  • Communication
  • Creative Writing
  • Economics
  • English
  • Environmental Science
  • Government
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Spanish
  • Theatre
  • Tlingit Language

The Secondary Fields generally follow the same requirements as Minors in the Humanities, Math and the Natural Sciences, to 15 credits.  The Secondary Fields in the Social Sciences are the same as the Secondary Concentration requirements for the Bachelor of Arts in Social Science.

Typically the Capstone course in Interdisciplinary Studies is HUM 499 Humanities Capstone. However, with faculty advisor approval the capstone experience may be a Practicum (494), an Internship (491), or an Independent Study (497).

Designated Emphasis

Designated Emphasis

A Designated Emphasis in the Liberal Arts provides a focused course of study not available through other baccalaureate degree programs offered through UAS.  Currently, there are two Designated Emphasis options:

Alaska Native Languages and Studies

Outdoor and Adventure Studies

Independent Design

Independent Design

Do you have a passion to create your own course of study? The Independent Design emphasis is intended for highly motivated students who are interested in completing a BLA program that does not fall under the Interdisciplinary Study or Designated Emphasis options.

Independently designed BLA programs are available only to students who have a tenure-track faculty member who agrees to supervise their degree program. The student and faculty supervisor work together to design a degree proposal that provides a coherent body of knowledge at the baccalaureate level. The Independent design must be approved by the supervising faculty member, the supervising faculty member's departmental chair, and the Dean of Arts and Sciences.

As the program is independently designed, there are no formal limitations on the structure of each student's program beyond the general requirements of the Liberal Arts Major: Core (18 credits) and Emphasis (42 Credits). However, the Independent Design has rigorous requirements beyond the other emphasis options

  • 45 Credits for the BLA Liberal Arts Major must be completed while enrolled at UAS
  • A minimum of 24 Emphasis Credits must be completed at the upper-division level
  • A minimum of 30 Emphasis Credits must be completed in the Independent Design program after approval by the Dean of Arts & Sciences.

Any changes to an Independent Design program must be approved by the student's supervising faculty member, that faculty member's departmental chair, and the Dean of Arts and Sciences.


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