Arts and Sciences encourages students to widen education

The College of Arts and Sciences offer a variety of different major students could choose to study for during their academic careers at Kansas State University. With vast changes in the work force such as advancements in technology, the Arts and Sciences program prepares graduates by providing more general educational classes. (Cassandra Nguyen | The Collegian)

As of August 2014, College of Arts and Sciences students take upwards of approximately 80 general education credit hours to obtain a degree. Of those general education credit hours, the college requires 23 hours focused on humanities and social science courses like philosophy and geography respectively.

The college requires such a large amount of general education credit hours in order to broaden the horizons of its students. These general education courses fall under K-State 8 (or, in some cases, University General Education), which widen students’ perspectives as well as their ability to “explore relationships among subjects and build critical and analytical thinking skills,” according to the K-State 8 website.

Louise Benjamin, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, works with students who face the 80 hours of general education.

“The whole liberal arts approach to education, people, graduates – whether it is a bachelor’s of arts or a bachelor’s of science – we want you to be well-rounded (and) have a broad understanding of a wide variety of topics,” Benjamin said.

The type of credit hours needed for a degree in the College of Arts and Sciences is often different than that of other colleges. In fact, each K-State college and its programs has a different approach to how it produces graduates and why.

Compared to the College of Engineering, for instance, the College of Arts and Sciences students are required to take more credit hours in humanities and social sciences (23 for arts and sciences, nine for engineering).

Also, K-State’s College of Engineering only requires 60 credit hours outside of the college. Engineering students typically don’t take as many outside credit hours (which, for arts and sciences students would be classified as general education) because they need to devote that time to their specific academic focus. This is so that they are better educated in the technical skills their profession requires.

“You don’t want someone who didn’t take enough technical courses to build the bridge you drive on,” Gabriela Armendariz, junior in industrial engineering, said.

In fact, the College of Engineering requires so many focus hours that general education hours are set at a minimum just so students can get in all of the courses that are necessary for an engineering degree.

“We try to balance the cost to get a degree and how long it takes to get a degree with the hours,” said Larry Satzler, assistant dean for student services in the College of Engineering.

While the College of Engineering focuses on specialization, the College of Arts and Sciences focuses on a more liberal approach.

“There’s a different emphasis in what engineering students might take versus someone who is in the College of Arts
and Sciences,” Benjamin said. “But they compliment each other and society needs people who have
all different kinds of perspectives.”