Your most Frequently Asked Questions, answered!

  • Is Liberal & Civic Studies a "major"? What is the difference between Liberal & Civic Studies and a major such as history, English, or biology? Technically speaking, Liberal & Civic Studies is a program rather than a major. However, students can declare Liberal & Civic Studies as their major, just as they can declare History, English, or Biology. Liberal & Civic Studies differs in a number of important ways from a departmental major. For one thing, students in Liberal & Civic Studies take a much broader array of courses than students with majors. For example they take 2 required courses in science and 2 in mathematics; they also take required courses in the social sciences (history, religious studies, psychology), the fine arts, and physical education. Unlike departmental majors, L&CS students must have a minor (area of concentration), and they must demonstrate proficiency in foreign language at the level attained in the fourth college course (e.g., Spanish 4, French 4, etc.).
  • Does the modern foreign language requirement in Liberal & Civic Studies mean that I have to take foreign language courses at Saint Mary's, no matter how many courses I had in high school? No. Foreign language is a competency requirement in the Liberal & Civic Studies Program. This means that some students, particularly those with 4 to 6 years of successful foreign language study in high school, can often test out of any further study. So can many native speakers of a foreign language, regardless of what the language is (We have had students demonstrate competency in Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese, Vietnamese, and even Hawaiian.) Many students coming to Saint Mary's are placed in Language 3 or 4, i.e., they have to complete only 1 or 2 courses.
  • I notice that Liberal & Civic Studies is for students planning to become elementary teachers. Is the Program exclusively for such students? No. L&CS is an excellent program to prepare for a variety of other careers-e.g., law, business, public policy, counseling, social work, etc. A number of our recent graduates have gone to law school or pursued graduate studies in business or public policy. Others have chosen social services, work with non-profit organizations, restaurant management, and business. In addition to preparing students for careers, Liberal & Civic Studies, through civic emphasis, provides excellent preparation for enlightened citizenship in the 21st century.
  • When should I declare Liberal & Civic Studies my "major"? You can choose the Liberal & Civic Studies Program in place of a traditional major as early as your freshman year, and inform the registrar of your choice. However, unless you are in the Teachers for Tomorrow 5-Year Program, you will not be assigned to a Liberal & Civic Studies advisor until your sophomore year, when you will need to begin taking your L&CS core courses.
  • What is Teachers for Tomorrow, and who is eligible to participate? Teachers for Tomorrow is a 5-year track of the Liberal & Civic Studies Program designed for those students with strong academic backgrounds who know when they enter St. Mary's that they want to be elementary school teachers and that they want to enter the St. Mary's credential program in their fifth year. These students get early experience in the classroom, take education courses as undergraduates, complete their B.A. in their fourth year, and complete their L&CS final core course during their fifth year. While most freshman students have freshman cohort advisors from the Collegiate Seminar Program, L&CS students in Teachers for Tomorrow will also be assigned, as freshmen, to a designated L&CS advisor. See Teachers for Tomorrow on this website.
  • If I am planning to enter the Liberal & Civic Studies Program, what courses should I take as a freshman? When you enter St. Mary's College, your first semester of courses will be planned for you during the orientation process. At that time you will not have many choices since all freshmen need to take Collegiate Seminar and writing courses. After that, your freshman cohort advisor will help you choose courses that fulfill College requirements. You won't need to take any special courses to be eligible to enter the L&CS Program, but since this program requires four levels of language proficiency, rather than the 3 levels required by the College, it would be advantageous for you to begin taking language classes as early as possible.
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