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HSS offers a broad range of courses in the humanities and social sciences that provide undergraduate students with the opportunity to explore almost any subject area in a rigorous academic environment designed to foster research and collaboration. In addition, students are taught critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills, which are necessary for them to excel in both their academic pursuits and future careers.
The division awards bachelor of science degrees to students who complete the requirements in one or more of the following seven options (an option is Caltech's version of a major): Business, Economics, and Management; Economics; English; History; History and Philosophy of Science; Philosophy; and Political Science. Alternatively, a student may choose to minor in one of four humanities options (English, History, History and Philosophy of Science, and Philosophy); these minors are designed for students majoring in another subject area who want to pursue concentrated study in one of these fields without fulfilling all of the requirements for a degree.
Students interested in humanities courses beyond those offered in the options will find a variety of to choose from, including courses in at least five foreign languages (Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish) in addition to film studies, music studies, art history, and creative writing. While certain core courses are offered each year, the permanent HSS faculty as well as the postdoctoral instructors and the Eleanor Searle Visiting Professor continue to design classes on a range of new and unusual topics, giving the curriculum both structure and flexibility. Field trips and other enrichment activities complement what students learn in the classroom, helping them emerge as well-rounded scholars.
Instruction in writing is a focus of many HSS courses and is a major part of the coursework. The division oversees Caltech's Hixon Writing Center, which, among other things, offers undergraduates one-on-one support from both professional and peer tutors in composition and editing.