Academic Programs: Humanities


  • The objectives of the Letters, Arts, and Sciences major are to broaden the student’s understanding, interests, and skills; to help the student become a more responsible, productive member of his/her family and community; and to offer a degree program with sufficient electives to permit some specialization according to the student’s interests or career plans. Letters, Arts, and Sciences is a complete two-year degree major. However, graduates who later seek admission to baccalaureate degree majors may apply credits toward the new degree.


  • This major is designed to provide students with an integrated and critical knowledge of American culture, drawing on courses in American Studies and in the traditional disciplines and culminating in two senior seminars. A number of interests may be pursued within the major, including popular culture, art, technology, business, law, archives, museology, and conservation. The major helps prepare students for careers in business, teaching, government, and a number of other areas, and for enrollment in law and other professional programs.

  • This major helps students appreciate, understand, and interpret relationships among the arts, ideas, media, and values that have shaped Western and world cultures. Students are taught to become active learners who can synthesize, interpret, and communicate knowledge and experience through writing, speaking, and creative expression in a variety of media. The School helps students meet these goals by offering a range of interdisciplinary and discipline-based courses in the arts, art history, communication studies, English, history, literature, music, philosophy, theatre, and writing.

  • Communications is an interdisciplinary program combining practical, professional instruction with critical and cultural examinations of mass media. Penn State Harrisburg’s interdisciplinary and theoretical approach is designed to enable students to understand the contextual relationships between contemporary media and ethics, history, drama, and art, as well as the mechanics of emerging information technologies. The program features small classes, a multidisciplinary faculty with real-world professional experience, high-technology laboratories, and an excellent location for media internships. This major prepares students for careers in areas such as public relations, journalism, graphic design, advertising, media production, and telecommunications. Because of the analytical approach, students may also use the major to prepare for postgraduate studies.

  • The English major has two options: the General Option which allows students to focus on the study of literature and/or creative writing and the Secondary Education Option which prepares students to earn certification to teach high school English in Pennsylvania. Both options offer students the opportunity to study literature in an interdisciplinary context where the relationships among literature and art, history, music, philosophy, media, and American Studies can be investigated. The major offers courses in American, British, and world literatures, emphasizing their cultural and historical contexts, as well as teaching students to interpret them from a variety of critical perspectives. Small classes in both creative and expository writing encourage students to develop their writing skills by working closely with faculty. The English program has several organizations that offer students involvement in the discipline outside the classroom. This program has been recognized by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the Secondary Education Option earned  National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) approval.

    Penn State Harrisburg also offers Secondary Education bachelor's degree options in Social Studies and Mathematics.

Graduate or Postbaccalaureate Certificate

  • Program currently on hold at Penn State Harrisburg. Not accepting new students.

    Begin Date of Enrollment Hold: Fall Semester 2016

  • This 15-credit graduate certificate program offered at Penn State Harrisburg provides students with skills and practices used in projects and institutions of folklore and ethnography, which include field/folk schools and other educational settings, festivals and arts councils, historical and heritage societies, community and cultural organizations and centers, archives and record management programs, governmental agencies, cultural conservation/sustainability groups, and media production companies.

  • This 15-credit graduate certificate program provides students with knowledge of practices in the heritage and museum sector, which includes historical and heritage societies, art galleries, archives and record management programs, educational institutions, cultural and governmental agencies, preservation and cultural resource management groups, and media production companies. A goal of the program is to enable students to conceptualize, deliver, and manage effective heritage and museum projects. The Heritage and Museum Practice certificate is awarded for successful completion of 9 credits of prescribed courses plus 6 credits of electives from an approved list of courses. Students must earn a grade of B or above in each course that counts toward the certificate program.


  • The Doctor of Philosophy in American Studies represents the study of the United States as an academic field with its own theories, methods, and applications. The program benefits from Penn State Harrisburg’s location in a capital region with internationally known heritage sites and American Studies resources such as the Gettysburg Battlefield, Three-Mile Island, the towns of Hershey and Steelton, the Anthracite Coal Region, and Amish Country. The program emphasizes critical cultural inquiry and the application of American Studies to public heritage, public policy, and cultural resource management — including governmental work, museums, cultural agencies, education, archives and records management, public policy, and communications. A foundation for this application is an understanding of the American experience developed within the intellectual legacy of American Studies.

Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate

  • The American Studies Program offers an integrated B.A./M.A. program that is designed to allow academically superior baccalaureate students enrolled in the American Studies major to obtain both the Bachelor of Arts and the Master of Arts degrees in American Studies within five years of study. The first two years of undergraduate coursework typically include the University General Education requirements and lower-level courses.


  • This program emphasizes the interdisciplinary study of American society and culture. It serves students who want to investigate the American experience and apply their studies in a variety of professions, including education, government, communications, and museums. The program’s distinguishing characteristic is that the majority of its course offerings are taught by faculty trained in the discipline of American Studies and bearing the “American Studies” title. The program offers a number of concentrations including folklore, cultural history (politics, popular culture, media studies), international American Studies, material and visual culture (art, architecture, craft, land-scape, food, clothing, medicine), public heritage (museums, historic preservation, archiving, cultural resource management), race and ethnicity, and regional studies.

  • The Master of Arts in Communications program seeks to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the communications discipline. The program emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach and is geared for professionals in a variety of fields, including government, private sector, non-profit, and community-based careers. Students in the program will be prepared for leadership positions in such fields as journalism, public relations, advertising, production, and media education, as well as for doctoral study.

  • The Humanities graduate program is interdisciplinary. It emphasizes critical theories and interpretive approaches that transcend disciplinary boundaries, as well as providing advanced study within various humanities disciplines. The program offers graduate-level study in art history, communications, history, literature, music history, philosophy, and writing, along with interdisciplinary topics. Drawing on the perspectives of the various arts and disciplines and various theoretical approaches, the program’s faculty assists students in developing important analytical, synthetic, and interpretive skills. The Humanities program has several organizations that offer students involvement in the discipline outside the classroom.


  • This interdisciplinary minor is designed for students who want to complement their major program. American Studies is an interdisciplinary field that explores the patterns of life and thought of the American peoples, past and present. American Studies helps students prepare for further study or careers in education, government, business, science, communication, law, museums, historical and cultural agencies, and archives. Internships are available for qualified students in American Studies.

  • The Communications minor provides students with an introduction to the tool skills needed to function as a professional communicator, as well as a basic understanding of communication processes and theory. Students seeking careers in fields such as public administration, business, criminal justice, law, information technology, and the medical, social and behavioral professions will find this minor provides instruction in a valuable additional knowledge and skill area important in today's information society.

  • This interdisciplinary minor provides students with an opportunity to develop a broad understanding of women’s perspectives and gender issues and to integrate that understanding into major areas of academic study. A total of 18 credits must be taken as part of the student’s program; at least 9 of these credits must be taken at Penn State Harrisburg and 6 must be at the 400-level. Students must receive a grade of C or better in all courses in the minor.

  • Writing is valued as a mode of learning, as a means of expression, and as a skill highly desirable in the workplace. Personal development, interpersonal communication, and professional marketability may all be enhanced by the further study and practice of writing. For these reasons, the Writing minor offers students from virtually every discipline across the University an opportunity to learn more about a wide variety of writing: informative/persuasive, professional, and creative, while improving their own writing skills through hands-on writing experiences.