College of Letters
and Science

The UC Davis College of Letters and Science is the liberal arts powerhouse of the nation’s fifth best public research university. Below, you'll find degrees offered by the college. Visit the College of Letters and Science to learn more.

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Cinema and Digital Media

How do digital media and the cinematic arts work together, make meaning and effect change? Cinema and digital media is an interdisciplinary major that combines media theory, media history and media-making to help students develop a robust understanding of creative and computational media technologies. Students are encouraged to engage deeply with media to promote social justice, diversity and inclusivity.

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Several students practice the traditional Chinese "Lion Dance"

Chinese

Do you want to work abroad one day? A major in Chinese is the gateway to the world’s most widely spoken language and to the rich and diverse traditions of a complex society. By studying in small classes, you will develop competency in written and spoken Mandarin, even with no prior knowledge of Chinese. You can also further your knowledge of China's literary and cultural heritage through study abroad in China, Taiwan or Hong Kong. Majoring in Chinese will enable students to find enhanced opportunities in business, law, education, and governmental careers.

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A male student studies at the Cross Cultural Center

Chicana/Chicano Studies

Do you want to deeply explore the Chicano/Latino experience? Chicana/o Studies is an international, cross-disciplinary program of research, teaching and public service that provides students with the opportunity to study the experiences, values, cultural representations and socio-economic issues of the Chicano/Latino community. Knowledge of its theoretical and methodological framework also serves students seeking comparative analysis with other populations and global communities.

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A student makes a flashy chemical reaction during the annual Picnic Day Chemistry Magic Show

Chemistry

How is the twitch of a muscle fiber related to the silent explosion of a supernova? Every happening in the universe is linked at an atomic level by the principles of chemistry. Chemists analyze substances and test environmental samples. They create new substances, as in medical and product manufacturing, and test theories using chemical analysis. They also measure the properties of substances, like the strength of materials used in engineering.

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Chemical Physics

Are you interested in the two scientific worlds of chemistry and physics? Chemical physics provides students with an in-depth understanding of the fundamentals of chemistry, focusing on those areas that are at the interface of chemistry and physics. Using experimental measurement and theoretical calculation, students study the detailed properties and behavior of atoms and molecules. An important experimental tool in chemical physics is spectroscopy, which uses conventional or laser light to probe the atomic and molecular properties of matter.

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Asian American Studies

Asian American studies introduces and expands on the Asian American experience for all students. Those in the major deeply explore culture, tradition, challenges and successes throughout a variety of Asian American communities. Accompanying the major is our internship program with the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies and the New Vietnam Studies Initiative, where students can participate in volunteer and research-based projects. Students completing the major leave with newfound knowledge and context of Asian experiences.

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Art Studio

A major in studio art allows you to explore and expand your creative abilities, regardless of whether you plan a career as a professional artist. As an art student, you will develop and practice skills in problem-solving and cultivate your aesthetic sensitivity and visual awareness. These skills and traits will enrich your life, broaden your perspective and prepare you to succeed in any career requiring creativity and artistic sense.

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A female student holds a painting that is part of one of UC Davis's collections

Art History

How can we approach the increasingly complex visual world we find ourselves in today? Through the study of art history! Art historians study the changing visual expression of values, beliefs and experiences across diverse cultures and over time. The art history major provides training in historical, social and aesthetic understanding, critical thinking, scholarly research, and lucid, thoughtful analysis and writing. More than any other discipline, art history sharpens its students’ visual acuity and deepens their visual literacy.

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Science and Technology Studies

How can we address the challenges of our increasingly high-tech world? The science and technology studies (STS) major unites the perspectives of the humanities and social sciences together with science, technology and medicine. STS students learn to think critically, explore controversies, create innovative and responsible solutions to urgent problems, and engage directly with the world-changing effects of scientific, medical and technological revolutions.

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A Russian building in Moscow

Russian

Are you interested in learning a foreign language that will give you a powerful career advantage? How about reading some of the greatest works of literature ever written? Knowledge of Russian opens up a wealth of professional opportunities, particularly in fields such as international relations, law, technology and governmental service. It is also one of the most widely spoken foreign languages in the greater Sacramento and San Francisco areas.

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A buddhist monk addresses a UC Davis religious studies class

Religious Studies

Why is religion a major force in the human experience? Religion is one of the major and most persistent expressions of human culture. Studying religion answers questions about why people believe what they do, why people fight wars about their beliefs but also seek peace and justice because of their beliefs. By immersing you in the diversity of the world’s religious traditions, religious studies prepares you for careers in medicine, law, public policy, government, academia and much more.

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Psychology

Are you fascinated by human behavior? Do you want to understand how to people think, feel, act and interact? Psychologists conduct studies to learn about what makes people the way they are — including their biology, environment and culture. This knowledge can be used to solve real-world problems in nearly every field, including business, counseling, teaching and technology, and help people who suffer from neuropsychiatric disorders or experience psychological distress.

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Political Science — Public Service

Are you interested in how laws and regulations get made? Who influences public policy? It could be you! If you choose to major in Political Science: Public Service, your curriculum will help you focus specifically on how policy is formulated, implemented, evaluated and interpreted. 

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Political Science

Are you interested in current events and political systems? The political science major gives students a broad understanding of political concepts, institutions, behavior and processes. Students can take courses focusing in American politics, comparative politics, international relations and political theory.

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uc davis physics students work on lab assignment together

Physics

How does the universe work? How do we know? From the basic laws of physics to the resulting emergent behavior, physics studies what the universe is made of and how it works. As a physics major at UC Davis, you will have the opportunity to join with our faculty in research that pushes forward the frontier of knowledge. This research ranges from the very smallest elementary particles to the matter that surrounds us to the structure and evolution of the entire universe.

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a group of Philosophy majors

Philosophy

Are you interested in tackling the deepest, most enduring questions faced by humankind? Philosophers develop skills in logic, reasoning and argument to come to grips with some of our most challenging problems, from social, political and religious issues to the problem of consciousness and the paradoxes of infinity.

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Pharmaceutical Chemistry

Do you want to be on the forefront of modern pharmaceuticals? The demand for pharmaceutical chemists is high and is anticipated to grow as modern chemistry and biology provide us with increasingly accurate tools to develop unique therapies. The pharmaceutical chemistry major provides students with an in-depth understanding of the processes and societal issues surrounding the design and development of modern pharmaceuticals.

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Native American Studies

How can Indigenous knowledge systems help us solve problems and recreate our world through creative expression? Native American studies offers a unique interdisciplinary approach to studying the sovereignty and autonomy of Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas and beyond. Bridging the humanities and social sciences, the major incorporates courses and training in art, literature, religion, linguistics, history, law, anthropology, environmental policy, political economy, ethnomusicology, performance and dance studies, and women and gender studies.

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Music

Do you want to explore music through history, composition, theory, and performance? The music major at UC Davis provides a specialized, intimate experience. Your professors and lecturers are active researchers and performing musicians, who regularly have works performed, published and recorded around the globe. Students work closely with prominent artists-in-residence who give concerts throughout their year-long tenure. You'll also have the chance to perform with our symphony orchestra, band, chorus, world music ensembles, and a variety of smaller ensembles. 

 

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A group of young women preform a South Asian style dance

Middle East/South Asia Studies

Are you interested in languages and culture? Do you want a global education? Middle East/South Asia studies is a unique major where you can learn about two different, yet connected regions of the world. This region encompasses 44 countries, and the major focuses on the Arab Gulf, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, the Meghreb (North Africa), Palestine, Syria and Turkey. Students will explore these regions through a variety of courses: anthropology, art, Asian American and English studies, classics, comparative literature, film, gender, history, music, politics and religion.

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Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Where do modern social institutions — like universities, legal systems, and capitalist economies — come from? The genesis of many institutions and concepts can be traced back to the medieval and early modern period. It was an age characterized by deep religious faith and creativity; by philosophical and religious explorations; and by the rise of vernacular languages.

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Mathematics

Math is everywhere, offering broad career choices. Any complex system can be analyzed using mathematics, which means math arises in health care, business, marketing and even entertainment. Mathematics is much more than simple arithmetic and equations; it is the study of abstract structures, space, change and the interrelations of these concepts. Mathematicians work to address some of science and society's most pressing questions. Their work bridges the gaps between scientific disciplines and provides a framework for considering problems in their purest, most theoretical form.

 

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Mathematical and Scientific Computation

Math is everywhere, offering broad career choices. The mathematical and scientific computation major is the ideal choice for students who are interested in the interplay between mathematical theory and modern computational tools for applications. Students gain advanced knowledge of computer science, specifically programming. They build a solid foundation in mathematics that will enable them to model or analyze complicated systems or problems, such as earthquakes, economic models or biological systems. 

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Mathematical Analytics and Operations Research

Math is everywhere, offering broad career choices. Mathematical analytics and operations research major addresses a critical need in business for scientifically-trained analysts who can use mathematical models to interpret big data, analyze markets and forecast trends. This major is ideally suited to students with an interest in business or economics. Students will develop the skills to perform data analysis and develop reliable models for forecasting, decision-making and long-term planning in fields ranging from financing to entertainment and education.

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A female student investigates a tide pool near Bodega Bay

Marine and Coastal Science — Oceans and the Earth System

Do you want to explore science in an applied, hands-on way? Marine scientists apply scientific skills in the natural and physical sciences to protect ocean and coastal environments and solve modern, global problems. Our oceans account for more than 96 percent of the world’s water, and few of the world’s coastlines are beyond the influence of human pressures. The oceans and the earth system emphasis concentrates on our changing oceans in the context of earth system history, including climate change, paleoceanography, ecological shifts, conservation and marine policy.