Jul 16, 2024  
2018-2019 Catalog 
2018-2019 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts


The educational mission of our School is to create a rich learning environment by looking at people and society through the lenses of the many disciplines comprising the social sciences, humanities and arts.

The School Offers the Following Majors:

The School Offers the Following Minors:

Welcome from the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts

Dear Students:

Welcome to the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, at the University of California, Merced! Here, we explore the current and historical dimensions of human existence, from the concepts of citizenship and community, to artistic and literary expression, diverse global and local institutions and cultures, the acquisition and the functions of language, the nature of the mind, the principles of economics and management, and the improvement of public health. This means that the fields of study in SSHA help us to understand the world and our place in it. They also teach us to write convincingly about our ideas and to engage in respectful, thoughtful dialogue with those who might disagree with those ideas. In so doing, they offer us the tools that are essential for promoting, maintaining, and improving our society.

Students in SSHA may choose from a broad selection of majors and minors, most of them with a strong interdisciplinary bent that reflects our recognition that, while disciplines provide unique research methodologies for analysis, the systems of knowledge that they represent are always interrelated. The sheer joy of discovering these connections will inspire you to seek more and help you to become a lifelong learner.

Citizenship skills and a passion for learning are important, to be sure, but where can you find a job with a degree outside of the STEM fields?  The answer is: “almost anywhere.” Just think: the application of technology has uniquely human dimensions; businesses need to understand and communicate linguistically and visually with clients, who often come from a variety of ethnic, racial or gender groups and/or speak different languages; business, policy and public health strategies also benefit from an awareness of historical trends and political institutions; industry spokespeople might just be former drama majors; and so forth.

We look forward to exploring the human dimensions of the world with you and engaging you in our many research opportunities.


Jill Robbins
Dean, School of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts

Educational Philosophy

Our educational philosophy can be captured by the following principles which guide the way that the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts constructs a learning foundation for our students:

Doing is the basis for learning. Students are encouraged to create the forms they are studying—whether they are plays, maps, persuasive essays or social surveys. We believe that developing writing skills leads to critical reading; being an articulate speaker leads to becoming a better listener; and establishing models of decision‐making from a holistic multidisciplinary perspective leads to a better appreciation of how policy is evolved. We invite students to participate in the research programs of our faculty, to create student‐led teams and to embark on individual, mentored research projects. Through their research, students learn to evaluate and use evidence and construct persuasive arguments based upon actual events and previous experience.

Learning is ubiquitous. Some of the best learning occurs outside of the classroom around peers and in communities. Diverse learning environments allow students to make connections between books and the world. Human beings are natural learners, and our job as educators is to provide an environment where students can engage these natural instincts. Courses are the anchors, but a lot of exciting learning depends upon students’ own discovery of the links between formal academic programs and other endeavors such as foreign travel, artistic performance, political or business internship or community service.

Citizenship is founded in community. When we develop an informed and critical engagement with our own community, we can make better sense of what is happening there, and we can begin to see how our home is related to the globe. We live in a world where we are globally interdependent. Political borders, which change over time, determine citizenship and affect life opportunities. Ideas, diseases, languages, goods and individuals have always moved around the region and the world, but they do not reach all destinations with equal ease; they do not have equivalent effects when they alight in different places; and they are transformed by their new environments. We envision our community of students as developing a zone of comfort that allows them to act simultaneously as local and global citizens.

As a new campus, UC Merced has the singular opportunity to foster an integrative environment that draws from these disciplinary research traditions, but is not limited by their boundaries. The School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts offers a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programs dedicated to preparing students for varied roles as responsible and thoughtful citizens and leaders. We offer research and academic programs in anthropology, the arts, cognitive science, economics, English, foreign languages, history, management, philosophy, political science, psychology, public health, sociology, world heritage and writing that:

  • prepare students for meaningful careers and professions;
  • encourage intellectual and moral growth;
  • promote sound decision-making;
  • instill the values of lifelong learning; and
  • encourage civic responsibility, public service, and understanding in a diverse, global society.

Students have the opportunity to follow personal paths of discovery in disciplinary or interdisciplinary curricula, while at the same time gaining depth and expertise in methodological domains such as social statistics, historiography, Geographic Information Systems, economics, cultural analysis and cognitive science.

Culture, society, and artistic expression differ widely on the basis of their historical era and geographical location. Individuals and their cultures are affected by diverse natural environments, the questions we ask about ourselves and the world, the changing ways in which the world has been measured and envisioned, and the legacies of contacts, migrations or isolation. As students learn to understand the ways that time and place have shaped lives, institutions and works of the imagination, they develop perspectives that enable them to better understand and shape our futures.

School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts Requirements

All students in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, regardless of major, are expected to meet the minimum requirements for a degree.

At Least 120 units to include the following:

  • At least 60 semester units of upper division courses.
  • Students must complete all course prerequisites with a C- or better.
  • When a letter grade option is available for a major requirement, students must complete that requirement with a C‐ or better; a 2.0 GPA must be maintained in all major course work.
  • Students must complete all major requirements with a C- or better and maintain a 2.0 GPA in all major course work.
  • Courses graded with a pass/no pass grading option are limited to one third of the total number of units required for general education.
  • Students must obtain pre-approval through the SSHA Advising Office for all courses completed at institutions other than UC Merced. All courses completed at institutions other than UC Merced must be worth at least 3 semester units to fulfill major, minor or general education requirements at UC Merced.

Transfer Students

Please review the “General Education for Transfer Students ” section on the UC Merced General Education page. Transfer students are strongly encouraged to complete IGETC in order to prepare for work within the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts. Students who do not complete IGETC before transferring are required to complete SSHA Foundations, an IGETC-like general education pattern. Please contact the SSHA Advising Office for more information at ssha.advising@ucmerced.edu.

Foreign Language Placement at UC Merced

To ensure proper placement in our foreign language courses, students with previous academic instruction in the language that they would like to study are encouraged to take the placement exam for that language. However, students wishing to use language proficiency to satisfy a major, minor or general education requirement must have their placement scores confirmed by the foreign language program. Please contact the Foreign Language Program Coordinator or a UC Merced academic advisor for more information.

Note: Students may not complete placement exams after they have enrolled in a UC Merced course in that language.

School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts Programs

The School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts is pleased to offer a number of interdisciplinary programs outside of the majors. Students are encouraged to take courses within the following areas of study: