Oklahoma Panhandle State University
School of Liberal Arts
An Introduction to The School of Liberal Arts
The study of the disciplines within the vast academic arena of liberal arts encompasses much: history, language, sociology, art, music, English, political science, humanities, psychology, anthropology, religion, theatre, criminal justice, and communication. OPSU prides itself on the broad array of coursework in liberal arts, the trained faculty who teach those courses, and the bright students who succeed in those courses.
Nowadays, folks generally believe that study in the liberal arts fields yields little in the way of a financially rewarding job; however, liberal arts investigation affords students a greater depth of understanding of the world and the myriad of cultures around them and the broad scope of the civilization of mankind and all of man’s and woman’s accomplishments. Liberal arts offers students knowledge of the cultural achievements and their history—from the streets of ancient Rome to the contemporary literature of Stephen King to the Kiowa Five artists. During their studies of the liberal arts, students will be taught and encouraged to read, analyze, discuss, and write. Some may think that those skills are not valuable, but indeed, they are. All employers—regardless of the field—desire employees who can read and write, who are articulate, and who can make critical and informed decisions. These are objectives gleaned from courses in the liberal arts.
Students who graduate with a degree from the School of Liberal Arts often go on to graduate schools and pursue masters and doctorate degrees. Others go to work in the private sector with communication companies, non-profit organizations, and publishing. Some alternatively certify to teach in the public schools. Again, graduates have skills in reading, writing, speaking, and analyzing and make optimum candidates for employers and graduate schools and professional schools like law school.
Of course, students don’t have to major in a liberal art field, for they can minor in any area offered by the school. A minor in a liberal arts area complements majors in business, computer information systems, education, or science, especially if a student is bound for graduate school. Minors normally require 18 to 20 hours of classes taken within a specific field.
The School of Liberal Arts houses four departments: Department of Social and Behavioral Science, Department of Art, Department of Music, and Department of Communication.
Within the Department of Social and Behavioral Science, students will find classes in history (American and European), political science, psychology, criminal justice, religion, and sociology. Students may seek the Bachelor of Science in psychology or the Bachelor of Arts in history or social science with emphases in sociology, political science, or social science.
Classes in the Department of Art include coursework in two-dimensional and three-dimensional art leading to the Bachelor of Fine Art. Besides the bachelor’s degree in art or in traditional art, OPSU offers a computer graphic option in art that marries art classes and computer graphics classes like web animation and game design. Art students have developed an active art club known as Images, and the group organizes a yearly Art Jubilee for high school students from the five-state area and the annual Paul Ferrell Art Auction, a true formal and juried art auction where students’ superlative artwork is sold to the highest bidder.
Students interested in music—vocal and instrumental—take courses offered by the Department of Music. This department supports the university’s musical ensembles too; concert band, marching band, and jazz band are open to any student at OPSU. Vocal groups include the university choir which is open to OPSU students and the surrounding community and the small auditioned group known as Chamber Singers, an a cappela group. The department offers several options to the Bachelor of Music degree: general music, instrumental performance, vocal performance, pedagogy, and music education.
The Department of Communication houses coursework in English, Spanish, and speech communication, including theatre. Of course, all students must take the dreaded freshman composition sequence, and OPSU has a well-established program of writing that prepares students to write for their entire academic careers. This department grants the Bachelor of Arts degree in English.
Faculty members in the School of Liberal Arts have one basic characteristic in common: they are passionate about what they do—teach university students. Some people may have the misperception that because of OPSU’s relatively small size, getting a college degree here is “easy.” That is not true. Faculty members hold students to rigorous academic standards and expect students to be timely, thorough, respectful, and responsible. OPSU instructors are well-qualified to teach the courses that they teach, and they do it well. Professors have degrees from various institutions across the US and have impressive resumes too. There is nothing “second rate” about the teaching staff at OPSU.
Those professors teach rather small classes too. The largest classes are the “general education” social science classes like political science and American history and psychology. Normally, classes that count for credit in a degree plan have between ten and twenty-five students making a class that is small enough for students and instructors to develop relationships fit for discussion and learning. OPSU prides itself on that small student-to-teacher ratio that is not always found at universities and colleges larger than OPSU.
If you are interested in any of the following academic arenas within the School of Liberal Arts, please feel free to contact the faculty member associated with that field. You will be glad that you did!
All degree requirements and courses may be found in the OPSU Course Catalog.