The Liberal Arts at USF

At the University of Sioux Falls, we're enthusiastically devoted to providing students an outstanding liberal arts education in the Christian tradition. What does this mean for you? For one, it means that you will be amply prepared not only to compete in today's workforce but to excel in it.

What will set you apart from the rest? You will be a critical, creative, independent thinker. You will understand the rewards of working collaboratively. You will be an excellent communicator. And you will be an excellent leader.

But at USF, we want our students to ask what the great Christian scholar Arthur Holmes asks: “What has my Christian liberal arts education done to me?” We believe that a Christian liberal arts education transforms students, ushering them into the world of serving God and humankind, of committing to a life of servanthood for God's kingdom.

Why Liberal Arts?

10 Reasons to Earn a Liberal Arts Degree

We're often asked about the definition of the liberal arts. We've created the top 10 list below to help you understand its enduring value.

The liberal arts are an exploratory journey that naturally exposes you to all your options by enrolling in courses from nearly every discipline.
You might be surprised to find that you are passionate about a subject that you initially dismissed or were not aware existed.
The liberal arts increases your awareness of your interests.
The interdisciplinary focus helps you select a major and specialty. For example, if you aspire to be an attorney, taking a biology course might help you decide to focus on environmental law.
The liberal arts maximize your performance.
Consider the ability of English majors who enroll in psychology courses. Some of the principles in psychology will help them better develop the characters in their stories or analyze the background of their authors.
Employers value the broad concentration of liberal art degrees.
This includes critical thinking, researching, writing, problem-solving and possessing computer and communication skills. For more proof, visit the Council of Independent College's public website to promote the liberal arts at
Graduate schools value the knowledge, skills and abilities that liberal art graduates possess.
Many graduate/professional schools require certain prerequisite courses, but specific majors are usually not required. This is because graduate programs are looking for the same broad skills that employers are seeking.
A liberal arts degree provides innumerable career opportunities.
According to the Bureau of Labor, most people change careers at some point in their lives. Unlike a technical degree, the liberal arts cultivate versatile expertise and permit you to change careers.
The liberal arts also enable you to respond to a rapidly changing labor market.
New types of jobs are emerging every year and most of us have no way of knowing the requirements that will be needed to qualify for them. Consequently, the best approach you can take is to develop general, transferable skills that employers want.
The liberal arts equip you with the critical thinking skills needed to make a decision, such as that of your major.
If you are unsure about your major, seek out a liberal arts education. Not only will you be prepared for numerous careers, but the curriculum will naturally facilitate your decision-making ability.
You get to be the architect of your degree.
You can select the classes that interest you in many of the Liberal Arts Core categories such as the Fine Arts, Literature, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences. You can also select your elective credits or earn a minor in another discipline. Nowhere else can you tailor your plan of study to your interests or career goals.
In addition to doing something for you in regards to your career, a liberal arts degree also does something to you.
There is both an instrumental and intrinsic focus. Not only are you equipped with valuable skills, but you are transformed, especially because we offer a distinctively Christian approach to the liberal arts.

Reference: The Liberal Arts, Your College Major, and Your Future Career(s): Myths & Realities by Joe Cuseo

Liberal Arts Myth Busters

Myth: The liberal arts imply a politically "liberal" point of view.
Reality: The liberal arts are not affiliated with any political agenda. Instead, the curriculum equips graduates with the skills they need to think critically, problem solve and identify truth. Students are exposed to multiple points of view, and they learn methods to evaluate complex issues. This prepares them for an increasingly diverse world and rapidly changing labor market.
Myth: The liberal arts specifically refer to the fine arts and humanities.
Reality: The liberal arts are integrated into every discipline, including the sciences. Regardless of students' majors, USF incorporates 21st century skills into the curriculum. This emphasizes technology, communication and cultural skills. Students are transformed into creative and critical, independent thinkers.
Myth: The sole purpose of college is to acquire occupational knowledge and skills.

Reality: This is one of the objectives of a USF education. Just ask our graduates. Six months after graduation, 97 percent of our graduates secure jobs related to their major or chosen field. We also offer much more to our students. We teach students to integrate their faith and be lifelong, engaged learners. Our liberal arts focus nurtures their relationship with God. In his book Engaging God's World, Cornelius Plantinga (2002) writes, "One way to love God is to know and love God's work. Learning is therefore a spiritual calling: properly done, it attaches us to God" (p. xi). How do the Christian liberal arts achieve this? We ask important questions and seek out truth. As Cosgrove (2006) explains in Foundations of Christian Thought, “Faith without learning can never be tested for truth, and learning without faith assumptions tends to study the trivial” (p. 48).

The integration of faith and learning is at the heart of the present vocation for all USF students. Because it is a spiritual activity, this learning cannot be compartmentalized to students' college education. It is necessary in the life of faith and should continue even after they graduate. But don't worry. We prepare our students for this lifelong learning. That's why our students are transformed into critical and creative independent thinkers.

Myth: I can develop as a Christian at a public university as much as I would at a Christian liberal arts institution.
Reality: Christian liberal arts institutions, like USF, are the only place where you can find the integration of faith and learning. Public schools may have active Christian organizations that could foster friendships, study the Bible or meet periodically to discuss spiritual topics, but your faith is still compartmentalized. Your professors cannot extensively incorporate it into classroom discussion, assignments or activities. At USF faith permeates every area of our campus. We believe your faith is too important to be a secondary byline in the conversation.
Myth: The liberal arts are a luxury. In this economic climate, we need individuals with practical skills.
Reality: The liberal arts are a necessity. New types of jobs are emerging every year and most of us have no way of knowing what those jobs will be or what type of requirements will be needed in order to qualify for them. Consequently, our country's future leaders need to develop general, transferable skills that employers want, and future leaders will need to adjust to rapidly-changing careers.

Transferable Skills

The skills developed in the liberal arts core are skills that you will need to get your first job once you graduate from college and will continue to need in order to get your fourth or fifth job. In other words, these are skills that are necessary for any job you might have, and they are skills that you can transfer from one job to the next. These transferable skills include the following:

  • Reading for comprehension
  • Writing in order to be understood
  • Thinking clearly and coherently
  • Speaking in order to inform and/or persuade
  • Collaborating with others

In order to help our students develop transferable skills and virtues through the liberal arts core curriculum, the faculty at the University of Sioux Falls believes their role is twofold. First, they aim to create a safe environment in which our students can learn, practice, grow, and even fail in all these areas without fear of condemnation, judgment, or ridicule. USF hopes students feel that they can ask questions, offer opinions and ideas and practice skills in this classroom environment.

At the same time, the faculty also challenge our students to grow, think about new things and become more nuanced persons. While this can at times feel uncomfortable, it is in these moments that our students truly begin to experience the power of a liberal arts education. USF believes that our students can and will be transformed as they encounter and interact with the truly good and beautiful ideas inherent in the liberal Arts.

Transferable Virtues

The virtues USF hopes to develop in the liberal arts core classes are character traits that are necessary to being a fully formed, mature human being and Christian. These virtues will not simply help you get a job (although they can certainly do that), but more importantly they will help you become the kind of person God intends for you to be, the kind that is conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. These virtues include such things as:

  • Responsibility
  • Integrity
  • Self-control
  • Faithfulness
  • Kindness
  • Justice
  • Joy
  • Peace

Liberal Arts Core Requirements

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