Several students sitting on steps talking about liberal arts

What are the Liberal Arts?

With a history stretching back to the Classical and Medieval Eras, the liberal arts provide a rigorous education for the development of mature Christian persons, active citizens and responsible thinkers who can meaningfully contribute to their communities and lead fulfilling lives.

The liberal arts are designed to free a person to make their own way in life by learning from many disciplines rather than narrowly focusing on a single career or vocational outcome.

While the specific disciplines and coursework of the liberal arts have changed through the years, the joyful pursuit of knowledge for its own sake remains a staple of this tradition.

The Purpose of the Liberal Arts

At the University of Sioux Falls, the tradition of the liberal arts is embedded in the University’s foundational commitment to Christian discipleship. The aims of the liberal arts at USF are: 

  • Firstly, to provide students with a foundation and global orientation in the arts, humanities and the natural and social sciences.
  • Secondly, the liberal arts will enable students to reflect on how the truth, beauty, and goodness of these disciplines are deepened through knowledge of and commitment to the Christian faith.

The Seven Characteristics of a Liberal Arts Education at USF

Building upon the rich heritage of the Christian liberal arts, the faculty at USF designed a set of core coursework promoting seven inter-related characteristics needed by every ethical thinker of any vocation in the twenty-first century. These include character, curiosity, critical thinking, communication, creativity, community and care. In keeping with the University’s mission of integrating faith and learning, each of these characteristics reflect the skills and values exemplified by the teaching of Christ. The Liberal Arts Core at the University of Sioux Falls nurtures these vital characteristics by:


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Cultivating virtues that support a flourishing individual and communal life.

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Fostering a lifelong love of learning and an ongoing pursuit of knowledge, truth, and wisdom.

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Critical Thinking

Developing the skills of information literacy and research across the disciplines.

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Expanding the ability to write and speak clearly and with purpose.

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Pursuing innovative and imaginative endeavors in academic, cultural, artistic, scientific, and social contexts.

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Understanding and strengthening our communities through the pursuit of human dignity and justice.

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Embracing the motto of the University of Sioux Falls: Culture for Service


To hone these characteristics, the faculty at USF create classroom environments where students can learn, practice, grow and even fail without fear of judgment or ridicule. Interacting with these inherently good and beautiful ideas may at times be challenging, but it is in these moments where a liberal arts experience can be most transformative. Students of the liberal arts are equipped with the ability to ask meaningful questions, to find trustworthy information to answer those questions, and encouraged to pursue the truth, wherever it may lead. Faculty challenge them to grow, to think about new things, and encounter new perspectives. In the process, students become more nuanced and reflective persons, strongly equipped to serve God and humankind in the world.