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Liberal Studies Overview


The Liberal Studies major prepares individuals for teaching at the elementary or middle school level.  It also is a major for those seeking jobs that require an interdisciplinary background. 

Below is an overview of the program.  Detailed information is available in our Program Requirements area.

Preparation for the major:

Preparation for the major consists of approximately 60 units including math, science, language arts, social science, visual and performing arts, PE/human development, and the humanities. 

Courses directed toward the teaching profession include ED 200 and Math Ed 212. In Math Ed 212, students examine the learning process by studying how elementary school children learn mathematical concepts. In the interdisciplinary course ED 200, students explore their readiness for a career in teaching and learn about the various pathways available through the Liberal Studies major.  

Major coursework:

Core coursework for the major consists of roughly 35 units from five disciplines: math, science, language arts, history, and the visual and performing arts. In the interdisciplinary core course LIB S 300, students compare and contrast these five disciplines. In the interdisciplinary senior assessment course LIB S 498, students prove they are ready to graduate by completing capstone activities that draw from the five disciplines.  

To see all of the required coursework for the Liberal Studies major, visit our Program Requirements area. Of the 120 units required for graduation with a bachelor’s degree from SDSU, Liberal Studies specifies between 113 and 120 units, depending on choices students make (see below).


Beyond completing core courses, Liberal Studies majors have some choices to make. 

  • One choice is whether students want to be able to teach elementary school only, elementary and middle school, or middle school only.  (Liberal Studies offers the middle-school-only choice in science and math.)

  • Another choice each student makes is a Focus area. Each student chooses to focus in either science, math or literacy.

  • Next, students choose an Option that corresponds to their goals.

    For example, students interested in teaching Special Education or Bilingual Education can pursue Options that include prerequisite course work for those credential programs at SDSU.

    Students interested in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), perhaps overseas, can pursue an option that leads to an SDSU TESL certificate.

    Students who want to be able to teach math or science in elementary and middle school choose an option of additional courses that leads to middle school authorization.

Students who major in Liberal Studies and choose to teach only middle school can choose to follow an extended pathway. In addition to their Focus and Option, these students take other courses, or tests, in their discipline that address middle school content in greater depth. Liberal Studies offers this extended pathway in science and math.


There are courses throughout the major to experience fieldwork in local schools or via video. Students observe teaching and learning at multiple grade levels and in multiple environments (e.g. general and special education). These experiences are invaluable as students refine their career goals. See our special courses page for more information.

International Experience (Study Abroad)

Starting with Catalog 2011, Liberal Studies majors are required to fulfill an international experience requirement. Possibilities range from a multi-day experience to a semester abroad. Students may participate in experiences arranged specifically for Liberal Studies, or myriad other opportunities. This requirement is fulfilled through completion of an international experience course of 1 or more units. Assistance with planning and financial support is available.  Visit our International Experience area for more details.