College of Arts and Sciences

Valerie S. Banschbach, Ph.D., dean

Christin L. Hancock, Ph.D., academic associate dean

Hannah L. Highlander, Ph.D., associate dean for students

Alexandra M. Stewart, Ph.D., academic associate dean


The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) at the University of Portland offers bachelor of arts degrees or bachelor of science degrees in 34 majors and 30 minors through 15 departments. Graduate programs are offered in Communication Studies.

Many students within the College or in one of the professional schools choose to enrich their educations or to prepare for their chosen careers by obtaining a double major or minor. Over 50 percent of students in the College study abroad, and many participate in faculty-sponsored research projects, internships, or service learning.

Faculty in the College are reflective teachers, who continually seek ways to improve their teaching while maintaining an active agenda of research and scholarship. Each faculty member advises students, serving as a mentor and model for the students' progress in study and preparation for a life of service and leadership. Advisors in pre-law and pre-health assist students who are preparing for careers in those professions.

The College supports the Learning Commons with peer tutors for English, mathematics, international languages, public speaking, natural sciences, and group work strategies, and encourages student involvement through clubs sponsored by each department and through the College’s Student Leadership and Advisory Council. Faculty in mathematics and natural sciences are active participants in the University of Portland's STEM Center, and faculty members throughout the College lend their expertise to the activities of the Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life and American Culture, the Franz Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation, and the Dundon-Berchtold Institute. 

Each year the English department participates, as one of the founding members, in the Northwest Undergraduate Conference in Literature (NUCL). All students at the University of Portland are welcome to audition for plays, to sing in the chorale, or to play in musical ensembles. All are invited to join the prize-winning debate team or to compete in Mock Trial.

Three programs within the College are externally evaluated and accredited: the bachelor’s degree in music is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, the bachelor’s degree in theater is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre, and the bachelor’s degree in social work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Option 1 of the chemistry program is approved by the American Chemical Society. The other programs conduct program reviews every seven years in addition to yearly self-assessment. The College as a whole is assessed by the Northwest Association of Colleges and Universities as part of the University of Portland’s periodic assessment.


The College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Portland follows in the long tradition of the liberal arts. We value integrative education, scholarship, and creative work that transform our world, our communities, and ourselves. 

An intrinsic component of a Catholic university, the College fosters personal development of students, faculty, and staff by exploring how knowledge helps shape our world for the better through the integration of faith and reason.

In response to fundamental issues of the twenty-first century, the College promotes interdisciplinary engagement amidst the breadth of disciplines that comprise the humanities and the natural and social sciences. We affirm that the world is our classroom and that the liberal arts provide tools for understanding the complexities of human culture as well as resources and opportunities for encouraging wonder about the universe.  

Faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences engage integrative learning through active teaching, faculty-mentored research, ethical and intellectual formation, and the creative and performing arts. We empower students to become responsible decision-makers, and ethical citizens able to discern, appreciate, and protect the common good. Foundational experiences here prepare graduates of the College to lead productive lives of inquiry, service, and introspection as agents of compassion and change. Furthermore, a college degree grounded in the liberal arts prepares graduates for the ever-evolving careers of the twenty-first century.

College Requirements

The undergraduate programs are designed to build on the UP Core to educate students so that they will make contributions to the world guided by concerns for issues of justice and ethical behavior. In addition to the University core, the college requires courses in communication and civic and global awareness.

Effective Communication

The CAS core communication requirement helps students learn to explain and, in some courses practice aloud, how people use communication to exert influence, acquire knowledge, create identities, and foster relationships through written or oral communication.

Learning Outcomes for Effective Communication

Students who have fulfilled the Effective Communication requirement will be able to:

  1. Understand the nature of a particular communication mode.
    1. Comprehend the elements of a particular communication mode.
    2. Comprehend the rules and norms associated with skilled practice of a particular communication mode.
    3. Comprehend that skilled communication in a particular mode involves multiple stages.
  2. Improve their ability to achieve goals using a particular communication mode.
    1. Demonstrate ability to adapt communication (i.e., content, organization, language, style) to audiences.
    2. Demonstrate ability to accomplish goals using a particular communication mode.

Commitment and Consciousness

To support both the broad Catholic mission of UP and the specific mission of CAS, the College endeavors to support students in further developing critical, analytical, and imaginative thinking as well as expanding their formation in civic and global consciousness. Thus, all students within the College of Arts and Sciences are required to take one additional upper-division course to fulfill the Commitment and Consciousness Requirement. These courses will come from the approved Exploration-level courses in the UP Core that address either the Diversity & the Common Good Habit or the Global & Historical Consciousness Habit.

Learning Outcomes for the Commitment and Consciousness Requirement

Students who complete a Commitment and Consciousness course that addresses the Diversity & the Common Good Habit will be able to achieve at least one of the following learning goals:

  • Learn to live and contribute in a diverse society and interdependent world.
  • Recognize how cultures, identities, and inequalities shape human experience.
  • Engage community and social issues with a sense of civic responsibility and shared commitment to human dignity.

Students who complete a Commitment and Consciousness course that addresses the Global & Historical Consciousness Habit will be able to achieve at least one of the following learning goals:

  • Apply a comparative perspective to global issues.
  • Develop competencies for responsible global citizenship and stewardship.
  • Demonstrate a historical and cultural consciousness.