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NYU College of Arts and Science

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NYU College of Arts and Science

NYU College of Arts and Science
Motto Perstare Et Praestare -
To Persevere and to Excel
Established 1832
Type Private
Location New York, New York, USA
Dean G. Gabrielle Starr, Ph.D.
Colors Violet and White

The New York University College of Arts and Science (CAS) is the oldest and largest academic unit of New York University, founded in 1832. This private liberal arts college is located at Washington Square in Manhattan and the administrative offices of the college are in the Silver Center for Arts & Science. Over the 180 years following the founding of the university, NYU developed an urban campus around Washington Square. For the 2011-2012 academic year, there were a total of 7,423 undergraduates enrolled at the college which represented 33% of all undergraduates. Although the College does not report an individual admissions rate, the overall undergraduate acceptance rate for NYU was 33% for the class entering in Fall 2011.[1] Although operated independently, the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences is formally associated with the NYU College of Arts and Science and is responsible for all mathematics courses.

The College of Arts and Science offers two undergraduate degrees:

The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree is currently only awarded for majors in Chemistry, Neural Science, or Physics[2]


The history of the College of Arts and Science begins with the founding of the University of the City of New York in 1831 by a group of prominent New Yorkers. Among them was Albert Gallatin, the Secretary of the Treasury for President Thomas Jefferson. Interestingly, Mr. Gallatin was following in the footsteps of Mr. Jefferson, who founded the University of Virginia in 1819. The University of the City of New York was renamed New York University in 1896.

The University of the City of New York is not to be confused with the City University of New York (CUNY) which was created in 1961 by Governor Nelson Rockefeller to oversee New York City's numerous public institutions of higher education.

19th century

The College of Arts & Science is directly descended from the founding of the university in 1831 which, unlike other American liberal arts colleges of the era, was founded as a non-denominational institution. The University of the City of New York was founded as a joint stock company and privately financed through the sale of stock. This prevented any religious group from dominating the affairs and management of the institution. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many American colleges only offered a classical education coupled with a strong theological component. University College, a predecessor undergraduate college to CAS that existed for 141 years, provided an education to all qualified men at a reasonable cost and abandoned the exclusive use of "classical" curriculum.

It is interesting to note that although University College was designed to be open to all men regardless of background, the college's early classes were composed almost exclusively of the sons of wealthy Protestant New York families. From the beginning, undergraduate education at the college focused on teaching both the classics and pragmatic subjects, such as languages, sciences, engineering and agriculture. Students were allowed to enroll in individual courses or for course work leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree. During its formative years, the College primarily served men seeking careers in law, education or medicine. Women were consigned to a "separate sphere of influence" and had fewer choices regarding an NYU education. During the history of the college and university, women were admitted only in incremental stages and in the final decades of this century, organizational strategies helped women gain equal footing.

Beginning in 1832, for a brief time, University College held classes in rented rooms in four-story Clinton Hall, located near New York's City Hall. In 1833, construction began on University Building, a grand, gothic structure that would house all university operations at Washington Square. Two years later, in 1835, the College and University took possession of its permanent home on Washington Square East, beginning NYU's enduring relationship with Greenwich Village. In 1906, University Building was replaced by a larger renovated structure that was named Main Building. In 2002, Main Building was renamed the Silver center for Arts & Science.

For much of the nineteenth century, the College remained a relatively small undergraduate liberal arts institution and the university offered space in University Building to many scientists without university affiliation. Samuel F. B. Morse invented the telegraph while teaching at the College, John W. Draper had a laboratory in University Building as well as Samuel Colt, who invented the Colt revolver at Washington Square.[3] Space was offered in the original University Building as "ateliers" for artists that sought refuge in the bohemian community that developed around Washington Square.

Almost immediately after the founding of University College, two new academic units were formed at the university. In 1835, the NYU School of Law was founded and in 1841, the NYU School of Medicine was founded. It was not until 1890, when the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development was founded, that there was any other undergraduate education offered at the university. Also in 1890, the Women's Advisory Committee (WAC) was formed by the University Council. The primary task of the WAC was to prepare plans and recommendations for the advancement of the University's work for women. The rationale for this decision was explained by Bayrd Still, former University Professor of History and its first archivist, "It was deemed expedient to have the cooperation of representative women interested in the promotion of University work in the most advanced lines of study and investigation." Scholarships provided by WAC members also helped increase the number of women that enrolled at both the College and University.

20th century

In 1894, NYU Chancellor Henry Mitchell MacCracken decided to relocate University College to a campus in the Bronx and concentrate NYU's professional schools at Washington Square. The area of the Bronx where University College relocated was named University Heights and the University Heights campus was designed by Stanford White and Associates. In 1903, undergraduate liberal arts education resumed at Washington Square with the development of the "Collegiate Division". In 1913, the "Collegiate Division" became Washington Square College, another predecessor college to CAS that existed for 60 years. From 1913 until 1973, NYU provided undergraduate liberal arts education in two colleges and in two locations - at University College in the Bronx and Washington Square College in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. Until 1959, women were only allowed to attend undergraduate summer sessions at NYU and since then, women have been permitted to matriculate as Full-Time undergraduate liberal arts students.

In 1973, while the university was under extreme financial pressure, NYU President, James McNaughton Hester, sold the University Heights campus to CUNY which then established Bronx Community College on that campus. While at the time, some alumni argued that the University Heights campus should not be sold, today many suggest that the sale was a "blessing in disguise" because the University Heights campus had become a financial burden and the management of two liberal arts colleges had become difficult. The sale of the University Heights campus allowed NYU to consolidate and focus undergraduate liberal arts education at Washington Square. University College was merged with Washington Square College to form the single liberal arts academic unit that exists today. The college was named Washington Square and University College of Arts & Science (WSUC) and in 1989, this name was modified to the College of Arts & Science. In the years following the consolidation of undergraduate liberal arts education at Washington Square, the infrastructure for the College of Arts & Science has been renovated and significantly expanded.

21st century

Today, the academic program at the NYU College of Arts & Science is administered by the Faculty of Arts & Science and incorporates several Centers and Institutes as part of NYU undergraduate liberal arts education. In 2002, Main Building was renamed the "Silver Center" after Julius Silver, B.A. 1922, bequeathed $150 million to the College. The Silver Center is connected to adjacent Brown and Waverly buildings. Brown Building contains numerous scientific laboratories and Waverly Building contains additional classroom space.


The Faculty of Arts & Science is the intellectual core of the College and has 650 members that are organized into 29 departments, 23 programs and centers and 14 research centers. Among the faculty, there are many Guggenheim Fellowship, Pulitzer Prize, Nobel Prize, National Medal of Science and MacArthur Fellowship winners.

The Dean of the College of Arts & Science along with the Faculty of Arts & Science bears primary responsibility for the undergraduate liberal arts academic program. The Faculty of Arts & Science is divided into divisions for Humanities, Science and Social Science and has many prominent departments. The Philosophy Department is ranked #1 among 50 Philosophy Departments in the English-speaking world. The Art History Department is often considered #1 in the nation. The Economics Department is considered top 5-10. The Politics Department is ranked in the top 20 annually, and the International Relations program is ranked 10th nationwide.[4] The Mathematics Department which is part of the Courant Institute is also considered to be one of the best in the world, ranking #5 in citation impact,[5] #1 in applied mathematics[6] and having more Abel prize winners than any other university.

Students in the college usually have two advisors: one advisor in the Department of their major and one Faculty mentor. Many CAS students complete a thesis or independent study project. The Dean's Undergraduate Research Fund provides grants for the research of CAS students. The college also offers Freshman Honors Seminars and Collegiate Seminars for incoming students and Honors Lectures for upperclassmen. These seminars are small courses taught by senior faculty in their respective areas of expertise. In addition to senior faculty, NYU's president John Sexton, several university deans, and various leaders from government and businesses around New York City are among those who teach Freshman Honors and Collegiate seminars.

Core curriculum

In order be awarded the B.A. or B.S. degree, all CAS students must complete the requirements of the Morse Academic Plan commonly referred to as "MAP," the undergraduate liberal arts core curriculum. The core curriculum is designed to foster analytical thinking and includes courses in western civilization, social policy, scientific inquiry, non-Western societies and expressive culture. The curriculum also requires a foreign language proficiency and an expository writing course. Although not required, MAP courses are typically taken in the Freshman and Sophomore years and students have the option to take several MAP courses at NYU's foreign campuses.

CAS courses are traditionally either seminars or weekly and semi-weekly lectures with larger lectures being divided into recitations.

Deans of the college

University College - 1832 to 1973

Washington Square College - 1913 to 1973

College of Arts & Science - 1973 to Present

  • Jill N. Claster, PhD
  • Matthew S. Santirocco, PhD
  • G. Gabrielle Starr, PhD

Phi Beta Kappa: Beta of New York at New York University

History of the chapter: The College of Arts and Science is home to the second oldest chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in New York State. The Beta of New York at New York University was organized at a meeting held at the former University Heights Campus on December 23, 1858. In terms of seniority, it ranks nationally as the 15th oldest chapter of the Society.[7] The Beta of New York narrowly missed being the eighth oldest chapter after a partially unsuccessful petition to start a chapter in 1836 by Robert Bridges Patton, Samuel F.B. Morse and other professors. This was primarily due to the confusion that was prevalent within the Society at that time over the method of initiating new chapters.

Prominent alumni and former students


Howard Zinn, Class of 1967.
Martha Nussbaum, Class of 1969.

Arts and entertainment:

Joseph Heller, Class of 1948.
Frank McCourt, Class of 1957.
Elizabeth Gilbert, Class of 1991.
Martin Scorsese, Class of 1964.


Maria Bartiromo, Class of 1987.


Ray Suarez, Class of 1985.

Legal profession:

Medical profession:

Politics and government:

Bill de Blasio, Class of 1984.



Howard Cosell, Class of 1938.

Programs of study


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ University of the City of New York
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^

External links

  • New York University
  • College of Arts and Science
  • College of Arts and Science Academic Bulletin
  • NYU Arts and Science Alumni Blog

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