Brookings Hall East End

What is Arts & Sciences?

Our ampersand is a great way to understand Arts & Sciences. We know that breakthroughs - scientific or creative, academic or personal - happen when ideas collide. The "and" in Arts & Sciences is what we believe in, and what we aspire to create every day for our students, faculty, and the world we live in.

at the intersection of it all

Arts & Sciences is the heart of Washington University and comprises the core disciplines of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Our school includes departments ranging from English and Mathematics to Political Science and Anthropology. In addition to departments of international renown, our programs and research centers provide a platform for faculty and student collaboration across the traditional academic subject areas, creating new interdisciplinary studies.

our mission:

The mission of Arts & Sciences is to advance innovative research that reaches a broad public and fosters new discoveries, and to promote excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, preparing students for civic responsibility, work, and life through impactful collaborations with the St. Louis community and across the world.

our history:

To learn more about the history of Arts & Sciences and see a listing of our past Deans, please visit this page.

our strategic plan:

In December 2021, Dean Feng Sheng Hu announced a strategic vision for elevating Arts & Sciences over the next 10 years. Arising from scores of conversations, hundreds of voices, and ideas from across the university, the Arts & Sciences Strategic Plan — A Transformative Decade: Convergence, Creativity, Community — presents a roadmap for advancing our scholarship, educational opportunities, and impact within the university and beyond its bounds. 

As we look toward 2030, we envision a transformed school that will rise in prominence to serve as a global model for a school of arts and sciences. We will lead innovative developments, advance foundational knowledge and convergent breakthroughs, create solutions for pressing global challenges, and educate a new generation of leaders to shape the future. In short, the decade of Arts & Sciences has begun. 

The Faculty of Arts & Sciences

The Faculty of Arts & Sciences is the administrative body that serves and governs all Arts & Sciences faculty and research, as well as the educational divisions detailed below.

Our 24 departments, 8 research centers, and more than 12 programs and special initiatives provide students with an interdisciplinary approach to higher education and support our robust research enterprise.

Explore our areas of study

The College houses our undergraduate studies and serves the largest undergraduate body at Washington University in St. Louis.

learn more about the college

The Office of Graduate Studies in Arts & Sciences administers and awards all doctoral degrees in Arts & Sciences. It is responsible for all graduate studies policies and procedures.

learn more about the Office of Graduate Studies in Arts & Sciences

Meet the Leadership of Arts & Sciences

Feng Sheng Hu

Richard G. Engelsmann Dean of Arts & Sciences

Dean Feng Sheng Hu oversees all aspects of the operations and programs in Arts & Sciences, including strategic planning and implementation; faculty hiring, tenure, and promotion; the appointments of the deans of the College and the Office of Graduate Studies; research, creative activity, and innovation; budget and resource planning; diversity, inclusion, and equity; communications and marketing; alumni relations and advancement; facilities and capital planning; and information technology services.

Deanna Barch

Vice Dean of Research

Professor Barch studies cognitive and language deficits in disorders such as schizophrenia, and the neurobiological mechanisms that contribute to such deficits. Her research includes behavioral, pharmacological, and neuroimaging studies with typical and clinical populations.

J. Andrew Brown

Vice Dean of Faculty Affairs

Professor Brown's research and teaching interests focus on issues of technology, science, global popular culture, and Latin American cultural identity.

Sophia E. Hayes

Vice Dean of Graduate Education and ​Professor of Chemistry

The goal of ​Professor Hayes' research group is a basic understanding of the structure and properties of different types of inorganic systems, including semiconductors and other optically and electronically active materials.

Erin McGlothlin

Vice Dean of Undergraduate Affairs, College of Arts & Sciences

Erin McGlothlin is responsible for the university’s liberal arts curriculum as well as every phase of student life, from admission through graduation and onward to postgraduate success. She is passionate about the value of a liberal arts education and seeks to create challenging, enriching educational experiences for undergraduates across all areas of study.

William Acree

Associate Vice Dean of Graduate Education

William Acree is a transdisciplinary scholar whose research and teaching explore the cultural history of Latin America, the enduring impacts of everyday experiences, and the ways cultural goods and activities inflect public life, politics, and identities.

Gary Patti

Dean's Fellow for Advancement and Entrepreneurship

Professor Patti's research is focused on metabolism. His laboratory's work spans three complementary themes. 

24 Nobel Laureates & 6 Pulitzer Prizes

Explore our history and achievements

Washington University in St. Louis Founded

Washington University was conceived by 17 St. Louis business, political, and religious leaders concerned by the lack of institutions of higher learning in the Midwest. Missouri State Senator Wayman Crow and Unitarian minister William Greenleaf Eliot, grandfather of the poet T.S. Eliot, led the effort.

College of Arts & Sciences Founded

The College of Arts and Sciences was founded in 1856 as the Collegiate Department of Washington University; it was renamed the College in 1871. In 1923 the name changed to the College of Liberal Arts, and subsequently to the College of Arts and Sciences in 1965.

One of the greats

Political scientist Merle Kling joins the faculty. Kling went on to hold the position of Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences twice and became provost in 1976. The Merle Kling Professorship of Modern Letters is held today by renowned scholar and writer, Gerald Early in the Department of African and African-American Studies.

Evolution of a program

In fall 1968, as political turbulence rocked the nation, dozens of members of the Association of Black Students confronted administrators in the corridors of Brookings Hall. Chief among their demands was the call to establish a black studies program. The program was founded the following year. In spring 2017, African and African-American Studies (AFAS) became a full department, with ability to confer PhDs, hire its own faculty, and be a primary major for undergraduates. The AFAS program has grown to include more than 30 core and affiliated faculty.

"Learning is not a spectator sport"

James E. McLeod is hired as an assistant professor of German. McLeod went on to serve as director of African and African-American Studies as well as the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and Vice Chancellor for Students. Recognized as one of the university’s most effective leaders, his promise to undergraduate students to be known “by name and by story” lives on.

Nobel laureate Rita Levi-Montalcini

Rita Levi-Montalcini was a professor of biology in Arts & Sciences who conducted groundbreaking research at Washington University in St. Louis from 1947-1977. In 1986, Levi-Montalcini shared the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with biochemist Stanley Cohen, formerly of Washington University, for breakthroughs in the study of cell growth and development. In her autobiography, “In Praise of Imperfection: My Life and Work,” Levi-Montalcini described her three decades at Washington University as “the happiest and most productive years of my life.”

A Nobel Prize in Economics

Douglass C. North is awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. He declined media interviews on the morning that he received the phone call informing him he had won the prize until after he taught his regularly scheduled class. He shared the award with his colleague Robert Fogel, then an economist at the University of Chicago. During his academic career, which spanned more than 60 years, North pondered complex variations of a simple question: Why do some countries become rich, while others remain poor?

Welcome to the Decade of Arts & Sciences

In December 2021, Dean Feng Sheng Hu announced a strategic vision for elevating Arts & Sciences over the next 10 years. The Arts & Sciences Strategic Plan — A Transformative Decade: Convergence, Creativity, Community — defines foundational areas critical to our continued and accelerating success, identifies strategic pillars for growth, and details signature initiatives that will help bring this vision to life. As we look toward 2030, we envision a transformed school that will rise in prominence to serve as a global model for a school of arts and sciences.