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 be a leading center for teaching, learning and research, extending the reach and effect of a liberal arts education while promoting excellence in scholarship and research.

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 2021, Arts & Sciences is embarking on a comprehensive school-level strategic planning effort, informed by the foundational pillars and themes identified by our University’s leadership. Our aspiration is to be a global model of a school of arts and sciences in three key dimensions:

  • A world-class research enterprise that fosters discovery and innovation
  • A first-rate liberal arts college that prepares students to change the world
  • A diverse and inclusive community where all faculty, staff, and students can fulfill their potential

The success of Arts & Sciences' strategic planning hinges on thoughtful, authentic engagement with our entire community. We invite you to visit our strategic planning website to learn more about the process and share your thoughts and ideas throughout the coming months.

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 Graduate School administers and awards all doctoral degrees for the university, as well as all graduate programs in Arts & Sciences. It is responsible for all graduate studies policies and procedures.

learn more about the graduate school

Get to know the Deans in Arts & Sciences

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.

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Feng Sheng Hu

Feng Sheng Hu

Dean of the Faculty 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 Graduate School; 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.

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​Sophia E. Hayes

Interim Vice Dean of Graduate Education

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.

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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.

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 in the Department of English is held today by renowned scholar and writer, Gerald Early.

A time of growth and new beginnings for Arts & Sciences

The College of Liberal Arts is renamed the College of Arts and Sciences. Chancellor Eliot recruits historian Robert R. Palmer from Princeton for the newly created post of Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In 1967, the department of anthropology splits off from sociology and is established as an independent discipline at the University.

"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?

Evolution of a program

African and African-American Studies (AFAS) becomes a full department after years of planning and debate. In the fall of 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, which students argued would “radically reform our future education.” Founded the following year, the AFAS program has grown to include more than 30 core and affiliated faculty.