Humanities Majors  

Humanities majors explore the ideas and events of past and present; they consider how great thinkers, writers and events shape the world we live in today.  If you care about social justice issues, humanities courses can help explain the deeper contexts of the issues that vex our world now. These courses probe what it is to be human: the search for meaning, the need for self-expression, the challenge of making ethical choices, the importance of asking intelligent questions, and how human action can impact the future. Humanities majors develop insight into the human condition and practical skills at the same time. The courses challenge you to read more, analyze texts and ideas, write clearly, respect and value cultural difference, and stretch your imagination. Humanities majors often get high scores on LSATS (the exam necessary for law school) and GREs (the general exam required by many graduate schools) and get into competitive graduate programs and law schools. No particular kind of major gives you a better chance at a job; all of them help you develop useful perspective and skills, so focus on what you find most interesting!

English majors read, discuss, and write about literature, film, popular culture and the law from a variety of perspectives. In doing so, they build skills in critical reading and analysis, verbal presentation, argumentation, and persuasive writing. In John Jay’s unique English curriculum, students acquire a comprehensive and varied foundation in literary study, and then choose to pursue either the field of Literature in greater depth or an optional concentration in Literature and the Law. The major prepares students for a variety of careers and graduate work in law, public policy, business, education, writing, and government.

English (BA) Major Information Flyer

In the English major you will:
  • Read texts closely, paying attention to the significance of words, syntax, and their contribution to the meaning of the text as a whole.
  • Identify the key elements and terms of literature, such as tone, form, point of view, figurative language, and plot structure in their analysis of literature.
  • Show awareness of a given genre and its conventions within a historical context.
  • Appropriately use secondary and theoretical sources in support of literary analysis.
  • Write critically on literature, including setting up a thesis, incorporating textual evidence, writing a coherent argument, and citing sources correctly according to a standardized format.
  • Produce papers that are edited for clarity and grammatical correctness.



Global History   
The Global History major is derived from the field of global history, which emphasizes interactions and collisions between and among cultures. The major offers undergraduates the chance to become specialists in their chosen period of the history of the world, either prehistory–500 CE, 500–1650, or 1650–the present. After completing the required three–part survey in global history, students choose the period that most interests them and pursue electives and research topics from it. Electives cover a wide range of topics, but all of them embrace the principles of global history rather than producing students with a narrow and specialized geographic focus. The required skills courses introduce students to the major schools of historical thought, varied techniques and approaches to doing historical research, and provide them with the opportunity to do original research in their capstone seminars.

Global History (BA) Major Information Flyer

In the Global History major you will:
  • Identify and explain the historical significance of critical events, trends, and themes in ancient, medieval, or modern world history.
  • Identify, locate, contextualize, and evaluate the usefulness of different forms of historical evidence (primary sources).
  • Effectively read historical scholarship (secondary sources) by accurately identifying the thesis, source base, organizational structure, and conclusions of academic texts.
  • Identify different theories and methods used in the historical profession.
  • Construct a historical argument grounded in evidence from primary and secondary sources and be able to provide a coherent defense of this thesis orally and in writing.



Humanities and Justice 
The Humanities and Justice major offers students the opportunity to explore fundamental questions about justice from a humanistic, interdisciplinary perspective. Rooted in history, literature and philosophy, Humanities and Justice prepares students for basic inquiry and advanced research into issues of justice that lie behind social policy and criminal justice as well as broader problems of social morality and equity. Its courses are designed to help students develop the skills of careful reading, critical thinking and clear writing that are necessary for the pursuit of any professional career. This major provides an excellent preparation for law school and other professional programs, for graduate school in the humanities, and for careers in law, education, public policy and criminal justice.

The Humanities and Justice curriculum involves a sequence of five interdisciplinary core courses in Humanities and Justice (designated with the HJS prefix) and seven courses from a list of humanities electives.

Humanities and Justice (BA) Major Information Flyer

In the Humanities and Justice major you will:
  • Gain a comprehensive foundation in major concepts, underlying principles, values, issues, and theories of justice in the Western tradition.
  • Gain a comprehensive foundation in non-Western traditions of justice in several historical periods through direct engagement with historical, literary, and philosophical primary texts.
  • Identify and analyze the issues and theories embedded in primary texts concerning justice.
  • Employ, compare and evaluate the methods of inquiry used in the disciplines of history, literary study, and philosophy.
  • Produce well-reasoned, coherently written, evidence-based, argumentative analyses of primary sources.
  • Investigate an original research question or research problem, and/or argue an original thesis, by engaging in a critical, rigorous, and ethical process of academic research.



Philosophy involves a critical examination of our most fundamental beliefs about truth and reality, right and wrong. In this major, students study the traditional answers to the basic questions in Western philosophy and also the important critiques of that dominant tradition. They will explore ethical and justice issues which are crucial to contemporary legal, political, and public policy debates. Philosophy majors learn sophisticated forms of reasoning and textual analysis, and deepen their understanding of basic human problems and possibilities.

Philosophy (BA) Major Flyer

In the Philosophy major you will:
  • Explain a section from a philosophical text, a philosophical theory, a philosophical issue, or a philosophical argument. 
  • Identify arguments and distinguish premises and conclusions.
  • Formulate an argument in support of or in opposition to a claim.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with a basic problem or a major theory in a main area of philosophical inquiry.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with a primary claim or critical response to a primary claim in the history of western philosophy. 



The Spanish Major is designed to be flexible, creative, and meet a host of different goals, allowing students to develop the advanced linguistic skills and forms of cultural competence so frequently sought in today’s globally competitive and interconnected world. Students will choose between two concentrations. Concentration A. Translation and Interpretation - equips students with the necessary knowledge, tools and abilities to become competent interpreters and translators. Concentration B. Spanish and Latin American Literatures and Cultures - is designed for students who wish to pursue a more general course of study of the varied cultural and literary histories of the Spanish speaking world. Graduates will be prepared for a number of jobs in government, nonprofit agencies, and the private sector, as well as entry into graduate and professional schools.

Spanish (BA) Major Information Flyer

In the Spanish major you will:
  • Demonstrate advanced level competency in all language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) in accordance with criteria  developed by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) while developing skills in critical and analytical thinking as well as sharpening research skills through discussion and analysis of different kind of texts, films, documents, and linguistic data.
  • Develop professional standards to give presentations in Spanish on a variety of cultural topics including literature, popular culture and films, or interpret speech and translate documents from one language to another, according to their interests.
  • Demonstrate intercultural competency through your contact and engagement with the cultures, literatures, history and politics of the diverse places where Spanish is spoken: the Americas- North, Central, and South―the Caribbean, and Europe.
  • Gain knowledge of the legal systems of the Spanish–speaking world.
  • Graduate with extraordinary international opportunities, whether you elect to undertake further specialized study in Hispanic literatures and cultures, or decide instead to translate and interpret from English to Spanish and Spanish to English. Your knowledge of Hispanic cultures will enhance your career opportunities in publishing and journalism, public service, international law and business, social services, diplomacy.
  • Expand your career possibilities in many professional fields.