Program Description

If you’re looking for a traditional course of study that exposes you to a broad spectrum of subjects - and also teaches you to reason, question, and communicate - Onondaga’s associate in arts (A.A.) degree in Humanities and Social Sciences provides this experience.

In addition, this program fulfills the General Education Liberal Arts requirements at many four-year colleges and universities, enabling you to move seamlessly into any major course of study once you transfer.

Graduates of this program have earned four-year degrees in liberal arts in pre-professional areas such as journalism, history, English literature, political science, world languages, psychology, philosophy, economics, sociology, anthropology and more.

You will study the same liberal arts courses that freshmen and sophomore students typically study at colleges across the country: English composition and literature, history, mathematics, science, philosophy, fine arts, global awareness and languages, plus social sciences such as political science, psychology, anthropology, geography, sociology, and economics. This diverse exposure broadens your perspective on life and helps you make informed decisions about your career direction and future course study.

This program also includes a generous choice of electives, enabling you to explore new ideas and then focus on the area that most appeals to you: music, art, business, journalism, communication, computer science and more. Many courses focus on global awareness and diversity, and it is recommended that you take at least one of these GLAD-designated courses. A list of GLAD courses can be found in the Catalog.

Through the completion of degree requirements and with careful advisement in selecting electiv, you may be able to complete a  minor in a specific area of study. (Please see the section on minors in the Catalog).

If you wish to enter the workforce after graduation from Onondaga, this degree tells employers that you have a broad-based education – and that you have learned how to learn. Many employers prefer to hire generalists who have solid reasoning and communication skills and therefore usually make good candidates for specialized, on-the-job training.

The department of English, Reading and Communication offers courses in writing, literature, reading, communication, journalism and cinema studies. 

The English discipline offers a wide range of upper-division (200-level) writing and literature courses, including Creative Writing, Report and Technical Writing, surveys of British and American Literature, World Literature, African American Literature, Women’s Literature, The Novel, and Voices of Diversity. Students must complete English 103 and English 104 before taking upper-level English electives.

The Reading discipline offers a variety of non-credit and credit courses. Non-credit courses are designed to help students develop their reading skills to meet the demands of college-level classes. Credit courses are available for students who would like to enhance their academic performance in college. Students may choose to focus on developing their vocabulary or improving their critical reading and study skills.

The Communication discipline offers courses in basic communication skills, public speaking, argumentation, interpersonal communication, gender communication, and small groups. Communication courses that respond specifically to the needs of international students are also available.

The Social Sciences and Philosophy department houses history and philosophy as well as the social sciences. The social sciences involve the study of human behavior and interactions. These sciences are anthropology, economics, geography, psychology, political science and sociology.

  • Anthropology is the scientific study of humans across cultures and through time. 
  • Economics is the study of how society chooses to use limited resources in attempting to satisfy unlimited wants.
  • Geography examines through spatial analysis the world’s social, political, cultural, economic and environmental processes, with a particular focus on space and place.
  • History studies significant past events, explains their causes and effects, and their impact on the present.
  • Philosophy involves the critical examination of our fundamental views concerning reality, knowledge and values.
  • Political Science is concerned with the analysis of political and governmental institutions, public affairs and their interrelationships.
  • Psychology seeks to discover the environmental and genetic factors that influence an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
  • Sociology focuses on the study of society and its institutions, and social relationships among groups of humans.

The World Languages department provides the opportunity to study languages other than English. Professors as well as students use the target language as much as the level of the course permits. Language study is complemented by learning about the cultures in which the language is spoken. In addition, courses on literature and civilization are offered (see list of courses under the Literatures, Cultures and Civilizations section). Knowledge of other languages and cultures is increasingly important for economic and social reasons.

Placement in language courses varies according to the high school background of individual students.

Humanities and Social Sciences Transfer Paths

SUNY has created Transfer Paths that summarize the common lower division requirements shared by all SUNY campuses for similar majors within most disciplines. If you want to prepare for as many SUNY campuses as possible, the SUNY Transfer Paths will help you identify core coursework that will prepare you for multiple SUNY campuses. The transfer paths relevant to the Humanities and Social Sciences degree at OCC are listed below. All of the courses listed are three-credit courses, and may be used to fulfill other degree requirements, including SUNY General Education requirements. Make sure to consult with your academic advisor before choosing a transfer path.


The anthropology transfer path will provide students with a broad understanding of the human condition by introducing them to the sub-fields of cultural anthropology, archaeology, and physical anthropology as well as by providing them with courses in linguistics or in different topical areas. The goal of this transfer path is to prepare students to enter a four-year institution as an anthropology major at the junior level, ready to pursue more specialized courses in the discipline of anthropology. Here are this transfer path’s courses:

ANT 151, ANT 152, ANT 154, and any one of the following: ANT 155, ANT 175, ANT 201, ANT 202, ANT 203.


The ideal preparation for the English major is familiarity with a broad range of ethnic and national literatures, literary periods and genres, and modes of writing. It is recommended, therefore, that students take as many courses as possible in different areas of literary study and writing. Here are this transfer path’s courses:

ENG 103, ENG 104, and at least one course from two of the following categories:

World Literature: ENG 203 or ENG 204

English Literature: ENG 221 or ENG 222

American Literature: ENG 223 or ENG 224

Literature of the Other: ENG 225, ENG 226 or ENG 250

Women in Literature: ENG 230


History involves the examination of continuity and change over time. Historians investigate evidence from the past, interpret its meaning, and analyze the impact of the past on the world in which we live. Historical inquiry may be approached from a variety of perspectives and can lead to different interpretations, which makes the study of history both exciting and challenging. The history transfer path will provide students with a broad understanding of three major content areas within the history discipline: American History, World History and Western Civilization. For students who plan to major in history, this transfer path will prepare them to enter a four-year institution as history majors where they will pursue more specialized courses in history. Here are this transfer path’s courses:

Western Civilization: HIS 103 or HIS 104

American History: HIS 105 or HIS 107

World History: HIS 101 or HIS 102

At leastone additional HIS course from the following recommended list: HIS 106, 125, 207, 208, 209, 213, 214, 216, 217, 219, 221, 223, 224, 226, 240, 250, 261, 276, 286, or 292.

Note: Due to the time period covered in OCC’s HIS 106, this course may apply as either U.S. History I or II, or may be considered as an elective, depending on how the transfer institution accepts the course. Please speak to an advisor at your transfer institution to find out how it is counted.


Sociology is the scientific study of human societies, organizations and behaviors. Specializing in sociology prepares students for a variety of career and educational paths in social services, public policy and administration, international relations, demography and social research, community development, law and legal studies, journalism, public health, teaching, and more. Successful completion of the sociology transfer path includes completing SOC 103 (Introductory Sociology) and three additional SOC courses, one of which should address social stratification, gender, or inequality. Here are this transfer path’s courses:

SOC 103, andat least one of the following: SOC 203, SOC 208, SOC 211, SOC 214, and any two additional SOC courses.