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About the College of Liberal Arts

About the College of Liberal Arts - CLA Sign


1 Grand Avenue
Faculty Offices North
Building 47, Room 31
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407-0320


T: 805-756-2359

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Cal Poly's College of Liberal Arts (CLA) infuses a liberal arts education with meaningful, hands-on learning opportunities through laboratories, project-based and service-learning activities, and internships. Additionally, CLA’s leadership in interdisciplinary endeavors and its entrepreneurial spirit gives students unique opportunities to push boundaries and innovate through multidisciplinary projects and teams.

With its deep roots in creative thinking, human understanding and innovative action, CLA gives all Cal Poly students the tools to thrive in a complex, multicultural world.


The College of Liberal Arts comprises 15 highly selective departments offering programs in the arts, humanities, communications and social sciences. These diverse disciplines share a focus on human experience and expression. Providing nearly one-third of the university’s instruction, the CLA serves as an essential component of liberal education for all students at Cal Poly.

The CLA fosters excellence within its cutting-edge disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses of study while diversifying, extending and enriching the broader polytechnic environment. Its rich history of teaching excellence, active research and creative endeavors, and the breadth and depth of its course offerings position the CLA as central to the Cal Poly educational experience.


The College of Liberal Arts promotes excellence through teaching, scholarship and service in the arts, humanities, communications and social sciences. The CLA encourages intellectual discovery and individual growth by promoting diversity, social responsibility, and life-long Learn by Doing in both the local and the global communities.

CLA occupies a pivotal position in the comprehensive university, providing Cal Poly students with a broad and substantive understanding of culture, social and political organizations, and the individual; developing their capacity for critical inquiry and discourse; fostering intellectual curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge; promoting creative thought and aesthetic appreciation; and integrating technology into a broader, human context.


The College of Liberal Arts upholds open and critical disciplinary and interdisciplinary inquiry, effective communication, creative thinking, aesthetic endeavor, and their application to contemporary issues. We advocate cultural and intellectual diversity, sustainability, professional ethics, self-awareness and responsible citizenship. We espouse the integration of humane and aesthetic values with technological proficiency in support of the university’s mission.

As essential and engaged members of our comprehensive polytechnic university, we embrace the university’s commitment to the Learn by Doing philosophy through our research, theory and practice.


The College of Liberal Arts will be indispensable to Cal Poly’s achieving national recognition as a premier comprehensive polytechnic university. Its emphasis on creative thinking, human understanding and innovative action will empower our graduates to confront challenges responsibly by understanding the historical, cultural, social, ethical, aesthetic, technological and philosophical complexities of global and local communities.

Through its programs, research and scholarship, the CLA will exemplify the values required to create a robust, vibrant, diverse and responsible culture that sustains progress, beauty and justice for the larger society.


Learning Objectives

College of Liberal Arts graduates will be able to:

  • Question assumptions through critical inquiry
  • Think creatively and constructively from disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives
  • Communicate effectively orally and in writing
  • Develop scholarly depth within their disciplines
  • Understand the value of interdisciplinary knowledge
  • Collaborate productively in diverse settings and with diverse others
  • Make reasoned, ethical and socially and ecologically responsible decisions
  • Understand the self and others as products of — and participants in — global traditions of art, ideas and values
  • Engage in life-long learning

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