An Integrated Curriculum

With 21 required courses, totaling 68 credit hours, the Program of Liberal Studies is one of the largest majors at Notre Dame. However, some of our students still find time to carry a second major or minor, many study abroad, and all take advantage of the many extra curricular opportunities that Notre Dame has to offer. We have had students major in PLS from all of the undergraduate schools and colleges at the University.

One of the things that makes this possible is that PLS students are able to fulfill nearly all of their University and College of Arts and Letters core requirements in the Program. The only University requirements that the Program currently does not fulfill are Quantitative Reasoning, Writing & Rhetoric, and the Moreau Seminar; the other 9 courses, including one Science & Technology, can be fulfilled by the Program. (Note: PLS offers a University Seminar that is typically a version of our Seminar I. To fulfill the USEM requirement within PLS, students will need to take PLS 13186.) The only Arts and Letters requirement that it does not fulfill is foreign language; the other 5 courses can be fulfilled by the Program.

In rare cases, students can be waived from a PLS requirement. This may be possible if they are completing a full second major in one of the areas covered by a disciplinary Tutorial. All such exemptions are granted on a case-by-case basis. Students are encouraged to contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Eric Bugyis (, who will help them design a personalized course plan.

Hear from PLS alumnus Arnav Dutt '14 on the unique benefits of the PLS curriculum

Arnav is currently an Assistant Public Defender at the Hennepin County Public Defender Office in Minneapolis, MN. 

The Seminars

The backbone of our curriculum is the six “Great Books'' Seminars, typically taken in successive semesters, that begin in ancient Greece and end in mid-20th century America. The word “seminar” means seedbed; in the seminar the seeds of future reading and reflection are sown. Each Seminar is 4 credit hours.

  • PLS 23101 (or PLS 13186) Great Books Seminar I
  • PLS 23102 Great Books Seminar II
  • PLS 33101 Great Books Seminar III
  • PLS 33102 (or PLS 34102) Great Books Seminar IV
  • PLS 43101 Great Books Seminar V
  • PLS 43102 Great Books Seminar VI

The Tutorials

The Seminars are complemented by thirteen required disciplinary Tutorials led by distinguished research faculty that take students deeper into the primary subjects of the liberal arts. In the Tutorials, the seeds sown in Seminar may begin to sprout, if only to bear fruit much later in the Program and beyond. Each Tutorial is 3 credit hours.

  • PLS 20201 Literature I: Lyric Poetry 
  • PLS 20412 Fundamental Concepts of Natural Science
  • PLS 30501 Music and Meaning
  • PLS 40301 Christian Theological Traditions
  • PLS 40412 Science, Society, and the Human Person
  • PLS 20301 (or PLS 13185) Philosophical Inquiry
  • PLS 30301 Ethics
  • PLS 30202 Literature II: Shakespeare and Milton
  • PLS 40601 Intellectual and Cultural History
  • PLS 20302 (or PLS 13183) The Bible and Its Interpretation
  • PLS 30411 Scientific Inquiry: Theories & Practices
  • PLS 30302 Political and Social Theory
  • PLS 40302 Metaphysics and Epistemology

The Senior Thesis

This 35-60 page thesis (~9000-15,000 words) is your chance to explore a topic or a text of your choosing in greater detail from across the disciplines, and to work one-on-one with an advisor who will support you every step of the way in bringing this capstone project to completion. This is the time when the seeds planted in the seminars and nurtured in the tutorials come into their fullest flowering to date.

  • PLS 48701 Thesis-Tutorial (3 credit hours)
  • PLS 48702 Thesis-Tutorial (2 credit hours)