Office of Academic Services

New Students


Welcome from Dean Lauren Benton

Dean Lauren BentonWelcome to Vanderbilt’s College of Arts and Science! You have enrolled in the largest and most academically diverse undergraduate college at Vanderbilt University, with an entering class of about 1,000 students and a student body that is some 4,280 strong. Your pre-major faculty adviser, provided to you through CASPAR, will assist you in the challenging and rewarding task of selecting the classes you will take during your first year. We have prepared this booklet to help guide you through the process. Hang onto it! It includes essential information for choosing and enrolling in classes.

The mission of the College of Arts and Science is to make sure that each student receives a superb liberal arts education, including opportunities to participate in the research university’s core enterprise: the creation of new knowledge. Through exposure to a wide range of fields, intensive training in writing and research, and communal study, a liberal arts education lays the foundations for advanced learning and guides students as they identify particular interests and talents. A specialized course of studies (the major) prepares students to enter graduate or professional school or the job market with a suite of highly valued capacities: a demonstrated ability to engage in critical thinking, strong writing and research skills, practice in the scientific method, and a broad context of historical knowledge.

The 365 faculty members in the College of Arts and Science strive to create the conditions needed for you to thrive academically. In classrooms, laboratories, studios, and performance spaces, we will challenge you to think creatively and to make original contributions. The learning experience continues outside class, in fieldwork and internship opportunities, and especially in our faculty offices, where we will meet with you to clarify coursework, review assignments, discuss research, and engage in wide-ranging discussions. Faculty-student exchanges are a crucial part of the liberal arts experience, and we urge you to learn your professors’ office hours and to make it a habit to seek them out for conversation and counsel.

One additional word of advice: take intellectual risks. You will have time as an undergraduate to sample new fields as well as to cast deep intellectual roots in one or more disciplines. You can begin to make the most of the opportunities that Vanderbilt offers you by exploring the rich variety of course offerings in Arts and Science.

Four years from now, as graduates of the College of Arts and Science, you will join a distinguished group of Vanderbilt Arts and Science alumni whose liberal arts education has propelled them to rewarding and creative careers across a broad spectrum of fields and professions. I wish you great success in your first semester and throughout your years at Vanderbilt. If my colleagues and I in the Dean’s Office can be of service to you, please contact us. And again: welcome to the learning community of the College of Arts and Science.


Laurent Benton
Lauren Benton
Dean of Arts and Science


Links of interest for new students: