Human Studies

The human studies major is a multi-disciplinary major that focuses on the study of the individual in social context. The objectives of the human studies major are to enable students to understand the psychological, social, and cultural forces that affect the lives of individuals, and to encourage integration of this knowledge through interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary study.

The major consists of three components. First, there is a required core of six courses, which introduces students to the disciplines of psychology, anthropology/sociology, and philosophy, and to the methods of study employed by these disciplines. The capstone experience in this component can consist of either the senior seminar course or the St. Mary’s Project, either of which provides the opportunity for students to explore a topic of interest in greater depth.

In addition to the required core courses, majors select at least one course from a group of upper-level offerings emphasizing the nature of developmental processes. Finally, each student chooses a set of upper-level courses from one of two concentrations: social relations or childhood and society.


To earn a bachelor of arts degree with a major in human studies, a student must satisfy the following minimum requirements designed to establish a broad foundation consistent with the goals of the major:

  1. General College Requirements (see “Curriculum” section), including the following requirements to satisfy the major:
  2. At least 44 credit-hours as specified in a., b., c., and d. below. Students must earn a grade of C- or better in each required major course and maintain an overall GPA of 2.0 or better in these required courses. Courses taken for Credit/No credit may not be used to satisfy requirements under point 2.
    1. Required Courses: At least six courses (a minimum of 24 credit-hours)
      • PSYC 101: Introduction to Psychology
      • ANTH 101: Introduction to Anthropology or
      • SOCI 101: Introduction to Sociology
      • HMST 201: Research Methods in Human Studies or
      • PSYC 203: Writing and Research Methods in Psychology or
      • SOCI/ANTH 385: Seminar in Research Methods
      • PSYC 230: Lifespan Development
      • HMST 490: Senior Seminar in Human Studies or
      • HMST 493/494: St. Mary’s Project A student who elects the Senior Seminar option must take an additional 4-credit upper-division course in psychology, sociology/anthropology, or education.
    2. Courses with a developmental focus: at least one course (a minimum of 4 upper-division credit-hours) chosen from:
      • PSYC 331: Infant and Child Development
      • PSYC 333: Adolescence
      • PSYC 335: Adulthood and Aging
      • PSYC 430: Developmental Psychology with Laboratory
    3. Fieldwork experience in the community. This non-credit requirement may be met in a number of ways, including: Field placements in EDUC 204, PSYC 336, PSYC 368; HMST 398: Internship; ANTH 303: Field study program; ANTH 306: Practicing anthropology; or documented non-credit-bearing community-service volunteer work.
    4. Students will choose a concentration from one of the following: (1) Social Relations or (2) Childhood and Society. Students with double majors in psychology must select the Social Relations option. Students with double majors in sociology/anthropology must select the Childhood and Society option.
      1. Social Relations:
        1. at least one course (a minimum of four upper-level credit-hours) chosen from:
          • ANTH 302: Food and Culture
          • ANTH 311: Native American Culture and History
          • ANTH 313: African American Colonial Culture
          • ANTH 348: African-American Culture
          • ANTH 390: Cultures of Africa
          • HIST 400: Comparative Slave Systems in the Americas
          • PSYC 363: Cross-Cultural Psychology
          • RELG 350: Islam in the Modern World
          • RELG 360: Comparative Religious Belief and Practice
          • SOCI 341: Eastern European Societies
          • SOCI 347: Minorities
        2. Social Organization: at least two courses (a minimum of eight upper-level credit-hours) chosen from:
          • ANTH 341: Economic and Ecological Anthropology
          • ANTH 344: American Folk and Popular Culture
          • ANTH 360: Kinship and Social Organization
          • POSC 311: Public Policy
          • SOCI 302: Medical Sociology
          • SOCI 320: Sociology of the Family
          • SOCI 330: Sociology of Organizations
          • SOCI 332: Sociology of Law
          • SOCI 335: Science, Technology, and Society
          • SOCI 345: Social Change
          • SOCI 349: Sociology of Religion
          • SOCI 351: The Sociology of Deviance
          • SOCI 365: Social Stratification
        3. Cognate Course: At least one additional course (a minimum of four upper-division credit-hours) that fits within the student’s individualized plan for the human studies major. This plan should be proposed in writing to the coordinator of human studies.
      2. Childhood and Society:
        1. Required Courses: at least three courses (a minimum of 12 credit-hours)EDUC 206: The Child in America or:
          • SOCI 316: Sociology of Children and Childhood
          • PSYC 336: Exceptionality
          • PSYC 368: Educational Psychology
        2. Psychology as Applied to Education: at least one course (a minimum of four credit-hours) chosen from:
          • PSYC 338: Mental Retardation
          • PSYC 339: Learning Disabilities
          • PSYC 374: Psychological Assessment
          • PSYC 420: Psychology of Learning
          • PSYC 424: Cognitive Psychology


EDUC 204. Reflective Practice in Human Studies(1-4E)

This course provides pre-professional experience in school and community settings for students who are exploring an interest in working with children and youth. The course includes methods for organizing and managing small groups and/or individualized mentoring processes using a reflective model of leadership. The course is recommended for students interested in being camp counselors, working in after-school programs, or in community programs that serve children and youth. The course requires a field placement lab of two hours a week in a school or community setting. Credit/No Credit Grading. Students may take, at most, two of the following cross-listed courses for up to a total of four credit-hours. This course satisfies the Core Curriculum requirement in Experiencing the Liberal Arts in the World. This course is cross-listed with ILCS 293, ILCF 293, ILCG 293, ILCC 293, MATH 293.

HMST 197, 297, 397, 497. Directed Research in Human Studies (1-4E)
Under the direct supervision of a faculty member, a student participates in laboratory or field research. A learning contract that specifies the research goals and methodology must be filed with the Office of the Registrar. A maximum of four credit-hours of directed research in human studies (397 or 497 only) may be applied to major requirements in human development or human studies. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Learning contract filed in the Office of the Registrar.
HMST 201. Research Methods in Human Studies (4S)

An examination of methods of data collection and analysis used in human studies, including experimental and quasi-experimental designs, naturalistic observation, surveys, interviews, case studies, and ethnographic fieldwork. It is highly recommended that students take a statistics course either prior to or concurrent with enrollment in this course. Prerequisites: PSYC 101 and either SOCI 101 or ANTH 101.

HMST 393. Fieldwork Experience (2-8F)

This course provides a field experience in a setting relevant to human studies, such as a social service agency, school, or health care organization. Allows for hands-on experience in a community context. Prerequisites: HMST 201 and junior standing.

HMST 398, 498. Off-campus Internship (4-16E)

A variety of off-campus experiential learning opportunities can be arranged through the director of internships. The off-campus internship is an individually designed experience that allows the student to explore the relation between learning in the classroom and the practical application of knowledge in everyday work situations. All interns are required to maintain regular contact with the faculty supervisor. Interns placed at sites in Southern Maryland will meet this requirement through attendance at a scheduled seminar. Prerequisite: Admission to the Internship Program. (See “Internships” under “Academic Policies” section.) Credit/No Credit grading. May not be used to fulfill requirements for the psychology and human studies majors. (Consult with the director of internships.)

HMST 490. Senior Seminar in Human Studies (4E)

An investigation of selected topics in the field of human studies. Issues for study and analysis will vary. Each student is responsible for the preparation of a major research paper or project. Prerequisites: HMST 201 and senior standing.

HMST 493/494. St. Mary’s Project (1-8E)

The project, which may take many forms, draws on and extends knowledge, skills of analysis, and creative achievement developed through previous academic work. The student initiates the project, identifies an area to be explored, and proposes a method of inquiry appropriate to the topic. The project should include a reflection on the social context, the body of literature, or the conceptual framework to which it is a contribution. It must be shared with the College community through posters, presentations, or other means. With the approval of the department, this requirement may be satisfied by completing eight credit-hours of the St. Mary’s Project in any discipline or cross-disciplinary study area. The project is supervised by a faculty mentor, appointed by the department chair. This course is repeatable for up to a total of eight credit-hours. Prerequisite: Approval of faculty mentor and department chair of the student’s major(s). Consult faculty mentor for project guidelines.

HMST 199, 299, 399, 499. Independent Study (1-4E)

This course consists of an independent creative or research project designed by the student and supervised by a human studies faculty member. The nature of the project, the schedule for accomplishment, and the means of evaluation must be formalized in a learning contract prior to registration. (See “Independent Study” under “Academic Policies” section.)