Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Photos by Maeve Fitzhoward / Cooper Union unless otherwise noted
Photos by Maeve Fitzhoward / Cooper Union unless otherwise noted


The Cooper Union is committed to the principle that an education in the Humanities and Social Sciences provides the ethical, social and humanistic framework crucial to personal development, professional excellence, and engaged citizenship. Through their work in Hss disciplines, students will gain a deeper awareness of the world in which they must live and act. They learn to think, write and speak clearly and effectively. Most significantly, an education in the liberal arts offers students the opportunity to become attentive to the social and humanistic implications of their professional work and to acquire the basis for a satisfying cultural and intellectual life.


All students take a four-semester core curriculum of required courses in the humanities and social sciences. In addition, students in the School of Art take a required sequence in art history. The core curriculum is a prerequisite to all elective offerings in Humanities and Social Sciences. During the third and fourth years, students have considerable latitude to explore the humanities and social sciences through elective courses. All students are expected to take core curriculum courses at The Cooper Union.

Independent Study

Only juniors and seniors in good academic standing are eligible for independent study. Independent study may be taken for a maximum of three credits per semester. The student must obtain permission of both the instructor and the dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. The major consideration in approving proposals for independent study is the educational value of the study project within the structure of degree requirements. The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences insists on very high standards as a condition for approving any independent study project.


Students who complete a minimum of 15 upper-division credits in a specific field of liberal arts may qualify for a minor in that field of Humanities and Social Sciences. Minors are offered and may be designated on student transcripts in the following five fields:

  • Art History
  • Economics and Public Policy
  • History and Society
  • Literature
  • Science, Technology, and Society
  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.