College of Arts & Sciences

Topical Studies


Total hours


Major hours


Topical major options

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A Topical Studies major offers academic flexibility and allows students to approach a topic from multiple departmental perspectives, constructing a meaningful and imaginative program. Each topical major is designed and directed by the student in consultation with a faculty advisor in the general area of study, and in consultation with the professional Topical Studies advisor.  


Grow Your Future

A degree in Topical Studies provides its recipients with a mulititude of skills that can be adapted to a variety of careers. Since every Topical Studies degree is different, gradutes will pursue career options that most accurately fit the knowledge and skills that they attain while at the University of Kentucky.

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"The Topical Studies program granted a unique enrichment to my undergraduate years. The ability to integrate disciplines from computer science and psychology to linguistics and biology into one cohesive curriculum afforded me with an experience that I could not have attained from traditional degree routes." -Umang K. Umang is a graduate from the Topical Studies program and is currently a medical student with plans to enter a surgical field.

Classes & Requirements

What You'll Study

Students, in consultation with their faculty advisor, design a major using multiple academic disciplines that enables them to study a topic from different perspectives. 

Available Topics:

  • American Culture Studies
  • Appalachian Studies
  • Bio-Physics Studies
  • Cognitive Science
  • Community Development
  • Comparative Literatures & Cultures
  • Criminology
  • Environmental Geoscience
  • Film Studies
  • Film, Television & Digital Media
  • Folklore & Mythology
  • International Law
  • Jewish Studies
  • Middle Eastern Studies
  • Religious Studies
  • Rural Health Studies
  • Social & Behavioral Science
  • Statistical Analysis & Interpretation
  • Urban & Regional Planning


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Graduation Requirements

Topical Studies is the only selective admission program in the College of Arts and Sciences. The student must have a cumulative UK grade-point standing of at least 2.5 to be accepted to Topical Studies. The specific requirements of the topical studies major are that the student must meet University and College requirements, must enroll in and complete at least 30 credit hours after formal admission, and complete the 42-hour major requirements (see preceding section entitled “Major Requirements”). Except for electives, all of the student’s work must be related to the topic. Additionally, in the senior year, the student must complete a comprehensive paper or project that serves to integrate his or her topical studies field. Frequently, it is advantageous to begin writing this paper or project in the context of an independent work course or a seminar, with the instructor’s approval. The paper or project proposal must be approved by a faculty advisor, an Arts and Sciences Associate Dean, and the Topical Studies advisor before significant work has begun on the project. Students must submit the final paper or project for review and approval no later than eight weeks before finals during the semester the student intends to graduate. The paper should be submitted to the Associate Dean no later than six weeks before the final exam week during the semester the student intends to graduate. Departmental honors for topical studies majors are determined by the Associate Dean and the Topical Studies advisor. To be eligible for departmental honors, a student must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.6 and a final paper or project that has been judged to be outstanding.

UK Core Requirements

  • The Nature of Inquiry in Arts and Creativity (3 hours)
  • The Nature of Inquiry in the Humanities (3 hours)
  • The Nature of Inquiry in the Social Sciences (3 hours)
  • The nature of Inquiry in the Natural, Physical and Mathematical Sciences (3 hours)
  • Composition and Communication I (3 hours)
  • Composition and Communication II (3 hours)
  • Quantitative Foundations (3 hours)
  • Statistical and Inferential Reasoning (3 hours)
  • Community, Culture and Citizenship in the USA (3 hours)
  • Global Dynamics (3 hours)

Total Credit Hours - 30

Major Requirements 

Students pursuing a Topical Studies degree must complete 42 hours of courses at the 200+ level. At least 24 of these hours must be at or above the 300+ level. Students should work with their advisors to develop a course plan. For more information on the Topical Studies major please refer to the University of Kentucky Bulletin [42 hours.]

Total Hours - 42

Topical Studies Major Sheet

A&S Undecided/Exploratory Studies

Understanding that over 70 percent of university students will change their declared major at least once during their college careers, the College of Arts and Sciences has developed an Exploratory Studies program for students who have yet to decide the specific field of study that most closely aligns both their personal interests and their professional career goals and objectives. The Exploratory Studies Program provides students with an extraordinarily diverse educational environment that includes coursework spanning Math and Natural Sciences, Humanities, and Social Sciences and provides students with the unique opportunity to explore multiple areas of interest during their first several semesters on campus. For more information please contact a recruiting representative at