HSS Explored: What Does It Mean to Major in?

Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences James Doerner welcoming students into the Humanities and Social Sciences office in Candelaria Hall.

With an ambiguous name like “Humanities and Social Sciences”, many students wonder what is taught in this school. To clarify some questions, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences James Doerner answered a few questions. 

Doerner has been the Dean of the Humanities and Social Sciences for a over two years. He has been a member of the University of Northern Colorado community for 30 years before this promotion, teaching geography and helping students achieve their fullest potential. 

A common misconception is that HSS is made up of one major. There are two types of majors within this college, those being the humanities side where students look at human problems and try to help them. Additionally, the social science side of the college is where students look at how society works, and try to work with participating members of society. The program is home to all different kinds of majors such as english, philosophy, journalism and gender studies.

Doerner believes that the college of HSS is an “area of growth” for the university. Those who declare a major within HSS have many immediate job opportunities within their field. 

“People will learn different areas of study because of the LACs (liberal arts curriculum courses) they will take,” Doerner said. “That will help them realize that there are different areas of study and want to make that their major. HSS is based a lot on discovery. Different programs infuse those career skills.” 


Many projects and assignments prioritize working by yourself or working in collaboration with others to build a sense of teamwork. Many real-world careers reflect these ideals, depending on where you end up.

Doerner shared an interesting fact about HSS, which was that education-based majors aren’t the most popular. The criminal justice field of study is the most popular major in HSS at UNC. Third-year Carson Fry, currently studying history and secondary education, guessed that “history or some sort of education based major” was the more popular field of study and was shocked to find out it was criminal justice instead. 

Doerner believes that criminal justice launched off because of the fact that it’s becoming more and more publicized on TV, movies, new documentaries or even podcasts. 

“Students are being influenced and they want to see how they can help make a difference anyway possible within the world they are seeing,“ Doerner said.

When asked what the most sought-after job in this realm of study was, Doerner replied, “The type of job where the students can make any sort of difference and they find passion within. The skills they build here will translate, and in this college, people want to make any sort of difference within the students designated major.”


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