What is STEM vs. Non-STEM?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math -- the “hard-science” disciplines for which UCI often receives praise. Non-STEM, therefore, covers all other disciplines, including the humanities, arts, and social sciences. While it’s true that UCI has some incredibly strong STEM programs and departments, we are equally strong in non-STEM fields. I’ll include a complete list of non-STEM schools at the end of this post, but for now, let’s talk about some unique non-STEM programs and opportunities UCI has to offer!

Antleader Mentorship Program

The Antleader Mentorship Program, or AMP for short, is a student-run organization that helps first-year students to foster community, build leadership skills, and connect to UCI’s vast network of resources. It is primarily for first-year first-generation students with low socioeconomic status backgrounds. Students are paired with a mentor who helps them navigate their first year at UCI, and go to workshops once a week to connect with their peers and learn valuable college skills. It’s a really special program that everyone I’ve talked to has loved!


Are you interested in politics? Making a difference? Then you might enjoy UCDC, a program where UC students from various campuses come together in Washington D.C. to take classes, intern, and explore! You can go during the academic year or over the summer, and the possibilities are endless for students of any major.

Deconstructing Diversity Initiative

DDI provides opportunities to discuss race and critical race theory with their peers and amazing guest speakers. Students also get the opportunity to travel to places around the country like Chicago, Washington D.C., and Atlanta to meet with other organizations and continue learning about race and diversity, and the role it plays in our country today!

New York Satellite Program

In the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, drama students have an opportunity to audition for the New York Satellite Program, a six-week immersive experience living in Manhattan, seeing Broadway shows, auditioning, and taking master classes with incredible artists. This is a program I hope to take part in during my time at UCI, and it was one of the reasons that UCI was appealing to me as a drama major!

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Outstanding Non-STEM Professors

Elizabeth Cauffman is one of the leading experts in developmental psychology, and has used her research to help abolish the juvenile death penalty. Check out her super interesting TedX talk to hear more about her research! She directs the Center for Psychology & Law at UCI, and teaches in the department of Psychology and Social Behavior in the School of Social Ecology.

Heidi Hardt, a Political Science assistant professor in the School of Social Sciences, was recently awarded $210,000 by NATO to help incorporate women into international conflict prevention. This article explains all about it, and it sounds incredible!

Ngugi wa Thiong’o is a novelist, playwright, and researcher who has been predicted to win the Nobel Prize for Literature several times. His research interests include globalization, postcolonialism, and African literature. He teaches in various disciplines in the School of Humanities.

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And now, if you want to know exactly what non-STEM disciplines you can study at UCI, take a look at this complete list of non-STEM schools and majors.

Non-STEM Academic Units and Majors

School of Social Sciences

  • 12 majors:

    • Anthropology

    • Business Economics

    • Chicano/Latino Studies

    • Cognitive Sciences

    • Economics

    • International Studies

    • Language Sciences

    • Political Science

    • Psychology

    • Quantitative Economics

    • Social Policy & Public Service

    • Sociology

  • One main resource is the Social Sciences Academic Resource Center, where students can find everything from internship opportunities to interesting speakers to free individual academic consultations.

School of Social Ecology

  • 5 majors:

    • Criminology, Law and Society

    • Environmental Science and Policy

    • Psychology and Social Behavior

    • Social Ecology

    • Urban Studies

  • Fun fact: Our school of social ecology was the very first one in the United States!

School of Education

  • 1 major:

    • Education Science

  • One important program in this school is CalTeach, where students can work at local schools while earning their degree!

Paul Merage School of Business

  • 2 majors:

    • Business Administration

    • Business Information Management

  • This school has its own career center, which can connect you to internship opportunities, alumni, and other valuable resources!

School of Humanities

  • 22 majors!! That’s so many!

    • African American Studies

    • Art History

    • Asian American Studies

    • Chinese Studies

    • Classics

    • Comparative Literature

    • East Asian Cultures

    • English

    • European Studies

    • Film and Media Studies

    • French

    • Gender and Sexuality Studies

    • German Studies

    • Global Middle East Studies

    • Global Cultures

    • History

    • Japanese Language and Literature

    • Korean Literature and culture

    • Literary Journalism

    • Philosophy

    • Religious Studies

    • Spanish

  • The School of Humanities also offers Humanities Core, which is a year-long series of courses for freshmen that fulfills General Education requirements.

Claire Trevor School of the Arts

  • 8 majors:

    • Drama

    • Music Theatre (B.F.A.)

    • Music

    • Music Performance (B.Mus.)

    • Dance

    • Dance Performance (B.F.A.)

    • Choreography (B.F.A.)

    • Art

  • One resource on the Claire Trevor Campus is the Arts Media Center, where arts students utilize free printing, music, and recording resources.

As a non-STEM student, I can vouch for the value and academic rigor of non-STEM majors, resources, and organizations at UCI. Though all programs at UCI are amazing, in my eyes, the non-STEM programs are the ones that stand apart.

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