There are many undergraduate colleges and universities in the United States that offer what is called a "liberal arts education." The concept of a liberal arts education was actually developed by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. He believed that education consisted of learning to communicate effectively, to read and understand very profound writings, and to think critically. A good education should develop the student not only intellectually, but also socially, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Today a liberal arts education in America is a multi-disciplinary education. In other words, although students still choose a major, they spend the majority of their first two years studying a broad base of liberal arts subjects before focusing on one area. The belief is that this type of education will develop the student into an individual who has a broad understanding of the world and a varied set of skills that will benefit him throughout his life.
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Typically, students attending a liberal arts college or university will be required to complete courses in the following subjects, regardless of their major: fine art, philosophy, literature, social science, physical education, public speaking, writing, natural science, and mathematics. The number of courses required and the variety of courses that the student can choose from to meet those requirements will vary depending on the school. Also, because many liberal arts schools were founded by or are affiliated with a religious organization (such as the Catholic or Methodist church), there may also be required courses in religious studies.