Outline of academic disciplines

An academic discipline or field of study is a branch of knowledge, taught and researched as part of higher education. A scholar's discipline is commonly defined by the university faculties and learned societies to which they belong and the academic journals in which they publish research.

Disciplines vary between well-established ones that exist in almost all universities and have well-defined rosters of journals and conferences and nascent ones supported by only a few universities and publications. A discipline may have branches, and these are often called sub-disciplines.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to academic disciplines.

Academic disciplines (collage)
Collage of images representing different academic disciplines



Performing arts

Visual arts


Languages and literature




Social sciences




Human geography

Political science



Natural Sciences



Earth science

Space sciences


Formal Sciences

Computer Science

Also a branch of electrical engineering


Pure mathematics

Applied mathematics


Applied Sciences

Engineering and technology

Chemical Engineering

Civil Engineering

Educational Technology

Electrical Engineering

Materials Science and Engineering

Mechanical Engineering

Systems science

Medicine and health

See also


  • Abbott, Andrew (2001). Chaos of Disciplines. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-00101-2.
  • Oleson, Alexandra; Voss, John (1979). The Organization of knowledge in modern America, 1860-1920. ISBN 0-8018-2108-8.
  • US Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences. Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP). National Center for Education Statistics.

External links

Index of branches of science

Science (from Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.

Modern science is typically divided into three major branches that consist of the natural sciences (e.g. biology, chemistry, physics), which study nature in the broadest sense; the social sciences (e.g. psychology, sociology, economics) which study people and societies; and the formal sciences (e.g. mathematics, logic, theoretical computer science), which study abstract concepts. There is disagreement, however, on the formal sciences being a science as they do not rely on empirical evidence. Disciplines that use science, such as engineering and medicine, are described as applied sciences.

List of academic fields

The following outline is provided as an overview of an topical guide to academic disciplines:

An academic discipline or field of study is known as a branch of knowledge. It is taught as an accredited part of higher education. A scholar's discipline is commonly defined and recognized by a university faculties. That person will be accredited by learned societies to which he or she belongs along with the academic journals in which he or she publishes. However, no formal criteria exist for defining an academic discipline.

Disciplines varies between universities and programs. These discipline will have well-defined rosters of journals and conferences supported by a few universities and publications. A discipline may have branches, that are called sub-disciplines.

There is no consensus on how some academic disciplines should be classified (e.g., whether anthropology and linguistics are disciplines of social sciences or fields within the humanities). More generally, the proper criteria for organizing knowledge into disciplines are also open to debate.

Social science

Social science is a category of academic disciplines, concerned with society and the relationships among individuals within a society. Social science as a whole has many branches. These social sciences include, but are not limited to: anthropology, archaeology, communication studies, economics, history, musicology, human geography, jurisprudence, linguistics, political science, psychology, public health, and sociology. The term is also sometimes used to refer specifically to the field of sociology, the original "science of society", established in the 19th century. For a more detailed list of sub-disciplines within the social sciences see: Outline of social science.

Positivist social scientists use methods resembling those of the natural sciences as tools for understanding society, and so define science in its stricter modern sense. Interpretivist social scientists, by contrast, may use social critique or symbolic interpretation rather than constructing empirically falsifiable theories, and thus treat science in its broader sense. In modern academic practice, researchers are often eclectic, using multiple methodologies (for instance, by combining both quantitative and qualitative research). The term "social research" has also acquired a degree of autonomy as practitioners from various disciplines share in its aims and methods.

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