The College of Arts and Sciences serves as a focal point of study at Northern Michigan University. The liberal studies courses taken by students in all majors allow them to form connections between different disciplines, sharpen critical thinking and communication skills, and gain insight into diverse fields. Today's graduates will likely change their careers several times, and their solid liberal education from the College of Arts and Sciences gives them the flexibility to make these transitions.

The major responsibility of the college is overseeing the development of courses and programs provided by the 1 school, 17 departments, and 1 center housed within the college. The College of Arts and Sciences is also directly responsible for the administration of several programs of specialized interest. These are the bachelor and associate degree in liberal studies, the international studies major, and the gender studies minors.

The college's courses and programs provide areas of major concentration for students in one or more of the disciplines within the college, studies related to these areas of concentration, and most of the liberal studies courses for all NMU students. In addition, the college encourages appropriate activity in research leading to publication and creative endeavors. The College of Arts and Sciences provides advice, assistance, and cultural activities to the regional community as well.

The College of Arts and Sciences comprises the following areas: Art and Design, Biology, Chemistry, Communication and Media Studies, Earth, Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Economics, English, History, Languages Literatures and International Studies, Mathematics and Computer Science, Music, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science and Public Administration, Psychological Science, Theatre and Dance, and the Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship.