Academic Regulations & Procedures

Special Major

A student seeking a major not offered in the College’s established curriculum may propose a self-designed Special Major for approval by the Academic Standing Committee (ASC). The ASC expects any such petitions to be filed during the sixth term of one’s academic career. All special majors involve close consultation with two faculty advisers. Normally special majors combine the elements of two disciplines. If the selection of courses from one of the disciplines differs from a standard major by only two or three courses, the special major is not allowed. Off-campus credit will not be allowed to contribute toward completion of a special major if there is only one Carleton professor on staff in the proposed area of study. Generally, no more than 18 off-campus credits are allowed for the special major. Students requesting to have both a regular major and a special major should understand that typically no course overlap is allowed between the two proposed courses of study. Double special majors will not be approved.

Students who are thinking about designing a major should talk with others who have designed their own majors, discuss their plans with faculty members familiar with the relevant fields of study, and consult with an associate dean of students. Forms for petitioning for a special major can be obtained from the ASC website. Special major programs must include at least three courses at the 300-level or equivalent in addition to the senior integrative exercise, no more than three courses at the 100-level or equivalent, and no more than two independent studies. At least one course addressing methodology or theory must be included in the major program; if such a course is unavailable in the appropriate department, then method/theory of the field must be an explicit part of the senior integrative exercise process. A student’s grade-point average is a factor which the ASC will consider during its deliberations; the ASC views GPA as one indicator of a student’s ability to think and work independently, an ability which would be further tested by the independent nature of the special major comps process. Once the ASC has approved a special major, modifications to the program must be approved by the ASC.

A grade of C- or better is necessary in all courses counting toward the special major; these courses cannot be taken on a S/Cr/NC basis.

See also major field requirements.

Last Revised: July 16, 2014

For: Faculty, Students

Last Reviewed: September 9, 2021

Maintained by: Office of the Provost