Interdisciplinary Programs and Minors (MCAS)

In addition to the areas of major study offered by individual departments, a variety of special programs are available. All of them are designed to provide a coherent grouping of courses drawn from various disciplines and focused around a specific theme. Through such programs, a student can integrate or enrich an academic program through completing a minor or developing an independent major.

Independent Major

Under usual circumstances, students are advised to follow the formal educational programs offered by departments. In rare instances, for students with special interests that cannot be satisfied in a regular major, double major, or a combined major and minor, the Educational Policy Committee will approve an interdisciplinary Independent Major. Students who wish to apply for an Independent Major must normally have achieved a minimum 3.5 GPA. The student must plan, with the aid of a faculty advisor, a program of 36 credits (ordinarily twelve courses), thirty of which must be in upper-division courses. These will extend over no more than three departments and will be selected in accordance with a clearly defined unifying principle. This program should be equal in depth and coherence to a typical departmental major and should include a plan for a final project or paper that demonstrates the intellectual coherence of the Independent Major and for ongoing assessment of the program by the student and the advisor. Each proposed major should be submitted to the Dean's Office before March 1 of the student's sophomore year. The Dean will then present it to the Educational Policy Committee for approval. An Independent Major will ordinarily be the student's only major.

Interdisciplinary Minors

An interdisciplinary minor in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences must consist of at least 18 credits (typically six, 3-credit courses) and must include either a required introductory course or a concluding seminar or project. (Note: some programs require both.) The minor should aim for a coherent form appropriate to the subject matter and offer courses that give students a definite sense of movement—from a beginning to a middle and an end, from introductory to advanced levels, or from general to specialized treatments.

Students must select at least three of the courses from three different Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences departments. With the approval of the program, students may use one Core course or one course from their major toward the minor (not both). In addition, at least 15 credits used for the minor cannot be used toward any other major or minor. For specific program requirements see the individual program descriptions below. Students carrying a double major are advised not to minor.

Each minor will be administered by a coordinating committee, consisting of a Director appointed by the Dean and at least two additional members who represent departments included in the minor. One important function of this committee is the advising of students enrolled in the minor.