College of LAS « Illinois

Guidelines for Majors

The major constitutes that portion of the student's degree program which is a coherent study of a discipline, area, or topic in depth. Most majors will require most of the coursework to be in the unit sponsoring the major; in addition, most majors will include supporting coursework from outside the department sponsoring the major. Such supporting coursework has been required under the system of fields of concentration in effect since 1973. The conversion from fields of concentration to majors was approved by the Faculty in November, 1986.

The supporting coursework for a major is that portion of the major required in courses drawn from outside the unit sponsoring the major. In many cases, there is currently a requirement of a set number of hours that should be elected from outside the major unit with the approval of the advisor. Certainly many units have established internal principles for determining approval of this requirement; in those cases, the educational reasons for the supporting coursework requirement are already established within the unit.

The college asks that units should prepare carefully drawn guidelines (or principles) for the supporting coursework if they intend to continue the requirement. Otherwise the major should be revised to delete supporting coursework (ONLY WHEN the unit has not set principles for how students select such coursework), leaving additional space in the student's program free for electives, with the advisor recommending appropriate electives to support or complement the major. The additional space in the student's program would also allow the student to complete an optional minor without excessively limiting the choice of courses for the entire undergraduate program.

Units may require completion of a minor in place of the supporting coursework. As long as the hours for the major (which might include completion of a minor) do not exceed what is currently considered acceptable, it is entirely appropriate that a major might include completion of a set of courses already considered a coherent plan in a supporting discipline to the major. Units may also allow completion of a minor to substitute for supporting coursework. The possible major revisions will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the LAS Committee of Courses and Curricula and approved by the LAS Faculty.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Guidelines For Majors

The major constitutes that part of the student's program which is the study of a particular discipline, area or topic in some depth. In most cases, the major can be divided into those requirements in the major unit and the supporting coursework, which is outside the unit but needed to support the major.

  1. There are three separate categories of majors, with the generally accepted range of hours for the major varying depending on the kinds of requirements in the major:
    1. Majors with requirements in the major unit only. 30-40 hours.
    2. Majors with some courses required outside the major unit.
      1. Majors with supporting coursework required. 30-40 hours in the major unit, with additional hours outside, for a total of 40-60 hours.
      2. Majors with completion of a minor required. 30-40 hours in the major unit, and 18-21 hours in the minor, for a total of no more than 60 hours.
    3. Interdisciplinary majors. Generally, 40-60 hours total.
      Proposals for majors with more than 60 hours or which otherwise do not correspond to these guidelines should include a careful explanation of why requirements as proposed are necessary.
  2. No more than one-half of the major should be in courses at an elementary level.
  3. The major should include at least 12 hours of 300- or 400-level courses, normally in the major unit.
  4. The combination of major requirements and general College requirements (rhetoric, foreign language, and general education) should constitute no more than approximately 90 hours (or 3/4 of the student's total program).

Adopted November, 1987; updated August 2004