Majors and Minors
Major and Minor Information
What is a Major?
A major is a coordinated group of lower- and upper-division courses in a field of specialization. The courses for any particular major are specified in the UCR General Catalog by each department or departmental group; they must include a minimum of 36 upper-division units of credit for the B.A. degree and 40 upper-division units for the B.S. degree. Major requirements are established and revised, subject to approval of the Executive Committee and faculty, by the respective departmental faculties or curriculum committees. Faculty advisors are authorized to approve exceptions to major requirements and/or permit course substitutions according to established departmental or committee guidelines. This is frequently necessary for students who offer transfer credit that is not precisely equivalent to UCR course offerings but meets the spirit of our requirements. Substantial deviations may require more formal action by the departmental chairperson or appropriate departmental faculty committees. Prior to the end of each degree granting period (December, March, June, and September), the Student Academic Affairs Office consults with the major department to certify that their graduating seniors have satisfied all major requirements as well as the 2.0 GPA required in the major (assuming satisfactory completion of work in progress).
All courses designated for a major must be completed in regular or summer session at UCR. Exceptions to this policy must be approved by the student’s departmental or program chairperson and in some cases, the Associate Dean. A student who is a candidate for the Bachelor of Arts degree may not receive more than 80 units of credit toward the degree for work taken in his/her major department or nondepartmental program; in other words, all degree candidates must have at least 100 units of credit for work taken outside the major department program. Candidates for the Bachelor of Science degree may not receive more than 108 units toward the degree in their major department or program.
If the major department decides that the student is not complying with the minimal progress standard, the student may be discontinued from the major until there is evidence of adequate progress in major courses. In the interim, the student will be changed to "undeclared." It is recommended that future coursework be in search of a new major.
Selecting a Major
The selection of a major is one of the most important decisions. Quite simply, it is impossible to graduate from the University without one. You need not decide quickly. However, you must declare a major by the end of your sophomore year.
Deciding on a major is personal, and we recommend that you consider the following: choose a major that excites and challenges you intellectually and in which you have particular talent and enthusiasm. Talking to someone who is knowledgeable in a field that interests you is one of the best ways to get information about a major and its associated careers. Vocational testing can serve as an additional tool for assessing your interests and strengths and it is available through the Career Center. Your Academic Advisors and faculty are also a great resource.
If you are considering professional or graduate school after graduation, do not assume that only one major is appropriate. Professional schools such as law, medicine, or business, accept students from a wide range of majors. Admission boards are concerned more about good grades, high scores on admissions exams, and strong letters of recommendation rather than a particular major. Consult a catalog from the schools that interest you since some, like medicine, have specific prerequisites for admission.
Graduate programs are similar. It is possible to major in one discipline and attend graduate school in another providing grades and Graduate Record Exam scores are high, letters of recommendation are good, and you have demonstrated either with prerequisites or a trial period that you are competent in the discipline.
Declaring/Changing a Major
Students in good academic standing can petition to transfer from another college to the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences or from one major to another within the College, provided they complete the new major within the 216 unit limit. In order to change your major, meet with the Departmental Academic Advisor to receive departmental approval and complete a change of major petition. Changes are not permitted while on academic probation.
Students who fail to attain a grade point average of 2.00 ("C") in preparation for the major or courses required for the major may be denied the privilege of entering or continuing in that major.
New students may change their major from that indicated on the application for admission by filing a petition for change of major in the Undergraduate Admission’s Office prior to the end of the third week of their first quarter. If, after you arrive at UCR and realize you have chosen the wrong major, don’t despair! Just file a Change of Major Petition available here or at the Student Academic Affairs office of the proposed major. Some students have no idea what they want to study. Others are overwhelmed by the range of disciplines available, and they want time to explore these new offerings. Whatever the reason, being in the Undeclared program provides students the opportunity to explore a large range of courses while fulfilling breadth requirements and searching for a major.
For a list of majors offered within CHASS, please visit the Advisors, Majors, & Minors page.
Students may select a second major within the College of HA&SS or a second major in a department or program of another college. Both majors must be completed within the maximum limit of 216 units and approval must be obtained from advisors in both departments or programs. A double major form obtained from the Student Academic Affairs Office of your primary major must accompany the change of major petition when declaring a double major. If the majors are not in the same college, one of the two majors must be designated as the primary major for the purpose of satisfying breadth requirements. If a student declares multiple majors in different colleges with different degrees (B.A. and B.S.), students must meet both sets of breadth requirements. A declaration of two majors in different colleges must be approved by the Associate Deans of the colleges concerned and filed by the student with the college of the primary major. No more than 8 upper-division units may count for both majors simultaneously.
A minor is a series of courses focused on a single discipline or interdisciplinary area. Each minor consists of not fewer than 16 nor more than 28 units of organized upper-division courses. The minimum requirement for declaration of a minor is the successful completion of all lower-division in the minor and the minor must be declared at least two quarters prior to graduation. In order to declare a minor, meet with the Departmental Academic Advisor to receive departmental approval and complete a minor declaration petition. Unlike a major, students are not required to select a minor. Courses in the major may not be used for requirements for a minor.
For a list of minors offered within CHASS, please visit the Advisors, Majors, & Minors page.
Dispel the Myths ...
MYTH: Everyone who enters college must have a major.
FACT: It is estimated that between 20% to 50% of all entering college students are undecided about their major, while 50% to 70% of college students will change their majors at least once.
MYTH: You should choose a career that is in high demand.
FACT: The job market moves in cycles. The careers that are in high demand now may become glutted by the time you finish your degree. You will have the most doors open for you after college if you have a successful academic career. The best insurance for that is to major in something that genuinely interests you and in which you have particular talent and motivation.
MYTH: You must pursue a specific undergraduate major to gain admission to postgraduate or professional schools such as medicine, law, or business.
FACT: While some graduate and most professional schools require or recommend certain academic prerequisites, specific majors are not usually required. The development of broad skills, such as the ability to read or write critically, is an asset when applying to post-baccalaureate programs. A wide variety of majors will provide entrance into the graduate or professional school you desire. Their admissions require good grades, high scores on the entrance exams (for law, business, or medicine), and strong letters of recommendation.
MYTH: An academic major leads to a specific career.
FACT: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average person changes her/his major five times in a lifetime. A few majors such as Nursing, Computer Science, and Accounting prepare students for specific career fields. However, most majors give graduates a wide range of options.