Frequently Asked Questions
- How does my choice of major impact my career path?
Generally, a liberal arts education, regardless of major, will help you to hone your critical thinking skills, strengthen your presentation skills, better develop a persuasive argument and evaluate a text, and work within a discourse specific to an academic discipline. All of these skills are transferable to work in any field. Did you know, for instance, that studies have shown that philosophy majors excel on the LSAT and the GMAT, the pre-entry exams for, respectively, law school and business school?
Of course, it cannot hurt to try to anticipate the kinds of experiences that might be important when applying for jobs in different industries. For example, if you are considering a career in the financial industry or business, you would be well advised to enroll in some economics courses. If you are planning to attend medical school, you will need to take courses that are generally required of medical school applicants. The health professions advisor in the Career Resource Center is a good resource for this information.
As you begin the process of choosing your major, you should take a moment to think ahead. Ask yourself, "What will I get out of my major?" and spend a few moments in honest reflection. Identifying what you enjoy about the major and what specific goals you would like to achieve may help you to make your decision while simultaneously preparing you to market that experience in the future.
- When must I have a major and what do I have to do to declare it?
Students normally apply for acceptance to a major in a department or program by the middle of their fourth semester. Exceptions are the College of Letters (COL) and College of Social Sciences (CSS), which accept applicants at the end of the first year. Eligibility requirements are set by the department, program or college.
Students accepted into a major program should submit an online Major Acceptance form by Friday, March 7, 2014. Students who miss this deadline may not have major status in time for course registration. For students who must declare in the fall semester, the deadline is Friday, October 18, 2013. The online declaration must be approved by an authorized member of the department or program in which a student intends to major. Students not accepted as a major by the beginning of their fifth semester may not retain junior standing and may not enroll in the University until accepted into a major or collegiate program. If you plan to study abroad during the spring semester of your sophomore year, arrangements to declare a major need to be made at the end of the fall semester.
Refer to the Faculty and Student Advising Handbook for more detailed information.
- Who oversees the major declaration process? When will I be informed?
The sophomore class dean is responsible for the process. Information about departmental open houses will be available in the fall. Students will be notified in early February regarding the online major declaration process. Students who are in their fourth semester in the fall will receive that information in early October.
- What interdepartmental majors, including the University Major, are possible?
There are three types:
- standing interdepartmental majors
- departmentally-sponsored interdepartmental majors
- University majors
Click here for more information regarding the University Major Program.
- Can I have more than one major?
Yes, although you should consider carefully the impact this will have on the breadth of your academic program and on fulfilling your graduation requirements.
While the intention is often to expand one’s scope with two majors, the reverse often happens and students can find themselves needing to fulfill a requirement with every course. Due to these increased requirements, a student who double-majors may not be able to pursue additional interests within the diverse Wesleyan curriculum nor may there be time to be involved in co-curricular activities. Furthermore, a double major by itself does not necessarily give a student an advantage in the job market.
- Do I get a new faculty advisor when I declare a major? How?
When a student declares a major and submits the declaration online, the student’s former faculty advisor is removed from the University's database and replaced with the major advisor. Departments and programs have varying policies on securing a major advisor; some assign advisors, others allow students to choose. The student must consult with the specific department or program about its policies.
- How is preference given to majors during on-line course registration?
When a course has a limited enrollment, the faculty divide the seats up by major preference and class year. For a course designed in part or totally for majors, the instructor reserves seats specifically for senior and/or junior majors. During the scheduling and adjustment periods for on-line registration, only majors have access to those reserved spaces.
- What are my major requirements?
Departmental and program major requirements are usually explained in terms of necessary credits and necessary courses or distribution of courses. Each department and program has its own set of requirements. Some have pre-requisites for admission, such as particular course grades or completion of Stage I of the Gen Ed Expectations.These can be found on WesMaps under "Catalog Information" and on the department and program homepages, which are updated annually and where you might be able to find additional information. Some departments/programs require the fulfillment of the Gen Ed Expectations either for completion of the major or for departmental honors. Do not hesitate to consult the departmental and program advising experts as well.
- How many transfer credits (credits earned outside of Wesleyan) can I count toward my major requirements?
Each department and program has a different policy in this regard. Consult with the chair or with the designated advising experts in the department(s) in which you are interested.
- Can I take as many courses as I want in a single department? What is oversubscription?
(Students who entered prior to Fall 2000 should consult the Academic Regulations for their guidelines and contact their class dean with any questions.)
Yes, you may take as many courses as you want, but understand that students can count toward the total of 32.00 credits required for the B.A. no more than 16.00 course credits in any one department. If a given course appears in more than one departmental listing, i.e., is cross-listed, it must be counted in all the departments in which it is listed.
You are responsible for knowing where you are in relation to oversubscription. Your credit analysis is a tool that tracks oversubscription, so check it regularly in your portfolio.
The oversubscription rule was designed to prevent a student from building a program of study that is too narrow. Any credit above the department or category limit will not count toward the 32.00 credits required for graduation, although the credits will be recorded on the transcript and grades will be factored into GPA calculations. All credits will appear on the credit analysis report, a tool that tracks oversubscription and other graduation requirements, and is available in each student’s portfolio. Students majoring in music are at particular risk of oversubscription because their performance credits add up quickly.
More specifically, the oversubscription rule stipulates:
- Of the total 32.00 credits required for graduation, no more than 16.00 credits in any one department can be counted toward the degree requirements (except for double majors in Art History and Studio Art or Mathematics and Computer Science, for whom the limit is 20.00 credits).
- If a course is crosslisted, it counts towards oversubscription in every department in which it is listed, regardless of the crosslisting that the student chose during course registration. The oversubscription rule applies to all credits that are part of a student’s academic history, including pre-matriculant credit, Advanced Placement or other test credit, and transfer credit.
The following interdisciplinary programs are exempt from oversubscription: African American Studies, Archaeological Studies, East Asian Studies, Environmental Studies, Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Latin American Studies, Mathematical-Economics, Medieval Studies, Russian and East European Studies, and Science in Society.
The oversubscription rule also limits the number of credits that can count toward the 32.00 required for graduation in the following categories:
- Physical Education and Student Forum:
- no more than 1.00 credit in physical education
- no more than 2.00 Student Forum (419, 420) credits
- no more than 2.00 credits in Physical Education and Student Forums combined
- Teaching Apprenticeships (491, 492):
- no more than 2.00 credits
- Individual (401, 402, 403, 404, 421, 422) and Group Tutorials (411, 412):
- no more than 4.00 credits combined
- some LANG courses are considered individual tutorials
- honors thesis tutorials (409, 410) do not count as individual or group tutorials
- Independent Study (467, 468, 470) and Education-in-the-Field (465, 466, 469):
- no more than 4.00 credits combined
- Summer Credits:
- no more than 2.00 credits during any given summer
- Pre-matriculant credits (including AP and IB test credit):
- no more than 2.00 credits
Oversubscription will not jeopardize graduation as long as the student has enough usable credits to meet the 32.00 credits required for graduation, that is, has as many credits over 32.00 as he or she is oversubscribed by. Students or advisors with any questions about oversubscription should contact the class dean.
- What is a Major Certification Form, and how does it relate to my major requirements?
The MCF is a tool that allows students to both plan and track completion of their major while it also allows departments to certify a student’s completion of the major. The form lists courses and required elements for the major, and serves as a “contract” between the student and the department/program for meeting the major requirements. The form is completed by the student and approved and signed by the major advisor or department designee. (In addition to the successful completion of a major, students must also satisfy the requirements listed above under Academic Regulations.)