HWS Academics

HWS Class

Majors and minors are programs of study defined by the faculty that provide you with the opportunity of studying one field or area of concern in depth. Typical majors consist of 9-16 courses; typical minors require 5-8 courses. Students usually select programs of study that are of particular interest, reflecting a potential career choice. All students must complete one major and one minor (or second major).

Some programs are disciplinary while others are interdisciplinary.

Disciplinary Programs

Disciplinary studies are designed to impart depth of knowledge about the fundamental questions, methods of inquiry and expression, and literatures of a single, focused area of study (such as economics or biology).

Interdisciplinary Programs

Interdisciplinary programs span traditional disciplines and are often driven by important questions about subjects related to science, society, public policy or the environment. These areas of study broaden understanding and emphasize the interrelatedness of knowledge by reaching across traditional disciplines and drawing upon the work of scholars from a variety of subjects and departments. Interdisciplinary scholars and students often study the same problems that disciplinary scholars study, but they do so from the perspectives of several distinct disciplines.

Double Majoring

Students who are deeply interested in two academic programs may consider the possibility of double majoring. Students pursuing a double major are not required to complete a minor as well.

Individual Major

The Individual Majors program provides students the opportunity to design an individually tailored major when the focus of study lies outside an established department or program-based major, and/or combines multiple disciplines. To create an Individual Majors proposal, the student works closely with a faculty adviser and designs a specific curriculum of study, articulating the focus and goals of the major. The student’s proposal and adviser’s recommendation is submitted to the Individual Majors Committee, which reviews the proposal. Once an Individual Major is approved, any subsequent changes to the student’s curriculum or major must be approved by the Individual Majors Committee and the student’s adviser. While most Individual Majors earn a B.A., it is possible to create an Individual Major with a B.S.; this requires a minimum of 16 courses, all from within the natural sciences division.

All course work for the major must be passed with a grade of C- or better, including courses taken credit/no credit. The Individual Majors Committee takes the role of departmental/program chair for certifying the student’s completed program of study (senior audit).

The process of designing and submitting an Individual Major requires a substantial time commitment. Students who are interested in pursuing an Individual Major are encouraged to begin the process in their sophomore year by contacting a faculty adviser, reviewing the Individual Majors proposal form, and contacting the Individual Majors Committee.

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