Special Majors

Guidelines for Special Majors

Students may wish to pursue a major that does not fit an established major. A special major proposal should be developed with and must be approved by a minimum of two faculty advisers in appropriate fields. Students must have at least one Pitzer adviser, so if both special major advisers are from off-campus, the student must have a third Pitzer adviser. Proposals should be submitted to the Registrar’s Office to be forwarded to the Curriculum Committee for their review, comment and approval. The criteria detailed below will be used by the Curriculum Committee in evaluating proposals.

Students should choose special major advisers and begin discussing the proposal in the sophomore year. Proposals must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office no later than midterm of the first semester of the junior year (the same date that standard major declarations are due). If the Curriculum Committee has not approved the proposed major by the end of the first semester of the student’s junior year, the student must choose and complete an existing major. The Curriculum Committee will consider a late proposal only if it is strong enough to meet the criteria listed below without need for revision. A late proposal must be accompanied by a petition addressed to the Curriculum Committee that provides a clear rationale for why it is late. Students will be notified of curriculum committee decisions via Pitzer e-mail. Special Major forms are available in the Registrar’s Office and contain two components:

1. An explanation for the Special Major including:

Title: The title must correspond with the course list and rationale for the major.

Purpose: Proposals must state the goals to be achieved through the implementation of the desired major and explain why these goals cannot be met with existing majors.

Coherence: The proposed courses must demonstrate a cohesive, feasible and organized program of study and explain how the courses work together to achieve the desired goals.

Mastery: The proposed major must exhibit sufficient depth and rigor, including a substantial number of advanced courses. For interdisciplinary special majors, the course list should include advanced work in each discipline.

Capstone: The proposal must discuss plans for a synthesizing paper, project, seminar or thesis. The course list should include a full-credit independent study devoted to completion of this thesis or project, or explain how an existing advanced seminar would serve this purpose. The capstone experience should integrate the knowledge gained through the special major.

2. Course List: A completed Major Declaration form must be included, listing both educational objectives and a course list, including a minimum of 10 courses for the proposed special major. The course list should match the explanation for the Special Major and should be consistent with curricular capabilities of The Claremont Colleges.

Honors in a field of major may be awarded to an outstanding student in recognition of academic excellence. Each field group for regular or combined majors (or both academic advisers in the case of special majors) may decide whether to award honors and establish specific criteria for honors. Honors in combined majors may be awarded for the combined major itself, but not for any one of the majors that the combined major comprises. Normally, all students who are awarded honors must have attained a cumulative GPA of at least 3.50 while registered at Pitzer College. In addition, students must have completed a thesis, seminar, independent study, or some other special program, which has been designated in advance as a possible basis for honors. During the fall semester of each academic year, field groups (or both academic advisers in the case of special majors) will send to their senior majors and to the Academic Standards Committee a formal statement of their requisites for honors. Final honors recommendations will be submitted to the Academic Standards Committee at least one week prior to graduation. The approved list of honors candidates will be submitted to the full faculty for final approval.