- Academic major
In the United States and Canada, an academic major or major concentration (informally, major or concentration) is the academic discipline to which an undergraduate student formally commits.
Abbott Lawrence Lowell introduced the academic major system to Harvard University in 1910, during his presidency there. It required students to complete courses in a specialized discipline, as well as in other subjects. Variations of this system are now definitive among tertiary education institutions in the United States and Canada.
Today, an academic major typically comprises a core curriculum of prescribed courses, a liberal arts curriculum, and several elective courses. The amount of latitude a student has in choosing courses varies from program to program.
A major is administered by select faculty in an academic department. A major administered by more than one academic department is called an interdisciplinary major.
A student may choose a major when first enrolling as an undergraduate at a school, or while matriculated. Some schools forbid students from declaring a major until the end of their second academic year.
A student who declares two academic majors is said to have a double major. A coordinate major is an ancillary major that complements the primary one. (Compare with academic minor.)
Students who successfully complete the courses prescribed in an academic major qualify for an undergraduate degree.
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