Contract Major

The purpose of the Contract Major is to allow highly motivated students to follow a course of study outside the boundaries of established majors. Students have an opportunity to draw from the wealth of offered courses to develop a major that corresponds to their particular interests and goals.

Pursuit of a Contract Major should begin fall semester of sophomore year—but no later than fall semester of junior year.

Considerations

A Contract Major cannot be pursued in conjunction with another major or concentration.

Alternatives:

  • two majors
  • major + concentration
  • major + coordinate program
  • major + courses of special interest

Identification

A Contract Major is:

  • A coherent study of an interdisciplinary subject not covered by a regularly offered major or concentration.
  • A cumulative study that moves from an elementary to an advanced level.

A Contract Major cannot consist of minor modifications to an existing major or concentration.

Advising

Unsure if a Contract Major is a good fit? Take the Contract Major Quiz.

Once you decide to pursue the Contract Major, schedule an appointment with Amanda Turner, Contract Major Advisor (CMA).

Process

  • Students

    Consult with Faculty

    Speak with with at least two full-time faculty from different departments who:

    • will be in residence during your junior/senior year,
    • specialize in your areas of interest, and
    • are willing to endorse your Contract Major proposal and undertake a central role in supervising its implementation, criticism, evaluation, and ultimate validation.

    These two faculty sponsors will serve as your advisors.

    Develop a Written Proposal

    In conjunction with your two faculty sponsors, develop a written proposal.

    The proposal should include:

    • Sound and persuasive rationale for the Contract Major.
    • A minimum of nine courses to complete the major:
      • Include brief course descriptions for your list of courses.
      • Courses must demonstrate a cumulative study that moves from an elementary to an advanced level (e.g. 200 → 300 → 400 level courses)
      • One course must be designated a "Capstone" course that will be taken senior year—this should be a 400-level course or an independent study.

    Here's a Contract Major Proposal template to help you get started.

    Deadlines

    Schedule an advising session with Amanda Turner, CMA prior to November 15.

    November 15

    Submit the Contract Major Application—this form declares your intent to officially pursue a Contract Major.

    February 15

    Completed first draft of your proposal is due to Amanda Turner, CMA for review.

    March 15

    Submit to Amanda Turner, CMA:

    • Final proposal
    • If you are proposing to transform an existing coordinate program into a Contract Major, the chair of that program should submit a statement attesting to the validity of the proposal.
    • Online endorsement and evaluation form from two faculty sponsors.

  • Faculty Sponsors

    Students pursuing a Contract Major must be highly motivated, possess the ability to work independently, and have the support of two faculty sponsors.

    Sponsors must be willing to undertake a central role in supervising the proposed major's implementation, criticism, evaluation, and ultimate validation.

    Faculty who wish to sponsor a student must submit an endorsement and evaluation of the student and their proposal by March 15.

  • Approval

    The Committee on Educational Affairs (CEA) approves Contract Major requests.

    1. Amanda Turner, CMA will submit to the CEA:

    • written proposal
    • most recent academic progress report
    • two faculty sponsor's endorsement and evaluation forms

    2. The CEA will vote on individual proposals and notify students and their sponsors before the spring registration deadline.

    In making its decisions, the CEA considers the student’s academic record, the coherence and feasibility of the plan of study, the degree of support expressed by faculty sponsors, and if appropriate, chairs.

  • Progression

    During the fall of junior and senior years, Contract Majors should be in touch with both faculty sponsors and Amanda Turner, CMA about courses they are taking and progress in the major.

    Any changes in the Contract Major must be submitted by written request to the CEA for approval.

    • Before making changes in the courses originally proposed for junior and senior years, new courses need to be approved by both faculty sponsors and the CMA.
    • The CMA will forward the student’s written request along with endorsements from both faculty sponsors to the CEA for reconsideration.

  • Honors

    Requirements

    1. A Contract Major thesis, which is determined in consultation with faculty advisors, is either:

    • 10 semester courses: one semester thesis + one Winter Study thesis, or
    • 11 semester courses: two semester thesis + one Winter Study thesis.

    2. A solid record of honors caliber work, defined as maintaining a B+ average in Contract Major courses.

    Junior Year Deadlines

    November 15

    Contract Majors who intend to write a thesis, and will be studying away spring semester, should submit their proposal to both faculty sponsors and Amanda Turner, CMA by November 15 of junior year.

    March 15

    Contract Majors who intend to write a thesis should submit their proposal to both faculty sponsors and the CMA by March 15 of junior year.

    Admissions to honors depends on the assessment by both faculty sponsors and the CMA of the

    • qualification of the student, and
    • feasibility of the project.

    Senior Year Deadlines

    January 15

    Choose three readers (at least one should be a faculty sponsor) in consultation with the CMA. These readers determine Highest Honors, Honors, or no honors.

    March 15

    Final thesis is due—after the thesis has been completed, the work is publicly presented.