Special Major Requirements

This option allows a B.A./B.S. student in the College of Arts and Sciences, in conjunction with his or her advisor, in lieu of a regular major program, to develop a Special Major if the existing programs do not meet academic interests. Students interested in developing a Special Major must adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Students must work with a faculty advisor who is a member of the continuing faculty and who has expertise in the field of study the student wishes to pursue. The role of the faculty advisor in the special major is as instrumental as that of an advisor in an ordinary major, and both the faculty advisor and the student should bear this in mind when committing to the proposed special major.
  1. The advisor and student should meet and thoroughly discuss all aspects of the proposal, verifying the completeness of the proposal as well as the feasibility of its timely completion.   The advisor and student should work together carefully to consider, among other things, the frequency of course offerings, appropriateness of chosen courses, prerequisite requirements, and the design of the required capstone course. The faculty advisor must sign the cover sheet of the special major outline. Special major applications submitted without a faculty advisor’s signature will not be considered by the college curriculum committee.
  2. Students must have completed 28 credits in order to request a Special Major. Students must apply as sophomores or juniors (i.e. before completing 90 credits)
  3. The number of credits in the Special Major must be at least 30 credits but may be no more than 48. All of these must be graded credits.       No more than five courses in the proposed special major may have been completed at the time of the application.
  4. The proposed Special Major must have a clear title that is (a) no more than 24 characters long and (b) uses only reasonable abbreviations. (This is a restriction based on the limits of the size of the data field for “major” in the computer system).
  5. Students must conduct an exhaustive survey of UMW’s course offerings to determine whether UMW can viably support the proposed Special Major program and to ensure that the strongest possible complement of courses has been included in the proposal.
  6. Complete information about the courses to be included in the Special Major must be provided on the Special Major Course Outline. Specifically, the course number, course title, and the number of credits for each course must be listed in the appropriate spaces on the Special Major Course Outline.
  7. Students must include courses in the Special Major from at least two disciplines (e.g. 25% of courses must be from a second and/or third discipline).
  8. Within the major, at least two-thirds of courses must be at upper division (300-400 level).
  9. The major should be designed with a core of required courses and elective courses. Students should list several options for the elective courses. The design of the major with required courses and elective courses, as other majors at Mary Washington, would provide flexibility in scheduling. Students are required to contact department chairs to ensure that the proposed courses will be offered before the expected graduation date. The student must obtain the signature of the chair of each relevant department on the Course Outline.
  10. The Special Major must include a seminar or a suitable capstone course alternative. On the “Special Major Course Outline” sheet, the student should the symbol (#) next to the course number that serves as the seminar or capstone course.
  11. In the case of double majors, the maximum degree of overlap between the majors is nine credits.
  12. One-half of the Special Major program required credits must be earned at the University of Mary Washington.
  13. All courses that are prerequisites for the courses that are included in the Special Major must be listed in the appropriate space on the Special Major Course Outline.
  14. At least a 2.00 grade-point average in the major is required for graduation.
  15. No more than 60 credits in any one discipline will counted toward the credits required for a baccalaureate degree.
  16. Once the Special Major has been approved, the Office of the Registrar will complete the Major Declaration Card for the student.

For additional details, see the Guidelines for Special Majors. The application form to propose a special major is available there as well as other requirements and procedures.