Choosing, Changing Or Combining Majors

What is a Major? A Minor? A Concentration?

  • Major - Course of study in a recognized field providing familiarity with history, philosophy and knowledge about the field.
  • Departmental Minor - Prescribed or individually tailored group of related courses taken outside of one's major. Minimum of 16 credits.
  • Interdepartmental Minor - prescribed group of at least 16 credits of related courses taken from more than one department. Described in the catalog and supervised by a faculty committee.
  • A departmental concentration is a prescribed group of courses related to a specific topic within a student's major.

Why is it important and When should you choose a major?

  • So you will have enough time to complete major - not all courses offered yearly.
  • Advising - so you get needed information about major, scheduling of courses, prerequisites, impact of upcoming sabbaticals, alternate year courses, etc.
  • Consideration of graduate school preparation, professional certification or standards, etc., with advisor's guidance.
  • You cannot graduate without a major - at end of sophomore year students must sign a waiver before being allowed to register for junior year without a major.
  • Not a one-time decision, declaring a major does not lock you in, can change later.

Where and How to find out about majors:

  • Resources - Catalog and Faculty and the Gordon web sites
  • Catalog (check index for list of majors) - lists faculty within department
  • Catalog - Major requirements listed and course descriptions provided
  • Catalog - Minors and concentrations outlined under each major
  • Catalog - Interdisciplinary minors and programs are listed after departments - American studies, environmental studies, health professions, international, Latin American, pre-law, etc., are listed at back of catalog
  • Faculty in department

Fitting in majors

  • Core requirements will require approximately 50 credits
  • Majors requirements are generally between 32 and 68 credits
  • Graduation Requirement - 124, so there is room for most double majors
  • If complete 50 for core and 32 for major - have 42 hours to play with
  • Don't panic if you will need extra hours - 8 semesters @ 16 sh = 128 and the minimum is 124 to graduate.
  • 8 terms @ 18 = 144 credits which would all be within the block tuition.
  • Plus summer or interterm courses can supplement your program
  • Some majors make adjustments in their requirements for double majors
  • Some majors have courses in common with other majors or courses which are similar enough to be accepted in lieu of another major's course requirement
  • Look for cross-linked courses which can be taken to fulfill requirements in more than one department
  • Discuss options with your advisors, as many majors will allow for electives or some substitutions.

Individualizing a Major

  • Most majors have electives you can select to tailor a program to your interests
  • Written assignments often offer a chance to select a topic of special interest
  • Independent study - you create a course Gordon does not offer under supervision of faculty member (minimum GPA 2.75, maximum of 8 s.h.)
  • Internships combine work experience with professionals in the field with academic study under a faculty supervisor (min GPA 2.50)
  • Research opportunities may be available working with faculty - science and psychology especially offer such opportunities
  • Off-campus programs offer coursework/experiences beyond Gordon's curricula
  • NECCUM & Consortium cross-registration opportunities also allow flexibility
  • Pike Scholars (3.50 GPA) can create an individualized major in a recognized field that Gordon does not offer - using selected existing courses, independent study, off-campus programs, etc., or can tailor existing majors in unusual ways

How to Declare a Major, Add a Second or Third Major
Change of Major form - used both to declare first major or to add second or third

  • Pick up Change of Major form from Registrar's Office or download it here
  • Complete form, including concentration or track if applicable
  • Meet with the department chair (see catalog), who will sign form and assign an advisor within department
  • Go to meet your new advisor and obtain his or her signature
  • Make appointment to discuss your interests in more depth later
  • You may change advisors later if you develop rapport with a different faculty member
  • Get current advisor's signature if changing from one major to another so they will know what you are doing and why you are not coming to see them.  (Don't worry about hurting feelings, they understand)
  • Return the form to the Registrar's Office
  • An updated major degree audit checksheet will be sent to you to confirm your new major or minor
  • A checksheet lists all core and major course requirements. Keep this and update it each term so that you will know at a glance what is needed to complete the program.  
  • Any adjustments to requirements made by department should be in writing with a copy to Registrar's Office to keep your for graduation audit accurate.
  • Your new advisor will be sent a folder with your information to help advise you

Declaration of Minor

  • Pick up a Minor form from Registrar's Office or download it
  • Complete the form with your student information
  • Take it to the department chair who will work with you to complete a list of courses for the minor 
  • Minor requirements will either be required courses for a prescribed minor or individually tailored for more open minors
  • Secondary Edudation has its own pre-printed minor form

Important Details

  • Residency Requirements: 18 semester hours in your major at Gordon; 50% of minor at Gordon
  • Some departs have minimum GPA (education, psychology, social science, youth ministries) or course grade (music, education)
  • Some departments require an audition (music), portfolio (art) or special application (education) to be a major or minor
  • Double majors complete one core, but major requirements of both majors
  • Questions? Check with Registrar's Office.  Please don't depend on friends or roommate!

Don't be afraid to ask about majors or to explore majors - most students change majors at least once, sometimes multiple times.

Remember a major is often of less importance in future career or grad school than the skills you learned while completing a college degree: critical thinking, writing, speaking, research etc...


Change of Major Form (PDF)
Change or add a Major

Minor Form (PDF)
Change or add a Minjor