To provide depth in their education, students must, before completion
of 56 semester hours, elect a department or program in which to
do major study. Those who have not declared a major after 56 hours
will be allowed to enroll only with the permission of the Dean
of Studies. A student may subsequently elect a different major
and drop the previously declared major with the consent of the
heads of the departments or programs involved. Students may elect
to do major work in more than one department.
Each department or program determines the detailed requirements
for completion of the major or majors in that department or program.
The requirements that apply to a student are those published
in the most recent edition of this Catalog at the time a student
the second semester of his or her sophomore year. These requirements
may be altered as necessary in individual cases by the departments
or programs. All majors consist of no fewer than 24 hours.
Individual Major Program. Students wishing to pursue an Individual
Major design their own program of study focusing on a particular
topic of interest which cannot be studied through a single department.
Such proposals are normally submitted at the end of the sophomore
year, together with the approval of two or more advisors, each
from a different department. The program must consist of at least
30 hours with no more than 12 hours at the introductory level,
must include courses from more than one department, and usually
must not have more than two-thirds of the total hours in any one
department. Furthermore, the proposal must include at least 12
hours of work not yet begun at the time of the submission of the
proposal; and if there is an off-campus component to the major,
including courses taken while "Enrolled-Not-in-Residence," the
number of hours involved in this component shall not exceed one-third
of the total hours of the major. If a student has a second major
in addition to the Individual Major, no more than 15 hours may
be double-counted between the two majors. The student is advised
to keep in mind the general education guidelines and Oberlin College's
institutional requirements when designing an Individual Major.
Each proposal is evaluated and either approved or disapproved by
a joint faculty-student committee established for that purpose.
Requirements and guidelines are in the Individual Major Handbook
available in the Office of the Dean of Studies.
Honors Program. Through the Honors Program, students of
proven ability and independence may extend their competence in
field of study or in related fields. Honors projects are designed
with the student by departments, by programs with majors, or (for
students having individual majors) by the Individual Major Committee.
Departments and programs may, if they desire, open their Honors
Programs to students other than their own majors. An Honors candidate
whose project demonstrates the requisite degree of excellence is
awarded the Bachelor of Arts degree with Honors, High Honors, or
Honors projects vary but always involve independent work. This
may be done in seminars or private readings, in research, in the
preparation of a thesis, exhibition, or performance, always under
the supervision of appropriate faculty advisors. Students in the
program are eligible for certain academic privileges such as release
from tests and examinations and access to special library and laboratory
facilities. At the end of the senior year, Honors candidates may
be excused from final examinations in the department in which they
are doing honors work and, at the discretion of the instructor,
in courses in closely related subjects. Every candidate for Honors
must pass a special examination at the end of the senior year (written
or oral or both). Outside examiners may be invited to conduct the
final examination of candidates.
Recommendations for the award of honors are made to the Committee
on Honors at Graduation by departments, by programs with majors,
or by the Individual Major Committee. A department or program may
recommend any student for Honors if that department's criteria
are met, regardless of the student's specific major. The
Individual Major Committee may make such recommendations only for
students whose Honors work is in the field of their individual
majors. The Committee on Honors at Graduation makes the final decisions
on all recommendations for Honors, maintaining reasonably uniform
standards for the award of Honors at graduation.
Students wishing to enter the Honors Program should consult the
chairperson of their major department by the beginning of the second
semester of the junior year or earlier.
Senior Scholars. Exceptional students who wish to pursue independent
study and research during their senior year may apply to the Committee
on Honors at Graduation for Senior Scholar status. Successful candidates
must have an outstanding record during their first three years
and an unusual capacity for independent work, including a 3.5 minimum
GPA, and a strong endorsement from at least one faculty member
familiar with their work. Senior Scholars must have completed all
requirements for a major unless waived by the relevant department
or program or by the Individual Major Committee. Senior Scholars
are subject to the normal graduation requirements, and must have
completed the following requirements prior to their senior year:
9-9-9 distribution, writing proficiency, quantitative proficiency,
and cultural diversity. Candidates are selected in the spring of
their junior year on the basis of applications submitted to the
The designation "Senior Scholar" on the diploma shall
be granted by the Committee on Honors at Graduation when the quality
of work merits graduation with distinction.
Students wishing to be considered for Senior Scholar status should
consult with the chair of the Committee on Honors at Graduation
by the beginning of the second semester of the junior year or earlier.
Many departments offer a minor that consists of at least four courses
totaling at least 15 hours of work in that department, and including
at least two components of work at the non-introductory level.
Students pursuing minors declare the minor with the Office of the
Registrar prior to graduation. The completion of a minor is noted
on the transcript.
Students may choose to pursue a concentration in addition to a
major. A concentration is an integrated, interdisciplinary program
of study. Fields which suit the concentration model do not have
a single methodological or content base in a traditional discipline;
thus they are not housed in existing departments or programs as
are majors and minors. There are concentrations in Cognitive Sciences
and International Studies.
A concentration may complement or strengthen a traditional major
by extending some of its content or methodology across other disciplines.
Students may, on the other hand, choose a concentration unrelated
to their major. Students graduating from Oberlin must fulfill the
requirements of a major; if they choose, they may also complete
a concentration, but it does not substitute for a major. The completion
of a concentration is noted on the transcript.