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An academic major, major concentration, concentration, or simply major is mainly a U.S.marker and Canadianmarker term for a college or university student's main field of specialization during his or her undergraduate studies which would be in addition to, and may incorporate portions of, a core curriculum. The university department offering the major defines a framework for this specialized portion of a student's studies, including a certain number of required course and a certain number of freely chosen courses relevant to the major. Some majors in some universities effectively define the student's full course of study; many others allow students considerable latitude both within their field and in their other courses. The university also generally defines general education or core education and distribution requirements.

Although many students choose their major before entering a college or university, many others select it during their first or second year of a four-year program. Some schools do not allow students to officially declare their major until the end of their second year so that students can experience a core curriculum to help them choose the most appropriate major.

History

The system of majors or concentrations was introduced by President A. Lawrence Lowell of Harvardmarker in 1910 and adopted by most U.S. universities.

Other countries

In many other countries, including the United Kingdom, undergraduate students are normally required to concentrate on one subject throughout their degree, so the concept of a "major" is not relevant. Instead, the choice of degree and subject determines the entire course of study, and courses not relevant to their degree subject cannot be taken. However, some UK universities require that students study the first year course material from three degree schemes, although this is rare. UK Students choose their degree subjects when they apply to attend university at the beginning of their final year at school (age 17/18). University applications are usually approved directly by the academic department that teaches the degree, so the offer of a potential place is valid only for that particular subject degree.

When applying for higher education, UK students usually apply to study the same degree subject at up to five different universities, but with varying academic entrance requirements. A student may then have to visit those universities for interviews and as a result may receive an offer of a place. This offer may be conditional: if required grades are achieved in final exams then it is effectively a promise to accept the student on the degree course in question.

In Australia, the U.S. system is followed to some extent, but there are also more specialist bachelor degrees than in the U.S.

Notes & References

  1. Charles McGrath, "What Every Student Should Know", New York Times Education Life, January 8, 2006. [1]


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