Planning a Course of Study
Planning a Course of Study
Planning: Getting started
Planning an academic program consists of integrating five main components. Follow the links to find out more. ;
- Requires that students take courses that meet five criteria: Connectivity, Communication, Creative Problem Solving, Civic Engagement, and Self Direction.
- In addition, each student must take one unit in each of four areas: fine and performing arts, social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities
A major (and minor, if you choose to pursue one)
- Students must declare a major by the end of their sophomore year.
- For a list of majors and minors, click here.
Each student must take two E-Term courses, including one in their first year
Any (optional) academic enhancement programs you choose, including the following programs:
- Bunting/Engaged Study and Community Action
- Hess/Leadership and Service
- Sklenar/Study Abroad
- Vail/Collaborative Research
- Foreign Language Across the Curriculum
- Urban Environmental Studies
- Latin American Studies
- And these additional options:
- Contract Learning – Students may design their own research experiences with assistance from a faculty member in the relevant area; they will be registered; under a course number of 293, 393, or 493 in the appropriate discipline or 299 or 399 if completed during Exploration Term. Proposals must be approved by the Office of Exploration Term and Contract Learning.
- Internship Opportunities
- Teaching Assistantships – Students may sometimes earn academic credit for assisting with lab sessions, creating or revising a course, grading assignments, facilitating class discussions, or other activities; they will be registered for 298, 398, or 498 in the appropriate discipline after reaching an agreement with the professor.
- Any pre-professional programs you choose, such as Pre-Health or Pre-Law, and career considerations
Choosing a major
Each student must make a formal declaration of his or her proposed major during their first or second year at Birmingham-Southern. This is done by filing a Major/Minor Declaration form with the Records Office.
Choosing a major
The criteria you use to choose your major will depend on your individual interests and talents, as well as any career aspirations you may have. It is worthwhile to consider the advice of people who know you well, but your choice of a major must ultimately be determined by your own interests and goals. At a liberal arts institution like BSC, all majors require an in-depth study that facilitates the habits of mind appropriate for any career- or life-path. Indeed, your major will prepare you for your future professional and personal life in ways other than providing specific content for a career, including the ability to think critically, the rigorous and creative pursuit of inquiry, and clarity of expression.
In light of this broad purpose of the major, choosing doesn't demand that you have your entire life planned out. Before deciding, you should explore areas in which you have had little or no experience. Students often discover their passion in areas with which they were not familiar prior to college. Such discovery may even happen after students have already declared a major in a different area. Students are free to change their major at any time. We suggest you consider the following questions as a way of thinking through your choice of major:
- If you have a particular career goal, what do professionals in that field recommend?
- In what courses have you felt the most enjoyment or satisfaction?
- What do you, your parents and your friends think you're good at?
- What courses have excited you or motivated you to work hard?
- What do your academic advisor and other professors suggest?
- If you are planning to attend graduate or professional school in a particular area, what are the requirements of the programs?
- If you are considering a change of major, do you have sufficient time to complete the requirements for the majors you're considering?
Students may develop their own major in consultation with the faculty. Developing an individualized major creates a course of study not normally offered by the college and allows students to construct a major within a liberal arts framework that satisfies their individual interests and career plans.
In cooperation with at least three faculty members, students formalize the design of their major no longer than the fall semester of their junior year. The Interim and Contract Learning Committee must review the proposal and will recommend changes as needed for approval. Not all proposals are approved, especially if BSC already offers a major that the committee deems will satisfy the student’s needs or if the proposed major is not consistent with the college’s mission.
Official guidelines for individualized major proposals can be found in the College Catalog under Courses of Study, Individualized Majors and through the Center for Exploration term and Contract Learning.
You may wish to concentrate in an area outside your major, since doing so will enhance your overall academic experience. One way to concentrate is through an academic minor, though minors are not required by the College. It is best not to think of minors as resume builders, but as opportunities for focused study in a second area of interest.
Information about available minors can be found on the minors index page (link to minors list in advising website) and in the Catalog under Courses of Study, Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Majors and Minors.