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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. ;

    1. The Explorations curriculum

      • 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
    2. 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.
    3. Exploration Term;
      Each student must take two E-Term courses, including one in their first year

    4. Any (optional) academic enhancement programs you choose, including the following programs:

    5. 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.

    You can find a full list of majors and minors here or in the Course Catalog under Courses of Study.

    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?

    Individualized Majors

    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.