Majors and Minors

Majors

Just as the Core provides the foundation for addressing key intellectual questions, one’s major program of study is intended to provide a depth of knowledge and sophistication in a defined field of study.

Majors range from nine to 19 courses, depending on the specific requirements of the different departments. When selecting a major, students should carefully review the requirements as described in the College Catalog.

Minors

Minors permit students to use their free electives with intellectual effectiveness and precision—to take a cohesive set of courses that complement studies in one’s major or to explore an unrelated area of intellectual interest.

Minors typically require five to seven courses and are counted towards one’s electives. Each program outlines its particular requirements for a minor, so check the College Catalog for more information and a complete list of available minors. Minors are not available in all academic departments, yet some minors do not have a corresponding major.

Anthropology

Major

Anthropology encompasses a variety of historical and comparative approaches to human cultural and physical variety, ranging from the study of human evolution and prehistory to the study of cultures as systems of meaningful symbols. Anthropology can lead (through graduate study) to careers in research and teaching in university and museum settings.

Art History

MajorMinor

Art History encompasses the visual arts and material culture of a wide range of regions and historical periods. The major in art history introduces students to a variety of cultures and approaches while providing analytical skills.

Astronomy and Astrophysics

Interdisciplinary

Astrophysics deals with some of the most majestic themes known to science. Among these are the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang to the present day; the origin and evolution of planets, stars, galaxies, and the elements themselves; the unity of basic physical law; and the connection between the subatomic properties of nature and the observed macroscopic universe.

Big Problems

Interdisciplinary

The Big Problems program offers capstone experiences as electives to fourth-year students in the College. Emphasizing process as well as content, “Big Problems” courses tackle matters of global or universal concern that cut across multiple disciplines and interest groups. These are problems for which solutions are crucially important but not obviously available.

Biological Chemistry

MajorJoint Degree

The BS degree in Biological Chemistry is designed to prepare you to enter a variety of interdisciplinary fields in biochemical and biophysical sciences. Students in this program are given the opportunity to study chemistry and physics of macromolecules, mechanisms of actions of enzymes and hormones, molecular and cellular biology, biotechnology, and other related fields.

Biological Sciences

MajorMinor

Biology is the study of organisms and their adaptations to the pressures of natural selection. This program provides the knowledge of biology essential for understanding many of the most pressing problems of modern life and for intelligent involvement in their eventual solution. The goals of the program are to give students an understanding of currently accepted concepts in biology and the experimental support for these concepts and an appreciation of the gaps in our current understanding and the opportunities for new research in this field. The Biology major offers specializations in Ecology and Evolution, Endocrinology, Genetics, Immunology, Microbiology, and Neuroscience.

Chemistry

MajorJoint Degree

Chemistry is concerned with the preparation, composition, and structure of matter and with the equilibrium and kinetic laws that govern its transformations. The BA and BS degrees in chemistry are designed to provide a broad foundation in the three principal branches of the science: inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. The BS degree offers a intensive program of study while the BA degree provides a wide opportunity for elective freedom and for the pursuit of interdisciplinary interests.

Chicago Studies

Interdisciplinary

The Chicago Studies Program incorporates opportunities for students to engage academically and experientially with the city of Chicago by combining traditional coursework with experiential learning in Chicago. Course offerings range from anthropology and art history to public policy studies and geographical studies.

Cinema and Media Studies

MajorMinor

Cinema and Media Studies provides a framework within which students can approach the history of film and related media from a variety of historical, critical, and theoretical perspectives. The program enables students to analyze how cinema creates meanings through particular forms, techniques, and styles; how industrial organization affects the way films are produced and received; and how the social context in which they are made and consumed influence the way we understand and make meaning of films.

Classical Studies

MajorMinor

The BA degree in Classical Studies allows students to explore Greek and Roman antiquity in a variety of ways and provides excellent preparation for careers that require strong skills in interpretation and writing, such as teaching, scholarly research, law, and publishing, and in the humanities in general.

Comparative Human Development

Major

Comparative Human Development is an interdisciplinary program focusing on the social, cultural, biological, and psychological processes that influence development over time and in different social and cultural settings. The program provides excellent preparation for students interested in advanced postgraduate study at the frontiers of several social science disciplines, or in careers and professions that require a broad and integrated understanding of human experience and behavior.

Comparative Literature

Major

Comparative Literature offers an interdisciplinary plan of course work focused on the study of literature in various languages and in various parts of the world.

Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies

MajorMinor

Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies offers an interdisciplinary curriculum through which students can examine the histories, languages, and cultures of the racial and ethnic groups in and of themselves, in relationship to each other, and, particularly, in structural contexts of power. Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies examines the material, artistic, and literary expressions of peoples who originated in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe, who moved voluntarily or were forcefully bound over to the Americas.

Computational Neuroscience

MinorInterdisciplinary

Computational Neuroscience studies how animal and human nervous systems interact to produce behaviors. Students use quantitative and modeling approaches to describe how nervous systems function, then duplicate those functions with man-made devices. A major is not offered, but students may minor in Computational Neuroscience through the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division.

Computer Science

MajorMinorJoint Degree

The computer science program prepares students for either graduate work or employment in computer science. Students receiving the BA will have sufficient breadth and depth for either graduate study or immediate employment in computer science. Recipients of the BS will also have substantial depth and breadth in a field outside of computer science through the completion of an approved related area.

Creative Writing

MinorInterdisciplinary

Creative writing at the University of Chicago can position itself as part of the intellectual framework of any program or major, and provides unique opportunities for interdisciplinary work. Students may pursue creative writing as part of the formal program in English Language and Literature or Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, as a stand-alone minor with any other major, as part of another major that accepts writing courses to count towards requirements, or as an elective.

Early Christian Literature

Major

The program seeks to integrate the study of early Christianity with the study of Mediterranean life and thought from 300 BC to AD 1200. It is possible to combine a program in early Christian literature with more general studies in religion through the Religion and the Humanities program.

East Asian Languages and Civilizations

MajorMinor

The BA program in East Asian studies introduces students to the traditional and modern civilizations of China and Japan and provides them with the opportunity to achieve a basic reading and speaking knowledge of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

Economics

Major

Economics is intended to equip students with the basic tools to understand the operation of a modern economy: the origin and role of prices and markets, the allocation of goods and services, and the factors that enter into the determination of income, employment, and the price level.

Education

Interdisciplinary

Many departments offer courses relevant to education and teaching (e.g., psychology, public policy, sociology, human development). Many courses can be counted as fulfilling undergraduate program requirements in those departments. Students interested in teaching grades K-12 may find some courses to be appropriate for meeting the teacher certification requirements of various states.

English Language and Literature

MajorMinor

English Language and Literature provides students with the opportunity to intensively study works of literature, drama, and film originally written in English. Courses address fundamental issues, such as the literary history of a period, the achievements of a major author, the defining characteristics of a genre, the politics of interpretation, the formal beauties of individual works, and the methods of literary scholarship and research.

Environmental Science

Major

Environmental Science is designed to prepare students to enter a variety of interdisciplinary fields, including the interface of environmental science and public policy. Students are given the opportunity to study topics such as the chemistry and dynamics of the ocean and atmosphere, climate change, biogeochemical cycles, ecology, conservation, and environmentally relevant aspects of economics and policy.

Environmental Studies

MajorMinor

In the early twenty-first century, environmental challenges – including deforestation, climate change, pollution, water resources, habitat loss, and the food and energy needs of a growing population-are among the most pressing issues facing the world. The Environmental Studies program allows students to address these issues through focused interdisciplinary coursework and research.

Fundamentals: Issues and Texts

Major

The Fundamentals program enables students to concentrate on fundamental questions by reading classic texts that articulate and speak to these questions. It seeks to foster precise and thoughtful pursuit of basic questions by means of rigorous training in the interpretation of important texts, supported by extensive training in at least one foreign language, and by the acquisition of the knowledge, approaches, and skills of conventional disciplines: historical, religious, literary, scientific, political, and philosophical.

Gender and Sexuality Studies

MajorMinor

Gender and Sexuality Studies allows undergraduates the opportunity to shape a disciplinary or interdisciplinary plan of study focused on gender and sexuality. Students can create a program linked by a focus on gender as an object of study or by gender categories in topics such as sexuality, social life, science, politics and culture, literature and the arts, or systems of thought.

Geographical Studies

Major

The discipline of geography contributes to an understanding of society by exploring the Earth’s environment and its interactions with human life, by inquiring into cultures and societies from the perspective of area study, and by investigating problems of spatial organization. The BA program in geographical studies provides a background both for advanced specialization in the discipline and for study in other fields.

Geophysical Sciences

Major

Geophysical Studies students explore the dynamics of the atmosphere, oceans, and ice sheets; past and present climate change; the origin and history of the Earth, moon, and meteorites; properties of the deep interior of the Earth; and the evolution and geography of life. Students may pursue a BS or BA in Geophysical Sciences or a BS in Environmental Science.

Germanic Studies

MajorMinor

Germanic Studies is intended to provide students with a wide ranging and highly personalized introduction to the language, literature, and culture of German-speaking countries and to various methods of approaching and examining these areas.

History

MajorMinor

Studying history sheds light on human experience and thought in different times and places. Fields of study may be defined by nations (e.g., Chinese, Roman, U.S., international history) or by genres (e.g., legal, cultural, gender history). Topics include the history of revolution, slavery, sexuality, colonialism, ethnicity, war, and work. History is excellent preparation for a wide field of endeavors from law, government, and public policy to the arts and business.

History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine

MajorMinor

History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine (HIPS) covers of a wide range of social, historical, and conceptual issues relating to science. The goal of the program is to provide students with a sound basis on which to interpret and evaluate science and science policy. Students in the program must do sufficient work in one or more sciences to acquire a sound foundation for studying the nature of science.

Human Rights

MinorInterdisciplinary

The Human Rights Program at the University of Chicago integrates the core questions of human dignity with a critical examination of the institutions designed to promote and protect human rights. The curriculum examines human rights from a variety of disciplinary, thematic, and regional perspectives.

Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities

Major

Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities offers qualified undergraduates the opportunity to shape an interdisciplinary plan of course work centered in, but not necessarily restricted to, study in the humanities. To be considered for admission to this BA program, a student must submit a written proposal.

International Relations

Joint Degree

The Committee on International Relation's M.A. program trains students to undertake cutting-edge analytical work and become intellectual leaders in all fields of international theory and practice. Qualified students in the College who wish to pursue a joint MA degree in international relations should consult with their College adviser.

International Studies

Major

International Studies is designed for students who are preparing for academic, government, nonprofit, or business careers with an international focus, and who value the benefits of study abroad and of cross-cultural learning. The program is organized around courses drawn from two thematic tracks, and area studies: international political economy (thematic), transnational processes (thematic), and area and civilization studies.

Jewish Studies

MajorMinor

Jewish Studies provides a context in which students may examine the texts, cultures, languages, and histories of Jews and Judaism over three millennia. The perspective is contextual, comparative, and interdisciplinary. The long and diverse history of Jews and Judaism affords unique opportunities to study modes of continuity and change, interpretation and innovation, and isolation and integration of a world historical civilization.

Joint BA/MA in Social Service Administration

Joint Degree

The School of Social Service Administration (SSA) offers students an opportunity to begin their professional training in social work and social welfare administration and policy while still in the College.

Joint BA/MA in the Humanities

Joint Degree

Students in the College may pursue the master of arts degree in the Humanities while working toward an undergraduate degree. Undergraduate students admitted to this program pursue a specific course of study depending on their specific research and professional interests.

Joint BA/MAT in Urban Teaching

Joint Degree

A two-year master's degree program that prepares candidates with strong undergraduate backgrounds and a commitment to educational equity to teach in underserved urban public schools. Its particular emphasis is preparing elementary teachers and secondary mathematics and biology.

Latin American Studies

MajorMinor

Students who major in Latin American Studies gain a thorough grounding in selected aspects of Latin American history, politics, economics, or related subjects; knowledge of one or more of the social sciences as they deal with Latin American materials; and competence in Spanish or Portuguese as a tool for further work. The BA program in Latin American Studies can provide an appropriate background for careers in business, journalism, government, teaching, or the nonprofit sector, or for graduate studies in one of the social sciences disciplines.

Law, Letters, and Society

Major

The program in Law, Letters, and Society is concerned with law in civilian and customary legal systems, both historically and contemporaneously. The program’s organizing premise is that law is a tool of social organization and control, not simply an expression of will or aspiration, and that it is best understood by careful study of both rhetorical artifacts and empirical consequences of its application.

Linguistics

MajorMinor

Linguistics provides a solid, integrated introduction to the scientific study of language through course work in the core sub-disciplines of linguistics, as well as to ensure that the student has a language background sufficient to provide a complement to the theoretical parts of the program and for an understanding of the complexities of human language.

Mathematics

MajorMinorJoint Degree

Mathematics provides an environment of research and comprehensive instruction in mathematics and applied mathematics. Both a BA and a BS program in mathematics are offered, including a BS degree in applied mathematics and a BS degree in mathematics with a specialization in economics.

Medieval Studies

MajorMinor

Medieval Studies acquaints students with a broad range of medieval materials from a variety of perspectives (e.g., historical, literary, artistic, theological) as preparation for writing a BA paper on some aspect of medieval civilization. Students investigate the Middle Ages through studies in historical, literary, and adjunct areas. Interested students are encouraged to attend the medieval studies workshops.

Molecular Engineering

MinorInterdisciplinary

Molecular engineering is rooted in the concept of translating molecular-level science in physics, chemistry, and biology into new technologies and solutions to societal problems of global significance, and to continually inspire creative applications of molecular-level science. This new approach to engineering research and education combines skill sets across disciplines, emphasizing problem solving and disciplinary integration.

Music

MajorMinor

Music aims to broaden the exposure to and enrich the understanding of the various musical traditions of the world. The BA program offers a balance of practical, historical, and conceptual approaches to music. Courses address the materials of tonal music in the Western tradition, the analysis of individual works, the study of composers and genres, non-Western and vernacular repertories, musical composition, critical approaches to music, and the role of music in society.

Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

MajorMinor

The BA degree programs in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC) are as varied as the wide subject matter they embrace. Areas of specialization within NELC include: Archaeology and Art of the Ancient Near East, Classical Hebrew Language and Civilization, Cuneiform Studies, Egyptian Languages and Civilization, Islamic and Modern Middle Eastern Studies, Modern Hebrew, Kazakh, Persian, Turkish, and Uzbek, and Near Eastern Judaica.

Philosophy

MajorMinor

Philosophy covers a wide range of historical periods and fields. The BA program acquaints students with some of the classic texts of the discipline and trains students in rigorous methods of argument. The intensive track option is for qualified students interested in small group discussions of major philosophical problems and texts. The option in philosophy and allied fields is designed for students who wish to pursue an interdisciplinary program involving philosophy and some other field.

Physics

MajorMinor

Physics is concerned with the study of matter, energy, forces, and their interaction in the world and universe around us. The BA in physics includes a strong emphasis on experiment and covers the broad fundamentals necessary for graduate study in theoretical physics, experimental physics, or astronomy and astrophysics, as well as some fields of engineering and many interdisciplinary specialties requiring a strong technical background (e.g., biophysics, medical physics, atmospheric and environmental sciences).

Political Science

Major

Political science contributes to a liberal education by introducing students to concepts, methods, and knowledge that help them understand politics within and among nations. A bachelor’s degree in political science can lead to a career in business, government, journalism, education, or non-profit organizations. It can lead to a Ph.D. program in the social sciences or to professional school in law, business, public policy, or international relations.

Professional Option: Medicine

Joint Degree

Pritzker School of Medicine's Professional Option Program in Medicine permits undergraduate students who have demonstrated outstanding potential for success in medicine to begin medical school during their fourth year in the College. This is a highly competitive, merit-award program.

Psychology

Major

The psychology major introduces students to the fundamentals of scientific psychology, providing a firm basis of psychological knowledge and research experience. Students explore the fundamentals of psychology, statistics, and a number of courses in specialized sub-areas of psychology.

Public Policy Studies

MajorJoint Degree

Public Policy Studies students pursue the interdisciplinary analysis of domestic and international policy issues with emphasize on the application of economics, political science, and sociology to real-world policy issues. The program is designed to introduce students to policy analysis and implementation, equip them to use quantitative and economic techniques and methods, train them in policy research, and give them a command of at least one particular policy area.

Religion and the Humanities

Major

Religion and the Humanities students acquire an understanding of religion as one of humankind’s primary responses to and expressions of the human condition, and appreciation of the difficulties and possibilities inherent in undertaking a critical, disciplined study of religion.

Religious Studies

MajorMinor

Religious Studies engages perennial questions about religion and human society, and investigates religions and how they shape and are shaped by human cultures. The program in Religious Studies exposes students to different sources, problems, and methodologies in the study of religion and is designed for students who wish to take interdisciplinary approaches to the study of religion.

Romance Languages and Literatures

MajorMinor

Romance Languages and Literatures offers programs of study leading to the BA degree in French, Italian, or Spanish literature; or in some combination, which may include Catalan or Portuguese. The BA programs give students knowledge of the literature and culture of their area of concentration, and develops their linguistic competence in one or more of the Romance languages.

Russian Studies

Major

Russian Studies students gain a thorough grounding in the history, literature, politics, economics, and cultural and social life of Russia and the former Russian/Soviet empire (including Ukraine and Belarus, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the Baltic states), as well as a competence in the Russian language.

Slavic Languages and Literatures

MajorMinor

The BA degree in Russian and East European Studies is designed to provide students with skills and facility in the languages and cultures of the region, through courses in the Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, Czech, Georgian, Polish, and Russian languages and literatures.

Sociology

Major

Sociology provides an understanding of human relations and social organization, and is attractive for students considering careers in such professions as business, education, law, marketing, medicine, journalism, social work, politics, public administration, and urban planning. The phenomena studied by sociologists range from face-to-face interaction in small groups to the structure of the modern world system.

South Asian Languages and Civilizations

MajorMinor

South Asian Languages and Civilizations (SALC) students gain a broad knowledge of the literature and history of the South Asian subcontinent (i.e., Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka), and proficiency in at least one South Asian language that is equivalent to two years of study or greater. Students currently may study Bangla (Bengali), Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi, Pali, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Tibetan, or Urdu.

Statistics

MajorMinorJoint Degree

The modern science of statistics involves the invention, study, and development of principles and methods for modeling uncertainty through mathematical probability; for designing experiments, surveys, and observational programs; and for analyzing and interpreting empirical data. The Statistics program explores principles and methods in combination with training in mathematics and some exposure to computing, which is essential to nearly all modern data analysis.

Theater and Performance Studies

MajorMinor

Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS) seeks to animate the intersection of theory and practice in the arts. The program requires its students to acquire a competence in the practice of two media (e.g., theater, film, video, dance, music, creative writing) while gaining fluency in the critical analysis of those media. To this end, students receive training in both performance practice and analysis.

Tutorial Studies

Major

Tutorial Studies provides an alternative for students who are able to propose a coherent course of studies that clearly do not fit within a regular major. Students in the College may be admitted to Tutorial Studies at any point in their careers; their requirements will then be written to fill the time they have left until graduation. Students have no major; instead, all students have a tutor – a member of the Chicago faculty who develops a course of study with the student under the general supervision of the program chairman.

Visual Arts

MajorMinor

Visual Arts students develop communicative, analytical, and expressive skills through the process of artistic production. While the concentration in the Visual Arts builds on the UChicago tradition of emphasis on critical thinking and the development, this course of study also develops a powerful set of skills that allow students to become more sensitive to phenomena, such as the relative nature of color; the particular measure of space; and the ways in which our perceptual experiences give meaning to forms in the visual field.