Students with well-defined needs that are not met by established departmental or interdisciplinary majors may propose an area major. Area majors combine courses from more than one department into a cohesive plan of original study that is equivalent in quality and rigor to a traditional major.
Area majors are rare and limited by the available academic resources and must be distinct from other majors at Rice. They differ from double majors, which must conform to the requirements of both departments. An area major constitutes a single major with specific requirements that include courses from two or more departments. An area major may not be used to form a double major, and students with area majors must still meet all the other university graduation requirements.
To initiate the area major, students should consult with the Office of Academic Advising for advice about the process. Students will then contact the Chair of the Committee on the Undergraduate Curriculum (CUC) about their desire to pursue development of an area major plan in more detail and to consult about intended time frame for submitting a proposal to the CUC. Students will also contact a faculty advisor in each department represented in their tentative area major plan to 1) discuss interest, 2) determine their potential support of the concept, 3) solicit their concerns regarding feasibility. Students work closely with each faculty advisor to design a comprehensive and substantial course of study and to decide on an appropriate title. This course of study must be formulated in a written proposal. Each faculty advisor and the OAA must sign off on the plan before submission to the chair of the CUC. The CUC determines final approval. As part of the review process, the CUC consults chairs of the involved departments to confirm that courses necessary for successful and timely completion of the major will be offered. If approved, the OAA officially certifies the area major plan to the Office of the Registrar and goes on to oversee the major on behalf of the faculty advisors. Any change in the area major requirements needs the approval of both the faculty advisors and the CUC.
Students may not propose an area major if they are within three semesters of graduation unless the Committee on Examinations and Standing rules that exceptional circumstances warrant this action. Under no circumstances may students propose an area major in their final semester before graduation.