UC Santa Barbara General CatalogUniversity of California, Santa Barbara

Individual Major

Objectives of the Major
The individual major offers students in the College of Letters and Science an opportunity to achieve a sharply focused academic goal that cannot be met by an existing major, a double major, or a major and a minor. Consulting extensively with the College of Letters and Science individual major advisor and with faculty advisors, a student will develop and complete a detailed, comprehensive, and thematically coherent major consistent within the liberal arts and science traditions of the College of Letters and Science.

Admission to the Major
The College of Letters and Science rarely approves individual majors because the academic goals of most students may be met by opportunities provided by the wide range of majors and academic minors offered in the College of Letters and Science. Students should consult with the Letters and Science individual major advisor along with departmental advisors about the options available within the college’s majors and minors before beginning an application for an individual major. Applicants for an individual major to must demonstrate that their educational goals cannot be achieved within parameters of existing majors and minors. Pre-professional majors will not be considered. A proposed individual major will be expected to meet the same standards for academic and intellectual rigor and coherence met by the existing majors within the College of Letters and Science.

To be eligible to apply for an individual major, a student must

  • have earned at least 36 units in residence at UC-Santa Barbara,
  • have an above average record of scholastic achievement (in most cases, this would mean a student would need to have at least a 3.2 grade point average). 
  • submit the proposal for the major no later than the end of junior year.

A student considering applying for an individual major should have extensive and ongoing discussions with faculty who will be willing to advise them as they develop the central theme, goals, and objectives of the major; assist the student in choosing courses that will help the student meet the goals and the objective of the major; and supervise the student’s senior thesis. The student will need two faculty sponsors, each holding the rank of assistant, associate, or full professor, with one serving as the primary advisor. As the student develops the list of courses for the major, he/she should meet with the department advisors to discuss course availability and course prerequisites.

With the faculty advisors and in consultation with the Letters and Science individual major, a student will apply to the major by preparing a proposal that is submitted to the Dean of Undergraduate Education who reviews it on behalf of the Letters and Science Executive Committee. The dean will notify student via email whether the proposal is approved or denied.

Senior Thesis
The senior thesis provides an opportunity for students to synthesize what they learn in their courses in the individual majors. The student completes a thesis as part of a 199 (in most departments) Independent Studies course under the supervision of the primary advisor. After the thesis is read and approved by the primary advisor, it is sent to the dean with a statement from the advisor stating that the student has completed the final major requirements.