Majors and Minors
When possible, students are expected to accomplish their academic goals by completing an existing major and/or minor, along with their electives, since much of academic life at Pomona—such as lectures, social gatherings, prizes—is organized around existing majors. However, the College provides a process for students to propose a unique course of major study that is not formally offered among its 47 approved majors. To be successful, a proposed special major curriculum must possess the qualities of depth, breadth and coherence that characterize existing majors in established disciplines and there must be sufficient faculty expertise and ongoing curricular support to sustain the program of study.
Students wishing to complete a special major must ask three permanent faculty members of The Claremont Colleges (at least two must be from Pomona College) with significant expertise in the area of the proposed special major to be members of a special major committee. One of the Pomona members must agree to act as chair of the committee. The committee then develops the rationale and structure for the proposal during meetings scheduled by the student with all three members of the committee. The special major application form lists a number of specific criteria to be considered.
When the student’s committee has settled on a curriculum (at least 50% of which must be from course work offered by permanent Pomona faculty; the rest can be taken at the other Claremont Colleges and/or through an approved abroad program), the chair schedules a meeting with the Curriculum Committee to discuss the proposal. The discussion will concern feasibility, cohesion, suitability for an undergraduate liberal arts college; options available for a comparable course of study within existing majors and minors; and faculty expertise and availability.
If the Curriculum Committee believes the proposal is viable and appropriate, the student and special major committee members finalize the proposed curriculum, often with revisions requested by the Curriculum Committee. The fully detailed application must be submitted to the Curriculum Committee no later than March 1 of the student’s sophomore year, unless the student plans to study abroad in the first semester of the junior year, in which case the proposal should be submitted by November 1 of the sophomore year.
Each student’s major will culminate in a senior exercise designed to deepen understanding and integrate the content and method of his or her field of study. Although the exercise will differ from field to field, each requires the student to demonstrate mastery of the methodology, principles and practices of the chosen field. Descriptions of senior exercises for the College’s majors are available in departmental offices. In some cases, portions of the senior exercise are not given course credit but nevertheless must be enrolled in for transcript notation.
The following regulations apply to students who have completed the final semester at the College but have not completed the senior exercise.
- Seniors who fail to complete a senior exercise course numbered 190–199 (Seminar, 190; Thesis, 191; Project, 192; Comprehensive Exam, 193; Activity, 195; Reading and Research, 198/199) in their final semester receive F or NC in the course.
- In any semester within the following two years, a student may re -enroll for that exercise for a nominal fee.
- After two years, the student will be considered withdrawn from the College and may re-enroll for the senior exercise only with the approval of the student’s major department and the Academic Procedures Committee. In this case, the type of senior exercise required is of the department’s choosing and might not be of the sort failed earlier.
Students may complete two majors as part of their undergraduate studies at Pomona College, subject to the approval of both majors’ department chairs and the Academic Procedures Committee. Students pursuing two majors are required to complete all the requirements of each major, including the senior exercises. Some departments may require students to complete additional courses or may otherwise restrict options for a double major when requirements for the two majors overlap.
The College offers the option of an academic minor. Students may complete one or two minors, in addition to the major. If a double major is pursued, only one minor may be completed. A student may not minor in a department that constitutes a significant component of his or her major. Minors are offered in: