Understanding Majors and Minors

The Major

Degree candidates must choose a department of instruction in which they will undertake a program of concentrated study. This choice should be made before the end of the sophomore year or once the student has earned 45 credits. Transfer students are eligible to declare a major once they complete a semester at John Carroll and/or have earned 45 credits, including transfer credits. Students majoring in one of the natural sciences, business, or education, however, usually select their major in their first year. Some other departments also encourage early determination. Later choice may result in prolonged completion of the degree program.

Students apply to the department of their choice to request acceptance into a major by completing and returning an Application for Undergraduate Major Declaration, an online form available on the webpage of the Office of the Registrar. The application may be accepted, conditionally accepted, or rejected by the department. Only after formal acceptance are students considered majors. Thereafter, they must be guided in selection of their courses in their program by the department chair or an advisor appointed by the chair.

The dean and the chair of the major department may refuse the application for a given major of a student who has not shown sufficient promise in that particular subject. If a department grants only conditional acceptance, it may reject the student as a major at the beginning of the second semester of the junior year or after the student completes six credit hours of upper-division work in the department or upon evidence of continued academic deficiency.

Any change affecting the fulfillment of major requirements must be requested through an Academic Petition and approved by the department chair.

Students are held to the degree and curricular requirements outlined in the Bulletin in effect at the time of matriculation to the University.

Double Major

Some students wish to complete two majors within their academic program. This is permitted providing the students are accepted as a major by both departments (and both departments so notify the appropriate dean), are assigned an academic advisor in each department, and complete all the requirements in force at the time of acceptance for each major. Please note: It is understood that, even though two majors may be completed, only one degree will be awarded upon completion of all requirements. Thus, in some situations, students with a double major will have to choose between the bachelor of arts degree (B.A.) and bachelor of science degree (B.S.). Students are expected to complete the Capstone, Additional Writing, and Oral Presentation requirements for each major. 

Standing in the Major

Candidates for a degree must complete the required sequence of courses in the major field of study with at least a C average (2.0). Students who fail to maintain this average may be required to change majors.

All courses taken in the major field will be computed in the quality-point average required for the major.

Comprehensive Examinations

In addition to the fulfillment of all general and specific degree requirements, many departments require candidates to pass a comprehensive examination in the major field. Consult specific disciplines and departments for requirements. Comprehensive examinations are concerned with the major subject as a whole, not so much with particular courses. Their purpose is to encourage students to mature and integrate their knowledge by personal effort and private study.

Students are urged to begin preparing for the comprehensive examination as early as the junior year. They may be aided by syllabi published by the departments. Comprehensive examinations are usually taken in the final semester of the senior year, when students have completed or are taking the last course(s) to complete major requirements. Students in the College of Arts and Sciences who fail to perform satisfactorily in the comprehensive examination are permitted to retake the examination or an equivalent one within the same semester.

Degree candidates in the Boler College of Business may be required to pass a comprehensive examination testing the grasp of principles and relationships and the ability to reach reasonable solutions to typical business and economic problems. Candidates may also be required to pass a comprehensive examination in the major field. Such examinations may be oral or written, or both. Students who fail to perform satisfactorily in the comprehensive examination will be required to take the examination the next time it is scheduled.


The College of Arts and Sciences offers a number of minors. The Boler College of Business offers a minor in business and a minor in economics. Minors are optional. They are described in other sections of this Bulletin.


Courses not required in the Core or in the major are considered electives. Elective courses should be chosen, in consultation with the academic advisor, for a definite purpose – to provide for greater breadth and depth in the total educational program, to provide support for a major field, or as further preparation for a future career.

Independent Study in the Major and Electives

For students who demonstrate superior ability, an instructor may suggest a plan of independent study that shall include some remission of the obligation of regular class attendance. Independent-study plans in each case shall have the recommendation of the department chair and the approval of the appropriate dean.

Undergraduate Student Research

The University recognizes the importance of student research to the educational experience and offers research opportunities for and recognition of student research. Students may apply for research funds up to $250, pending availability. Academic departments may provide research awards and opportunities for research during the academic year and for summer research. Students can present their research at the annual Celebration of Scholarship.