Policies Governing the Major Requirement

All College students are required to complete a major in the School of Arts and Sciences. This requirement ensures that all graduates of the College develop a thorough understanding in at least one field of knowledge through concentrated study over several years in at least 12 c.u.

Students are subject to the specific policies and requirements of a given major in effect at the time they declare that major, and they remain so even if the major requirements are subsequently changed. With the approval of the department or program, however, one may be permitted to abide by the new requirement structure.

Credits Needed for Graduation by Major

  • Students must have a g.p.a. of 2.0 in major and major-related courses already taken. Some majors require a higher g.p.a.
  • Some departments and programs (including Architecture, Communication and Economics) require specific coursework or other prerequisites before application to the major.

All College students are expected to declare a major by the spring of sophomore year.

When students are ready to declare their major, they should:

  • Complete the Declare/Update Field of Study form in Path Forms.
  • Make time to meet with a representative of the major department or program in which they wish to declare.
  • Students should note that some departments and programs require more than one meeting in order to complete the major declaration process, so they should be sure to follow all the instructions completely.

School of Engineering second majors

  • SEAS students who would like to declare a second major in the College of Arts and Sciences should contact the relevant SAS department and follow the department's procedure for declaring a major.
  • Students in the College who would like to declare a second major in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences should read further.
  • Once a student declares a major, the Sector that is required within the major will be automatically completed. This allows the course you took to explore the major returns to the major section of your degree audit in Path@Penn.
  • For those majors that have both Living World and Physical World requirements, at declaration both requirements will be automatically completed.
  • If a student declares a second major that shares a sector requirement with the first major and they take a different sector course in the second major, the second major advisor will make an exception to complete a second sector.

All courses taken for a major must be taken for a letter grade, not pass/fail. Some departments have a minimum grade requirement for all courses within the major.

Please note the exception to this policy for spring and fall 2020 and spring 2021.

  • Only the department or program advisors determine which credits transferred from another institution can count toward the major.
  • At least half the course units in the major must be taken at Penn. Some departments require more.

Transfer students who come to Penn with sophomore standing will have one full semester before they are asked to declare their major. It is expected that most will be able to declare the major at the standard time (March of sophomore year). In the first semester, exploration should be the top priority. Students should browse the websites of prospective major departments for more detailed information of requirements and prerequisites.

At least half of the courses satisfying the major requirement must be taken at Penn.

Transfer students who come to Penn with junior status are expected to have a fairly specific idea of their likely major. They should carefully read about any prospective majors on the department’s website and speak with the undergraduate major advisor or coordinator as soon as possible in the fall. Courses taken in the major should cover material which is new to the student and for which the prerequisites have been taken. The exact time frame of major declaration will depend on the major and the courses the student has previously taken.

Junior transfer students who are athletes must declare their major as soon as possible after arriving on campus in order to be eligible for athletic competition.

At least half of the courses satisfying the major requirement must be taken at Penn.

Students may apply for an individualized major if they have:

  • Earned a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.5.
  • Declared a standard major by the end of their sophomore year. (They must continue on to complete at least a minor in that area.)

As part of the application students must:

  • Meet with Dr. Hocine Fetni in the College Office no later than their fourth semester to discuss details of the major and the application process.
  • Provide a concise rationale for their proposed major.
  • Plan a tentative coherent course of study for the major, with at least 14 c.u., to culminate in a major research project which, upon completion, will be presented to the University community in a public lecture. (This should be done in consultation with two faculty advisors. See below.)
  • Find at least one standing faculty member in the School of Arts and Sciences who recognizes merit in the proposed individualized study and accepts the responsibility of acting as the student's main advisor for the individualized major and for sponsoring and overseeing the thesis.
  • Find another faculty member whose specialty is in some way related to the major, but is different from the first advisor's and who is willing to serve as a second advisor.
  • College students pursuing an Engineering major DO NOT earn a dual degree. They earn a single degree from the College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Because College students who pursue an Engineering major do not earn the Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) degree, they do not receive professional certification and are not thereby qualified to sit for any certification exam in Engineering.
  • The Engineering major does not fulfill the College’s Major Requirement for graduation and must be declared as a second (or third) major. College students pursuing a major in Engineering must have a major in the College of Arts and Sciences.
  • For College students pursuing an Engineering major, the College major will determine the College of Arts and Sciences requirements for the degree.
  • Policies governing academic actions, academic standing and petitions are those of the College of Arts and Sciences.

SEAS majors for college students

  • College students must complete at least two semesters of coursework at Penn before they may declare an Engineering major. In addition, College students must declare an Engineering major no later than the fifth semester at Penn.
  • Each of the Engineering majors available to College students has specific prerequisites that must be completed before the major can be declared.
  • College students must be in good academic standing to be eligible to declare an Engineering major. In addition, College students must have a minimum 2.0 cumulative g.p.a. in prerequisite and related/required courses for the intended Engineering major.
  • Course requirements and contacts for SEAS majors available to College students are found here.
  • College students must complete at least two semesters of coursework at Penn before they may declare an Engineering major. In addition, College students must declare an Engineering major no later than the fifth semester at Penn.
  • Each of the Engineering majors available to College students has specific prerequisites that must be completed before the major can be declared.
  • College students must be in good academic standing to be eligible to declare an Engineering major. In addition, College students must have a minimum 2.0 cumulative g.p.a. in prerequisite and related/required courses for the intended Engineering major.
  • Course requirements and contacts for SEAS majors available to College students are found here.
  • Students with a minimum g.p.a. of 3.0 may apply to their department or program to become candidates for honors in the major. Some majors will require a higher g.p.a.
  • Applications for honors in the major are usually taken in the first semester of the junior year.
  • The requirements for honors in the major vary from program to program and may include special courses and individual research on specialized subjects under the guidance of a faculty advisor. In some departments, additional credit is authorized for work done by honors candidates.
  • Students who complete honors in the major will have this designation entered on their transcripts.