Chapter 4: Majors
Chapter 4: Majors
Students pursuing an Associate’s Degree must satisfy several
requirements for the degree. One requirement is the major requirement,
which can be satisfied by taking the courses identified as a major in
An important initial step in creating a new major is to identify the
student learning outcomes for that major. The student learning
outcomes should be broad and should drive the decision as to which
courses to include in the major.
Consider the following when creating learning outcomes:
- Learning outcomes should be assessable. As part of the student
learning outcome process you will need to assess these learning
outcomes, evaluate the results, and plan and implement changes to
the program as a result of this assessment.
outcomes should be level-appropriate. Since majors are for the
Associate Degree, use primarily Cognitive Verbs from Bloom’s
Taxonomy (see SLO
- Learning outcomes should be outcomes.
Avoid phrases like “develop” or “learn”; again, use verbs from
Once you have developed the overall learning outcomes for the major,
the next step is to map the individual learning outcomes down to the
Course Student Learning Outcomes and up to the Institutional Learning
Outcomes level. The goal is to demonstrate alignment in both
directions. For mapping instructions, refer to help provided in the
Program Module of CurricUNET.
As you complete this mapping process you may find that certain
learning outcomes you think are important are not directly covered in
any of your courses or are only covered in an optional elective. You
may decide that it is necessary to adjust the outlines of some of your
courses so that the proposed courses fully address your desired
program-level learning outcomes.
Finally, remember that the assessment of program-level learning outcomes will be an ongoing effort in your department. Once you have created the program, received approval, had students enroll and complete the program, assessed your learning outcomes, and analyzed the results, you may find that changes to the courses in your program, or changes to the structure of the program itself, are necessary.
Goals of the Major
In general, majors are developed to support students’ transfer or occupational goals. Departments developing a new major need to decide which of these paths (transfer or occupational) they will use to support approval of the major. The list below dentifies some of the items departments will need to identify in the application for approval of a new major. Specific information related to these items must be included in the proposal submitted to the Curriculum Committee.
New Transfer Program
- Identify the majors at four-year institutions the program will
transfer to, including articulation agreements between the
- If the program is based on a model
curriculum, identify that model curriculum.
New Career Technical Program
- Identify relevant labor market information, such as the number
of projected job openings and its relation to the number of
projected program completers.
- Survey of prospective
- If there’s an advisory committee, the
names of members and minutes of key meetings with the
Associate Degrees for Transfer
In Spring 2011 the College developed an alternative degree pattern in compliance with the Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act (SB 1440). This alternative degree pattern leads to the Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) or the Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T). Majors created to satisfy the requirements of these degrees follow a Transfer Model Curriculum (TMC) that has been developed with statewide input from California Community College and CSU faculty. Departments considering creating a major in support of the AA-T or AS-T degrees should consult with the Articulation Officer early in the process.
Levels of Approval
Creating a new major requires approval at several levels. Departments
should be aware of the entire process before starting, to minimize the
complexity of this process.
Approval by the Curriculum Committee is just the first step in this process. Once approved by the Curriculum Committee, a new major must then be approved by the Board of Trustees and, if it is a CTE major, by the regional consortium. The final level of approval of a major is at the State Chancellor’s Office. The paperwork required varies based on whether a department already has a similar approved program. Departments creating career technical majors will also need to get approval from our regional consortium. Departments are encouraged to meet with the Associate Vice Chancellor of Instruction early in the process to review the applicable paperwork. Completed applications that have been accepted at the State Chancellor’s office are available in the Curriculum Office for reference.
Once the relevant courses totaling 18 or more units for a major have
been identified, the next step in the process is for departments to
bring the major to the Curriculum Committee for approval. Submit a
proposal through CurricUNET and follow the directions within.
Information you will be expected to provide is described below.
Catalog Description of the Major
- Name of the Major, with AA (Associates of Arts) or AS
(Associates of Science) in the title
- Description of
the Major, including Learning Outcomes
- Required and
optional courses, with units
- Total number of
The following examples demonstrate different ways in which you can
choose to group program requirements (courses and non-course
requirements or electives):
Consider the following when preparing this document:
- The description should include general information about the program of study and information about the transfer and/or occupational prospects of students who complete the program.
- Clearly define the student learning outcomes with active verbs. Ensure they are assessable and map to Institutional and Course Student Learning Outcomes.
- Clearly define the required and
optional courses for the major. Do not use phrases like “or
equivalent course.” Instead, list any course options explicitly. See
Figure 4-5 for examples of how these options can be listed.
- In general, the courses listed in a major must include any
prerequisite courses. In some instances it is possible to create
program prerequisites for a major. Departments considering program
prerequisites should consult with the Matriculation Office before
- If a proposed major includes coursework
from another department or could overlap the programmatic offerings
of another department, departments should engage in conversations
with that department, get agreement that the course is acceptable,
and describe the conversation in CurricuNET.
Program Learning Outcomes Mapping
In addition to the program description, the department must also map upwards and downwards showing alignment of Course Student Learning Outcomes to the Program-Level Student Learning Outcomes and Program-Level Student Learning Outcomes to Institutional Student Learning Outcomes. Help is provided through the Program Module of CurricUNET.
All new majors will first go through Technical Review once a proposal has been submitted through CurricUNET.
Avoiding Common Errors
When preparing these documents, be sure to mind the following:
Double-check the total units for the major, making sure they’ve been summed accurately.
Supplemental Approval Information
The final document to prepare is supplemental approval information.
Developing this document is essential to smooth approval by the State
Chancellor’s Office. The Supplemental Approval Information Document
varies based on the goals of the major.
Transfer Goal, AA or AS
Departments proposing a new major to support student transfer should
prepare a document showing how the required courses meet the transfer
needs of students. This documentation should show that the courses
fulfill lower-division requirements for a specific baccalaureate major
or prepare students in an area of emphasis for a major field of study
for baccalaureate institutions. Departments should work with the
Articulation Officer in preparing this documentation.
Transfer Goal, AA-T or AS-T
Majors for the Associate Degree for Transfer must follow a Transfer
Model Curriculum (TMC). Departments should work with the Articulation
Officer and submit a completed TMC template.
Career Technical Goal
Departments proposing a new major to support career technical goals
have different amounts of documentation to complete based on whether
they already have a State Chancellor’s Office-approved major or credit
Certificate of Achievement in a similar area.
In general, “similar area” is defined as having an approved credit
program with the same four-digit TOP code. For example, if the
Business Department had an approved Certificate of Achievement in
Accounting (TOP code 0502.00), and they wanted to develop a major in
Tax Preparation (TOP Code 0502.10), that would be considered similar.
Alternatively, if they wanted to develop a major in Business
Administration (TOP code 0505.00), that would not be considered
Departments proposing a new major that have a previously-approved
certificate or major should develop documentation that addresses the
- Enrollment and Completer Projections
- Similar Programs at Other Community Colleges in the Area
Departments proposing a new major that do not have a
previously-approved certificate or major should include documentation
that addresses the following areas:
- Enrollment and Completer Projections
Programs at Other Community Colleges in the Area
- Labor Market Need
- List of Members of Advisory
- Recommendations of Advisory
Templates for each of these are included in the Curriculum Committee web site. Departments should consult with the Associate Vice Chancellor for Instruction.
Once the Curriculum Committee has approved the major, the department
needs to finish the appropriate paperwork for submission to the State
Chancellor’s Office. Much of the work will simply include repackaging
the items sent to the Curriculum Committee into a format required by
the State Chancellor’s Office. Departments will work with the
Associate Vice Chancellor of Instruction on this process.
Publication in the Catalog
Once a major has been approved by the Curriculum Committee, the name
of the major will appear in the online catalog, and in the next
printed version of the catalog, with a notation that the major is
pending state approval. When the State Chancellor’s Office has
approved the major, the Office of Instruction will make appropriate
announcements to the department, counselors, and Admissions and
Records staff, indicating the date of acceptance and the date which
students will be able to petition for the major. Full details of the
major will be published in the next print catalog, in the online
catalog, and in the catalog addendum.
Once a major has been approved, revisions of the major are typically
handled by the Curriculum Committee as informational items.
Departments should submit a Modify Program proposal through
CurricUNET, after which it will go through Technical Review. Once
passed through Technical Review, these proposals will continue on for
approval and Curriculum Committee review.
Once passed by the Curriculum Committee, the revised program will be
published in the online catalog, and will appear in the following
year’s printed catalog. Departments wishing to revise majors should be
mindful of the catalog publication deadlines.
Please note that if a department revises the course number or title
of one or more courses in a major, that these changes will propagate
automatically to the text in the major. If a course is revised and the
number of units change, the total units for the major will be updated.
No separate Curriculum Committee action is required for these changes
to take place.
Departments should take care when deleting courses that are included in a major. The deleted course will be removed from the set of required courses for the major and reduce the number of units in the major. Adding a replacement course requires submission of a revised copy of the major.
Departments wishing to make significant changes to a major – adding a new option, changing the focus of the major, etc. – should consult with the Associate Vice Chancellor of Instruction or Curriculum Committee chair before proceeding. Significant changes may necessitate the submission of a major as new.
Departments wishing to delete a major can do so by submitting a Delete Program proposal through CurricUNET. Deletion of a major will be handled as an informational agenda item by the Curriculum Committee.