Chapter 4: Majors



4.1 Overview

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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 the catalog.

All majors must be updated every six years at minimum (or they will be deactivated and removed from the catalog).
(See Curriculum Committee resolutions for details.) 

4.2 Creating a New Major

4.2.1 Considerations

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Learning Outcomes

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.
  • Learning outcomes should be level-appropriate. Since majors are for the Associate Degree, use primarily Cognitive Verbs from Bloom’s Taxonomy (see SLO Handbook).
  • Learning outcomes should be outcomes. Avoid phrases like “develop” or “learn”; again, use verbs from Bloom’s Taxonomy.

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 identifies 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 campuses.
  • 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.
  • The names, titles, and affiliations of members, and minutes of key meetings with the Advisory Committee for the department/program.

The above information and other details are spelled out in the Required Supplemental Program Documents Manual posted on the Curriculum Committee’s website. These documents provide justification for all programs,and are required for submission of the program to the State of California. Except for Associate Degrees for Transfer, a “Narrative” document is required for all programs.  Additional documentation may be required for different types of programs.


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. Departments are encouraged to meet with the Associate Vice Chancellor, Enrollment Management & Instructional Support or Curriculum Committee Chair or designee early in the process to review the applicable paperwork. Draft versions of most of the paperwork must be submitted with the program outline, since these detail the research and considerations that went into developing the program.  Completed applications that have been accepted at the State Chancellor’s office are available in the Required Supplemental Program Documents Manual posted on the Curriculum Committee’s website.  Also refer to the State Chancellor's Office  Program and Course Approval Handbook


4.2.2 Curriculum Committee Approval

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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 elective courses, with units
  • Total number of units
  • Minimum time to completion
    • Use this statement, substituting the appropriate number of semesters for the “X”: “The minimum time for completion is X semesters. Completion time will vary based on student preparation and number of units completed per semester."

The following example demonstrates different ways in which you can choose to group program requirements (courses and non-course requirements or electives):

Sample Photography Major
Sample Film AAT

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 elective courses for the major. Do not use phrases like “or equivalent course.” Instead, list any course options explicitly. 
  • 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 Curriculum Committee Requisites Coordinator and/or Matriculation Office before proceeding.
  • 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 or program is acceptable, and describe the conversation in CurricuNET with contact details (names, dates, method of contact such as phone, email, face-to-face meeting).


Program blocks

Use block titles that match current practice. Examples:

  • Required courses:
  • Choose 2 of the following programming courses:
  • Choose 6 units from the following electives:
  • Recommended additional coursework (*avoid using if possible, since students may confuse these with a list of electives from which one or more courses must be taken*)

Avoid pulling “In Review” classes into programs. Pull in only the “Active” or “Approved” classes. If the intention is to put through a new course or revision in tandem with a program revision, communicate with the Chair of the Curriculum Committee to discuss the timing of the course and program approval – course outlines must be approved before the program outline can be approved.

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.

  • Use verbs that indicate critical thinking. Examples are in the SLO Handbook.
  • Ensure that PSLOs are assessable
  • Ensure each PSLO has at least one course mapped to it
  • Ensure all required and elective courses in the program map to at least one PSLO (*DO NOT MAP RECOMMENDED COURSES, only required courses or course electives*)
  • Map PSLOs as appropriate to college ILOs. (At minimum, you should have at least one mapping.)
  • Don’t include SLOs that relate to “meeting” exit requirements or “prepared for exam” or “ready to transfer,” as these are not LEARNING outcomes.
  • Review Outcome Report to ensure all your mappings are completed.

Originator and Dates

Approval Date is entered by the Curriculum Committee upon approval.

The Originator is the individual whose CurricUNET account is used to start and complete the Distance Education Addendum proposal. Faculty members can submit proposals only for subjects within their department.

Review the official CurricUNET approval process to learn more.

Technical Review

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 each program block, and for the entire major, making sure they’ve been summed accurately


Supplemental Approval Information

Supplemental  documents are submitted in draft form when the program outline is created. These documents are essential to smooth approval by the State Chancellor’s Office. The Supplemental approval information documents vary 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

Labor market need and recommendations from the department’s advisory committee are important documents for career technical degrees.

All CTE programs also will be asked for information such as the following:

  • Enrollment and Completer Projections
  • Similar Programs at Other Community Colleges in the Area

For more information department faculty should read the Required Supplemental Program Documents Manual posted on the Curriculum Committee’s website. Further information may be available from the Associate Vice Chancellor, Enrollment Management & Instructional Support. Also refer to the State Chancellor's Office Program and Course Approval Handbook


4.2.3 Post-Curriculum Committee

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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 be editing the documents submitted to the Curriculum Committee along with the outline in CurricUNETin order to align them with any changes that resulted from the Committee approval process. Departments will work with the Chair of the Curriculum Committee and the Associate Vice Chancellor, Enrollment Management & Instructional Support on this process. 


Publication in the Catalog

Once a major has been approved by the Curriculum Committee, Board of Trustees, and State Chancellor’s office, the major will appear in the online catalog based on the approved effective date, and in the next printed version of the catalog. 


4.3 Revising a Major

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Once a major has been approved, revisions of the major are typically handled by the Curriculum Committee as informational items, unless there are substantial changes to the program. 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 must be manually updated in each program by the Office of the Associate Vice Chancellor, Enrollment Management & Instructional Support. 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. Deleting an elective does not usually affect the program units significantly and can be updated in the same way as course number or title changes.  Deleting a required course will cause the program to be removed from catalog unless a program revision is submitted to the Curriculum Committee.  Adding a course to a program also 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, Enrollment Management & Instructional Support or Curriculum Committee Chair before proceeding. Significant changes may necessitate the submission of a major as new.


4.4 Deleting a Major

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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.