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 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 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.
  • Survey of prospective employers.
  • If there’s an advisory committee, the names of members and minutes of key meetings with the committee.


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 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. 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 optional courses, with units
  • Total number of units
  • Minimum time to completion
    Example: “Assuming students start this AA or AS with transfer‐level math and English eligibility, the minimum time for completion is 4 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 optional 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 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 is acceptable, and describe the conversation in CurricuNET.


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*)

Avoid pulling “In Review” classes into programs. Pull in only the “Active” or “Approved” classes.   

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. 
  • 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 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 similar.

Departments proposing a new major that have a previously-approved certificate or major should develop documentation that addresses the following areas:

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

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
  • Similar Programs at Other Community Colleges in the Area
  • Labor Market Need
  • List of Members of Advisory Committee
  • Recommendations of Advisory Committee

For more information departments should consult with the Associate Vice Chancellor for Instruction. 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 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.  


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. 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.


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.