Special Major

Special Major

College of Arts and Sciences
275 Park Hall
North Campus
Buffalo, NY 14261

Phone: 716.645.6883
Fax: 716.645.2893
Web: wings.buffalo.edu/cas/students/special_major

John Riszko
Senior Academic Advisor and Chair, Special Major Committee

About the Program

The Special Major Program was developed to provide capable students with an opportunity to create their own academic major program. Students initiate and develop their own programs under the guidance of two faculty members and an advisor, and then obtain permission from the Special Major Committee.

Although the special major is individualized and created by the student, there are several concentrations or themes that have emerged. Whereas these interdisciplinary themes do not yet correspond to any particular department, there are, nonetheless, impressive curricular and faculty resources to support them. Such concentrations include religious studies, nutrition, criminology, comparative literature, and arts management.

Degree Options

Both BA and BS degrees in special studies may be awarded. BFA degree Special Major concentrations may not be proposed.

The proposed academic program must be unique; that is, the program may not duplicate the major content in any degree-granting academic department, nor may it be designed to avoid the requirements of existing departmental majors. Special majors may be developed with another major as a double major or a double degree.

Special majors in areas that require licensure or professional certification may not be proposed. Additionally, special majors may not suggest that the student is acquiring professional competence as a therapist; for example, major concentrations titled Art Therapy, Psychotherapy, and the like are prohibited.

Most special majors comprise between 36 and 50 credits. The coursework must reflect both breadth and depth in the student's topical area. Faculty mentors chosen to assist the student in the development of the special major must have expertise in the chosen area and must be appointed at least at the assistant professor level in a tenure-track appointment.

The Special Major does not guarantee access into major courses in departments that limit their enrollments to majors only. It is the studentís responsibility to negotiate with the respective departments for those courses which are integral to the proposed major concentration.

Acceptance Information

Students interested in pursuing the special major should define their own major area, submit a statement of intent, find faculty sponsors and consult with them on proposal development, prepare a proposal that structures the major curriculum, and gain approval of the proposal from the Special Major Committee.

Students are urged to submit proposals in their junior year, and no later than a full semester before graduation. Submitting proposals in the last semester of the studentís matriculation or submitting proposals after the completion of all coursework violates the special majorís essential deliberative and consultative nature. The committee is not obliged to consider proposals which are submitted ex post facto. Any proposal submitted in the studentís last semester must be accompanied by a petition explaining the late submission.

Most special majors reflect an inordinately high number of credits in the major. As an academic option within the College of Arts and Sciences, the special major must have a minimum of 36 credits supporting the major concentration. A 2.0 GPA is the minimum GPA for special majors.

A special major student is one who has had the proposal approved by the Special Majors Committee. The committee evaluates proposals that have been submitted on the studentís behalf by the chair of the committee, who is a senior academic adviser in the College of Arts and Sciences Student Advisement Services office in 275 Park Hall. Students interested in this option may consult the special major web site at http://wings.buffalo.edu/cas/students/special_majors, where they may download the application and advisement manual.


Students interested in the Special Major Program should first consult with their academic advisors and the special major advisor, who will familiarize them with the steps necessary to complete the program. These steps include drafting a statement of intent and purpose, selecting mentors, developing a curriculum with mentors, preparing the special major proposal, submitting the proposal to the Special Major Committee, redrafting the proposal if necessary, completing university requirements, and completing the Degree Audit Card. If students have difficulty composing the Statement of Intent, they should ask for help and may want to consult the Writing Place within the Thomas J. Edwards Learning Center (209A Baldy Hall, 716-645-2394, http://tlc.buffalo.edu/lcwrite.htm).

Updated: Apr 12, 2006 11:05:04 AM