Rules and Policies Related to Majors

This page presents rules and policies related to majors in Weinberg College. A separate page presents rules and policies for minors.

"Related courses" in the major

Some rules below refer to "related courses" in the major. Many majors in Weinberg College require the completion of a certain number of "related courses" outside the major department or program. For some majors these related courses must be chosen from a list of eligible courses. For some they must be chosen from particular categories. For others, the choice is more open, but must be approved by the major adviser. Information on related course requirements for each major in Weinberg College is available in the Undergraduate Catalog and from the departments and programs.

Grades in major courses

You must earn a grade of at least C- in all courses you count toward your major, including related courses. No work passed with a grade of D or P may be used to fulfill a major requirement.

What if you decide to do a major in which you have already taken a course P/N and have earned a grade of P? You can petition for permission to count this course toward your major. To do this, consult your major adviser as soon as possible.

Total number of majors plus minors

A student’s total number of majors plus minors may not typically exceed three. (This is called the "Rule of Three.") Exceptions require permission from the Weinberg College Advising Office and cannot be granted during the freshman year. A sophomore, junior, or senior considering exceeding this limit should meet with his or her College Adviser to discuss options and procedures.

Double counting major courses toward the distribution requirements

You may double count a course toward your major and toward the distribution requirements. For example, if you take Phil 150-Elementary Logic I to fulfill your Formal Studies requirement and then go on to become a Philosophy major, the course will count toward both sets of requirements. The course, however, will earn you only one unit of credit, not two, toward the total number of courses you need for graduation.

Double counting major courses toward a second major or a minor

You may not double count a major course toward a second major or a minor, with three exceptions:

  • First, the requirements for some majors include "related courses." Courses used as related courses for one major may also count toward the department/program or related courses for a second major or toward the requirements for a minor.
  • Second, some interdisciplinary majors and adjunct majors have special double counting rules. See the Undergraduate Catalog or your adviser for your interdisciplinary or adjunct major for details.
  • Third, some interdisciplinary minors also allow double-counting. That is, a limited number of courses counted toward these minors may also be counted toward requirements for your major(s). Again, see the Undergraduate Catalog or the adviser for your minor for details.

For additional information, you can also consult the webpage on double counting rules.

Modification of major requirements

The standard requirements for each major require the approval of the Weinberg College Curricular Review Committee, and department representatives are instructed to authorize waivers and substitutions only in very unusual situations.

Occasionally, modifications are made in the major requirements of individual students. For example, if you cannot take a required course for your major due to scheduling constraints, but you have taken a closely related course at the same or higher level, the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) for your major can give you permission to substitute the course that was taken for the required course. To do this, you must consult your DUS as soon as possible.

Changes to major requirements in the Undergraduate Catalog

Departments and programs periodically change the requirements for their majors and/or minors. College guidelines stipulate that students can follow any set of requirements in effect during their undergraduate years. For example, if you entered Northwestern in 2010 and the requirements for your major changed in 2011, you can choose to follow the requirements from the 2010 Undergraduate Catalog, or from the revised version that went into effect in 2011—but you can’t pick and choose the requirements you like best from each. (If you are completing two majors, you may choose to follow different Undergraduate Catalogs for the different majors.)