The Organizing Theme Major

The Organizing Theme Major requirements are described in the Academic Register here.

Major Description (Academic Register)

The Organizing Theme Major is best suited for the self-motivated student who has a well-defined intellectual curiosity for a topic involving multiple disciplines and which cannot be accommodated by the already existing majors, double majors, or interdepartmental majors at Union College. The Organizing Theme Major encourages the exploration of thematically related connections across disciplines, and therefore must incorporate courses from at least three different departments, with no more than four courses from any one department to count toward the major. The student must choose and work with an advisor (or advisors) who is supportive of the student’s proposed Organizing Theme Major and has a clear understanding of what the project entails.

Application Process

The Organizing Theme Major proposal requires the approval of the chosen Organizing Theme advisor(s) and then a faculty committee established by the Dean of Studies. It may be proposed no sooner than the spring term of the freshman year and no later than the sixth week of the spring term sophomore year (in extremely rare cases, this deadline may be extended to the beginning of junior year).

To propose an Organizing Theme Major, students complete the Organizing Theme Application Form. The Organizing Theme Major proposal must be prepared with the guidance, input and approval of the Organizing Theme Major advisor(s) you have chosen to work with before it is submitted using the online form.

The Organizing Theme Major Committee will review the proposal and if necessary, suggest revisions for the student to make in consultation with the advisor(s).

If no revisions are required, the Organizing Theme Major Committee will consider the proposal for final approval. If revisions are required, the student along with the advisor(s) will make them, submitting a revised application form.

The committee reviews and officially approves the proposal, and gives it to the Dean of Studies who forwards it to the Registrar. The student then completes a Declaration of Major form and submits it to the Registrar. If all the paperwork in is order, the Registrar lists the student’s major as Organizing Theme.

Please note that this process often takes a month or more.

Organizing Theme Committee Procedures and Timeline

Procedures:

Initial proposals must be submitted by the end of week 3 of the term when they are to be reviewed, no later than spring term of a student’s sophomore year. Proposals will be reviewed by the Organizing Theme Committee in Week 5 and students will be notified of the committee’s decision. The committee may choose to 1) accept the proposal, 2) accept the proposal with revisions, 3) decline the proposal with the option to resubmit, or 4) decline the proposal without the possibility of resubmission. In the case of proposals that are accepted with revisions, revisions must be submitted to the committee chair no later than the end of week 7. Failure to return revisions by the end of week 7 may result in the proposal having to go through another review the following term.

If the proposal is declined with the option to resubmit, the proposal must be resubmitted no later than end of week 3 of the following term. After a 2nd declined attempt, students may ask for a meeting with the committee and their advisor(s) during weeks 8-10 of the term when they receive the 2nd rejection. Students who are not approved twice are strongly encouraged to seek another path for completing their major requirements. Students who are not approved by the end of their junior year may not resubmit their proposals.

Timeline:

  • Initial proposals must be submitted no later than spring term of sophomore year
    • Week 3: Proposal deadline
    • Week 5: Proposal review and committee decision
    • Week 7: Deadline for return of revisions to proposals accepted pending revisions
    • Week 8-10: Appeals meetings (if required and requested by the student and advisor after the second rejection of the proposal)
  • Students who do not receive final approval by end of junior year must find an alternate route for completing their major requirements

Changes to an Approved Organizing Theme Major

Any proposed changes to an approved Organizing Theme Major must be approved by the Organizing Theme Major advisor, then by the Organizing Theme Committee.  For a revised proposal, use the same online form and be sure to explain the reason for the changes.

If you have any questions or need further information, please contact the Dean of Studies, at deanofstudies+otm@union.edu.

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