Requirements for Major and Minor

The professional schools and the departments of the College of Arts and Sciences may designate specific courses for majors or minors or both, and may prescribe certain lower-division prerequisites.

Core Curriculum

Forty to 50 percent of the courses needed for the bachelor’s degree are in the area of the core curriculum (CC). These are in academic areas considered by the faculty to be indispensable to a liberal education, and therefore not to be left wholly to student election. The student must demonstrate competency in fundamental academic skills and must fulfill distribution requirements in the major areas of knowledge. 


Twenty-five to thirty percent of the courses a student takes are designed to fulfill the major concentration requirements. The faculties of the various departments have prescribed these courses to insure that each student will do intensive work in one special area (the “major”) so as to gain a useful command of its facts, interpretations, insights, and methods. Such concentration requirements are usually met in the junior and senior years, although certain preparatory courses are commonly taken earlier.

Students exceptionally well qualified may fulfill the requirements of a double major. Students are permitted the counting of upper-division courses to more than one major. Departments retain the option of restricting students from double-counting departmental courses to separate majors offered by that department. Double counting of courses toward two majors is not permitted for interdisciplinary majors (e.g., Ethnic Studies, Environmental Studies, Interdisciplinary Humanities, International Relations and Liberal Studies).

The College of Arts and Sciences requires that a minimum of 50 percent of upper division work in a major must be taken at USD. Engineering programs require that a minimum of 24 units of upper division engineering classes be taken at USD.

Those intending to pursue graduate studies are advised to familiarize themselves with the requirements of the graduate school of their choice.

Undergraduate students who are readmitted to USD must complete the degree requirements in place at the time of their readmission. However, students originally admitted prior to fall 2017 and readmitted fall 2017 or later who have substantially completed the core requirements in the undergraduate course catalog under which they were declared prior to the break in attendance, may petition their dean's office to allow them to complete the degree requirements in the catalog under which they were previously declared.


The student may specialize to a lesser extent in another area (the “minor”) ordinarily related to the area of primary interest. The minor is optional, although most departments urge their students to earn credit in such a concentration. Courses in the minor may not be counted toward the major, but may be used to satisfy preparation for the major and core curriculum requirements.


The remaining courses which students take are electives and may or may not be in areas related to the major subject. Electives allow students to choose courses either to satisfy their intellectual curiosity or to enlighten themselves in areas largely unfamiliar to them.

Faculty Advisor Program and Preceptorials

In order to assist students in maximizing their collegiate experience, an academic advising program exists that specifically suits the needs of the USD community. The program is consistent with the university’s desire to foster a supportive, interactive environment that regards all students as individuals. In academic advising, each student works individually with an advisor both on procedures for completion of the degree and on development of the skills needed to make informed decisions. Therefore, advisors assist with information about academic policies, course selection, class reservation and registration procedures, and graduation requirements, as well as facilitating decision making about educational goals, alternatives, and career needs. This program initially involves faculty advisors for incoming freshmen in a small class called the preceptorial. The preceptorial class provides an opportunity for first semester freshmen to meet with their faculty advisor frequently to exchange thoughts on the student’s intellectual and academic progress.

After the first year, all students who have declared their majors are assigned to a faculty member in that discipline. Advisors in the major can offer the depth of knowledge about their field needed to crystallize ideas about internships, independent study courses, application to graduate or professional schools and career opportunities.

Transfer students often arrive at USD with intentions to major in a given area, and are therefore assigned advisors in that major. For transfer students who have not decided upon a major, advising will be done for a period of time by the academic deans in the College of Arts and Sciences, Founders Hall, Room 114. Prior to their first semester, they meet with a dean to initiate the advising process and to register for their classes. All students need to declare their major on a Declaration of Major form, which is available in the Registrar’s Office, Founders Hall, Room 113.

Junior and senior students who have not yet declared a major are advised by the Dean’s Office of the College of Arts and Sciences. Appointments can be arranged. The hours of operation are Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. The telephone number is (619) 260-4545.

Faculty advisors and students can consult the Counseling Center, Serra Hall, Room 300, and Career Services, Hughes Administration Center, Room 110, for interest assessment, major and career planning, special workshops, and other related services.

All advisors are available to students on a regular basis for assistance; however, each student is ultimately responsible for initiating advising meetings and for his or her academic progress.