The Canon of College Majors Persists Amid Calls for Change

5 Emerging Majors Reflect Top Social Issues 4

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The fields students major in have been remarkably constant over the years, but new disciplines are on the rise. One is sustainability, in which some 70 colleges now offer academic programs.

According to lore, the academic terms "major" and "minor" first appeared in 1877, in a Johns Hopkins University course catalog. By the middle of the 20th century, the specialized major had become standard practice at almost every American college. Sophomore year: Agonized conversations with parents, and then the declaration of a major. Junior and senior years: Upper-level course work. Graduation day: A diploma that certified your skills in psychology, or physics, or, as the old joke goes,