Jul 21, 2024  
College Catalog 2014-2015 
College Catalog 2014-2015 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

The Curriculum

Majors and Minors

Macalester College offers programs leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree with majors and minors (except as noted) in the following fields:

American Studies 
Art and Art History 
Asian Studies 
Chinese Language and Culture 
Computer Science 
Dance  (minor only)
Educational Studies 
Environmental Studies 
German Studies 
Hispanic Studies 
Media and Cultural Studies  (major only)
Individually Designed Interdepartmental Major  (major only)
International Studies  (major only)
Japanese Language and Culture 
Latin American Studies Major  (major only)
Media Studies  (minor only)
Neuroscience Studies  (major only)
Political Science 
Religious Studies 
Russian Studies 
Statistics  (minor only)
Theatre and Dance  (major only)
Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 

Interdepartmental Concentrations

African Studies 
Community and Global Health 
Critical Theory 
Human Rights and Humanitarianism 
International Development 
Legal Studies 
Middle Eastern Studies and Islamic Civilization 
Urban Studies 

Interdepartmental Programs

Pre-Law Program 
Pre-Med Program 

Cooperative Programs

Liberal Arts and Architecture 
Liberal Arts and Engineering 

Independent Study

One aspect of the individualized learning fostered by Macalester’s curriculum is the opportunity for independent study. This makes it possible for the student to complete a long term project in a one to one relationship with a faculty member. Approval of the supervising instructor is required for registration in any independent study course. Interested students should consult with the appropriate instructor and department to develop the content of the project or study before registration. Titles and descriptions of the work are submitted at the completion of the semester. A student may initiate an independent study to pursue in depth certain aspects of a subject previously studied or to investigate an area of academic interest not covered in a regular course. Students are encouraged to complete an exceptional piece of independent work of intellectual or artistic merit. However, students may not pursue as an independent study a topic that is covered in a regular course or a learning opportunity that meets the criteria of the definition of an internship. Macalester students may not register in a single term for more than 6 semester credits of independent study credit which takes place outside of the Twin Cities area. No more than twenty-four semester credits earned in independent study courses (tutorials, independent projects, internships, preceptorships, honors independents) may be applied toward the number of semester credits required for graduation. Macalester students may not register in a single term for more than six semester credits of independent study credit that takes place outside of the Twin Cities area. An independent project or tutorial which takes place within the Twin Cities area may earn from one to eight semester credits (Educational Policy and Governance Committee approval is required for credit of five or more semester credits). A Twin Cities area internship or a preceptorship may earn no more than four semester credits. The departmental listings indicate which independent studies are available in each department. Independent studies are classified into five categories:


Closely supervised individual (or very small group) study with a faculty member in which a student may explore, by way of readings, short writings, etc., an area of knowledge not available through the regular offerings.

Independent Project

The production of original work (paper, thesis, extended research, art exhibit, musical or dramatic program, etc.).


Macalester recognizes internships as an integral part of its curriculum, enabling students to participate in structured, supervised learning experiences off campus. Part of the Institute for Global Citizenship, the Internship Program is an academic unit designed to serve students who undertake an internship for course credit. Students may engage in internships in a variety of settings which match their academic goals, including nonprofit organizations, government, business, education, and the arts.

The objectives for the Internship Program are:

  1. To provide opportunities for students to examine first-hand knowledge and theories learned in the classroom for their wider impact on society and the world at large.
  2. To provide opportunities for students to evaluate and apply a body of knowledge and methods of inquiry from an academic discipline.
  3. To provide students access to a larger or different “laboratory” of equipment and/or situations not easily obtained or available on campus.
  4. To provide students expanded opportunities for self-directed learning.
  5. To enable students to develop work competencies for specific professions and to explore career interests and form networks.
  6. To provide opportunities for students to develop intellectual and professional partnerships.

Students are advised to refer to the Courses  sections for Course 624 and to consult individually with  faculty members regarding departmental policies governing internships, including grading. The following college policies apply to internships:

  1. Only Macalester departments may offer internships and only if they are listed in the departmental course offerings.
  2. Students are required to complete a learning contract for each separate internship experience and have it reviewed and signed before they can register for an internship.
  3. A maximum of twenty-four credits in courses numbered 604, 614, 624, 634 may be counted toward graduation. Internship credits are included among these courses.
  4. Students with first year status are not permitted to undertake an internship for credit during their first year at Macalester, including January.
  5. Students may not take an internship if they have any incompletes, unless they have the permission of the instructor who assigned the incomplete.
  6. Students on academic probation may not undertake internships.
  7. Students may not register in a single term for more than six semester hours of internship credit which takes place outside of the Twin Cities area, or for more than four semester hours of credit for a single internship in the Twin Cities.


Work in assisting faculty in the planning and teaching of a course, precepting or tutoring. Policies pertaining to preceptorship course credit are:

  1. Credit may not be earned for precepting the same course more than once.
  2. To precept a course, a student must previously have earned credit in that course with a grade of A– or higher or have earned credit with a grade of A– or higher in a course having the course to be precepted as a prerequisite or in a course covering similar material at a more advanced level. Certain departments may have additional prerequisites for registering for preceptorship credit. Students should consult the departmental sections  of the current catalog for this information.
  3. Students may earn no more than four credits for precepting a single course.
  4. Students on academic probation may not serve as a preceptor.
  5. Students must have a declared major in the department or program of the course that they are precepting and must be in their junior or senior year.
  6. The Learning Objectives detailed on the Preceptorship Learning Contract must relate to pedagogical issues. That is, the goals of the preceptorship should relate to understanding effective teaching strategies. Examples of learning goals might be:
    • how to respond effectively to student writing;
    • how to construct and deliver an effective lecture;
    • how to facilitate small group discussion.

The Learning Tasks and Evaluation Methods detailed in the Learning Contract must then be specifically tied to these objectives of increased understanding of effective teaching strategies. Students may wish to read pedagogical materials as part of their learning strategies.

A student wishing to register for preceptorship course credit should meet with his/her faculty sponsor to discuss and complete a Preceptorship Learning Contract. Prior to completing registration for this preceptorship, the student should bring the completed Learning Contract to the Academic Programs Office for final approval by the Director of Academic Programs.

Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the Seniors Honors Project.

Topics Courses

Many departments offer topics courses. These courses are designed to accommodate the interests of students and faculty in current issues in the subject area or to offer an experimental course which later may become part of the regular curriculum. They are announced in the class schedule at registration. The titles of some past topics courses are listed with the departmental offerings.

Course Numbering

The following course numbering system was adopted for the College beginning Fall 2003.

001–098: co-curricular courses, such as music lessons and ensembles, physical education activity courses, dance technique courses, or practicum courses in theater, dance or forensics

100–199: courses with no prerequisites or that are introductory in material or approach; appropriate for any student, but particularly first year students

200–299: courses that are intermediate in material and/or approach, with or without prerequisites; ordinarily taken by sophomores or juniors

300–399: courses that are advanced, with specified prerequisites; ordinarily taken by juniors

400–499: courses that are advanced, with specified prerequisites; ordinarily taken by seniors

600–649: independent study courses, such as tutorials, independent projects, internships, or preceptorships

Privacy Rights of Students

Student information, other than public information and a student’s area of concentration, is released only upon the written authorization of the student or former student. Public information is determined by the College in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, and the Macalester College Student Rights, Freedoms, and Responsibilities Document (see the current Student Handbook).