May 28, 2024  
College Catalog 2021-2022 
College Catalog 2021-2022 [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 
Classical Mediterranean and Middle East 
Computer Science 
Dance  (minor only)
Data Science  
Performance Design and Technologies Minor  (minor only)
Educational Studies 
Environmental Studies 
French and Francophone Studies  
German Studies 
Individually Designed Interdepartmental Major  (major only)
International Studies  (major only)
Japanese Language and Culture 
Latin American Studies  
Media and Cultural Studies  (major only)
Media Studies  (minor only)
Political Science  
Portuguese   (minor only)
Religious Studies 
Russian Studies 
Theater  (minor only)
Theater and Dance  
Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies  

Interdepartmental Concentrations

African Studies 
Community and Global Health 
Cognitive Science  
Critical Theory 
Food, Agriculture, and Society  
Human Rights and Humanitarianism 
International Development 
Legal Studies 
Middle Eastern Studies and Islamic Civilization 
Urban Studies  

Interdepartmental Programs

Pre-Law Program 
Pre-Med Program  

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 and department chair 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 time of registration. 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. 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. Embedded in Career Exploration, Academic Internships 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 and career 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, to explore career interests and form influential 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 600-level credits may be counted toward graduation.  This includes: tutorials (601-604), independent study projects (611-614), internships (621-624), preceptorships (631-634) and honors independents (641-644).
  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 that 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.
  8. Students may not earn more than four credits for an internship at a host site doing a single defined job function.  Earning additional credit at the same site would require the student to move into a substantially different role that involves new work and learning challenges.  Exceptions must be approved by the faculty sponsor and the Director of Academic Internships.


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).