UNC Charlotte Academic Policy: Definition of Undergraduate Majors, Minors, Concentrations, and Certificates

I. Executive Summary

This policy defines what is considered an undergraduate major, minor, major concentration, and certificate.  In the development of new -- and revision of existing -- programs, these guidelines provide a framework for each classification.  

II. Policy Statement

A major represents a degree-seeking student's primary field of study.  A major is a structured plan of study requiring a minimum of 30 credit hours.  It must be feasible for students to complete degree requirements within 120 credit hours (except for programs that have applied for and received a waiver to exceed 120 credit hours from the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees).  The major appears on the official transcript.

A minor represents an optional, secondary field of study for a degree-seeking student; no student may declare a major and a minor in the same discipline.  A minor is a structured plan of study requiring a minimum of 15 credit hours and no more than 29 credit hours exclusive of student teaching.  A minor should require significant additional coursework beyond what is already required for a related major.  The minor appears on the official transcript.

A concentration is a structured plan of study within a major.  The number of credit hours for a concentration varies, but is included within the credit hours for the major.  The concentration appears on the official transcript.

An undergraduate certificate is a structured set of professionally oriented courses designed to provide recognition that the student has completed coursework in an applied area of focus.  For degree-seeking students, a certificate program may either complement or be concurrent with a traditional program of study.  The certificate appears on the official transcript.

Note on terminology:  The following terms should not be used: "area of concentration" (just use "concentration"), "track," "option," "specialty," "emphasis," or "focus."

Required coursework:  Requirements may include courses bearing the same code as a major or minor, courses offered by the same department but bearing a different code, or related coursework offered by other departments.

Administration:  Every major, minor, concentration, or certificate must be assigned to a responsible faculty group, most often a department.

III. Definitions

  • Certificate - A structured set of professionally oriented courses in an applied area of focus.
  • Concentration - A structured plan of study within a major.
  • Department – A unit within a college representing a discipline.  For example, the Department of English is in the College of Humanities & Earth and Social Sciences (CHESS). 
  • Major – A student's primary field of study.
  • Minor – A student's optional secondary field of study.

IV. Policy Contact(s)

V. History

  • Approved: April 21, 1983
  • Revised: April 4, 1985
  • Revised: October 24, 2013 [redefined majors, minors, and certificates; created definition of concentration]
  • Revised: November 29, 2018 [120 credit hour standard]

VI. Related Policies, Procedures, and Resources

VII. Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where is this policy referenced?
    The policy is published on the Academic Policies & Procedures webpage of the Provost website and in the Glossary section of the Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogs.
  • Which students are covered under this policy? 
    This policy applies to all undergraduate students at UNC Charlotte.
  • How many credit hours is an undergraduate certificate? 
    Undergraduate certificates are generally between 12-15 credit hours total.
  • How many credit hours is an undergraduate concentration? 
    Undergraduate concentrations are generally between 9-12 credit hours total.