Study options

Double major

A double major at Reed College means two things: two distinct theses and one degree (one diploma). A student must obtain the support of the advisers, the departments, and the division(s) involved, who must be convinced that a double major is a better solution than an interdisciplinary or departmental major. All degree requirements must be fulfilled for a separate major in each department. The work should be completed in no more than four years, or if petitioned for in advance, in five years. The separate requirements of the two majors may be completed either in parallel or sequentially. If a student chooses to graduate after completing only one major, and completes the second major later, the transcript will show graduation with one major, and subsequent completion of a second major.

For students completing a double major, the six-unit senior load requirement will be interpreted to mean that during the two, three, or four semesters in which thesis work is under way, an average of three units per semester must be earned with at least one unit of non-thesis work each semester.

Students interested in double majors should consult their adviser and the registrar.

Dual degree programs

In order to offer a broad selection of majors, Reed has affiliated with a number of cooperating institutions where students may undertake a program that will allow them to graduate with degrees from two institutions.

By arrangement with the Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment, students may obtain a bachelor of arts degree from Reed and a professional master's degree in either environmental management or forestry from Duke.

The engineering programs in conjunction with Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) allow students to graduate with bachelor's degrees from both Reed and the cooperating institution.

The computer science program with the University of Washington allows students to obtain a bachelor of arts degree from Reed and a bachelor of science degree from the University.

A variety of exchange programs and summer internships are available in the visual arts, including a joint five-year program with the Pacific Northwest College of Art.

Students in dual degree programs are required to pass a Reed junior qualifying exam. Many are required to maintain a certain grade point average as well and take the Graduate Record Examination during their junior year.

Special registration forms and information are available from the program coordinator for each program. Students interested in these programs should consult with the appropriate Reed coordinator early in their program. For combined engineering and computer science programs, see Johnny Powell; for the forestry program, see Keith Karoly; and for the art program, see Michael Knutson. More detailed information on these programs is available in the catalog and in the Faculty Code.

Interdisciplinary major

There are 12 regular interdisciplinary majors that students may select as an alternative to a departmental major:

American studies
Biochemistry and molecular biology
Environmental studies
General literature
International and comparative policy studies (ICPS)
Religion and Ancient Mediterranean studies

Each links two or more compatible fields of study. The requirements for each are listed in the catalog. Each major has a standing committee drawn from the faculty of the departments involved. These committees supervise the upperclass work of the students, administer and evaluate the junior qualifying examination and the senior oral examination, and recommend candidates for degrees. Students may apply to pursue an interdisciplinary major by completing a declaration of major form in consultation with the faculty in the departments. The consent of the appropriate interdisciplinary or interdivisional committee is required.

Students interested in one of these programs should speak with one of the faculty members on the appropriate committee.

Interdisciplinary - ad hoc majors

In addition to interdisciplinary major programs represented by standing committees, special programs involving substantial work in more than one department may be drawn up as ad hoc interdisciplinary majors, with the approval of the departments and division(s) involved.

By the beginning of the junior year, students wishing to pursue an ad hoc major must obtain the consent of two faculty members, one in each of the disciplines, to serve as advisers; the advisers and departments involved must agree that the proposed program is academically valid and would not be better handled with one of the established majors. Within two weeks of the student's registration as a junior, the advisers shall inform the student and the registrar's office in writing that the program for which the student has registered meets the guidelines for this ad hoc major.

The departments involved are responsible for monitoring the student's progress toward the completion of the planned program. Appropriate arrangements for the junior qualifying examination and senior oral examination are the responsibility of the departments and those designated advisers involved in the ad hoc program. For those ad hoc interdisciplinary majors whose departments are in different divisions, the Administration Committee will review academic performance and recommend students for the degree. For those majors whose departments are in one division, the appropriate division shall have these responsibilities.

Independent study

Independent study gives the student an opportunity to work closely with an instructor on a subject not currently offered at the college. It is ordinarily limited to juniors and seniors, and up to four units of independent study may be applied to the degree; usually no more than one unit per semester will be approved. Independent study courses may not be used to fulfill any group distribution requirements.

Students registering for an independent study course must receive the approval of the instructor. The division must then review and approve any independent study proposal before registration can be completed.

Off-campus study

Students interested in off-campus study are encouraged to discuss their plans with their adviser and/or other appropriate faculty members as early as possible so as to integrate off-campus study into their education at Reed. Sample study plans for each major list degree requirements and suggest the best time for off-campus study. These can be found at International Programs.

The faculty has approved more than 40 domestic and international programs/institutions that may complement the academic program at Reed while providing immersion in different cultures and, for some, intensive language study. Detailed information, including course descriptions for each of these programs, can be found at International Programs. Students interested in independently arranged programs should follow the same protocol with regard to planning and faculty advising. In addition they should meet with the registrar to discuss the process of credit transfer. Questions about particular programs, faculty-approved or independently arranged, should be discussed with the Director of International Programs.

(Page last modified: November 29, 2023)