The primary purpose of the major is to encourage each student to explore a subject area in considerable depth. This in-depth study complements the breadth of study promoted by the General Education Requirements and, in many cases, by a student's choice of electives. Work in depth permits practice in critical analysis and the solving of problems. Because of its depth, such study also provides a sense of how knowledge grows and is shaped by time and circumstances.
The structure of a major should be a coherent reflection of the logic of the discipline it represents. Ideally, the student should be introduced to the subject area through a course providing a general overview, and upper-division courses should build upon lower-division courses. The course of study should, if feasible, give the student the opportunity and responsibility of doing original, creative work in the major subject. Benefits of the major program are greatest when it includes a culminating and synthesizing experience such as a senior seminar, an undergraduate thesis, or a senior project.