Although it is no secret that UCSB offers majors such as English and engineering, it is easy to be oblivious of the more obscure fields offered on campus.
Many traditional majors at UCSB such as biology are commonly separated into subdivisions by emphasis. For example, students majoring in ecology and evolution, aquatic biology, physiology and zoology — which each had less than 50 students enrolled as of Spring 2010 — are actually considered pre-biology majors by the school until they reach upper-division standing. This explains why last year there were 1,668 students in pre-biology, while only 393 students were declared biology majors, according to undergraduate academic adviser Pam Bayer.
“You really can’t look at the name of the major and decide that’s what you want to do,” Bayer said. “That’s why we have the pre-major for the first two years.”
Bayer said these specialized majors tend to be selected by students who intend to enroll in graduate school or some other pre-professional program. Often times, biology majors such as zoology tend to either continue on to graduate school or immediately join the medical field.
Medieval Studies is another well-kept secret at UCSB.
According to Edward English, executive director of the Medieval Studies Program, there are rarely more than five or six students in the major, most of who tend to be double majors. English said students majoring in Medieval Studies dabble in a variety of fields and almost always pursue master’s and Ph.Ds.
“We encourage Medieval Studies majors to take courses from a variety of different departments,” English said. “It is a good basis for graduate school because it shows that students are versatile and can take classes in different languages.”
Students struggling to find a major to fit their interests are able to design a general interdisciplinary study. Interdisciplinary studies, according to the UCSB website, is a program that allows students to build their own major by selecting classes from at least three departments in the College of Letters and Science.
Mina Melosh, a first-year undeclared major, is considering interdisciplinary studies and said the option appeals to her as a way to create a makeshift nutrition major.
“I was planning on declaring biology, but the biology department requires many classes that are unnecessary for what I want to study,” Melosh said. “With interdisciplinary studies I could select those classes which are more relevant to nutritional science.”