Clusters

Clusters are authorized sets of related courses. Each Cluster requires at least 12 credits, and each falls within one of the three academic divisions: Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences and Engineering. Students are expected to complete a formal set of courses—a major, a minor, or a Cluster—in each of these three divisions, with an average grade of C or better. There are over 250 authorized Clusters.

Note the following:

  • The transcript will show every official major and every official minor, but no more than one Cluster in each of the divisions outside the division of the major, assuming that a minor or a second major is not completed in these divisions.
  • Students who complete one of the professionally accredited Engineering majors (i.e., Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering) and Optics need to complete only one Cluster outside the area of the major. These students may still need to complete additional humanities and/or social science courses and should consult their departmental adviser for details.
  • Every Cluster, as specified in the Cluster Search Engine or through an authorized exception, contains at least two courses that are from the same division as the Cluster. Cross-listed courses are categorized according to the distribution area of the “parent” section. (See Schedule of Courses on the Web to determine “parent” (P) section.)
  • Nothing precludes a student from completing a second major or a minor in the area of the first major.
  • Certain certificate programs are authorized Clusters. See the Cluster Search Engine for details.
  • Upper-level writing courses may count toward Clusters as well as toward the writing requirement in the major (but see next policy).
  • Students are permitted to use no more than one course from a Cluster toward a major or minor that is used to satisfy a divisional requirement, i.e. at least two of the courses must be unique to the Cluster.
  • WRT/CAS 105 or 105E may not be used in a Cluster, nor may a course that has been approved as a substitute.
  • Students are not permitted to use the same course to fulfill the requirements of two different Clusters.
  • Students are permitted to satisfy only one distributional area by offerings from any single department or program. (As an example, consider that a Philosophy major is considered to be within the Humanities. That Department offers many Clusters, one of which is situated in the Natural Sciences. A student who majors in Philosophy is not permitted also to complete the Natural Science Cluster in Philosophy.)
  • Course credit granted through the Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate program, unless specified as acceptable in the Cluster description, may not be used toward any Cluster. Departmental cluster exceptions that include an AP course will not be approved.
  • Normally, only courses taken at the University of Rochester can be used to fulfill cluster requirements. However, courses completed on any Study Abroad program may, with the consent of the department offering the cluster, be used in a cluster. Students submit a "Proposal for Exception to Departmental Cluster," signed by the authorized person in the department, to CCAS in Lattimore 312.  Other courses taken elsewhere may, on occasion, be used in clusters. Students check first with the authorized person in the department of the cluster. If the department agrees, then students submit a “Proposal for Exception to Departmental Cluster,” signed by the authorized person in the department, along with a petition to the Administrative Committee asking permission for this exception to the College rules, to CCAS in Lattimore 312.
  • Transfer students should refer to their Transfer Credit Information Forms or consult with an adviser in the Center for Advising Services to determine how many Clusters they need to complete. Transferred courses cannot be applied to Clusters.

Students who want a Cluster that is different from any that is authorized, but is composed of courses at least two of which come from a single department, should talk to the undergraduate adviser in that department. The department may propose a new Cluster for submission to the Curriculum Committee, or endorse a unique modification of an existing Cluster for an individual student. The form called “Proposal for Exception to Departmental Cluster” is submitted to Lattimore 312 in the latter case for review by the Curriculum Committee.

Students who wish to design their own interdisciplinary cluster, composed of courses from three different departments, may apply to the Committee on Individualized Interdepartmental Programs in Dewey 2-147. They need to have the endorsement of two faculty members, and should be encouraged to discuss their proposal with an adviser in that office.

Students and advisers will find use of the Cluster Search Engine a helpful tool. This database is searchable by course (e.g., FR 101), by division or department (e.g., Social Sciences, ANT), and by concept (e.g., cognition). Every authorized Cluster appears here, with a brief description as well as precise requirements for its completion. Course numbers are linked to the course descriptions submitted by the departments. See www.rochester.edu/college/CCAS/students/curriculum/clusters.html.

Transfer Students

Students who transfer to the University of Rochester are encouraged to complete the entire Rochester Curriculum. However, knowing that time constraints and requirements for the major may make this difficult for some, the faculty has authorized certain exceptions. Keeping in mind that students in accredited engineering programs complete one fewer Cluster than is stated below, here are the guidelines:

Students entering as sophomores:

  • who have received credit for at least two courses in each of the divisions outside the area of the major are required to complete one Cluster in either one of the remaining divisions;
  • who have received credit for at least two courses in only one of the divisions outside the area of the major are required to complete one Cluster in the remaining division;
  • who have not received credit for at least two courses in either of the divisions outside the area of the major are required to complete a Cluster in both divisions.

Students entering as juniors (or with at least 56 credit hours and four semesters of transfer work):

  • who have received credit for at least two courses in both of the divisions outside the area of the major are not required to complete any Clusters;
  • who have received credit for at least two courses in one of the divisions outside the area of the major are required to complete one Cluster in the other division;
  • who have not received credit for at least two courses in either of the divisions outside the area of the major are required to complete a Cluster in both divisions.
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