Skip to main content

Advising Handbook

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
  • 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. Students majoring in engineering, optics, or computer science only need to complete 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 advisor for details.

Nothing precludes a student from completing a second major or a minor in the area of the first major.

There are over 250 authorized clusters. To learn more about available clusters, visit the cluster search engine.

Below is more information about clusters, including:


Transcripts

Your transcript will show every official major, minor, and cluster taken at the University.

Top ↑


Cluster Composition

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 the schedule of courses page to determine “parent” (P) section.

Upper-level writing courses can count toward clusters as well as toward the writing requirement in the major but are still subject to cluster overlap rules. WRT/CAS 105 or 105E cannot be used in a cluster, nor may a course that has been approved as a substitute.

AP/IB Credit

Course credit granted through the Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) programs cannot be used toward any cluster. Departmental cluster exceptions that include an AP course will not be approved.

Transfer/Study Abroad Courses

Transfer students should refer to their Transfer Credit Information Forms or consult with an advisor in the College Center for Advising Services (CCAS) to determine how many clusters they need to complete. Transferred courses cannot be applied to clusters.

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 must 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 should check first with the authorized person in the department of the cluster. If the department agrees, then students must 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.

Top ↑


Creating/Adapting Clusters

Students who want to create a unique cluster (composed of at least two courses from a single department) should talk to the undergraduate advisor 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 want to design their own interdisciplinary cluster (composed of courses from three different departments) can apply to the Committee on Individualized Interdepartmental Programs in Lattimore 203 by submitting an Interdisciplinary Cluster Proposal Form. They need to have the endorsement of two faculty members and discuss their proposal with an advisor in the Multidisciplinary Studies Center.

Top ↑


Overlap

Students can only use one course from a cluster that also satisfies a major or minor requirement. At least two of the courses must be unique to the cluster.

Students cannot use the same course to fulfill the requirements of two different clusters.

Students can only have one major, minor, or cluster from any single department or program to satisfy the distribution requirement. For example, a student who majors in philosophy and is using the philosophy major to satisfy the humanities requirement is not allowed to use the natural science cluster in philosophy to satisfy the natural science requirement.

Top ↑


Additional Clusters

Beginning in 2017, enrolled undergraduates have the option of declaring additional clusters. These clusters are beyond those used to meet the distributional requirements of the Rochester Curriculum. Additional clusters encourage students to explore new areas and pursue them in some depth. These clusters will appear on the transcript.

The following policies will apply:

  • Students must choose among listed existing clusters. No course substitutions will be permitted.
  • Additional clusters can be in the same division as the student's declared major.
  • Undergraduate students can list no more than two additional clusters on their transcripts.
  • The additional cluster(s) must be completed with a minimum average grade point average of “C” or higher before they can be declared by the student.
  • Additional clusters have special, more stringent, overlap rules. Additional clusters can:
    • Overlap by no more than one course with the requirements of a student's major or minor, including associated prerequisite, allied field, ancillary, and foundational courses
    • Have no course overlap with any other clusters, including those used to satisfy distributional requirements and other additional clusters
  • Students who choose to declare additional clusters, are expected to submit the Additional Cluster Declaration Form no later than the end of the semester prior to graduation. For seniors graduating in May, the deadline is the end of the fall semester of senior year.

Top ↑


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. Note: Students in accredited engineering programs complete one fewer cluster than is stated below.

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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
Top ↑