Liberal education seeks to develop the student’s awareness and understanding of the individual and of the world’s physical and social environments. If one essential object in the design of education at Amherst is breadth of understanding, another purpose, equally important, is mastery of one or more areas of knowledge in depth. Students are required to concentrate their studies—to select and pursue a major—in order to deepen their understanding: to gain specific knowledge of a field and its special concerns, and to master and appreciate the skills needed in that disciplined effort.
A major normally consists of at least eight courses pursued under the direction of a department or special group. A major may begin in either the first or second year and must be declared by the end of the second year. Students may change their majors at any time, provided that they will be able to complete the new program before graduation.