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A major (also known as a major concentration or concentration) is a term for the specific group of courses that give you a basic knowledge of a field of study, which is in addition to your core curriculum. A major is a term most commonly applied to a program of study leading to a bachelor's degree. The music College or School will define a framework for this specialized portion of your studies, including a certain number of required courses and a certain number of "elective" courses relevant to the major. The institution will also define your general education or foundation education requirements. Some majors effectively define your full course of study while others allow you considerable latitude, both within your field of study and in their other courses.
Although many students know what they want to take as their major before entering a university or college, most institutions do not allow you to officially declare your major until your sophmore year so that you experience a broad range of courses that will help you choose the most appropriate major.
Some universities and colleges in the US ask you to list a major choice on your application for admission. If you are interested in a major that requires a lot of classes, or classes that are limited to students in that major you may have to declare earlier than usual. As well, for some majors you will need to take specific courses (pre-requisites) during your first year before you can even be considered eligible for upper level courses. Some theatre majors may have limited enrollment, so in fact you might even be required to apply to get the major you want, including attending an audition/ interview or writing an essay.
Associate degrees have designations that effectively act as "majors", such as the Associate of Applied Science (AAS). Certificate programs do not have majors as such; they carry a designation (for instance a certificate in Audio Engineering) which is much more specific than a general degree title. Usually, the field of study at the community college level is career-focused to the point where students do not take "elective" courses as they do for bachelor's degrees. Hence the designation of the associate's degree or certificate (whether at the community college or university level) effectively stands in for the "major."
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