What is a Meta-Major?
- A set of broad content areas that students can choose when they enroll in a college or university
- An academic grouping that contains courses and course sequences that meet the academic requirements of multiple programs of study
- A state and institutional strategy that permits students to explore several majors within a broader career, in order to choose a major that best integrates interest and ability.
How Do Meta-Majors Improve Student Success?
Structured Exploration: Allows students to enter a broad career cluster. Students can still explore several majors in the larger domain while staying on track.
Immediate Entry into Major-Related Courses: Students in meta-majors are no longer “undeclared.” Research shows that students are more successful when they pick a career path earlier on in their college experience
Academic Requirements Based on Interest and Ability, Not Arbitrary Policies: Meta-majors allow for a “concierge” approach in which students register for courses from a broader menu of choices. Equally important, entry into a meta-major guarantees that courses taken will not only count toward graduation but also to specific, discrete major requirements.
What is the Policymaker Role?
Meta-majors structure the student academic experience, allowing for a straight-line trajectory toward degree completion. An important legislative role is to maintain accessibility and equity of opportunity across all postsecondary institutions, all while promoting a common set of state goals and priorities. The Florida Legislature required the State Board of Education to approve a series of meta-majors and the academic pathways that identify the gateway courses associated with each meta-major by December 31, 2013.
Legislative action has propelled a reorganization of how institutions view first-year and lower-division courses. Florida colleges and universities will give students the flexibility to explore a career cluster while also providing a structured, academic experience that reduces attrition. While systems and postsecondary institutions are responsible for implementation, the Florida Legislature already has explored the impact of meta-majors on credit transfer and remedial education.
In terms of credit transfer, any courses defined within a meta-major cluster must transfer as general education credit to any degree program at any public, postsecondary institution. Meta-majors affect remedial and developmental practices, because institutions must integrate assessment and placement strategies with students’ first-year courses. For example, if students enter the business or humanities meta-majors, then they might require a statistics-intensive, rather than college algebra-heavy pathway. Meta-majors could have important implications for these students, as they might enter certain meta-majors without the need for remediation.
Core Principles for Transforming Remedial Education
This document, produced by Education Commission of the States, Charles A. Dana Center, Complete College America, and Jobs for the Future, introduced the idea of meta-majors to a broad audience. The rationale was that students, regardless of academic preparedness, should be given the opportunity to enroll in credit-bearing, college courses as quickly as possible. Academically underprepared students enter first-year college courses with supplemental academic support and their choice of meta-major guides their degree plan in their first year.
This Power Point presentation by the Florida Department of Education describes the initial recommendations for meta-majors. Regardless of eventual major, students will choose one or more courses from the following five areas: communication, humanities, mathematics, natural science, and social sciences. Courses in each domain would correspond to requirements embedded in a meta-major.