New academic offerings for undergraduates

The College of Arts & Sciences added two new majors and a new concentration to the university, all of which are available starting in the 2019-20 school year.

Washington University now offers a joint economics and computer science major, an astrophysics major, and a production concentration for the pre-existing film and media studies major. Each of these new tracks has been in the works over the last year and after careful consideration were approved by both the Arts & Sciences Curriculum Committee and Arts & Sciences faculty.

Major in Economics and Computer Science

The Department of Economics created a joint major with the Department of Computer Science in the McKelvey School of Engineering that allows students to study both disciplines without having to double major. With this discipline in economics and computer science, students would be receiving either a Bachelor of Science or Arts, depending on their home college, upon graduation.

The economics and computer science major requires approximately twenty credits more than the normal economics major due to the necessary qualifications of a Bachelor of Science in Applied Engineering degree.

Economics chair Gaetano Antinolfi believes that this major is necessary due to the changes in the structure of the economy. The recent increase in the number of tech companies has created a niche job arena where the two disciplines naturally play off each other. As more jobs exist online, employers may need a mixture of competencies to understand how to structure data, observe patterns, and create interactive algorithms.

Major in Astrophysics

The Department of Physics added a new astrophysics major this year, in addition to the pre-existing astrophysics minor. The physics and astrophysics majors are similar in foundational courses, but the latter path requires introductory and upper-level courses that focus on astrophysics.

The astrophysics major was first brought forward by the Washington University chapter of the Society of Physics Students, an undergraduate body here on campus. This group, along with the relevant faculty, helped design the major and its necessary curriculum.

Francesc Ferrer, director of undergraduate studies in the physics department, says that the department expects the astrophysics major to attract a more diverse pool of students. He also states that the department has one of the strongest astrophysics research programs in the country, and “with the forthcoming powerful observational facilities, the following years are expected to be particularly exciting for astrophysics.”

Major in Film and Media Studies with a Concentration in Film and Media Production

Film and Media Studies added a new concentration in film and media production. Students interested in pursuing this concentration are required to take additional core production classes, in addition to fifteen credit hours of electives.

Program director Gaylyn Studlar said that previously, “students were not getting enough opportunities to individualize a program of study that could meet their keen interest in production.” Now, those interested in film and media production will be able to formally specialize in their interests, as well as gain more opportunities to enhance their skills in and knowledge of aspects of moving image and receive additional academic guidance and support.