Critical Theory & Social Justice


MAJOR: The major in Critical Theory - Social Justice requires ten courses (40 units) selected in consultation with the student's departmental advisor, based on the student's own particular approach to the major as defined in the student's major declaration.  Of the ten courses, at least five must be offered by the CTSJ Department, including at least one 4-unit course at the 100 level, one at the 200 level, two at the 300 level, and the Senior Seminar (CTSJ 490).  At least four of the units must be in experiential learning.

ACCEPTABLE COURSES FROM OTHER DEPARTMENTS: The department regularly accepts for CTSJ credit courses from other departments. Decisions (about which courses to accept) are made on  an individual basis in consultation with the student's advisor, and/or the department chair.

MAJOR WITH TOPICAL EMPHASIS: A student may choose to major in Critical Theory - Social Justice with an emphasis in one of three areas:  Critical Race Studies, Postcolonial Theory, and Feminist and Queer Studies. Choosing one of those emphases is not required, but upon declaring the CTSJ major, each student is required to submit a major declaration that outlines what the student defines as the student's goals for completing the major.

To graduate with an emphasis, a student must fulfill the requirements of the major (see above) and at least twenty of the student's forty major units must be recognized by the Department as counting toward the student's emphasis. These twenty units are chosen in consultation with the student's advisor. Courses from other departments  may be counted toward the student's emphasis.

MINOR: The minor in Critical Theory - Social Justice requires five courses (20 units), including at least one course offered by the CTSJ Department at the 100 level, one at the 200 level, and one at the 300 level.

WRITING REQUIREMENT: Students majoring in Critical Theory - Social Justice satisfy the final component of Occidental College's college-wide writing requirement by submitting a portfolio by the eighth week of spring semester of the junior year. A portfolio consists of two essays, one a research paper (written for a 200-level CTSJ class) and one an analytical essay (written for a 300-level CTSJ class).  At least one of the essays should relate to the comprehensive project that the student plans to complete during his or her senior year.  A student whose portfolio is not accepted by the department will be required to take ENWR 401: Writing Across the Curriculum in the fall semester of the student's senior year.  See the Writing program and the department chair for additional information.

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING REQUIREMENT (4 units): Credit for this component may be earned through participation in a departmentally-approved internship or by completing a community-based learning course offered by CTSJ or another department. Students will work with their advisors to determine how to fulfill this requirement in the context of their own courses of study as defined in their major declarations.

SENIOR COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT: In their senior year, students majoring in CTSJ are required to complete a comprehensive project concerning a topic of the student's own particular interest. Students produce drafts of their projects during CTSJ 490: Senior Seminar in the fall semester of their senior year.  (A student graduating in December is encouraged to take 490 in his or her third-to-last semester, rather than in the last semester.)  Each student is directed to consult with at least one CTSJ professor in addition to the professor teaching the senior seminar.  The final version of the comprehensive project is due the Friday before spring (or midterm) break of the student's final semester.  A typical project culminates in a 20- to 25-page paper.  The department is open to critical projects of comparable length that employ other media from students formally trained in those media.  A comprehensive project earns the grade "Pass with Distinction" if the department faculty determine that it is of the quality publishable in the CTSJ Journal  or another journal in the fields embraced by Critical Theory-Social Justice.

HONORS: A student with the minimum overall GPA set by the College for honors and a 3.70 GPA in the courses that count toward the student's major in CTSJ, may apply to enter the department's honors program. To apply for honors a student must choose a department faculty member who agrees to supervise the student's research, and the student must submit a 2- to 3-page prospectus, defining the student's research topic and outlining a plan for completion. To graduate with departmental honors, a student must enroll in CTSJ 499: Honors Thesis during the senior year. The student must also maintain the GPAs required for departmental honors and complete the Senior Comprehensive requirement (see above). An honors thesis earns the grade "pass with distinction" if the department faculty determine that it is of the quality publishable in the CTSJ Journal or another journal in the fields embraced by Critical Theory-Social Justice.

  • Phone: (323) 259-2749
  • Betsy Dillon, Administrative Assistant: