Major Changes: Charting Paths That Connect With Today’s Opportunities

August 1, 2016

The world of work is changing: A combination of globalization, innovation and technology is creating demands for distinct skills and new occupations. As part of its commitment to preparing students for an evolving world of opportunities, Stonehill has added or reconfigured several programs of study.

These new majors and minors are the result of a “combination of changing career opportunities and student interest,” explains Professor Maria Curtin, dean of faculty at the College. “These additions give students tools to be creative, enhance their resumes and make themselves more competitive in a challenging job market.”

Below is an overview of the College’s new and enhanced fields of study.


Health Science

Starting in fall 2017, students interested in opportunities in the rapidly expanding allied health fields — including careers as nurse practitioners, physician assistants or physical therapists — will be able to major in health science. “A growing number of students are pursuing these fields,” notes Erin O’Hea, a professor of psychology who has been instrumental in forming the new major. Previously, “students had to design their own programs by majoring in interdisciplinary studies. It was a lot of work, and they had to find their own advisors.”

Peter Ubertaccio, associate dean of interdisciplinary programs, says students are better served by a dedicated major: “Students will be better served by a fully formed major — one with an introductory course, a capstone experience and writing across the discipline. This ensures a level of rigor and engagement with the right departments.”

Astronomy, and Earth and Planetary Science

Students interested in the sciences can now opt to major in either astronomy — formerly a concentration within physics — as well as earth and planetary science.

These interdisciplinary offerings mirror the direction of scientific research today, according to Alessandro Massarotti, chair of the Physics Department. “Earth and planetary science will prepare students for further study in geoscience or to do research for oil, gas and environmental technology companies,” he explains. “Astronomy majors will have an opportunity to do internships at the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard University — one of the biggest observatories in the world.”

“These majors — along with our new joint B.S./M.S. program with the University of Rochester Institute for Optics — will allow us to attract a whole new group of students.”

Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education

Early childhood and elementary education aren’t “new” majors per se; rather, they’ve been reclassified from concentrations within the Department of Education Studies.

“Prospective students were missing us because they were looking for programs that led to initial licensure — and ‘education studies’ didn’t make it obvious,” says Margaret Pierce, associate professor of education and department chair. “This change makes it clear. I also think it will make students more marketable on the other end because more employers recognize ‘elementary’ and ‘early childhood’ on students’ resumes.”


Chinese and Arabic

Stonehill’s offerings in Chinese and Arabic have grown increasingly popular over the past few years, attracting more and more students, according to Professor Juan Carlos Martin, chair of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. “Every year, I receive multiple requests from students to approve them as minors. These are very difficult languages; having them as minors creates more options for students.”

Both Chinese and Arabic make a powerful combination with any number of majors — including sociology, marketing, finance, accounting, psychology and criminology. “These minors will open up all kinds of new possibilities,” he says.

Music Technology

Social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Vine have “completely changed the way we create media,” explains James Bohn, a composer and music technology specialist in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts. “They have drawn in more students who want to create their own music. With this minor, students can develop skills to get their work out there.”

Bohn sees the music technology minor — through which students may choose to intern with a local recording studio such as Bristol Recording Studios in Boston — as “an extra flavor” they can add to existing programs such as communications, business or digital media production. “It’s a way for students to personalize their education and make themselves stand out,” he explains.