» Exploration Focus

Exploration Focus

Two students in lab coats talking to a nicely-dressed woman

Chapman’s General Education Program requires that all students complete a secondary area of study in addition to their major. This requirement can be met through

  • A minor
  • A second major
  • The University Honors Program
  • A themed inquiry

The purpose of requiring a secondary area of study is to provide you with a cohesive set of courses outside your major that will complement your major studies or allow you to explore an area of interest completely outside of your major.

The choice of major, minor, honors or themed inquiry is up to you. Some factors to take into account are the number of credits required in your major (BS, BM and BFA degrees tend to have high credit counts required) and your long-term goals. 

Your secondary area of study must be in a discipline outside of your major, although it is possible in some cases to share a limited number of courses with your major, if you are taking a second major or minor. The discipline of the major usually consists of all courses that are coded in the same way. For instance, HIST refers to history courses, which comprise the History discipline, so a history major cannot also minor in history. In some cases, for interdisciplinary majors or minors, it can be more complicated. For further guidance on double major or majors/minor combinations that are not allowed, please contact the Office of the University Registrar

A themed inquiry is much smaller than either a major or minor (4 courses) but still lets you study one disciplinary subject in depth or one topic from several disciplinary approaches. The goal of the Exploration Focus area is to provide a breath of learning as well as a depth of knowledge.   This requirement allows you to develop some expertise in an area outside your major program and/or allows you to lets you study an area or topic from several different disciplinary perspectives. 

You can explore new areas of learning and afterward decide to develop more knowledge in that area without losing the breadth of learning that is a central GE goal. Many students who initially select a themed inquiry will go on to change the decision to a minor in the same or a similar area.

A wide variety of courses with a common theme are available and are listed on the Themed Inquiry web page.

To give you an idea of what kind of choices other Chapman students have made regarding their secondary area of study - In the spring of 2018, enrolled seniors made the following choices: 14% of students chose a double major, 58% of students chose a minor, 27% chose a themed inquiry, and 2% chose the Honors program. There were even 2 students who had triple majors, and many students had more than one minor.

There are some important policies related to completing your secondary area, as noted below:

Toggle Section

Second Major

  • At least 18 credits must be unique between your first and second major. This applies to all courses listed in both degrees, not just to those you take.
  • 9 credits from each major may share courses with the GE program.


  • The minor must be in a discipline that is not the same discipline as the major.
  • The minor must have 12 unique credits that are not shared with the major or any other minor. This applies to all courses listed in both degrees or minors, not just to those courses you take.

Themed Inquiry

  • No courses used to complete the themed inquiry area may be in the discipline of your major. While there may be courses in your major discipline available in the themed inquiry, you may not use them to complete the themed inquiry.
  • Some themed inquiry courses are not open to certain majors, which is noted in the themed inquiry description.
  • No themed inquiry courses may be shared with GE.
  • Transfer students who choose a themed inquiry should be aware of specific transfer policies that will affect them. See GE Policies for Transfer Students.

A secondary area (minor/second major/honors/themed inquiry) must be selected by the time you have completed 60 credits, or you will have a registration hold placed on your account.

You must declare a themed inquiry officially through the Office of the University Registrar. To do so, you use the “Themed Inquiry Form” found on the Office of the University Registrar’s Forms webpage.

To drop a major/minor/themed inquiry, email the Office of the University Registrar.

Self-designed majors and minors

For those students who are interested, it is possible to self-design a major or minor.  The instructions and guidelines for developing and declaring a self-designed major or minor can be found on the forms:

It is important that you work with a faculty advisor to design the major or minor so that it meets the purposes for those degree opportunities, and has integrity as an academic area.

Self-designed major or minor applications are submitted to the Office of Registration, are approved by faculty committees, and there is no guarantee of approval. You also must apply for approval prior to completing 75 credits.