In music, a major chord is a chord made up of the root note, and the third note and the fifth note of the major scale for that root note.

For example, the C major scale looks like this:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
The C major chord has the notes C (I), E (III), and G (V).
A major is a field of study at the undergraduate level, and represents competence and familiarity with the material, history, background, skills, methodology, and practice of the subject in question. Undergraduate degrees typically note which major(s) a graduate has completed. The attainment of a major generally requires the completion of a significant number of classes dealing with the subject area, typically including several classes consisting of the "core" of the major which cover introductory, basic, and fundamental aspects of the field, which all students in a particular major will take, in addition to several more targeted classes dealing with more specific aspects or areas of study of the field in greater detail, with students typically free to choose from among many such specialized courses.

Most colleges require students seeking Associate's or Bachelor's degrees to choose and complete a major. However, some colleges offer general majors, with names like "Undergraduate Studies", "Liberal Arts", or "Arts and Letters", which typically represent a diverse education with more of a focus on research skills, structure, and logic, than on any particular subject matter, and some schools like St. John's College, with its "great books" curriculum, operate outside of a "major" paradigm.

Majors are usually affiliated with and administered by the academic department which offers courses in the field, although some departments may oversee multiple majors and some majors may be conducted as cross-disciplinary programs. Majors can range from the abstract and academic to concrete, skills-based career preparation, and many colleges offer majors specifically designed as precursors to further professional education (law, business, or medical), although given adequate preparation it is certainly possible to attend such schools regardless of one's undergraduate major. Most graduate students major in the field they will go on to study, but this is less a matter of cause and effect - you don't major in anthropology so you can study the subject in graduate school, you major and then go for your PhD because you like anthropology.

In addition to the requirements for a major most colleges require students to complete either a common "core curriculum", which may either consist of an actual series of prescribed classes, a selection of "Chinese menu"-style classes ("Complete two courses from Group A, three from Group B..."), or simply broad "distributive" requirements ("students must take one course in mathematics, two in the physical sciences, one covering a period of history prior to 1800..."). Courses taken that fulfill neither major nor these general requirements are usually considered "electives", reflecting their "optional" nature.

Some students, if the option is available, may complete, in addition to a major, one or more minors. A minor is kind of a "lite" major - a student pursuing a given minor will have to take fewer classes than students majoring in the same field, and typically has fewer requirements on those he or she does take (required grade point average, mandatory sequences, and the like). Minors represent a focus on a field to the extent that a student has significant familiarity with the subject matter, though not with as many specifics or in as much depth as a major. Minors, as with majors, may go by other names at individual institutions, even if they represent fundamentally the same concept. Both have been called "concentrations" at various colleges I am familiar with.

Further, some students can and will "double major", that is to say, complete the requirements for two majors and be recognized for both. Triple- and greater multiple-majors are very rare but not unknown; students pursuing this course will tend to have very heavy workloads, few opportunities to pursue electives, and may take longer than the standard 4 years to complete their undergraduate education.

Ma"jor (?), [L. major, compar. of magnus great: cf. F. majeur. Cf. Master, Mayor, Magnitude, More, a.]


Greater in number, quantity, or extent; as, the major part of the assembly; the major part of the revenue; the major part of the territory.


Of greater dignity; more important.



Of full legal age.


4. Mus.

Greater by a semitone, either in interval or in difference of pitch from another tone.

Major axis Geom., the greater axis. See Focus, n., 2. -- Major key Mus., a key in which one and two, two and three, four and five, five and six and seven, make major seconds, and three and four, and seven and eight, make minor seconds. -- Major offense Law, an offense of a greater degree which contains a lesser offense, as murder and robbery include assault. -- Major premise Logic, that premise of a syllogism which contains the major term. -- Major scale Mus., the natural diatonic scale, which has semitones between the third and fourth, and seventh and fourth, and seventh and eighth degrees; the scale of the major mode, of which the third is major. See Scale, and Diatonic. -- Major second Mus., a second between whose tones is a difference in pitch of a step. -- Major sixth Mus., a sixth of four steps and a half step. In major keys the third and sixth from the key tone are major. Major keys and intervals, as distinguished from minors, are more cheerful. -- Major term Logic, that term of a syllogism which forms the predicate of the conclusion. -- Major third Mus., a third of two steps.


© Webster 1913.

Ma"jor, n. [F. major. See Major, a.]

1. Mil.

An officer next in rank above a captain and next below a lieutenant colonel; the lowest field officer.

2. Law

A person of full age.

3. Logic

That premise which contains the major term. It its the first proposition of a regular syllogism; as: No unholy person is qualified for happiness in heaven [the major]. Every man in his natural state is unholy [minor]. Therefore, no man in his natural state is qualified for happiness in heaven [conclusion or inference].

⇒ In hypothetical syllogisms, the hypothetical premise is called the major.

4. [LL. See Major.]

A mayor.




© Webster 1913.

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