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Missing Majors?

The numbers assigned to MIT’s Courses have been anything but static over the years and the resultant shuffling has produced a number of defunct Courses as well as Course-less numbers.

For instance, freshmen in 1931 could have opted to major in Railroad Engineering, then Course I-A but now defunct. Textile Technology was Course II-T up until 1983. Other lost Courses include General Engineering and General Science (IX-A and B) as well as Interdisciplinary Science (once Course XXV) for those who just can’t make up their mind.

In the shuffle to adapt majors several numerals were left without Courses: XIX, XX, and XXIII are currently associated with no undergraduate major. Course XIX was originally created as Metallurgy after the split of mining and metallurgy in 1936. Metallurgy returned to Course III after a few years when mining was dropped and the department evolved into the modern day Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Course XX began life in 1944 as Food Technology, an offshoot of the department of Biology. It underwent several name changes but persisted as an undergraduate major until 1985. Course XX now exists only as a graduate Program in Applied Biological Sciences.

Modern languages were the foundation of Course XXIII which first offered a PhD in 1961. Course XXIII became the department of Modern Languages in 1965 and later the Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics. The numeral XXIII lost association with any major when, in 1976, the content of the Course was moved to XXI-L and XXIV. --Frank Dabek