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The Major Center of Excellence

Pursuing your personal passion.

The Major is the newest academic COE and it allows students to chart an individualized and in-depth course of study designed around their personal interests. The topics have varied in past years from forensic biology, to exoplanets and planet formation, to film study. Our innovative academic approach built on our blended learning model opens up the traditional high school schedule to allow students the flexibility to explore and develop new areas of passion and interest as they also meet the rigors of our core college preparatory program.

Our Approach:

The Major allows students to focus on an area of interest and structure their learning in a way that engages their critical inquiry skills and develops their passion for self-guided discovery. Each student is a member of a cohort of fellow students whom they support and challenge under the guidance of a dedicated faculty member who provides structure, guidance, and mentorship throughout the whole program.

Completing a focused, self-directed course of study during high school differentiates The Major students from other college applicants, and provides them many of the benefits of a gap year while still in school.

Examples of Self-Directed Courses of Study:
With a course schedule that opens up blocks of time, a student interested in marine life might:
  • Complete an internship at the Minnesota Zoo.
  • Travel to do research with The Pacific Whale Foundation in Maui.
  • Complete a visual advertising campaign about the dangers of global warming.
An aspiring playright might:
  • Take writing workshops at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.
  • Direct the Dramatic Association in a performance of a play she has written.
  • Develop a website or phone app to advertise the performance.


the major
The Major
The Major

Student Testimonials

Amanda DeShane ’18

Color Theory/Design

“The Major allows me to apply real-world
applications to my areas of passion.”



Zoe Chen ’19

Film Studies

“I get to experience different subjects because
each student in The Major has their own program.”



Alexandra Gilbertson ’18

Gender Studies in Education

“You can create the classes that
you want to take.”



Ingrid Engelhardt ’18

Spanish Language, Culture, and Cinema

“The Major is made for people with a
passion for learning.”



Meet the Director
craig peck

Craig Peck graduated with a BA in English from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and earned his English teaching license at Augsburg College. He is a dedicated practitioner of collaboration with educators from different academic departments, and believes that all areas of study are interconnected. He credits his passion for teaching and learning to Mr. Petrick, his high school English teacher and inspiration for his academic pursuits.

An English teacher at SSM since 2007 and the current Assistant Director of weCreate, to state that Peck has a wide array of interests would be an understatement. Among many other achievements, Mr. Peck has taught himself to shoot and edit film, play and record music, maintain saltwater aquariums, and has developed an impressive understanding of Astronomy. Most importantly, he has mastered the art of learning and brings his expertise, intellectual curiosity, and passion to The Major program.

“I am a great believer in what I call ‘healthy obsession’. This is what happens when an idea or a concept won’t let you go and you simply have to learn and explore as much as you can, not because you are told to or for some external reward, but because you are captivated. You simply must. And then you take that love and make it a part of your life.”

– Craig Peck,
Director of The Major and
Assistant Director of weCreate


Our Facilities:

On campus, students have access to a wide range of facilities including Fayfield Hall, our state-of-the-art STEM Center, and the weCreate Center, which houses nine studios to provide students access to software such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator and FinalCut Pro. Students in The Major will travel beyond the Arch to complete their Center of Excellence experience as well, immersing themselves in locales as varied as their interests.