Special Concentrations was established in 1971 by a vote of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Although by design never one of the larger concentrations, Special Concentrations has always had a solid core of students in widely divergent fields. There are currently some twenty Special Concentrators covering fields as varied as The Cognitive Development of Faith; Stage Directing: Form and Function, Architecture and Environmental Science; and Education and Human Development.
Among the perennially popular fields have been Urban Studies and Dramatic Studies. Interest in some areas, such as Psychobiology, and Environmental Science, which once drew a number of concentrators, has declined due to a change in the requirements in the relevant departments allowing the pursuit of such interests within their departmental frameworks or the development of new interdisciplinary concentrations. The popularity of certain fields waxes and wanes depending upon the current topical interest in the field and the availability of Faculty Advisers. For example, during the late 1990's and early 2000's, there was a surge of interest in health policy as reports of indadequate health care in U.S. cities dominated headlines. More recently, there has been increased attention paid to global health challenges.
Special Concentrations' distinguished graduates include Peter Sellars, opera and theatre director, William "Trip" Hawkins, President and CEO of 3DO and founder of Electronic Arts, and Alec Keshishian, film director.