Guidelines for Student-Designed Majors

Some students may wish to pursue a major program that does not fit either the pattern of a departmental major or an interdisciplinary major. The faculty has authorized a process by which a student may work with two faculty members to develop a major program that draws on the offerings of a minimum of two departments. Students are encouraged to initiate the process of proposing a student-designed major in the sophomore year. Proposals should be submitted by December 1.

Requirements and Procedures for the Student-Designed Major

Acceptance Criteria

Open to any student who can secure at least a primary and a secondary sponsor (i.e., at least two sponsors) and whose proposal passes review by the Curriculum Implementation Committee. The proposal and supporting letters must clearly demonstrate the feasibility and intellectual coherence of the student-designed major.


The student and sponsors will present the necessary details of the proposal in writing to the Curriculum Implementation Committee for their review, comment, and approval.

The Written Proposal

A. Proposals will state specifically the goals to be achieved through the implementation of the desired major program and explain why these goals cannot be met with standard major options.

B. The proposal will list courses to be included in the curriculum for the major (allowable range, 8-12). It is expected that a range of introductory, intermediate, and advanced courses (at least two of each) will be included in the list. The courses should be listed two ways: by department and by semester.

  1. No more than four (4) independent-study credits should be included.
  2. The proposal will demonstrate coherence, structure, and content in at least two of the departments involved. A strong proposal will address these issues by outlining the number and pattern of courses offered with an explanation of how the courses work together to achieve the desired goal. It is important to develop the concept driving the proposal and to demonstrate the progression of knowledge gained from the proposed student-designed major.

C. The proposal will include an outline of a synthesizing project and will give a rationale for the length and substance of this project. The synthesizing project will be the student's independent integration of knowledge gained or gathered. Normally, two of the four allowable independent study courses will be devoted to it. Students are advised to take special care in presenting this portion of their proposal.

D. The proposal will represent an agreement in writing between the student, the primary sponsor, and any other sponsor(s).

Letters from Sponsors

Letters written by the sponsors in support of the student-designed major should include:

  • an evaluation of the student's program, and
  • an endorsement of the student and the major proposal.

Execution of the Proposal

A. If the proposal is to be modified, it must be reviewed again by the sponsors and the Curriculum Implementation Committee.

B. The primary sponsor shall fulfill a strong consultative role. His/Her responsibilities will include:

  1. regular consultations with the student, and
  2. primary supervision of the synthesizing project.

For more information, contact Julie Bedard, Associate Registrar.