Student Designed Majors

Some students may wish to pursue a major program that does not fit the pattern of a departmental, coordinate, or 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 must initiate the process of proposing a student-designed major in the sophomore year.

Proposals should be submitted by December 1 of the student's Sophomore year.

Students should meet with the Associate Registrar one month prior to beginning a student-designed major proposal.  Previously approved student-designed majors will be made available for review at this meeting.

Requirements and Procedures for the Student-Designed Major

Acceptance Criteria

Open to any student who can secure a primary and a secondary faculty sponsor and whose proposal passes review by the Curriculum Implementation Committee (CIC). The written proposal and supporting letters must clearly demonstrate the feasibility and intellectual coherence of the student-designed major.  Please be sure proposed courses will be offered at the appropriate times.

The Written Proposal

  1. 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.
  2. The major proposal should include 8-12 courses with alternatives for any courses that are not guaranteed to be offered. 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. Department, Course Number and Course Title are required for each course listed on both lists.
    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.  Please be aware that courses are not always offered on a standard rotation and in depth consultation with departments is strongly recommended.
  3. 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.
  4. The proposal will represent an agreement in writing between the student, the primary faculty sponsor, and any other faculty sponsor(s).

Letters from Faculty Sponsors

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

  • an evaluation of the student's program,
  • an endorsement of the student and the major proposal, and
  • support as for why this course of study cannot be achieved in a current major offering.

Execution of the Proposal

  1. If the proposal is to be modified for any reason, such as a course not being offered, the change must be reviewed and approved again by the sponsors and the Curriculum Implementation Committee (CIC).
  2. The primary faculty sponsor shall fulfill a strong consultative role. Their responsibilities will include:
    1. regular consultations with the student 
    2. primary supervision of the synthesizing project.
  3. The final student designed major proposal and faculty sponsor letters should be sent to by December 1 of the sophomore year. Students may be required to schedule an additional meeting with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (Chair of CIC), if additional edits are required prior to the formal submission to the Curriculum Implementation Committee (CIC).  Students will also need to complete and submit the Student Design Major Checklist.