Self-Designed Majors

The Process

Interested students, in consultation with three faculty sponsors from at least two departments, should present a detailed written proposal of their major (which has been signed by their faculty sponsors) to the Undergraduate Studies Advisory Committee no later than the Friday before the midsemester break of each semester. One of the faculty sponsors should be identified as the chair of the supervising committee.

Approval of the special major will be granted by the dean, on the recommendation of the Undergraduate Studies Advisory Committee. The committee will review the proposals and communicate their recommendations to the students before the preregistration period begins. As it deliberates, the committee may ask for additional information from the student, faculty sponsors, and other colleagues in related areas to assist in further refining and rewriting the original proposal. It is the expectation that the on-campus portions of the major will relay heavily on existing courses.

Special majors must culminate in a capstone essay, or where appropriate, other work, which will be evaluated by more than one faculty member. (In most cases, it is assumed that the faculty evaluators will be the faculty sponsors.) A detailed proposal of the capstone project must be submitted to the faculty sponsors by Nov. 1 of the senior year. It is expected that a capstone essay will be between 30 and 50 pages (7,500-15,000 words) in length.

Changes in an individual program need the approval of the chair of the supervising committee and the dean. If students decide they are unable to complete the special major, it may be “dropped,” but they must then complete one of the traditional departmental majors. Retroactive proposals will not be considered. Thus, these programs should be well underway by the end of the junior year.

To learn more, contact your advising dean in the Office for Undergraduate Studies.