Self-Designed Majors

The Process

(1) 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 Friday before the midsemester break of each semester. One of the faculty sponsors should be identified as the chair of the supervising committee.

(2) 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.

(3) 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 November 1 of the senior year. It is expected that a capstone essay will consist of between 30 and 50 pages (7,500-15,000 words).

(4) Changes in an individual program need the approval of the chair of the supervising committee and the dean. If students discover midstream that 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.

Arts and Letters News

  • Arts and Letters Graduate Emmie Mediate Named Rhodes Scholar

    Emily Mediate

    Emmie Mediate, a 2015 graduate of Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters, has been selected to the American Rhodes Scholar Class of 2016. A native of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Mediate was one of 32 Rhodes Scholars selected from a pool of 869 candidates who had been nominated by their colleges and universities. She is Notre Dame’s 17th Rhodes Scholar and the University’s second in two years. Read More >

  • The Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival Announces its 2016 Season, Audition Dates

    Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival

    The Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival (NDSF) has announced the titles and audition dates for its upcoming 2016 summer season. In order to explore and celebrate Shakespeare’s final plays, NDSF has selected two works that embody the playwright’s voice at the close of his career. The 2016 season is named “Shakespeare’s Last Words” and will feature adventure, exhilaration, and redemption. Read More >

  • Marie Kissel ’83 on Study Abroad and the Liberal Arts as a Foundation for an International Career

    Marie Kissel

    Marie Kissel ’83 traces much of her success back to one key point in her Notre Dame experience: going overseas to Tokyo as an undergraduate. “I’ve got this great job, I’m in a region that’s very exciting—that would not have happened without my opportunities at Notre Dame, especially through the study abroad programs,” she said. Kissel is now vice president for government affairs for Asia at Abbott Laboratories, a global pharmaceuticals and health care products company. Read More >

  • Anthropologists’ Research Finds Emotionally Supportive Relationships Linked to Lower Testosterone


    Science and folklore alike have long suggested that high levels of testosterone can facilitate the sorts of attitudes and behavior that make for, well, a less than ideal male parent. It has long been known that among humans (and some other species as well), males who cooperate amicably with their female mates in raising and nurturing offspring often have lower testosterone levels than their more aggressive and occasionally grumpy counterparts. But two University of Notre Dame anthropologists are looking beyond the nuclear family for such effects. Read More >