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

  • How Studying Philosophy Guides Alumna’s Work as a Hollywood Film Director

    Anne Hamilton

    Anne Hamilton ’04 didn’t always know she wanted to be a filmmaker. She majored in philosophy in the College of Arts and Letters, but plans change, and now Hamilton is one of Hollywood’s up-and-coming directors. She recently signed with William Morris Endeavor after the successful world premiere of American Fable, a feature film she wrote, directed, and co-produced. The film made its debut at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, in March and received a string of excellent reviews. Read More >

  • Nature and Nurture Are Both Important, Anthropologist Argues in New Journal Article

    Agustín Fuentes

    Evolutionary science stresses the contributions biology makes to our behavior. Some anthropologists try to understand how societies and histories construct our identities, and others ask about how genes and the environment do the same thing. Which is the better approach? Both are needed, Notre Dame biological anthropologist Agustín Fuentes argues in a forthcoming paper in the journal Current Anthropology. Read More >

  • Notre Dame, Holy Cross Lead Transformational Liberal Arts Education Program at Indiana Prison

    WEI

    Driven by a commitment to Catholic social teaching and a strong belief that a liberal arts education can transform lives, Notre Dame and Holy Cross College faculty are teaching college-level courses for inmates at Indiana’s Westville Correction Facility. Since 2013, nearly 100 inmates have earned college credit and 11 have earned associate degrees as of this month. But developing a strong foundation in reading, writing, research, public speaking, and critical thinking offers benefits that go far beyond the professional opportunities a degree might one day provide. Read More >

  • Arts and Letters Seniors Win 24 National and International Fellowships and Scholarships

    tassel closeup

    Twenty-four members of the Class of 2016 who study in the College of Arts and Letters have won major national and international fellowships and scholarships, from prestigious institutions such as the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program and the National Science Foundation. Read More >