Independent Major

A student may design a unique major program to fit his or her individual goals. The responsibility for the planning of such a program rests with the student proposing it, and a proposal for an independent major must contain suitable justification and a coherent curricular plan. The full proposal must be submitted to the Director of the Collaborative for Interdisciplinary/Integrative Studies for approval by no later than the first semester of the junior year and also must have the approval of a three-member faculty committee, chosen by the student, which works with the student to plan and carry out the program. Program proposals will be accepted before March 1 for review in the spring semester, and before October 15 for review in the fall semester.


The independent major is designed for students who would like to focus their attention in a specific area of study not currently offered by the university. Independent major programs are designed individually by students, in consultation with a faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences. Therefore, the curriculum for this major will vary by student. All independent majors must meet the following criteria:

  • The major must consist of a minimum of 30 credits (may include some courses already completed).
  • No fewer than 24 of the 30 credits must be at the 300 level or above. Note: CAS 420 does not count.
  • The preponderance of courses must be offered by departments in the College of Arts and Sciences.
  • The major plan must include a final assessment, which can take the form of a class or a project. This assessment must be appropriate for a College of Arts and Sciences major. The final assessment plan must be submitted by the second half of the junior year, and the assessment itself must be evaluated by the student’s committee at the end of the senior year.
  • All University Curriculum requirements must be completed, outside the major.
  • All College of Arts and Sciences Curriculum requirements must be completed, outside the major.
  • Any minor requirements must be completed outside the major.

Student Learning Outcomes

With an individually designed curriculum, specific student learning outcomes vary. Every student works toward the following outcomes through the proposal process alone.

  1. Effective Communication: Communicate effectively in speaking and in writing.
  2. Social Intelligence: Engage collaboratively and responsibly, interact attentively and appropriately with others.
  3. Cognitive Complexity: Evaluate multiple perspectives on an issue, acknowledging the potential for complexity and ambiguity.
  4. Critical and Creative Thinking: Think independently and creatively from an informed understanding.
  5. Analysis: Demonstrate competency in evaluating and constructing arguments based on logic and evidence.