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Independent Interdisciplinary Major

An independent interdisciplinary major consists of an integrated series of courses selected from at least two of the conventional academic disciplines. Students may devise, in consultation with three faculty members, an academic program suited to an area of special interest. Although any general problem of a genuine academic, scientific or intellectual nature may constitute the subject of an independent interdisciplinary major, such a major is ordinarily defined in one of three ways:

  • an area of the world, geographically, politically or culturally prescribed, such as Latin America, Eastern Europe, or the Middle East;
  • a period of time in the history of some part of the world, such as the Victorian Age, the Enlightenment, the Renaissance or the Middle Ages;
  • a specific problem or field that is treated by several disciplines, such as the concept of behavioral economics, social justice, sustainability, urban studies, or world literature.

The independent interdisciplinary major includes a total of 10 to 12 courses in at least two disciplines and at least four courses from each of the two disciplines. At least four courses in the total must be at the 300-400 level. Each individualized major is supervised by a committee of three faculty members.

An independent interdisciplinary major must include at least 16 courses outside the subject matter of the area major involved and may have no more than eight courses in any one discipline (subject) comprising the major. However, up to 10 courses may be taken in a language as part of the independent interdisciplinary major.

In selecting a subject for an independently designed interdisciplinary major, students should be guided by two further considerations. First, a mere interest in certain academic disciplines, however closely related they may appear, is not a significant justification for an interdisciplinary major. Students must have in mind a subject that can serve as a focal point for the courses chosen. Second, although the subject to be examined in the major may coincide with the vocational interests of a student, it must at the same time be a legitimate object of study in its own right.

The student must earn a 2.0 GPA in all course credit applied to the major, and, as a part of the major, each student during the senior year must satisfactorily complete one or more of the following: a seminar, thesis, appropriate project or departmental comprehensive examination. Each independent interdisciplinary major committee shall designate ways in which students may fulfill this comprehensive requirement.

Students proposing an independent interdisciplinary major should have the major approved and filed with the Office of the Registrar by the end of the sixth week of the second semester of the sophomore year. The latest that applications may be considered is the sixth week of the junior year.