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Self-Designed Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Major/ Minor Program

One of the most unique features of CIS is the opportunity it provides students to design their own major or minor in a field of study that lies outside the current discipline-based majors or interdisciplinary Concentrations. The Committee on Interdisciplinary Studies approves, monitors, and administers all student-designed majors and minors. These programs of study are academically rigorous and depend on a combination of significant student initiative and close interaction with faculty advisors. Conceptualizing the major or minor is the responsibility of the student and may, in some cases, be facilitated by using a faculty-designed template.

Beyond the Classroom

Given the range of interests covered in the concentrations and the student-designed majors and minors, CIS supports student and faculty interests through speakers and events that creatively cut across several disciplines and themes.

Self-Designed and Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Majors and Minors

Self-designed interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary majors fall into two broad categories:

  • Template major
  • Student-designed

A template major has an existing curriculum guide designed by faculty to provide a basic structure for students developing the academic program for their major. A student-designed major is created by an individual student in consultation with faculty.

Interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary majors generally are composed of 14 courses drawn from at least three departments (or 10 courses in the case of a double major).

Sample Template Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Majors include:

[Please note that three template interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary majors currently operate independently from CIS: Asian Studies, Environmental Studies, International Studies.]

Getting Started

To begin the process of designing your own major or minor, you must first meet with Lorelle Semley, director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, to discuss your plans. If there is key professor who is helping you with the self-designed major you are proposing, you may also start your inquiry and planning with that professor.

After discussing your plans with the director and key faculty member(s), you may begin completing the CIS Major Application Form. Using this link (CIS Major Application Form) the student proposes a program of study. Students may submit applications either in early October or early February.

Parts of the application include:

  • a statement of intellectual rationale for the proposed field of study
  • outline of completed and planned courses
  • Two recommendations including at least one from a faculty sponsor/advisor based in a department related to the proposed major. The recommendations are electronic forms that assess the planned program of study and/or the student’s abilities. If the plan is approved, the faculty sponsor/advisor and the CIS director will advise and approve changes in the major plan and give guidance to the student undertaking the program.

Self-Designed Majors/Minors

An interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary minor requires six courses from at least three departments and falls within the competence of the College faculty. Admission to this program requires a proposal similar to that for the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary major. Students may design their minor from scratch, or use a faculty-designed template as a basis for their course work and study. After meeting with the CIS director to discuss your plan of study, students can apply for an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary minor online (CIS Minor Application Form).

Sample Self-Designed interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Majors /Minors Faculty Advisor
Architectural Studies * David Karmon
Catholic Studies John Gavin, S.J.
Digital Media Studies Chris Arrell 
German Studies Sylvia Schmitz-Burgard
Health Studies** Tsitsi Masvuwure
Italian Studies Susan Amatangelo
Medieval and Renaissance Studies Sarah Stanbury
Middle Eastern Studies Sahar Bazzaz
Neuroscience * Alo Basu
Rhetoric and Composition Sarah Klotz
Russian and Eastern European Studies Cynthia Hooper

*Indicates a faculty-designed template
**Major only - faculty designed template

More Information

For more information and to get started, please contact Lorelle Semley, director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies.