Independent Interdisciplinary Programs

Independent Interdisciplinary Major

The Independent Interdisciplinary major is intended for students who have a strong, well-articulated desire to pursue depth in an interdisciplinary area where the College does not have a defined major. The proposal must, however, be feasible in the context of the College's existing curriculum and faculty expertise. The student must demonstrate a record of discipline and academic success in coursework, including independent work. Students submitting a proposal for an Independent Interdisciplinary Major must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and may not declare a second major.

A student interested in pursuing an Independent Interdisciplinary Major must first form an advisory committee consisting of at least three faculty members, including faculty from each relevant department or program and the student's academic advisor. One faculty member is identified as the chair of the committee. Faculty are not obligated to participate in Independent Interdisciplinary Major advisory committees, and participation must be approved by the relevant department or program chairs.

Once the committee has been approved, the student develops a proposal, engaging all members of the committee. In addition to meetings with the student, the committee should meet at least once without the student to discuss and evaluate the proposal, providing feedback to the student. The proposal must be approved by the entire committee and the Educational Policies Committee, in consultation with the Registrar. Proposals for Independent Interdisciplinary Majors must be submitted by the end of the sophomore year.

After the proposal has been approved and filed with the registrar's office, any changes or course substitutions must be approved by the committee chair, in consultation with the other members of the committee.

An Independent Interdisciplinary Major Proposal includes the following:

  • Purpose: The proposal must clearly articulate the topic or theme for the major, describe the student’s interest in the topic, and explain why that interest cannot be met by existing majors, minors, or concentrations.
  • Plan of Study: The proposed plan of study must include at least 10 courses from at least two departments or programs, making clear how the number, combination, sequencing, or level of specific courses provide breadth and depth in the interdisciplinary topic. The committee may also require courses that provide a theoretical basis for some aspect of the topic, cognate courses, or courses that involve reading or engaging in the scholarly or professional literature of the field.
  • SIP: The student must complete a Senior Individualized Project related to the topic of the Independent Interdisciplinary Major and the SIP advisor(s) must be a member of the student's interdisciplinary major advisory committee. The proposal for the major should indicate how the student intends to meet this requirement.
  • Senior Seminar: The student should participate in at least one senior seminar related to the project or in a related discipline. The proposal should indicate how the student intends to meet this requirement.

Independent Interdisciplinary Concentration

The Independent Interdisciplinary Concentration is intended for students who have a strong, well-articulated desire to explore a coherent area where the College does not have a defined major, minor, or concentration. The proposal must be feasible in the context of the College's existing curriculum and faculty expertise. Students may have only one Independent Interdisciplinary Concentration but may have additional majors or minors.

A student interested in pursuing an Independent Interdisciplinary Concentration must first form an advisory committee consisting of at least two faculty members, including one from the department or program whose courses comprise the majority of the concentration. Faculty members are not obligated to participate in Independent Interdisciplinary Concentration advisory committees. The student should develop a proposal in consultation with all of the members of the committee and all of the members must approve it. Approved proposals must be submitted to the Registrar before the end of the Winter Quarter of the senior year. After the proposal is filed with the Registrar, any changes must be approved by the faculty committee and filed with the Registrar.

An Independent Interdisciplinary Concentration Proposal must include the following:

  • Purpose: The proposal must clearly articulate the topic or theme of the concentration, describe the student's interest in that topic or theme, and explain why that interest cannot be met by existing majors, minors, or concentrations.
  • Program of Study: The proposed program of study must include at least 6 courses and make clear how the number, combination, sequencing, or level of specific courses provide breadth and coherence in the interdisciplinary topic. The committee may also require courses that provide a theoretical basis for some aspect of the topic, cognate courses, or courses that involve reading or engaging with the scholarly or professional literature of the field.
  • SIP: The student may complete a Senior Individualized Project related to the topic of the Independent Interdisciplinary Concentration and may apply one SIP unit toward the 6 required courses. If a SIP unit is to be counted toward the concentration, the proposal should indicate how the SIP fits within the program of study.
  • Senior Seminar: The student may participate in a senior seminar related to the Independent Interdisciplinary Concentration and may count it toward one of the 6 required courses.