The Student-Designed Major

Visit the Student-Designed Major web site


The student-designed major is an interdisciplinary major that exemplifies the mission of a liberal arts education. It is available to students who wish to develop a more individualized program of study than those provided by existing majors. The student-designed major must be a coherent program of study that crosses disciplinary lines by combining courses from two to four disciplines. One of the major disciplines must be chosen as the primary discipline to provide a coherent focus for the major. In order to ensure curricular integrity, students who are interested in declaring a student designed major must declare by the time the student has completed 46 credit-hours. In planning the major, the student selects an advisory committee of two faculty members, one from the primary discipline and one from one of the secondary disciplines. The coordinator of student-designed majors also serves on the advisory committee. Admission is granted to the major through the submission of a proposal to the advisory committee for review and which will recommend the proposal for final approval to the curriculum committee.

If a student wishes to declare a student-designed major after the declaration deadline, the student must submit a petition to override the declaration deadline to the Academic Policy Committee. Transfer students should contact the coordinator of student-designed majors directly to establish a committee and a timeline for review by the advisory committee and curriculum committee of the proposal and admission to the major.


To earn a bachelor of arts degree with a student designed major, a student must satisfy the following minimum requirements:

  1. General College Requirements (see “Curriculum” section).
  2. Minimum of 44 credit-hours of course work for the major, chosen prior to acceptance to the program with approval from the advisory board and final approval from the curriculum committee.
  3. Courses chosen from at least two and not more than four disciplines. One of those “disciplines” can be an interdisciplinary major or minor (for example, Asian Studies).
  4. Five classes in the primary discipline, at least three classes at the upper level; and three classes at the upper level in the secondary disciplines are required. One course from primary discipline must be a methods or theory course, as applicable.
  5. To ensure integrity to the course plan for the major, the student must organize at least one meeting per year with the entire advisory board.
  6. A St. Mary’s Project of eight credit-hours
  7. Elective credits to complete the required total of 44 credit-hours.
  8. Students with a student-designed major must meet with and gain approval from the coordinator of the program during advising week in order to register for courses.

Internship credit-hours will not be applicable to the 44 required credit-hours.

Note: any students receiving Veterans Administration (VA) education benefits must have their student-designed major and course of study submitted to and approved by the SAA (Maryland Higher Education Commission, as the State Approving Agency) before certification to the VA.