The Student-Designed Major

Visit the Student-Designed Major web site


An Independent Interdisciplinary Major Administered by the Assistant Dean of the Core Curriculum and Advising, Glendening Hall 234.

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 at least three disciplines. One of the major disciplines must be chosen as the primary discipline to provide a coherent focus for the major. The major should adhere to the same principles of breadth, depth, and liberal arts-centered inquiry that the faculty has established for existing majors.

Admission is granted to the major through the submission of a proposal to the college Curriculum Committee, which has the final authority to approve or deny proposals. In order to ensure a carefully planned and executed curriculum, students who are interested in declaring a student-designed major must submit their proposal by the time they have completed 56 credit hours.

Students wishing to pursue a student-designed major must meet with a representative from the office of the Core Curriculum to discuss the goals and outline of the proposed major. Examples of past student-designed majors and sample templates are available for guidance purposes, but ultimately the design of the major course of study is the student's own responsibility. In planning the major and creating the proposal, the student must select an advisory committee of two faculty members, one from the primary discipline and one from one of the secondary disciplines. A representative from the office of the Core Curriculum also serves on the advisory committee. To ensure a consistent level of ongoing coordination and guidance, if the major proposal is approved, one member of the advisory committee will become the student's academic advisor, and the student must subsequently organize one meeting per year with the committee as a whole.


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. A minimum of 48 credit hours of course work for the major, chosen from at least three disciplines (defined for this purpose as courses beginning with different alphabetic prefixes, such as Econ or Engl). One of these "disciplines" can be a recognized Cross Disciplinary Study Area. The 48 credit hours must include:
    1. Five classes in the primary discipline, at least three of which must be upper division;
    2. Three additional upper-division classes, chosen from the secondary disciplines;
    3. At least one methods or theory course, as applicable, preferably chosen from the primary discipline;
    4. A St. Mary's Project of eight credit hours;
    5. Elective credits to complete the required total of 48 credit hours.
  3. No more than four hours of internship credit and four hours of Independent Study may be counted towards the major.
  4. Students must earn a grade of C- or better in each course counted towards the major, and maintain an overall GPA of at least 2.0 in these courses.
  5. All coursework must be chosen prior to acceptance to the program with approval from the advisory committee and final approval from the Curriculum Committee. Any later substitutions must be pre-approved by petition to the Curriculum Committee.

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.