What is a Student-Designed Major?
The Student-Designed Major must be a coherent program of study that crosses disciplinary lines by combining courses 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. One of the major disciplines must be chosen as a primary discipline, to provide a coherent focus for the major; likewise, a St. Mary’s Project is a required part of the major, so that the student may tie together his or her ideas at the end of the program of study.
Any Student-Designed Major should adhere to the same principles of breadth, depth, and liberal arts-centered inquiry that the faculty has established for existing majors. Some students design majors that are aligned with existing cross-disciplinary study areas at the college (Environmental Studies; Democracy Studies, etc.). Others put together proposals for majors in areas such as Political and Ethical Theory, or History and Philosophy of Science. Whatever the topic, though, it is important that the major be consistent with the educational philosophy of St. Mary’s, and be supported by coursework available at the college. For this latter reason, many forms of pre-professional study (engineering, business, wildlife rehabilitation, etc.) are not appropriate for the Student-Designed Major. Others, like Brazilian and Portuguese Studies, while in the spirit of a St. Mary’s education, simply can’t be put together due to the courses currently taught here.
If you have an idea for a major, and aren’t sure whether or not it might be possible, please schedule an appointment to discuss it with the Coordinator of the Student-Designed Major.