How Do You Design Your Own Major?
No later than fall semester of your sophomore year, begin speaking with professors whose teaching and research interests support the kind of major you are envisioning. If you are unsure which professors might be helpful to you, speak with the department chairs or cross-disciplinary coordinators whose curricula you are intending to draw from. You must also meet with the Coordinator of Student-Designed majors to discuss your ideas and help shape your proposal. It’s important to remember that while the major proposal comes from you, it should nonetheless be developed with the guidance of faculty familiar with the areas you wish to study. You should not expect simply to have faculty sign off at the last minute on a proposal they have never discussed with you.
Your major program must include at least 48 credit-hours, chosen from at least three disciplines; it must also include an 8-credit St. Mary’s Project (SMP). For more information on major requirements, as well as for a complete set of forms you will need, please download the Student-Designed Major Handbook, on the left.
Admission to the major is granted through the submission of a proposal to the college Curriculum Review Committee, which meets twice annually (in the middle of Fall and Spring semesters) to review proposals. In order to ensure a carefully planned and executed curriculum, students must submit their proposal before they have completed 56 credit-hours. Make sure you know the deadline for submission in the semester you’re completing your proposal!
A completed major proposal requires:
- An application form;
- A narrative explanation of your proposed major (see the SDM Handbook for more information);
- A proposed list of courses you will use to satisfy major requirements;
- An approval sheet with the signatures of two faculty members (from two different disciplines) who are willing to serve on your advisory committee, as well as that of the Coordinator of Student-Designed Majors.
Throughout your degree, your major will be supervised by an advisory committee made up of the two faculty members you have elected to work with, in addition to the Coordinator of Student-Designed majors. One member of the committee will become your academic advisor.