Guide to Academic Planning 2017-2018

Interdisciplinary Studies

Capable and self-motivated students wishing to explore major courses of study not offered by the College may petition for an Interdisciplinary Studies major. The major allows such students the freedom to design and develop a course of study which combines classes taken from several departments or areas. Each Interdisciplinary Studies major must have a coherent thematic principle governing the selection and sequencing of courses in the major and it must be consistent with the goals of a liberal arts education. Students who would like to explore an Interdisciplinary Studies major are urged to consult with their faculty advisor or the office of the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs. Examples of recently approved Interdisciplinary Studies majors can be found on the Interdisciplinary Studies web page (

A student wishing to pursue an interdisciplinary major should, before spring registration of the sophomore year, find a faculty advisor who is interested in mentoring him or her through this major. Under no circumstances should this be done later than the fall semester of the student’s junior year.

The student and advisor, working together, will draft a program of study   satisfying the requirements for an interdisciplinary major (see below).

  • The student will write a justification for this major, articulating its overarching theme and stating his or her aims and the way the major will satisfy them.
  • The student and advisor will recruit one or two more faculty members to constitute the supervisory committee for the major. The advisor will chair this committee. The committee will review and approve, with possible modifications, the proposed major and its justification.
  • The proposed major, signed by the student and the members of the committee, will be sent to the Associate Provost for approval, along with the student’s narrative justification for it.
  • If the Associate Provost approves the proposed major, he or she will notify the student and the committee in writing that the major has been accepted. The Associate Provost will inform the Registrar of the student’s major requirements.
  • Once the major has been accepted the student should complete an Advisor Designation and Major/Minor Declaration form.
  • Once the major has been accepted, any changes must be approved by the committee and by the Associate Provost, who will report the changes to the Registrar.
  • In addition to its thematic coherence, an interdisciplinary studies major must include the following components.
    • A clear title for the major;
    • At least 10 courses (with suitable alternate courses, if appropriate). As with any major, at least 50% of major courses must be taken in residence at the College and a minimum grade point average of 2.0 in the major must be achieved;
    • No fewer than 4 of the major courses at the 300- or 400-level;
  • The interdisciplinary studies major proposal must include a senior capstone experience with elements that are methodologically appropriate for the major. The proposal should describe the capstone experience, explain how the grade will be determined, and tell whether or not the capstone is course-based.