Ask a College Advisor: Do Some Schools Allow Me to Make Up My Own Major?
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Question: Do some schools allow me to make up my own major?
Answer: Absolutely! Many schools in the United States offer degree programs that allow students to design their own college major based on their interests and career plans. These programs may be referred to as "customized," "interdisciplinary," "individualized," "independent," or "design your own."
Some schools have students choose from a combination of disciplines already offered across existing majors, while others invite students to create a totally new degree plan.
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Is an Individualized Major Right for Me?
Individualized study programs may be ideal for students who are interested in more than one academic area or those who have a career path that would benefit from gaining knowledge in two or three different majors that do not typically intersect.
In other situations, a student may be interested in a field of study not offered at the undergraduate level, such as arts administration. In this case, learners may create a major that combines courses in leadership, communication, business, and studio art.
The benefit of individualized study is that the student is in control of what classes they take, which is not the case with traditional degree programs where most of the courses are mandatory and predetermined by the school.
How to Make Up Your Own Major
The process of designing your own major varies from school to school. Many schools ask students to create a proposal that outlines the academic goals and plans for their degree. Once accepted, the student works with faculty members and their academic advisor to build a curriculum that best fits the student's needs.
It is important that students interested in creating their own major programs do their research on the types of courses available so they can create a strong application.
Outside of an individualized study plan, most schools also require specific general education courses you must take in order to graduate. Make sure to factor these requirements into your personalized major plan.
Alternatives to Making Up Your Own Major
Creating your own major and applying to college as an undecided student are not the same thing. In fact, students who are undecided should apply with an undeclared major because their chances of getting into an interdisciplinary major program will be slim if they cannot build a compelling case for a "choose your own major" path.
Students interested in creating their own major should also explore dual degree, double major, and triple major options their school offers to see if these would suit their academic needs.
Designing a major can be an intense yet rewarding experience that allows students to customize their studies to fit their unique career goals. The individualized major process often has moments of uncertainty that require creative problem-solving from self-motivated, patient, and proactive students.
If you have college and career aspirations that don't fit neatly within the lines of the majors offered at your school, creating your own major may be a great option.
DISCLAIMER: The responses provided as part of the Ask a College Advisor series are for general informational purposes only. Readers should contact a professional academic, career, or financial advisor before making decisions regarding individual situations.
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