Interdisciplinary Studies

The Center for Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs enables students to pursue educational goals that lie outside traditional disciplines and departments. Through its faculty Committee on Individualized Interdepartmental Programs, it supervises specially constructed programs leading to the B.A. degree. These include programs tailored to the specific needs of the individual student. In recent years these individualized majors have included such diverse areas as Italian studies, law and society, and cultural studies.


  • The Major—interdepartmental studies leading to bachelor’s degrees awarded by the College.
  • The Minor—An interdepartmental minor may also be arranged through the Center.
  • An interdepartmental M.A. or M.S. may also be arranged with the cooperation of the related departments.

Students who are interested in any of these programs are urged to discuss their plans with an advisor in the Center for Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs, located in Lattimore Hall.

A student seeking an individualized interdepartmental program should begin planning no later than the second semester of the sophomore year. After discussion with two faculty members who agree to serve as advisors and meeting with an advisor in the Center for Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs, the student prepares a proposal, which contains the following information:

  1. a statement indicating the reasons for the particular major and how it relates to the student’s educational and career goals,
  2. a statement explaining why these goals cannot be met within an existing departmental major,
  3. a listing of those courses that will make up the major (at least 10 in number or 40 credit hours), and
  4. the names of two faculty members who have agreed to be advisors. Help in preparing the proposal is available in the Center for Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs. For example, one student who was considering either law or graduate school designed a major in American studies that included history courses in nineteenth- and twentieth-century America, courses in American literature and American politics from corresponding periods, together with supplementary courses in art and international studies.

The proposal for the interdepartmental minor requires the support of one faculty member to act as advisor. Students apply by submitting an essay, as for the major, along with a list of six courses or 24 credit hours.

Once a student’s proposal is complete, it is handed in to the Center and subsequently is submitted for action to the Committee on Individualized Interdepartmental Programs.

In judging the proposal, the Committee considers the student’s academic goals and attempts to judge the coherence and thoughtfulness of the proposed program.

The bachelor’s degree with honors is awarded according to three criteria:

  1. successful completion of 12 credits of honors course-work: two 4-credit independent study courses in the senior year, one devoted to honors research in the fall, and another devoted to thesis writing in the spring; and one 4-credit advanced-level course or seminar;
  2. completion of a senior thesis; and
  3. an oral defense of the thesis.

Detailed information about the requirements is available in the Center for Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs in Lattimore Hall.

The bachelor’s degree with distinction is awarded to students with a sufficiently high major grade-point average: 3.25 for distinction, 3.50 for high distinction, and 3.75 for highest distinction.

It is possible for students to earn the degree with both distinction and honors. Interdepartmental Clusters may be proposed by students. A form for this purpose is available at the Center. Interdepartmental Cluster proposals include courses from three different departments.

NOTE: Proposals for majors must be submitted by April 1 or November 1. Proposals will not be accepted after November 1 of the senior year.


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