Students at Allegheny may design their own majors in cases where their academic, personal, and professional interests are not met by the combinations of majors and minors available in the standard curricula. The Self-Designed Major must embody the educational objectives of Allegheny College, match the rigor and scope of existing major programs, and be true to the vision of the Liberal Arts as intellectual, academic, and civic preparation for life. In conjunction with their advisors, students create a plan of study that reflects compelling intellectual connections between departments, allowing for the student to synthesize multiple bodies of knowledge. Students pursuing a Self-Designed Major must complete a Senior Project that functions as a culmination of the student’s interdisciplinary study. The Senior Project should directly contribute to the student’s expressed academic goals and must be evaluated by faculty from more than one department.
Qualifying students who wish to propose a Self-Designed Major should do so using the Student-Designed Major Application. To submit a proposal, students must have a 3.0 semester GPA for the two semesters prior to the proposal submission, and must submit their proposal by the end of the 7th week of their 5th semester at Allegheny College.
The student’s proposal should clearly articulate the intellectual goals for the plan of study and should provide a compelling case for how the proposed major fulfills those goals in ways not otherwise available through either double majors or other major/minor combinations. The major must include a minimum of 50 semester credit hours. The proposal should address how each course (including the Junior Seminar, the Senior Project, and potential study abroad, internship, or independent study opportunities) fits together to create a coherent and viable program of study. The program must show a progression to higher-level courses and include significant work at the 300- and 400-level. A self-designed major may not count more than 4 credits of internship or independent study, or more than 16 credits of transfer credit (e.g. from a study abroad program) towards the 50 credit requirement.
A self-designed major requires a great deal of care in its design. The primary responsibility for the proposal rests with the student. Faculty are critical to the student’s success, however, particularly in the planning and development stages. All proposals for Self-Designed Majors must be accompanied by a faculty evaluation letter from the advisors for the proposed majors that assesses the intellectual and academic cohesiveness of the proposed plan of study as well as its commensurability with the goals of a Liberal Arts education.
The complete proposal will be evaluated by the Curriculum Committee, which will ultimately grant or deny permission based on the quality of the proposal and the academic viability of the plan of study. Any subsequent changes to the program must be approved by the Curriculum Committee.