Individually Contracted Major
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Coordinator: Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Education
Office: 160 Gardner Hall
The purpose of the individually contracted major is to afford an individualized source of study to students who are unable to fulfill important educational and/or career goals via the existing majors.
- The student will self-assess personal, educational and occupational goals.
- The student will review the existing major and minor programs.
- The student will determine and demonstrate that existing majors and minors will not fulfill the student’s goals.
- The student will employ critical thinking to prepare, with the assistance of an advisor and a committee of faculty, a detailed individually contracted major specifically tailored to that student’s needs.
- The student will master the coursework and content of the agreed-upon major.
- The student will develop increased self-knowledge, occupational knowledge, creativity, flexibility and organizational skill.
Students sometimes find that the selection of a major does not fit their own unique interests or career plans. Instead, their needs can best be served by an individualized course sequence composed of offerings from several departments or even from more than one college within the university. To accommodate such students, the College of Liberal Arts and Education offers the individually contracted major. Students, working closely with faculty members, propose and develop a course of study that will lead to the fulfillment of their personal educational goals. The following process sets forth the steps by which students can plan and pursue an individualized course sequence constituting the equivalent of a conventional major. At the same time, it provides a means by which the faculty can monitor students’ planning and subsequent activities to ensure that they meet the standard requirements for a degree. The process culminates in an agreement which sets forth the details of the proposed major.
Any sophomore or junior with a 3.0 or higher grade point average may select a member of the faculty of the college who is willing to be the advisor. With the advisor’s assistance, the student drafts a preliminary proposal which includes four elements:
- A justification of the projected major (including evidence both of the validity of the proposed program and of the unavailability of suitable alternatives)
- A rationale for the program
- Evidence of the student’s capability to conduct independent study
- A statement of the likely acceptability of the projected major to graduate schools or potential employers. The preliminary proposal is then presented to the coordinator
The coordinator, after confirming the completeness of the proposal, may help the student bring together a suitable committee of at least three faculty members, a majority of whom are from the College of LAE. One member of the committee serves as chairperson. The coordinator forwards the student’s proposal to the committee chairperson for review.
The committee reviews the proposal, and if it is acceptable, requests that the student submit a more detailed proposal.
The student consults with his or her advisor and the members of the committee to develop the detailed proposal. The proposal contains a rationale and includes a complete list of courses which will be taken, the formal course descriptions and sequencing of courses where applicable. The proposal also contains a thorough report on the acceptability of the major to employers or graduate schools, depending on the student’s long term goals. The complete proposal is reviewed by the committee which can approve it, send it back for revisions or reject it.
The committee chairperson forwards the approved proposal to the coordinator who reviews it to make sure that college and university requirements are met. The coordinator may approve the proposal, send it back to the committee for changes or reject it. Upon the coordinator’s approval, an agreement is signed between the student and the college, and information is forwarded to the appropriate offices.
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