Interdepartmental Programs—FAQ

What kinds of courses create an individualized major or minor?

The major is intended to fit your interests within a unified plan of study. Ten courses that you like do not necessarily add up to a major. Interdepartmental programs are for students whose interests do not fit inside a single department. Some proposals are turned down because students have unwittingly constructed a “watered-down” version of a major which appears to circumvent a few required courses in an existing major. Your faculty advisers, as well as advisers in Lattimore 206, will help you talk over these issues. Keep in mind, for example, that the Health and Society major began as an individualized major at UR. Strive for similar models of coherence and cohesiveness.

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Must I create a major or minor just like one that has been approved in the past?

No. This is a major or minor that you create yourself. Copies of programs that have been previously approved may be read in our office as you create your own program. Creating a major or minor with the same courses that have been approved in the past does not necessarily mean that your program will be approved. Your essays and faculty recommendations are read carefully by the Committee, and are weighted heavily.

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May I take courses outside The College or transfer courses to an individualized major or minor?

Yes. Although you may take up to two courses in other UR colleges, your program should be in the spirit of a liberal arts education and should be centered on work in The College. (Programs that resemble business or engineering majors are inappropriate.) Some transfer credit is acceptable, but the Committee is unlikely to accept a proposal which consists substantially of work done at another university. Normally no more than two courses taken outside The College may be included in a student's core program, although there are exceptions, such as study abroad programs and majors where students will benefit from wider exposure to other environments. For an interdepartmental minor, all courses must normally be taken within The College.

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What levels of courses can I use?

You may use some 100-level courses, but the major or minor consists primarily of upper-level work. Normally, language courses at the intermediate level or above may be included.

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Can I have an individualized major and another major or minor?

Yes. Up to two courses used to fulfill requirements in another major or minor may be used towards the core of an interdepartmental major. No courses for an interdepartmental minor may overlap with courses from another major or minor.

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How do I choose faculty advisers?

Perhaps your interest in an individualized major or minor grew out of your coursework with one or more faculty members. An adviser in the Center for Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs can brainstorm with you. Two faculty members must agree to serve as major advisers and will assist you in the development of your proposal. At least one of the advisers must hold the rank of Assistant Professor or higher. A minor requires only one adviser.

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How do I write the essays?

Think about how your proposal constitutes a significant departure from an existing major or minor. Why is it different? In what ways? How does it allow you to understand the theme in a way that simply taking a variety of courses in different departments does not allow? Discuss how each of the courses relate to one another, and to the major or minor as a whole.

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Can an interdepartmental major or minor fulfill a divisional Cluster?

Yes, provided that your proposal clearly defines one of the divisions: Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences. If the majority of your proposed courses fall within the Social Sciences, for example, you may ask to have your major or minor fall within the Social Sciences division. You will then choose clusters in the other two areas.

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What is the time frame for declaring an individualized major or minor?

You’re expected to have an officially declared major by the time you have earned 64 credit hours, normally by the end of the sophomore year. Proposals are carefully reviewed and evaluated by the CIIP once a semester, in April and November. The deadlines for submitting a completed proposal are April 1 and November 1 of the first semester of the senior year. All majors and minors must be approved by the end of the first semester of the senior year.

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How do I fulfill the upper-level writing requirement?

Students must take two designated writing courses in each of their majors. Courses designated as fulfilling the writing requirements of other departments, and individualized upper-level writing courses may be used. You may also designate an Independent Study course in the major as partial fulfillment of the requirement.

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