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Not Sure What to Study in College? Create Your Own Major

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Even though plenty of large schools offer hundreds of different majors, some students just can’t make up their minds. There’s always the option of selecting a major and a minor, or even pursuing a double major, but some colleges offer students yet another alternative: the ability to create their own custom program of study.

According to the Wall Street Journal, data from the College Board shows that over 900 four-year colleges and universities allow students to develop their own majors with help from an academic advisor, an increase of 5.1% from 5 years ago. University officials also say that some schools go even further, providing not only individualized programs of study but specialized courses which help students develop majors that meet their interests and school standards.

Colleges that don’t allow individualized majors typically believe that faculty members and other education experts are the ones who know what students need to learn. Individualized majors also require a lot of work from the professors that have to advise the students while school budgets are already tight.

Custom Majors are Gaining Popularity

Even so, the popularity of creating your own major is growing.

The concept works well with students that want to earn bachelor’s degrees in specific career fields. The Wall Street Journal mentioned a University of Massachusetts at Amherst student with an interest in music, theater, dance and the production of stage shows. She was able to combine them all to create her own major: performing arts management.

Most parents are concerned that their children will concoct complicated cross-disciplinary fields of study that will never lead to a “real career,” but Megan Kolb, the performing arts management graduate, has already secured a job as a project manager for a New York City production company.

Indiana University student Anna Rogers is 47 years old and working toward her first bachelor’s degree—in underwater archaeology. When Rogers was unable to find the major she wanted to pursue in her school’s catalog, she worked with advisors in both the underwater science and museum programs to create her own. She is studying shipwrecks at the university’s Caribbean research sites.

A University of Connecticut senior named Catherine Pomposi was able to create a major of environmental analysis coupled with statistics. She says that she hopes to “have an advantage in applying for grad school, because I’ve designed my own program and already done research,” but individualized programs aren’t usually recommended for students that wish to pursue PhD’s in certain academic areas.

Creating your own major takes a lot of time and effort, especially since the schools that offer the option require interested students to find the professors that will serve as their advisors on their own. The majors are definitely unique, but they have to be tied to a specific field of work or future field of study—such as performing arts management or studying shipwrecks.

7 Colleges that Offer Individualized Majors

Below are 7 various colleges and universities that offer students the ability to create their own majors. If you’re curious about specific majors and degree programs at schools you’d like to attend, check out the StateUniversity.com Most Popular Schools by Degree Programs page.

  • Florida Southern College The Venture into the Adventure program lets students combine courses from several departments to customize their own degree program
  • Indiana University at Bloomington The Individualized Major Program gives students the freedom to create a multidisciplinary major that addresses issues and explores topics of their own choosing
  • St. Mary’s College of Maryland The Student Designed Major is a coherent program of study that combines courses from at least three disciplines
  • University of Connecticut The Individualized Major (IMJR) Program is a structured plan of study which incorporates courses from at least two— typically three or four— different departments
  • University of Minnesota The The Inter-College Program allows students to individualize their college experience by designing their own majors comprised of two or three areas of concentration from at least two of the University’s colleges
  • University of Washington The Individualized Studies program allows students to propose new majors which are related to a central theme yet draw courses from two or more departments

Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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