Special Major

A student may develop a special major (self-designed) rather than elect one of the existing departmental or interdisciplinary majors. There must be a strong educational advantage for doing so, one that cannot be served through any of the traditional majors. The special major proposal form can be found under the ‘For Students’ section in uKnow. Choosing options such as a double major or major/minor(s) is preferred to designing a special major.


To submit a proposal for a special major, a student must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.1.

  1. In developing a special major proposal, the student must work with a faculty member who agrees to serve as the major adviser. The proposal shall be reviewed by the Associate Dean, who will present it, if it is acceptable (i.e., if it meets the guidelines, is well written, and is without error in spelling or grammar), to the Committee on Academic Policy and Curriculum (CAPC) for evaluation and action.

  2. If a student has or later declares a second major, no more than two courses from one major may count toward the other.


A special major proposal is expected to include:

  1. A short descriptive title.

  2. Significant academic work in at least three disciplines.

  3. A minimum of 60 credits, no more than 12 of which may be at the introductory level.

  4. A rationale for the proposal that explains its purpose, specifying how and why the proposed special major provides a learning experience not available in the pursuit of a traditional major and demonstrating creativity, intellectual integrity, and ability to synthesize.

  5. An integrated, coherent, focused program of inquiry supported by a schedule of courses and/or programs that constitute the special major and a statement that justifies the selection of each course.

  6. A statement of endorsement from the major adviser addressing the merits of the proposal and the student’s argument for the special major. It is the responsibility of the adviser to check the proposal for content, presentation, and adherence to these guidelines, prior to submission.

  7. The form with the required signatures of faculty and administrators.

Any exception to these guidelines must be approved by CAPC following receipt of a petition submitted by the student and supported by the major adviser.

The final version of the proposal is to be submitted to the Associate Dean for Curriculum and Faculty Development. Submit both a hard copy with the signed cover form and an electronic copy of the proposal.

Due Dates

Special majors should normally be approved by the second semester of the sophomore year. They are to be submitted to CAPC no later than October 15 for a student declaring a major in the Fall semester and no later than March 15 for a student declaring a major in the Spring semester. Any exception to submitting a proposal later than the second semester of the sophomore year requires a petition to CAPC. Petitions will be evaluated on the basis of the strength of the proposal, the academic record of the student, and the educational merits of the case for exception.

Related Considerations

General education requirements must be met.

  1. Special majors must be presented individually. Approval of a special major in one instance in no way implies approval of similar subsequent proposals.

  2. Examples of well written proposals are available in the Office of the Associate Dean.