First, discuss your ideas with your academic adviser, faculty of the CIS, your friends, or any one else who offers you good advice. Think hard about the kinds of experiences you want to include in a major, and about which college resources you want to use. Think hard about what you want it to add up to when you’re done. It may also be useful to visit with a counselor in the Piper Center for Vocation and Career.
Get necessary forms and worksheets for proposing an individualized major from the CIS office or download them here . The proposal forms will help you gather the required material for your proposal. The worksheet suggests a process of self-reflection that may help lead you to a workable plan. The worksheet focuses on questions like these:
- What majors were you considering when you came to St. Olaf?
- What kinds of things will you be integrating in your individualized major (e.g., particular departments, types of learning experience, modes of expression)?
- What departments or particular faculty might be valuable resources for you?
The CIS offers support for individualized majors, not for general education, so you must insure that your academic planning includes a strategy for satisfying all general education requirements. In some cases you may include classes taken for general education in your proposal for an individualized major (just as some general education courses count towards established majors).
Making a Proposal–Dates, Contents
You may make a proposal for an Individualized Major anytime from the beginning of your sophomore year to the middle of your junior year. Each proposal must be reviewed by a faculty review committee . The CIS will make every effort to make a decision about your proposal within four weeks of the time you present it. A good idea is to present a proposal in time to get a decision before the registration period for the next semester; that way you can choose upcoming courses accordingly. For example, if you present your proposal by October 1, the CIS will make every effort to convene a faculty review committee and make a decision about your proposal by November 1, in time for you to choose courses for spring term registration accordingly. If you present a proposal by March 1, the CIS will make every effort to convene a faculty review committee and make a decision about your proposal by April 1, in time for you to choose courses for fall term registration accordingly.
Use the proposal form to present your proposal. It will help insure your proposal is complete. Your proposal must include:
- the proposed name and description of your individualized major, with an explanation of the main idea that ties your proposal together and why it must be pursued through an individualized major,
- a list of the courses, independent studies, internships, or other experiences you propose,
- a preliminary description of the senior project you might do,
- statements of support from your adviser and from a reference librarian,
- one item you might include in your web portfolio
The Review Process–procedures and criteria
Faculty in the Center will review your proposal. If your proposal seems feasible, the director of the Center will convene a faculty review committee to evaluate it. Faculty review committees are especially important in the CIS. A new faculty review committee is convened for each reasonable proposal. This insures that proposals get a fair hearing; it insures that faculty across the campus are aware of what students are proposing; and it provides valuable feedback and advice for students at the beginning of their individualized majors. Your faculty review committee will include your adviser, the CIS director and program coordinator, a student currently pursuing an Individualized Major, and another faculty member who has expertise relevant to your proposal. The meeting of the faculty review committee will be public. You and your adviser will each have a chance to explain to the committee the idea behind your major, and why you have included the courses and other learning experiences you propose. The faculty review committee may approve your proposal as it stands, approve it with agreed upon changes, or reject it. If your proposal is approved, you may pursue your major according to the proposed plan. The Center and the faculty review committees will be guided by prevailing standards of excellence for a departmental major at St. Olaf, and especially by the following criteria:
- Your plan must be sufficiently coherent and substantial to meet the aims of integrative study .
- Your plan must meet usual St. Olaf standards for the quantity of academic experience constituting a major–generally the equivalent of twelve units of academic work (including two units devoted to a senior integrative project).
- Your plan must include significant advanced work, usually two or more Level III courses, plus a senior integrative project.
- Your plan must include evidence that it will provide both a foundation of skills, concepts, and methods appropriate to the proposed field of study, and opportunities for developing skills, sub-fields, and special topics to enrich the major.
- Your preliminary plan for the senior integrative project must suggest a sustained exploration of your subject matter, guided by familiarity with appropriate methods, and permitting a reflective reexamination of material encountered earlier in the major.
If, as you proceed with your work, your plan for the major changes, it is possible to amend your proposal in consultation with your adviser and the director.
When your work is completed, in your senior year, the director will convene a faculty certification committee to review your work and certify whether or not you have met the requirements for your major as defined in your original proposal.