How to Design Your Own College Major

Certain students’ passions and desired academic pursuits do not fit neatly within an already-established college major. Luckily, there are quite a few institutions that offer the ability to design your own college major and create a course of studies that is uniquely important to you. The decision to design your own college major can afford you many opportunities—both academic and economic—as well as logistical struggles. Picking a major early in college can be difficult. Here are several suggestions to help you effectively achieve your goal:

Consider precisely what you wish to study (and why)

As you begin to design your own college major, contemplate what you wish to study. What areas are you most interested in, and how are they related? Think about the material you are most passionate about. What employment opportunities does it lead to? This is the ideal time to dream big—if you were to have the perfect college experience, what would that look like? What would your ideal career be? Family, friends, or educational advocates like tutors can be an excellent initial sounding board. You may also want to consider a part-time job on campus that can help you explore college majors.

Once you have done your dreaming, you are in a better position to determine in more realistic and concrete terms what you would like from your college experience, and later, your career. 

Consider qualifications and skills you will need for future employment or schooling

Creating a unique major is especially helpful if you plan to go into a very specialized field of work or to continue on to another level of education that has specific requirements. In this case, it is crucial to conduct in-depth research before you design your own college major. Speak with employers in your field and identify what types of skills and knowledge their ideal job candidates hold. Ask employers how they would feel about hiring a graduate with an individualized degree. If you plan on continuing your education after you earn your degree, ensure you talk to admissions counselors at your prospective programs to gather their input. 

Compare your ideas to existing college majors

Verify that the major you would like to create is not closely aligned to another offered at your college. If it is, it may make more sense for you to pursue the established concentration with specific, specialized classes as electives. Consider all the possibilities. Here is come great information on college majors.

Additionally, be aware of classes that are “major-specific,” or that require a particular major for the purposes of enrollment. Speak with your academic adviser to ensure there is a process in place that would allow you to register for those classes if you design your own college major. 

Work closely with the registrar’s office and your academic adviser

Each college that offers individualized majors will have a different process for creation and approval. Check in with the registrar and your academic adviser about this process. Most schools will require you to submit a proposal. The proposal is then reviewed by faculty (or a designated board), who will either approve it or suggest revisions. The proposal is sometimes a general statement of what you are hoping to study and why, while other times it will require a detailed listing of exactly what classes you wish to take. After your proposal is approved, you will work closely with your adviser to outline your course of study and meet all applicable requirements. 

While creating your own college major is not ideal for everyone, it is occasionally the perfect way to focus on the subjects you truly wish to study, or to best prepare yourself for a specific job or future studies. If you think you may be interested in designing your own college major, speak with your college about your options!