Undergraduate students have the opportunity to define a personalized program of study when their educational objectives fall outside curricula defined by departments and programs of the college. Each student is asked to formulate their own program of study by working in association with a faculty advisor and the committee of faculty which oversees the major. Designing a major requires examination of personal goals and acquiring information about formal courses and other possible learning experiences (e.g., internships, independent studies, special topics and studies, and independent research). The information is then formulated into a package of proposed course work and other learning experiences.
The objective is to design a coherent and unique plan of study to meet the specific learning needs of the student and by which the student will achieve an advanced state of skills, knowledge, and values in their chosen field. The student must justify the designed package in two ways:
- value to the student;
- uniqueness and deviation from curricula already available.
The Self-Designed major usually comprises about sixty + credits of study in the junior and senior years (after the college core requirements have been fulfilled).
Self-Designed majors must complete a minimum of forty credits in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; twenty credits of this total must be at the 100-level or higher and outside of the CALS Core Competency requirements.
The design of the major is itself an intensive learning experience; therefore, students should plan to spend some time each week over the course of one semester designing their major.