Students who successfully complete the Customized Major will have developed:
- the ability to think independently, critically, analytically, and integratively;
- research skills suited to investigating problems and topics that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries;
- problem-solving skills that reflect intellectual self-awareness, resourcefulness, and creativity;
- enhanced writing, communication, and information literacy skills
- strong leadership, teamwork, and cooperation skills suitable to the creation of new knowl edge in a variety of academic and professional settings; and
- global consciousness, social responsibility, and ethical awareness.
Highly motivated and creative students may propose individualized programs of study that combine work across multiple traditional disciplines. A Customized Major must consist of a coherent sequence of classes selected from the offerings of at least two academic departments or programs. This sequence must be unified by a consistent conceptual framework that reflects clear focus, along with both breadth and depth of inquiry. There must be a demonstrable relation to a specific set of career or educational objectives, and the program must culminate in an integrative project or thesis.
Possible subjects for Customized Majors include historical periods, keystone ideas, enduring questions, and new problems. For instance, a student might study Modernism in history, literature, art, and music; or she might explore the ideas of freedom and responsibility in philosophy, sociology, and political science; or she might combine insights from environmental studies, communications, and education to investigate the challenge of teaching ecological literacy. With the Customized Major, the possibilities are limited only by the student’s imagination and capacity for self-direction.
The Customized Major is not designed for students who are unable or unwilling to satisfy the requirements of existing academic programs.
Applicants must have completed the equivalent of one full-time semester of academic work at Westminster College and must have earned a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher in all classes completed here.
The Customized Major must consist of fifty (50) semester credit hours, 80% of which must be taken at Westminster College.
Only classes passed with a C or higher may be counted toward the major.
The curriculum should reflect a reasonable balance and sequence of introductory, intermediate, and advanced courses, and should include at least one course in research methods from one of the primary disciplines.
It is strongly recommended that each student complete a minimum of eight (8) hours of foreign language classes, though introductory language classes should not be counted toward the major.
As many as eight (8) semester credit hours may be satisfied in field-based coursework such as independent study, internships, community work, and supervised work experience.
Each student must complete a capstone project that integrates insights, information, and methods from the relevant disciplines into a focused inquiry or experience. This project must be proposed to the Advisory Committee (see below) at the beginning of the senior year. The results of the project should be presented in a public forum at Westminster or elsewhere. The completed capstone project must be submitted to the Director by the last day of classes in the student’s final semester.
Since the application process can take several months, students interested in pursuing the Customized Major should contact the Director as early as possible in their academic career.
The Director will conduct an extensive intake interview with each prospective major, assess the applicant’s academic history and interests, provide advice on the process of designing a Customized Major, and refer the student to faculty members who can provide field-specific advice regarding the selection and sequencing of courses into a rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum.
The applicant will design an individualized plan of study in consultation with an Advisory Committee consisting of two or more faculty members from across the College. The application to the program should include:
- the title of the proposed major as it will appear on the transcript,
- a list of courses providing both breadth and depth in the major,
- a statement of the specific learning goals of the proposed major,
- a description of the career or educational objectives the major will support,
- a statement of how the proposed major compares to existing programs in the same field at other institutions.
The application should be submitted to the Customized Major Director for approval at least three semesters before the applicant’s planned graduation date.
Office: Jewett A