Creating Your Own Major: Good Idea or Bad Idea?

August 12, 2012 Category: College Tips

Having the ability to create your own college major sounds too good to be true but it’s the real deal. However, this isn’t as easy as it sounds, nor should it be used by students seeking an easy path towards a degree.

Choosing to create a college major does involve a process that must be followed in order for the school to recognize it.

How to Do It

The specific instructions for how to go about creating a major, commonly referred to as an independent major, varies from school to school. However, with such programs available at over 900 4-year colleges and universities, it shouldn’t be too difficult for students to find information on the subject at their school.

Typically the first step is to get an academic advisor on your side who has experience working with students that want to pursue the independent major route. Your academic advisor will be your go-to-person who will work closely with you to identify and develop the program and courses required to build the foundation of your intended major.

In addition to having an advisor on board, you may also be required to have a professor at your college “sponsor” you. Next, there will more than likely be steps involved that entail defining your degree program and presenting it to the school in order for the institution to approve it.

Create Your Own College MajorIndependent majors aren’t allowed or recognized unless it has been approved by the school (this is why it is important to have an advisor’s assistance and the help of a professor/sponsor).

Pros of Independent Majors

The upside to signing up for an independent major is the fact that the student gets to decide which courses will make up their degree program. This means a higher chance of taking courses that matter to students and that are directly related to whatever career choice a student plans on following upon graduation.

This alternative also ideal for students that aren’t sure which existing degree programs would be a good fit for them, as well as those with expressed interest in several different majors. By picking and choosing, students can combine various courses into their independent major and not have to waste time sitting through classes they aren’t interested in.

Cons of Independent Majors

Aside from the challenge of getting a college or university to approve an independent major, perhaps the biggest disadvantage for students is pitching their custom major to potential employers after graduation. Not all companies may be in tune with independent majors and might be confused as to what a student has actually studied and how it applies to the position they want to be hired for.

If an independent major consists of several vastly different courses, employers may not feel confident enough that a graduate has the proven experience/training needed to fulfill the job description.

The Bottom Line

Make extra sure the major you want to create is cohesive and contains courses that allow you to develop a skill set that is easy to sell to any future employer.

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