Individualized Major (self-designed)

The individualized major exemplifies the hallmarks of a liberal arts education at Gettysburg College. Individualized majors are integrated, interdisciplinary, self-designed majors that combine coursework and other experiences from at least two departments or fields with other experiences such as internships and off campus study.

Students designing their own major make connections in what they are learning to see relevant implications across courses, and to achieve an education that is more than a transcript of self-contained courses.  In addition, they are self-reflective and able to write and think in ways that express a growing self-awareness about the progress and impact of their education.  The program is for students who want to chart a truly original path through the Gettysburg Curriculum by designing their own course of study.

To design your own major, you must develop a concept focused on a problem, question, or area of investigation of special interest to you that cannot be adequately addressed within a single department or discipline. You will submit an application explaining your concept and proposing the courses through which you will explore it to the IDS Committee. Faculty sponsors from the departments you are combining will work with you to help you polish your proposal and to advise and guide you through your course of study.

Your proposed major must be an integrated plan of study that incorporates coursework from a minimum of two departments or fields. In addition, an individualized major generally includes:

  • twelve courses, no more than two of which may be at the 100-level;
  • three or more courses at the 300-level or above;
  • a designated Methods course;
  • a 400-level individualized capstone taken during the senior year.

After consulting with a member of the IDS Advisory Committee and meeting several times with two prospective sponsors/advisors, students should submit their proposals to the Interdisciplinary Studies Committee and have their proposal approved no later than the end of their second year.

Students must have a 2.5 overall GPA to be accepted into the program. Students should be aware that an individualized major may require departmental methods or theory courses and additional advanced coursework particular to each of the fields within the program. In addition, it is often possible to build a significant internship or component of off-campus study into your major.

ONCE YOU ARE ACCEPTED: If you wish to make changes in the course list after the IDS Committee has approved the proposal, you must submit a “Request for Course Changes” form to the IDS Committee.  This form must be signed by both sponsors indicating their approval of the request.  If the IDS Committee approves the request, we will notify the Registrar. Rising seniors will be notified at the end of the summer if their approved course list for their major and courses taken/registered for do not correspond. In such cases, rising seniors must submit a course change request (found online) by the first IDS Committee meeting in the fall.  Failure to do so constitutes the lack of a graduation plan and could delay your graduation date.  Students must pass, retaking if necessary, all courses approved for their major; otherwise a new course list must be approved by the IDS Committee.

Note that students must earn a minimum grade of C in their designated Methods course. Failure to earn a C or better requires that students must re-propose their major with a new Methods course and capstone.

The IDS Capstone (IDS 464) must be worked out with the sponsors and approved by the IDS Committee by the end of the junior year (or by the end of the fall semester if studying abroad during the spring of their junior year). Since your proposal must be approved before you can register for IDS 464, the lack of an approved capstone proposal constitutes a lack of a graduation plan, which is reason to delay your graduation date. A capstone cannot be conducted in the same semester that it is approved.

A student may graduate with Honors from the individual major program. Honors designation requires a high GPA (as calculated at the end of the seventh semester), the endorsement of an advisor/faculty member, and a 464 Project which is deemed to be outstanding by the project sponsor when the Committee is ready to request an evaluation.