Individualized Major

Brief Overview

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 who complete an individualized major make connections across courses and 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 individualized major program is for students who want to chart a truly original path through the Gettysburg Curriculum by designing their own course of study.

How to Apply

To create an individualized major, you must develop a concept that is focused on a problem, question, or area of investigation of special interest, and that cannot be adequately addressed within a single department or discipline, or by an existing major at the college. You must submit an application to the Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS) Committee explaining your concept and proposing the courses through which you will explore it. Faculty sponsors (from two separate departments) will work with you to help you polish your application and will advise and guide you through your course of study.

Your individualized major must be an integrated plan of study that incorporates coursework from a minimum of two departments or fields. In addition, an individualized major 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 capstone (IDS 464) taken during the senior year.

After consulting with a member of the IDS Committee and meeting several times with two prospective faculty advisors, students should submit their applications to the IDS Committee for review. All applications for individualized major must be approved by the end of the second year. No new applications for an individualized major will be considered from students in their junior or senior 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 need to make changes in the course list after the IDS Committee has approved your individualized major, you must submit a “Course Change Request Form” to the IDS Committee. This form must be signed electronically by both faculty advisors, indicating their approval. Students may change up to three courses from their originally approved individualized major. If a student needs to change more than three courses, then they must submit a new individualized major application that explains and justifies the new course of study. Note that students may not request a course change for a course that has already been completed. Furthermore, students must pass all courses approved for their major.

Students must earn a minimum grade of C in their designated Methods course and they may only retake their designated Methods course one time. Failure to earn a minimum grade of C in their designated Methods course requires a withdrawal from the individualized major.

Capstone Requirements

The individualized major Capstone (IDS 464) must be worked out with a student’s faculty advisors. A capstone application form must be submitted to and approved by the IDS Committee by the end of a student’s 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 with an individualized major. Honors designation requires a high GPA (as calculated at the end of the seventh semester), the endorsement of both faculty advisors, and a 464 Capstone project that is deemed to be outstanding by the capstone supervisor when the IDS Committee is ready to request an evaluation.