Design Your own major

Does JMU and VCU have design your own majors?

if nobody here knows and it’s not on their websites, call them up, OP. You can do it just as easily as we can.

I looked and couldn’t find it but i wasn’t sure if that was just my technology impairment because it seemed odd that both of the schools mentioned nothing about it; especially since more and more colleges are doing design your own major

Many colleges offer interdisciplinary majors with a capstone thesis/research project of some kind, but they wouldn’t call it “designing your own major.” Students have to fulfill gen ed requirements and write some kind of proposal, with a list of courses from related disciplines, for acceptance. You would also have to explain why your goals would not be met by majoring in an existing disciplinary area. This would not be done freshman year; too early.

What are your interests? Start first by looking for existing programs that fulfill them. Employers and grad schools generally do not like vague self-designed majors that no one understands except the student and his/her advisor. It’s better to have departmental/disciplinary identity and support.

My advice would be to major in an acknowledged disciplinary area and do a senior capstone thesis on your specific area of interest after you have taken foundational coursework. So look for colleges that offer “senior thesis” or some such.

I have heard many bad things about “self-designed majors” for the job world. Is it as bad as they say it is, or is it all a big misconception?

Thank you so much NJSue for your advice. I am looking at getting a MPH and there is so much I could major in because it is such a multidisciplinary field depending on my concentrations. Looking at the majors I have found about 5 - biology, psychology, international relations, public health, statistics- I would like to do because I am not sure what I want as my concentration.

Think about what you want to do with a master’s in public health and be guided by that. You could research some graduate programs and find out what the undergraduate majors of accepted students were. As time goes on while you’re in college, your interests should firm up a bit. Self-designed majors work best for people who already have very well-defined academic interests that aren’t represented in the curriculum, for some reason. They don’t work as well for for students who don’t know what they want to do. IMHO the vast majority of students benefit most from the structure of a departmental discipline.

Of the list of 5 areas (bio, psych, IR, etc.) which one or two interest you the most? What are you good at and what kinds of topics do you like to think about? Which aspects of public health are most interesting to you (environment, disease control, education, public policy, etc.)?

VCU does, it’s called the Bachelor’s of Interdisciplinary Studies:

NJSue here are my interests in

  1. Biology
  2. Public health
  3. International relations
  4. Statistics
  5. Psychology
    in order from highest to lowest. I am looking at disease control in MPH or public policy.

Thank you juillet!

Would I be correct in assuming you live in the state of virginia? I saw in the other thread that you were also interested in UVA and William and Mary. At William and Mary (my current school) it is possible to design your own major and at UVA there is an interdisciplinary major program. I would be cautious of going this route just because you aren’t sure of a major yet though, you may find when you enter college that you will find a preference for one or the other