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Undergraduate Dean's Office
Eugenia Chase Guild Hall
Lower Level
101 N. Merion Ave.
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
Phone: (610)526-5375
Fax: (610)526-7560

Office Hours
9am - 5pm
Monday - Friday

Designing an Independent Major Program


The Proposal and the Evaluation Process

The proposal should be developed with the advice and support of your advisers.  It should state your reasons for designing the major, explain why your interests cannot be accommodated by an established major, and identify your key intellectual concerns. 

Your course list should explain how each course will contribute to your major.  The list should include 11 to 14 courses, at least 7 of which must be taken at Bryn Mawr or Haverford.  The plan should include up to two courses at the 100-level and at least four at the 300- or 400-level, including at least one semester of a senior project or thesis (indicated by course number 403).  See “Exploring your idea and writing your proposal” for further advice.

The Independent Major Committee is composed of four faculty members, one or two students who are themselves pursuing independent majors, and one dean.  In evaluating each proposal, the Committee considers the following issues: 

  • Is the proposed major appropriate within the context of a liberal arts college?
  • Could the proposed major be accommodated instead by an established major and minor?
  • Does the proposal convey its intellectual concerns and the role each course will play in this inquiry?   
  • Are the proposed courses expected to be offered over the next two years?
  • Will the faculty members be available for good advising?
  • Does the student’s record predict success in the proposed major?

The Committee may ask you to revise your proposal if it has promise but requires additional work.  If revision is required, a new deadline will be given to you, and you will be expected to meet that deadline. 

The Committee’s decisions about a proposal are final.  Please note that the fact that a particular topic was approved in the past is no guarantee that it will be approved again. 

If the Committee approves your proposal, you will be informed by email and sent the independent major work plan, which you will need to fill out.  Once you have obtained the signatures of your advisers, you should submit the work plan to the Dean’s Office.

The Committee continues to monitor the progress of students who have declared independent majors and must approve, along with the advisers, any significant changes to a given program.  A grade of 2.0 or higher is required for all courses in the major.  If this standard is not met, you may be required to change immediately to a departmental major.

Honors may be awarded for significant work in the field of the major.  Criteria are a GPA of 3.8 for the courses in the major or an outstanding senior project (3.7 or 4.0) combined with a 3.5 major average.  Honors are determined by the two senior thesis advisers and an outside reader.


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