Self-Designed Studies Major - “Create Your Future!”

The Self-Designed Studies major, interdisciplinary in nature, allows talented students to “create their own future” by constructing a curriculum that fits their learning objectives. As a logical outgrowth of our AIM-Hei Mentoring Program, it will require a student to reflect on his or her personal strengths as well as immediate and long term goals, tying personal and co-curricular activities to the curriculum.

The major will consist of at least 27 hours of courses. The student will have the option of designing his or her own program after developing a rationale and purpose with two faculty mentors. The course of study will be approved by a Self-Designed Studies Committee appointed by the Provost. Self-Designed Studies majors will also complete either the General Education Requirements or the Honors Curriculum. The Self-Designed Studies option should normally be adopted by the end of the sophomore year.

What courses will the students take?

Coursework is to be determined by the student and two mentors, with the approval of the Self-Designed Studies Committee. Fifteen hours of the selected courses for the major must be at the 300+ level. Plan should demonstrate a vertical progression to higher level courses. One course should cover research methods or applied methods in preparation for the Discipline-Specific Junior Written and Oral Communication requirement (JWO) and the Senior Capstone experience. Self-Designed Studies majors will either complete General Degree Requirements or the Honors Curriculum.

Who may apply?

Any highly motivated student with specific career and/or academic goals that cannot be met by enrolling in another established major at Heidelberg may apply for Self-Designed Studies. Incoming freshmen may apply by August 15. Others may apply by October 15 or March 1 of each year. Application includes an essay explaining the student’s goals and how her/his self-designed major will help achieve them. Also included should be a letter of reference from both faculty mentors.

Is there an expected GPA?

A student must maintain a 3.0 to remain in the Self-Designed Studies major. Student progress will be monitored by the Self-Designed Studies Committee. A student who does not meet that GPA will be advised to switch to another major after a semester grace period.

Can a student double major?

The Self-Designed Studies major is an ideal companion for any other major and/or minor(s), and second majors will be recommended. No more than two courses may fulfill requirements for each major and/or minor.

Specific Self-Designed Studies courses (SDN)

Several new courses have been added to document important individual work in the student’s curriculum—three options for the Junior Discipline-Specific Oral and Written Communication requirement (JWO) and a Senior Capstone course.
a. Junior Year Experience: SDN 370 Internship (3-6 hr), SDN 371 Individual Research (3 hr), or SDN 372 Study Abroad/Study Away (1 hr). If a student is also in the Honors Program, SDN 370, 371 or 372 may be preliminary work for HNR 455 Senior Honors Project.
b. The capstone for this individualized major will be an e-portfolio, SDN 400 Portfolio (1 hr), in which the student works independently with both mentors to develop a portfolio of significant projects developed throughout his/her tenure at Heidelberg. Connecting text should link projects from the selected departments in the Self-Designed Studies major, and explain their significance in the student’s development. Text itself should include latest research in the area of the student’s interest.

Who will administer this major?

A Self-Designed Studies Committee, with representatives from the: Fine Arts, Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and Professional Programs. The committee will refer interested students to appropriate faculty, consider applications for the program, consult involved departments and faculty, approve individual curriculum plans, review portfolios, attend the portfolio presentations, and meet annually to review the program and the progress of individual students. The committee will develop a handbook for students and mentors regarding Self-Designed Studies.