Faculty Guide to the Individualized Major

The Individualized Major is offered by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. The Individualized Major (IMJR) Program was first established in 1974 and since then more than 1900 students have graduated with a self-designed major. Currently, about 60 students graduate with an IMJR each year. About 30 percent of IMJRs pursue a double major or additional degree. About 20 percent are in the Honors Program. More than 35 percent study abroad and approximately 50 percent complete an internship for credit. IMJRs in the area of international studies (including International Relations) are the most common. We also have strong clusters of students designing majors with themes in health, criminal studies, and sport. Other recurring themes include film studies, public policy, Deaf studies, neuroscience, and religion.

Admissions

The Individualized Major Advisory and Admissions Committee reviews admissions applications at meetings held several times per semester. Application deadlines are available at our website.

GPA criteria:

Students applying to the program must be in “good standing” and meet certain cumulative GPA requirements:

  • CLAS: GPA of 2.0 at application
  • CAHNR: GPA of 2.5 at application
  • Both CLAS and CAHNR require IMJRs to achieve a major GPA of 2.5 in order to graduate.

Additional criteria:

The proposed individualized major must not duplicate an existing major at the University. It must be interdisciplinary, coherent, rigorous, and on par with other majors at the University. This must be reflected in the student’s statement of purpose and plan of study.

Application materials:

Applications consist of (1) a statement of purpose, (2) a plan of study, (3) an unofficial transcript, and (4) where relevant, a double major worksheet and double major declaration form. The statement of purpose should discuss the theme of the major and make a case for its coherence and academic merit. Application guidelines and sample statements are available at our website (www.iisp.uconn.edu).

Plans of study should:

  • Include 36 credits at the 2000-level or higher. At least 18 credits must be from the College granting the degree (CLAS or CAHNR).
  • Be interdisciplinary. Plans of study should include courses from at least two different departments.
  • Include an information literacy/research methods course. Individualized majors fulfill their information literacy/research methods requirement by enrolling in a research methods course in a discipline represented in their plan of study. Additional training in information literacy and research practice is provided through the capstone requirement.
  • Include a capstone. The capstone requirement can be fulfilled by taking UNIV 4600W Capstone Course (offered by the Individualized Major Program) or UNIV 4697W Senior Thesis (or a departmental thesis course like POLS 4997W). An IMJR thesis is typically a year-long, six-credit research and writing sequence.
  • Include a writing-intensive course in addition to the capstone.

We also strongly encourage experiential learning such as study abroad, internship, research or other field experience.

Advising

IMJR students are advised by both faculty and Individualized Major Program staff. This collaboration between faculty and IMJR staff can take many forms but typically follows the pattern detailed below.

The Role of Faculty Advisors

Faculty advisors are expert guides to the fields that individualized majors include in their plan of study. All students applying to the Individualized Major Program must identify three faculty advisors with expertise in the fields represented in their plan of study. Primary advisors must be from the college (CLAS or CAHNR) from which the student plans to graduate and must be tenured or tenure-track faculty. Second and third advisors may be from other schools and colleges; they may be adjunct faculty if they will be at UConn as long as the student and if their department permits. We expect students to request feedback from their advisors on their plan of study and statement of purpose with sufficient time to incorporate suggestions for change into the final version.

We encourage students admitted to the Individualized Major Program to stay in touch with as many of their advisors as possible. As with any advising relationship, some IMJR students will build stronger ties with their advisors than others. Most students will rely largely on their primary advisor. We expect students to seek their primary advisor’s approval when they wish to make changes in their plan of study. Secondary advisors may be asked for their approval if the proposed changes in the plan of study are in their field. A final plan of study must be approved by the student’s primary advisor. It is then reviewed by IMJR Program staff and forwarded to Degree Audit.

Every April, faculty advisors receive a list of their current IMJR advisees. We maintain detailed records of students’ progress in their majors. Please contact us if you have any questions about one of your advisees.

The Role of Individualized Major Program Staff

Individualized Major Program staff guide students through all stages of the application process. We explain program expectations, ensure that plans of study include all the required elements, help students identify faculty with expertise in their area of interest, and make specific suggestions for revisions to their statement of purpose. We also guide students as they select courses for their plans of studies.

Every semester we offer a one-credit course, UNIV 2600 Individualized Study Across Academic Disciplines, that is designed to introduce students to disciplines and interdisciplinarity, while providing them a structured opportunity to prepare their proposals. This course is especially appropriate for second-semester freshmen, sophomores, and first-semester juniors.

Once admitted to the program, IMJR students will turn to program staff for advice on many practical matters such as registration, internship, and study abroad. They will also consult staff about any changes they wish to make in their plan of study.

Questions?

Please contact IISP staff.