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 2100 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 health studies are the most common. We also have strong clusters of students designing majors in international studies (including Global Studies), criminal studies, and sport. Other recurring themes include film studies, public policy, Deaf studies, neuroscience, and data science.

Admissions

The Individualized Major Advisory and Admissions Committee reviews admissions applications at meetings held several times per semester. There are two application deadlines each semester.

Admissions criteria

The Committee makes admissions decisions based on:

  • Academic standing. A student must be in “good standing” and have a GPA of 2.0 (for a major in CLAS) or 2.5 (for a major in CAHNR) in order to apply to the Individualized Major Program. To graduate with an individualized major (in both CLAS and CAHNR), a student must achieve a major GPA of 2.5. Therefore the Committee will consider whether the student is likely to meet the GPA requirement for graduation.
  • Coherence, rigor, and feasibility of the proposed major. The committee will evaluate whether the major theme (as presented in the student’s statement of purpose) and plan of study form a cohesive and conceptually-sound degree. It will also evaluate the academic rigor of the major, to make sure that it is on par with other majors at the university, and evaluate whether it can be completed as planned.

Application materials

An application consists of:

  • A plan of study
  • A statement of purpose
  • An unofficial transcript
  • If applicable, a double major worksheet and double major declaration form.

The plan of study needs to contain the following elements:

  • A minimum of 36 credits of courses at the 2000-level or above, of which at least 18 must be from the college granting the degree (CLAS or CAHNR).
  • Courses from at least two different departments.
  • A research methods course in a discipline represented in the plan of study. Additional training in information literacy and research practice is provided through the capstone requirement.
  • 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. More information is available on the Capstone page.
  • 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.

See the website section on the application for more information on the plan of study and statement of purpose.

Advising

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

Faculty Advisors

All applicants 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, tenure-track, or in-residence 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 of their application.

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 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.

Staff Advisors

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 advisors, 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 how knowledge is organized in the university while providing them a structured opportunity to prepare their individualized major applications.

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

Questions?

Please contact us.