Independent Major

Independent Major at the UM College of Arts & Sciences

The Independent Major (IM) is a major exclusive to the College of Arts & Sciences at UM.  It allows students to create their own customized AB or a BS degree in the College of Arts & Sciences, depending on the field of study and working in consultation with their Guidance Committee. Students must fulfill a rigorous list of requirements for such degrees.


  • A proposal that includes the following:
    • An explanation why existing majors are inappropriate or inadequate to satisfy the student’s interests.
    • At least thirty (30) credits of coursework beyond those needed to fulfill General Education requirements. Of those thirty (30), at least six (6) must be at the 300 level; additionally, six (6) credits will be satisfied by a Capstone project/thesis in the last two (2) semesters of the Bachelor’s degree.
    • Students may begin to develop a proposal for the IM when they have reached sophomore standing.
  • Students must declare the IM before reaching senior standing.
    • Students must declare as a junior and spend at least two (2) full semesters in residence at UM in the IM program. Students will require a cumulative UM GPA of 3.5 or higher to be eligible for the IM.
  • A Guidance Committee
    • Each student’s guidance committee typically will comprise two tenured or tenure-track faculty, typically from different departments, who represent the main scholarly areas of the courses selected for the IM. A third Guidance Committee member might be appropriate when the proposed course of study encompasses expertise from three departments or disciplines.
    • The Guidance Committee Chair, who has primary oversight responsibility regarding satisfactory completion of the major, will serve as the primary advisor for the student’s senior research/creative project under most circumstances, and must be a tenure-track faculty member. (In some cases involving co-advisors, the Chair might not serve as the student’s advisor.)

Please Note: Because many courses have variable availability and conflicts are inevitable, strong proposals will identify more than 30 credits of coursework before being submitted to the Advisory Committee for approval. If a student wishes to pursue the IM as a double-major, the Advisory Committee should give particular attention to the appropriateness of the student’s plan of study; no double-counting of credits will be allowed between the two majors.

For more information on this major, please contact Senior Associate Dean Jennifer Ferriss-Hill at: