Individual Majors

Fall '16 Proposals Due Committee Meetings
September September 8 September 16
October October 3 October 11
November November 7 November 15
December December 5 December 13


If you are a student in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Individual Major (IM) offers you the chance to focus your academic work on an interdisciplinary topic outside the framework of an existing department or program major. In an Individual Major, you define your own major program of study, drawing on courses from two or more disciplines within the college. In certain cases, you might apply to work toward a degree with Honors in your Individual Major.

Applying for an Individual Major

Application for an IM is made to the Individual Majors Committee. In formulating the IM, the student should read the IM Handbook and should seek the help and advice of two faculty advisors. Samples of previous proposals may be viewed in the Office of the Dean of Studies, Peters Hall 205. Students may consult with the IM Committee chair or other members of the Committee at any stage in the development of a proposal and must consult with the IM Committee chair prior to submitting a proposal. All IM proposal related forms are available here in downloadable format.

The usual deadline for declaring an IM is the second semester of the sophomore year (or before a student has completed 16 full courses or the equivalent (two half courses equals one full course), whichever comes first). In practice, if another major has already been declared, the individual major proposal must be submitted no later than the second committee meeting in the first semester of the student's junior year-- or before a student has completed 20 full courses or the equivalent (i.e., for the meeting in October or March). An IM may be approved NO LATER than the end of the student's second semester of Junior year.

The IM Committee holds regular monthly meetings. Any proposals, modifications or other information for the committee should be submitted to the chair, Steve Wojtal, one week prior to the scheduled meeting. Materials received after that date will not be considered until the next meeting.

Committee action will be taken ordinarily within a month of the receipt of the completed proposal. The student and advisors will be notified by letter soon thereafter whether the proposal has been accepted, rejected or granted conditional approval and returned for re-submission with suggested changes. Please be aware that many proposals are returned for revision. Approved proposals will be filed by the committee with the registrar, to serve as the basis for certification by the registrar of successful completion of the IM when the course work has been completed.

Individual Major Advisors

The advisor-advisee interaction is a crucial facet of the IM program. The committee requires that proposals be carefully examined by the advisors and that they represent the best use of available time and resources. Advisors are asked to work closely with the student in the planning process—offering suggestions and pointing out alternatives—and to continue to work with the student throughout her/his career at Oberlin so that on- and off-campus opportunities, changes in course offerings or in the students plans and interests can be discussed and incorporated in the major.

The proposal must be discussed with at least two faculty members who agree to serve as advisors. Advisors will be from different departments within the area of the IM or, in the case of cross-divisional majors, from both divisions. It is necessary that advisors be on campus during the course of the major program, and if an advisor has to leave campus, a replacement must be found.

The student is responsible for notifying the advisors, the IM committee, and the registrar in writing of any changes in his/her IM program (see the relevant section in the IM Handbook and the relevant form you need to complete).

In order to ensure that programs are given the time and attention they need, the two advisors are expected to meet at some length with the student. It is desirable for these to be joint meetings between the student and both advisors.

The initial meetings should be arranged by the student to discuss the preliminary proposal and to draw up the final draft. As a basis for these discussions, the student should submit a written draft to the advisors for evaluation.

Once a final draft is produced, the student should keep a copy for her/his own records, and supply a copy to each advisor.

Advisors' recommendations are to be submitted (electronically to the IM committee chair) on the form provided here and should contain a detailed evaluation based on the final draft provided by the student. Proposals will not be considered until these recommendations have been received.


Steve Wojtal, Associate Dean
IM Committee Chair
Cox Administration 101
Phone: 775-8410


Samples of previous proposals may be viewed in the Office of the Dean of Studies, Peters Hall 205.


Handbook for Individual Major

Individual Major Proposal: For approved Independent Major: