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Self-Designed Major

Self-Designed Major Program Overview

At Manhattanville University, our self-designed major is your canvas for academic innovation, offering a platform where ambition meets opportunity. Here, you can build your own bachelor’s degree program, drawing from a diverse palette of disciplines and tailoring your education to fit your unique interests and career aspirations.

The self-designed major enables you to weave together courses from arts to sciences, crafting a personalized educational journey that breaks free from one-size-fits-all. Join us to become an architect of your academic experience.

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Introductory and General Education Courses

Students who have been accepted into Manhattanville and express an interest in creating their own bachelor’s degree spend their initial years completing the First-Year Program and general education liberal arts courses, where they gain well-rounded perspectives and meet faculty and students in different majors.

Proposals for possible declaration of the self-designed major programs must be presented in front of the School of Arts and Sciences Curriculum Committee for approval before the second semester of junior year.


Self-Designed Studies Proposal and Faculty Advisors

If you plan to pursue a self-designed major, the first step is to get in touch with the faculty members of the majors you wish to blend. You should search for faculty advisors who specialize in the areas you want to study. Your team of advisors provides you with guidance and mentorship throughout your degree program.

After finding and meeting with your faculty advisors, you design and explain the purpose and goals of your interdisciplinary major program. After shaping a proposal guided by your faculty advisors, you propose your program to the School of Arts and Sciences Curriculum Committee (SASCC) for consideration and approval.

Find your advisors: Get familiar with the traditional major programs available in the School of Arts and Sciences

Then, review the faculty directory to get detailed information on all of our expert faculty members and begin narrowing down options for hopeful faculty sponsors from the majors you expect to blend.


Getting Your Major Design Approved

Review current course offerings in the Manhattanville catalog to begin painting a picture of your exact plan of study in the interdisciplinary self-designed major. Most self-designed majors require at least 12 courses.

If you wish to have SASCC consider the major program you design, you need to fulfill the following requirements:

  1. Consult with at least three faculty members, two of whom must be full-time, from at least two departments, including those where you plan to take courses. You need the signatures of at least one faculty member from each department on your Self-Designed Major application. These signatures indicate their support for your proposed major program. Together, these faculty members take the place of a regular department chair.
  2. Provide a list of all the courses included in your self-designed major program, including a senior evaluation.
  3. Prepare a well-thought-out rationale for your proposed major program. Your essay should be long enough to convince SASCC of the depth and validity of your proposed program of study. Indicate the reasons why you included each course and how the courses you chose are related to each other.
  4. Submit a Self-Designed Major Application signed by all faculty advisors and a copy of your current transcript.

Requirements for the self-designed major program reflect the general Bachelor of Arts degree program graduation requirements, plus core coursework in the major designed by you with the help of faculty advisors.

Self-designed majors are interdisciplinary and involve courses from two or more departments for a total of 30 to 42 credits. Other requirements to complete the bachelor’s degree include:

  • 90 liberal arts credits  (general education and core courses)
  • 120 total credits
Review degree requirements for the Bachelor of Arts program at Manhattanville.

Self-designed minors are also available. To add a self-designed minor to another Manhattanville major, you must attain the support of two faculty members and propose a list of courses and a rationale.

Submit a Self-Designed Minor Application.

With a more open curriculum, the self-designed major program allows students to pursue interests that cross traditional boundaries. To develop ideas for a self-designed major, imagine the intersection of your passion and a complementary field or a plan of study that is highly attuned to a specific career path you want to pursue.


Recent students in the self-designed degree program have created individualized studies entitled:

  • Sustainability
  • Data Analytics
  • Social Justice, Ethics, and Society
  • Economics of the Performing Arts
  • Political Economy
  • Art and Society
  • Youth Advocacy
  • Film Directing


Experience the freedom of designing a degree tailored to your career goals and personal aspirations. Think about the possibilities of combinations such as:

  • Psychology and literature
  • Environmental sustainability and data science
  • Social and criminal justice and history
  • Global and international studies and marketing


Do I have to declare a different major before switching to the self-designed major?

No. No Manhattanville undergraduate student is required to declare a major until the second semester of sophomore year. Don’t fret if you don’t have an area to declare as you begin to take general studies courses in preparation for the self-designed major.


Is a self-designed major the same difficulty level as a traditional undergraduate degree?

The difficulty level of a self-designed major is comparable to that of a traditional undergraduate degree. It requires the same level of academic rigor, discipline, and commitment. Students in self-designed majors must meet the same credit requirements and maintain similar academic standards.

However, the complexity can vary based on the individual courses selected and the integration of different disciplines. Ultimately, the challenge is tailored by the students themselves, who must be self-motivated and organized to ensure a comprehensive and cohesive program of study.


How do I get started on pursuing a self-designed major?

If you are a student who hasn’t declared a major or is currently enrolled in a different program, you are advised to speak with the Academic Advising Office or the chairperson of the SASCC as soon as possible if interested in pursuing a self-designed major.

Your advisor guides you through the process of finding faculty advisors and helps you prepare for the entire process.


Is the self-designed major the same as an individualized studies major?

Yes, a self-designed major is essentially synonymous with an individualized studies major. Both terms refer to an academic program that allows students to customize their course of study. In such a program, students work closely with academic advisors to select courses that align with their specific educational goals and career aspirations, resulting in a personalized curriculum that may not be available through traditional majors.


Does the self-designed major still require general education requirements?

Yes, students pursuing a self-designed major at Manhattanville must fulfill general education requirements. This ensures a well-rounded experience, providing a foundation in a broad range of academic disciplines that complement the specialized focus of the self-designed major and equip students with critical thinking, communication, and analytical skills essential in any field of study.


What jobs and careers can I pursue with a self-designed major?

With a self-designed major, the jobs and careers you can pursue are as varied and unique as the major you create.

Graduates with a self-designed major often enter fields that value innovative thinking and interdisciplinary skills. Possible career paths include roles in fields such as business or entrepreneurship, the humanities, public service, politics, marketing and public relations, and many, many more.

Additionally, a self-designed major can provide a solid foundation for research careers and graduate studies in various disciplines, further expanding your career possibilities.


Can I add a minor to the self-designed major?

Depending on the elective credits you have available, it may be possible to pursue a minor in addition to the self-designed major. Review the requirements of your desired minor and contact your academic advisor to move forward.


Is the self-designed major friendly for transferring previous college credits?

Because the self-designed major begins after the beginning of your junior year at the earliest, it is possible, depending on the type and amount of transfer credits, to pursue a self-designed major to complete your bachelor’s degree at Manhattanville.

Review transfer admissions information to get started and reach out for assistance.


Will I have my own advisor?

Yes! You have three faculty advisors throughout the self-designed major program who sign off on your proposed individualized study plan and guide you as you work through the degree.