Discover Studying Abroad

How to Create Your Own US College Major

An overwhelming number of US colleges and universities encourage students to create their own majors to suit their career goals
BY BrainGain Magazine Staff Writer |   14-08-2019

How to Create Your Own US College Major

“I gravitated to a US college because they give you so much freedom to design your own major,” said Rita Sharma, a senior at New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

Being able to customize her major at Gallatin motivated Sharma to choose the school for her undergraduate degree. This year, she will declare a major in New Media and Cultural Communities after originally planning to double major in Journalism and Cinema Studies.

According to College Board, about 954 public and private four-year colleges and universities allow students to create their own majors.

Schools may describe the option as "customized," "individualized," "interdisciplinary" or "design your own major."

Susanne Wofford, dean of NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study, believes international students should choose to design their own major if they are “independent-minded, eager for a challenge” and want to take control of their own education.

Meanwhile, international student Chen Hua, whose interest is in gerontology, or the study of the aging process, is pursuing a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies with a concentration in holistic psychology through the Center for the Adult Learner at Lesley University in Massachusetts.

Hua says he has taken classes like cross-cultural psychology and comparative and alternative medicine, knowledge he hopes to apply back home.

"China is one of the most rapidly aging nations in the world. Going back to China and serving the aging population there would be one of my priorities," Hua told “US News & World Report.”

Requirements for customized majors

The specific steps involved in creating your own major vary on the margins among different universities, but the general process is usually the same. Requirements for customized majors typically start with a proposal.

For example, at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where students can create a Bachelor of Individualized Studies or an individually designed interdepartmental major, both require meeting with an adviser to draft a proposal and course plan.

US allows more time to arrive at a major

The attraction of a US undergraduate degree is indeed its flexibility, but that flexibility comes only incidentally through the option of a minor. The greater part of the flexibility comes from the deferred selection of even a major until the third year of one's undergraduate studies. In sharp contrast UK universities require students to choose a major when they apply.

“US college students have the luxury of more time to figure out what fields of study to pursue,” said Sharma. “This is a huge advantage when designing a major.”

By customizing a major, which can include an internship and semester abroad, students may set themselves apart from the competition. In other words, customized majors allow students to prepare themselves for diverse and niche jobs and careers.



Can't Read  
Enter Above Code:


Sign Up for our newsletter

Sign Up for latest updates and Newsletter