University of Vermont

A Closer Look at

The Self-Designed Major

Offered by: CALS Dean's Office


Looking for your niche at UVM? Are you innovative? Are you a motivated, hands-on learner, who wants something more from a college education? Consider the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Self-Designed major.

The Self-Designed Major is for highly motivated students with strong academic goals. Maybe your major is missing from traditional programs offered at the university, or maybe it encompasses two areas of study that you want to combine. If you are a hands-on learner--thus experiential learning is critical to your academic goals--then check out the Self-Designed Major. It allows students to expand their educational opportunities by creating a major that is not offered by the university. The program allows students to prepare for a new generation of careers that are not accessible in traditional majors. It is flexible, rigorous and emphasizes experiential learning. Graduates develop knowledge and skills that twenty-first century careers demand.

What Will I Study?

Students are attracted to the program's innovation and flexibility. As an integrated and interdisciplinary program, students may draw on the expertise of faculty across the College of Agriculture and Life Science (CALS) and University of Vermont (UVM). All students who enroll in the program must complete the basic core requirements for a bachelor of science degree from the CALS. In addition you will be required to complete courses which you selected in the program you designed. If the courses which you would like to include are not offered at UVM, you may arrange to take them elsewhere. The classes you take should prepare you for your internship experience. The following list provides an example of the diversity of topics in which previous students have designed their majors: Ethnobotany, Botanical Medicine, Restoration Forestry, Ecological Design, Diversified Agriculture, Agriculture Education, Communication and Management, Sports Management and Nutrition, and Advertising.

Exciting Field Experience

Undergraduates in the Self-Designed major are expected to include experiential learning activities as part of their program. These internship activities are an essential component of our students' education. They provide students with direct experience, important career contacts and they help build their resume. Students in the Self-Designed major have interned for the Green Mountain Audubon Center, Burlington Intervale Living Machine, The Media Group in Williston, Vermont, the Vermont Expos, the US Olympic Track Team in Sidney, Australia, MTV/House of Style in New York City, Spinazzola Foundation in Massachuesetts, Aprovecho Sustainable Research Center in Oregon, and the Council on International Educational Exchange Consortium in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Looking to the Future

Students graduating from the Self-designed major develop knowledge and skills for their specific career interests. They are ready for the twenty-first century, which requires graduates who are innovative, flexible, and self-directed. All of our graduates are working in areas for which their major was designed. Our graduates often receive job offers from the companies where they intern. Students also pursue graduate studies.

Core Courses:

  • Foundations
  • Written Communication
  • Oral Communication
  • Information Technology
  • Mathematics
  • Statistics
  • Physical and Life Sciences
  • Social Sciences
  • Humanities and Fine Arts
  • Race and Culture
  • Physical Education

Advanced Level Courses:

Students design this part of their program.

Faculty and Area of Expertise

Wendy Sue Harper, Ph.D.
Program Director and Committee Chair
Plant and Soil Science; soil science, compost and sustainable agriculture
Community Development and Applied Economics; information technology, public speaking, and ecology
Botany and Agricultural Biochemistry; plant physiology
Botany and Agricultural Biochemistry; plant systematics biogeography and New England flora
Tom J. Patterson, Jr., Ph.D. INDIANA UNIVERSITY
Community Development and Applied Economics; organization behavior

Last modified September 10 2007 04:11 PM

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