Why an IDM?

Designing an Individually Designed Major (IDMajor) or Individually Designed Minor (IDMinor) is an opportunity to receive credit for pursuing a course of study of your own choice sponsored by a faculty member. Read the general philosophy behind an individually designed major in the UVM Catalogue.

Nondepartmental, interdisciplinary major

In the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), the IDMajor is a nondepartmental, interdisciplinary major for those students whose academic interests in the arts and sciences are not met by the major programs currently offered in CAS. It is not CAS’s intention that such a special major (or minor) be a program of narrow professional training. Rather, the IDMajor must lead to an intensive investigation of some broad area of human knowledge that is not presently defined by a single departmental discipline in CAS. Similarly, the course of study for an IDMinor should constitute a coherent and intensive concentration of courses consistent with the philosophy underlying liberal education.

How do I apply?

The Individually Designed Major & Minor application forms:

What are the prerequisites?


  1. At least thirty-six and no more than forty-five credit hours total (at least: six credit hours at 200 level AND eighteen credit hours at 100 level or above).
  2. Core: Eighteen credit hours at 100 level or above; Electives: Eighteen credit hours. In order to accommodate the possibility that selected courses may not be offered at a given time, students should submit one alternate course in the core and two alternate courses in the elective list. All core and elective courses including alternates must be in CAS.
  3. Senior Project: At least three and no more than six credit hours of Readings and Research in the faculty sponsor's department, at the 100 level or above, leading to a substantial "capstone" research paper or thesis. This requirement may be replaced with six credits of College Honors.
  4. No more than eighteen credit hours in the proposed major may be completed or begun at the time of application.
  5. The department of the student's faculty sponsor shall be considered the major's department; the student cannot take a minor in that department.
  6. Consistent with CAS curricular policies, no more than one course included in the major can be in the student's minor.
  7. All forms/information should be listed on the application form.


  1. Eighteen or more credit hours total (at least: nine credit hours at 100 level or above).
  2. Core: Nine credit hours; Electives: Nine credit hours.
  3. No more than nine credit hours may be completed or begun at the time of application.
  4. No more than six credit hours may be outside CAS.
  5. The department of the student's faculty sponsor shall be considered the minor's department; the student cannot take his/her major in that department.
  6. No course included in the minor can be in the student's major.
  7. All forms/information should be listed on the application form.

Common to IDMajor and IDMinor

  1. A GPA of 2.5 or better at the time of the proposal (or any proposal for changes to the course of study).
  2. Proposals must be submitted no later than four weeks prior to the last day of classes during the final term of the applicant's junior year. Normally, IDMajors are submitted by the end of the sophomore year.
  3. The student must have a faculty sponsor who is tenured or tenure-track in CAS--not a lecturer, instructor, or faculty member in another unit of the university. Under exceptional circumstances, a secondary sponsor outside of CAS may also serve, if the proposed course of study clearly suggests that such a sponsor is a suitable choice for the student.
  4. Any changes to the course of study must be approved by the advisor and the IDM committee in advance.
  5. Students are strongly encouraged to contact the senior advisor in the CAS's Dean's Office to ensure that all University and College requirements are met.

Is there anything else I need to know?

The IDMajor / IDMinor is located and has its core in UVM's College of Arts and Sciences, not in one of UVM's several other colleges or in a discipline that falls outside the Arts and the Sciences. It is the student's responsibility, in collaboration with the sponsor, to demonstrate that:

  1. the IDM does not duplicate an existing major or minor at UVM, or represent an academically less rigorous version of it, either outside of or in CAS;
  2. the student cannot reasonably pursue a similar minor/major at UVM outside of CAS;
  3. the student can reasonably meet the prerequisites for taking the proposed courses; and\
  4. none of the courses outside of CAS in the IDMinor duplicates or approximates an existing CAS course.
  5. students should plan their coursework carefully in consultation with the relevant departments, recognizing that some courses listed in the catalog are not offered on a regular basis, and those that are may not be offered in a particular semester.

Together, all courses must form a coherent whole. In the case of the IDMinor, it is the student's responsibility to indicate for each course outside of CAS the department and college that offers the course, and the ways it includes elements relevant to a CAS education and the proposed IDMinor.

The demonstration of (3) requires for each course the full prerequisites to be listed. Given the typically unique nature of each proposed major or minor, the approval or rejection of a past proposed IDMajor/IDMinor shall not be treated as a precedent for the approval or rejection of a current proposal concerning the same or a similar IDMajor/IDMinor.

Questions about Individually Designed Majors?

Please contact the IDM advisor of the Academic Studies Committee.

Abigail McGowan, Associate Dean
E-mail: idmcas@uvm.edu