Faculty  Majors  Honors
Self-Determined Majors


Guidelines for Faculty Advisors

The role of an advisor to a Self-Determined Major student differs in important respects from more traditional advising responsibilities. Please read these guideline carefully and contact the SDM Program Director, if you have any questions.  

THE SDM PROPOSAL:  Self Determined Majors are by definition not contained within traditional Skidmore majors or departments and are usually interdisciplinary; therefore, they require very careful design on the part of the student and the faculty sponsors. SDM proposals typically require the expertise of two faculty advisors. While the central responsibility for the proposal belongs to the student--who must demonstrate a focused understanding of the major's intellectual merits and coherence--the faculty advisors of an SDM student are also critical to the success of the student's proposal efforts. All proposals must be presented to the SDM Advisory Board with a written evaluation from the faculty sponsors.  The letter of support should address:

For a detailed explanation of proposing a Self-Determined Major and sample proposals, see Requirements and Creating a Proposal.

THE SDM ADVISORY BOARD: The SDM Advisory Board is composed of five members. Advisory Board members representing the College's four major divisions (Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Science and Pre-professional programs) are appointed for a three-year term. The SDM Director is appointed by the Dean of Faculty/VPAA; three faculty representatives serving staggered terms are appointed by the DoF/VPAA in consultation with the SDM Director; a representative from the Office of Academic Advising will be appointed annually by the Dean of Studies. The Self-Determined Majors Advisory Board holds final authority over the approval and modification process of all Self-Determined majors.  Once an SDM is approved, the SDM advisory Board functions in all respects as the student's "department," with the Director of the SDM Program functioning as the student's "department chairperson." This is a crucial concept and necessitates the following:

ONGOING FACULTY ADVISING SUPPORT: As much as the SDM Advisory Board tries to act as a coordinating "department," the student with an approved SDM doesn't have a true departmental home base as do traditional student majors; there is no department office to consult daily, no series of departmental activities, and no camaraderie of other majors.  Therefore, it is especially important for the SDM student to keep in close touch with his or her SDM advisors and for the advisors to maintain close ties with these advisees. Problems of intellectual drift or even of inappropriate academic decisions can occur if the SDM student is left in a free-floating situation.

THE FINAL PROJECT:  The SDM Final Project is the key academic component that draws the diverse strands of the major together, demonstrating the student's mastery of the special aspects of his or her SDM. No SDM student can graduate from Skidmore without successfully completing his or her own, Advisory Board-approved final project. Students and faculty advisors should follow the guidelines and deadlines presented in the Final Projects section of the SDM web site. Advisors should especially keep the following points in mind:

SDM DEPARTMENTAL HONORS: All the stipulations described above under "The Final Project" apply to considerations of Departmental Honors. In addition, the following criteria and procedures apply to departmental honors consideration. All of these criteria must be met: