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Skidmore College
Self Determined Majors

BA in Self-Determined Major

  1. Approval: The qualified student (GPA of 3.00 or better) proposes a course of study (the integration of more than one discipline) to the SDM Program through the director and its Advisory Board no later than March 1 during the spring of their sophomore year or October 15 of their junior year or equivalent.
  2. The degree program must contain a core of not fewer than 10 courses pertinent to the student’s central interest, one being an independent-study project or a senior seminar or colloquium.

For complete details on requirements for the major, please go here.

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Self-Determined Major Program

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About Self-Determined Major

A self-determined major is an approved course of study that a student develops based upon his or her intellectual, personal, and career interests that transcends the College’s existing academic offerings. SDM is neither a double major nor an interdepartmental major; it's the integration of more than one discipline toward the attainment of a clearly developed, coherent course of study. Recent self-determined majors include ethnomusicology, film studies, Chinese, poetry as a philosophical language, computational neuroscience, the physics of recording, and public health. Graduates have gone onto careers such as foreign service officer, anthropology professor, Hollywood music producer, and coral reef sculptor and educator.

Interesting Classes I Might Take

Each self-determined major's program must contain a core of at least 10 courses pertinent to the student’s central interest, one being a culminating independent study project. 

  • Songwriting and Music Producing
  • Music Production, Engineering, and Business
  • Public Health Policy
  • Human Computer Interaction
  • Dance Science
  • Dramatic Literature
  • Communications & Media studies
  • Political Economy
  • Film Studies

Full course list here

Beyond the Classroom

Recent funded internships: 

  • Better Media for Social Democracy, free press intern, Washington, D.C. (SDM: Social Movements in Media)
  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, research intern, NYC (SDM: Dance Science)
  • Health educator and community researcher, male circumcision for HIV prevention in Swaziland (SDM: Public Health)

Success After Skidmore

Careers: A sampler of what our alumni do

  • Project manager, Apple Computer, Sunnyvale, Calif.
  • President, Biographics Inc., Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Social media manager, Brigade Marketing, NYC
  • Neurologist, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Mass.
  • Assistant general counsel, BuzzFeed, NYC
  • Project coordinator: Cafe Lena History Project, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
  • Chiropractor, Center for Integrated Health, St. Louis, Mo.
  • Clinical social worker, Chesterfield County Public Schools, Chesterfield, Va.
  • Computer/graphic design teacher, Columbia Prep School, NYC
  • Set designer/art director, Consolidated Studios, San Francisco, Calif.
  • Associate film professor, School of Fine Arts, Milwaukee, Wis.
  • TV producer/documentary filmmaker, Discovery/History/HGTV Channels, Wellesley, Mass.
  • Public opinion researcher, Mathematical Policy Research, Princeton, N.J.
  • Producer/director/writer, National Geographic, Washington, D.C.
  • Senior production engineering manager, National Semiconductors, Santa Clara, Calif.
  • iOS software engineer, iPhone app developer, New York Times, NYC
  • Waterbird program director, San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory, San Francisco, Calif.
  • Executive director, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose, Calif.
  • Social worker/HIV prevention, Santa Cruz City Schools, Santa Cruz, Calif.
  • Associate immigration attorney, Simmons & Ungar, San Francisco, Calif.
  • Executive director, Southwest Conservation Corps, Durango, Colo.
  • Ocean artist/sole proprietor, Studio of Courtney Mattison, Denver, Colo.
  • Architect, Tsoi-Kobus & Associates, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Center chaplain, US Air Force, Hill Air Force Base, Utah
  • Director, national sales, Virgin Records America, NYC

Graduate Schools:A sampler of where our alumni go

  • Brown University, M.A. in environmental studies
  • College of William and Mary, M.A. in American history
  • Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, M.A. in public health
  • Durham University (UK), advanced degree in medieval archaeology
  • University of California, San Diego, Ph.D. in computer music
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, M.A. in folklore and cultural studies
  • University of Virginia, M.A. in cultural anthropology


Meet the Self-Determined Major faculty members.