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Skidmore College
Self-Determined Major

About the Self-Determined Major

Skidmore student: Claire Maske

A self-determined major is a course of study that an individual student develops based upon his or her intellectual, personal, and career interests that transcend the boundaries of the majors and minors that departments and programs at Skidmore College offer. Regardless of its focus, a self-determined major goes beyond merely pulling together a random list of disparate courses to create an independent, liberal arts major.

A student may discover within a major field, for example, intellectual connections to another area of study not possible within the requirements for a traditional, a double, or an interdepartmental major. Alternatively, he or she may discover specific ways that disciplines converge to form a unique body of knowledge rich in its potential for sustained academic study. Students may realize connections between the College's degree programs and the professional world. These connections can provide serious and motivated students with an exciting, intellectually demanding, and academically rewarding program of study: a Self-Determined Major.

The SDM Committee is composed of five members. The SDM Director is appointed by the Dean of Faculty/VPAA to serve as the administrator of the SDM Program.  In addition to the Director, three faculty members will be appointed for staggered three-year terms, such that all four of the College's major divisions (Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Science and Pre-professional programs) are represented. A representative from the Office of Academic Advising will be appointed by the Associate Dean of the Faculty for Student Academic Affairs annually.

The SDM Committee acts for the faculty in overseeing the Self-Determined Major (SDM) Program by setting the academic criteria and procedures required of self-determined majors.  The Committee is charged with evaluating and approving proposals for self-determined majors according to the criteria.  Additionally the Committee evaluates and approves changes to core requirements and final project proposals that serve as the culminating experience for each individual major.  After a student's program has been approved and the student's major declared, the SDM Committee functions as the student's "department," with the Director of the SDM Program functioning as the student's "department chairperson."  The SDM Director works in close contact with the Registrar to monitor the progress toward the degree of each self-determined major.  The Committee is responsible for recommending SDM honors as outlined in the College Catalog.