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Skidmore College
Self-Determined Major

Creating a Self-Determined Major Proposal



The proposal must contain the following information in the order listed below and be submitted to the SDM Committee via email at (as a Word attachment).

(1) The student's full name, class year, cumulative GPA, phone number, the names of the faculty advisors sponsoring the proposal, and the title of the proposed Self-Determined Major, and the date of submission. Any subsequent revisions should follow the same format with the updated date of submission. 

(2) A description of the proposed Self-Determined Major including

(2.1) A typed, edited, and proofread description of the interdisciplinary field of study for the proposed Self-Determined Major (typically two to three pages, double-spaced; please use page numbers). If appropriate, students may draw on descriptions of similar majors at other institutions. The description should show how the proposed Self-Determined Major forms a coherent body of knowledge. 

(2.2) A statement of the special aspects of the program, answering the following questions:

(2.2a) What factors distinguish the proposed Self-Determined Major from existing majors offered at Skidmore? Explain why your academic goals can not be achieved through an existing major or minor (or combination) at Skidmore. 

(2.2b) What, if any, specialized resources either within or outside the College are necessary for successful completion of the Self-Determined Major? If specialized resources are needed, how will they be used?

(3) Identify by department, number, title, and credit hours of at least 10 and no more than 12 three- to four-credit courses that will comprise the Self-Determined Major. Please indicate which of these courses meet the following components of the proposed Self-Determined Major.

(3.1) Foundation (One or more courses that form the introduction to the specific self-determined major)

(3.2) Methodology (Courses that provide the necessary skills, techniques, or approaches to understanding and studying your field of inquiry)

(3.3) Theory (Courses that provide the central principles, philosophic foundations, or general ideas that underlie your field of inquiry)

(3.4) Other Core Courses (If applicable, courses that do not easily fit into any of the above components but are essential to the content of the major)  

(4) Describe the disciplinary breadth and depth within the core courses you have proposed for your Self Determined Major by identifying the sequence(s) of courses from introductory/intermediate (100 and/or 200-level) to advanced (300-level) study in each of the disciplines that contribute to the core courses.

(5) A list of any proposed elective courses related to your SDM, but not included in the major core of courses.

(6) A semester-by-semester outline listing when you will take the required courses in your major as well as your remaining College requirements, including the capstone sequence in your senior year (SD-374/Self-Determined Major Final Project Prep: SDM Prep Seminar followed by SD-375 in the next semester. Be sure to check which semester the courses are routinely offered by talking with the instructor(s) that teach the course and/or the chair of the department.

Fall 20______

Spring 20_____

Fall 20____

Spring 20____

(7) Catalog descriptions of each of the proposed courses of the Self-Determined Major and a brief rationale (two to three sentences) of the specific connections and contributions of the course to your SDM. Additionally, for each course that meets a specific component of your SDM (see #3 above) and/or the breadth and sequencing requirements (see #4 above), explain how it does so.  

(8) Complete course descriptions and supporting documents for components of the program to be taken at institutions other than Skidmore.

(9) The required Self-Determined Major capstone experience consists of SD-374/Self-Determined Major Final Project Prep: SDM Prep Seminar, a one-credit course offered in fall of senior year (supervised by the SDM Director), and a 1-4 credit independent study (SD-375) usually completed in spring of senior year (supervised by the first reader/advisor of the final project). Briefly describe your current conception of a final project that will serve as the capstone experience for your Self-Determined Major. A full description of the final project is not required at the time of the submission of the Self-Determined Major proposal.

(10) Letters of support from the two faculty advisors for the Self-Determined Major. Letters should be submitted as an e-mail attachment to the SDM Committee via email at

(11) The completed proposal should be submitted as a Word attachment to the SDM Committee via email at


Evaluation of a Proposal

The SDM Committee uses the following criteria to evaluate proposals:

  • The student's academic qualifications
  • The intellectual content of the proposed major
  • The academic rigor of the proposed Self-Determined Major as evidenced by its interdisciplinary nature, its merits coherent integration of coursework, and its clearly defined final project synthesizing various courses to meet a clear academic goal
  • The consistency of the proposed major with respect to the liberal arts and science goals of Skidmore College
  • The feasibility of the program with respect to the College's faculty and course resources
  • The SDM Committee may approve the proposal as submitted, recommend or require changes or additional information, or reject the proposed major.