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Designing Your Own Major

At-a-Glance

Students sometimes find that their academic interests are not served as well as they would like by conventional departments and majors. Harpur College provides an opportunity for those students to design their own majors-the Individualized Major Program (IMP). IMP is a standing committee of faculty, students, and administrative staff. It reviews student proposals for innovative liberal-arts majors, provides guidance and direction, and determines satisfactory completion of majors.

Through IMP, Harpur College students may design a major not presently available within the established university structure. These innovative majors must be as academically sound and must show as much breadth and depth as conventional liberal-arts majors like Chemistry, English, or Anthropology. Acceptable IMP majors are interdisciplinary, combining coursework from three or more departments.

Recent IMP students have designed some fascinating majors. Examples include "Scientific and Technical Progress and Culture" (combining coursework from Philosophy, History, Anthropology, Psychology, Mathematics, and Physics), "Production of Sound" (Music, Theater, Physics, and Computer Science), and "Urban Studies" (Political Science, Economics, Sociology, and History). Other students have pursued IMP majors in disciplines which do not formally offer a major, but have-to varying degrees-regularized a major through the IMP program. Among these are Women's Studies, Russian Studies, and Asian Studies.

It is important to know that IMP is a Harpur College program, that it facilitates liberal-arts majors, and that as such, certain majors are not acceptable. Subfields of academic disciplines which can be investigated as part of established majors--Metaphysics (Philosophy), Marine Biology (Biology), or American History (History), for example--fall into this category. Students who want to focus on Creative Writing, but who want to avoid the English department, should consider options other than IMP. Students who are dissatisfied with the established Harpur Psychology major cannot create a Psychology major more to their liking through IMP. Students who are having trouble getting accepted into the School of Management cannot design an alternative Harpur Business major through IMP. Students should also consider whether their academic interests could be pursued through double-major or major-minor combinations, or by enrolling at another institution.

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Last Updated: 10/12/09