Jul 17, 2024  
Catalogue 2023-2024 
Catalogue 2023-2024 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Independent Major

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Required Units

Total number of units required for major, excluding any required Intensive(s): 10

Required Intensive units, if any: 1

Total units required: 11

Distributional Content Area Units Required

  • 10 units
  • No more than two units at the 100-level and at least four at the 300-level (one of which must be a two-semester senior thesis or project; in terms of the latter, a project must have significant research and analytical components). Work at the 300-level must be taken in at least two departments.
  • The choice of program and courses should be made in consultation with the Independent Program Committee as a part of the proposal procedure.

Procedures for Admission to the Independent Program

After identifying the proposed field of concentration and, when possible, consulting appropriate faculty, the student meets with the director of the Independent Program to discuss general guidelines. The student then submits a written program proposal which defines the major, lists all proposed courses (both for the major and outside the major) and fully describes and justifies the courses for the major. This initial proposal should also include the names of potential advisers for the major. The Independent Program Committee then evaluates the contents of the proposal and the relevance of the proposed courses; the committee may also propose alternate advisers. In consultation with the approved advisers, the student revises the proposal for resubmission to the committee. Only upon final approval by the committee is the student admitted to the Independent Program.

As is evident from the above description of the procedures, the process of declaring an Independent major generally involves several consultations and revisions. Consequently, students should expect to begin the process in advance of the normal deadlines for declaration of the major. Students may apply for admission to the Independent Program after their first semester at Vassar. Students who plan to include courses taken abroad at an approved Study Away or exchange program should submit their initial proposal no later than the Friday following the midsemester break of the first semester of their sophomore year. Students who plan to include courses taken at another U.S. institution should submit their initial proposals no later than the Friday of the first week of the second semester of their sophomore year. All other students must submit their initial proposal the Friday before the midsemester break of the second semester of their sophomore year.

Ordinarily, students who apply to the Independent Program cannot already have a major. Similarly, students who major in the Independent Program are not ordinarily permitted to declare a second major. Exceptions may be granted by the Committee on Leaves and Privileges after consultation with the Independent Program Committee. Students granted exceptions by the CLP still must have their Independent Program major proposal approved by the Independent Program Committee.

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