Independent majors enable students to pursue unique and interdisciplinary academic goals. When students have an academic interest that cannot be pursued adequately within an existing departmental major, minor, or certificate program, they may apply to the Independent Major Program. Eligibility requirements include: A strong overall academic record (including a 3.0 GPA) A rigorous and coherent program of studies The support of at least two faculty members Examples of some recently completed independent majors include Linguistics, Cultural and Media Studies, and Epistemology, Cognition, and Intelligent Systems. Due to the highly individualized nature of independent major proposals, approved courses of study vary widely year to year. Students are encouraged to begin planning as early as possible Student Guide: Independent Major Proposal Process Step 1: Meet with your residential college dean Discuss your vision and potential alternatives As an independent major, you must successfully demonstrate that your proposed plan of study cannot reasonably be completed within the structures of an existing academic department and/or in conjunction with an established minor or certificate program. Given the extraordinary resources of Princeton’s existing curriculum, only a handful of proposals meet this high standard. Your residential college dean has the insight to help you determine whether an independent major is the best way to meet your goals. An early conversation is essential for gauging whether your ideas align with the program. Sometimes there are alternate paths within existing departments to consider. You might also discover how a particular interest or approach could be most fruitfully explored within the structure of a department or alongside students with similar interests. Proposals that seek primarily to “major” in a certificate, build a major around a senior thesis topic, or help a student avoid less appealing requirements in an existing department are strongly discouraged. Keep these things in mind Map your methodology. In light of Princeton’s substantial independent work requirements, you must define a methodological approach to your project in addition to successfully conceptualizing the interdisciplinary benefits of the proposed major. Consider essential qualities. A successful independent major depends heavily upon self-motivation, resilience, and initiative. These features, along with the coherence and substance of the proposed independent major topic, are considered when evaluating proposals. Assess available resources. To ensure that you can effectively complete an independent major, you must demonstrate that ample faculty and curricular resources exist to support the proposed plan of study. From time to time, the Committee on Course of Study has declined otherwise outstanding proposals, because ample courses did not exist, or because essential faculty members would be unavailable during the student’s junior or senior year. Step 2: Work with faculty members to develop your program Define your program with faculty input. If your college dean believes your idea would meet the above criteria, the next step is to find supportive faculty members to help develop your ideas and program. Plan to work closely with them. Independent majors are interdisciplinary in nature, so speak with faculty members in one or more departments to sound out your ideas. Choose advisers. Eventually, you will ask two faculty members to serve as your advisers and write in support of your application. These faculty members are crucial to your proposal, and must be willing and available to oversee your entire program of study and assist you in making any needed revisions or amendments. At least one of the supporting faculty must be a regular faculty member—not a lecturer or part-time instructor. Your designated faculty members should not plan to be on leave during your junior and senior years. Consider your independent work and senior thesis. The two faculty members who sponsor your application typically serve as advisers for your two semesters of independent work in your junior year. You may choose a different adviser for your senior thesis, if this is in keeping with your research focus and is approved by your core faculty advisers. You have the flexibility, in consultation with your residential college dean, to identify additional faculty mentors as your program evolves. Keep program requirements in mind. Coursework If approved for an independent major, you must complete at least eight upper-level courses (300- or 400-level, with 200-level and graduate courses ineligible), including the methodological preparation that will be essential for your four required semesters of independent work (two junior papers and a senior thesis). Oral defense In lieu of a departmental comprehensive examination, you will have an oral defense of your senior thesis—a discussion of the conclusions, methods, and implications of the thesis research—with your two faculty advisers. Distribution requirements You must fulfill the University writing, foreign language, and distribution requirements. Advising Your residential college dean acts as the departmental representative for independent majors, so you will need to meet with your dean regularly to discuss your program. Honors You are eligible to earn honors as an independent major, based on your departmental courses, junior independent work, senior thesis, and oral defense. The deputy dean of the college and your residential college dean will work with your faculty advisers and their departments to establish fair criteria. Step 3: Submit a formal application Be aware of due dates. Applications for the independent major program are due on December 7, 2023 of your sophomore year. Proposals are reviewed first by the deputy dean of the college. They are then assessed by a subcommittee of the Committee on Course of Study and the Committee on Examinations and Standing for consideration for final approval. You will be notified of their decision no later than February 15. Forms Faculty Adviser Application Provide faculty advisers who agree to guide an independent major with this form. Independent Major Application Prepare and submit a proposal for an independent major. Resources for Students TigerHub Manage academic and enrollment tasks, including course enrollment and changes. Undergraduate Announcement Review academic regulations, programs of study, and undergraduate course offerings. Choosing a Major Visit the Advising site for detailed advice on how to find your academic home on campus.