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Academic Tools and Support - Interdisciplinary Studies Degree Guidelines

DESCRIPTION

The Bachelor of Arts program in Interdisciplinary Studies allows students to design an individualized major under the supervision of a Program Committee composed of at least three faculty members, two of whom must come from departments in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. This program of study must meet individualized educational goals that cannot be achieved within any departmentally based major program. Students pursuing a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies work closely with their committees in planning and completing an integrated, coherent, interdisciplinary sequence of courses, including at least 36 credits from three departments (at least two of which must be in CLAS); with 24 credits from departments in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. At least 27 of these credits must be in upper-level courses (with prerequisites), and no more than 18 credits may be taken from any one department. The program committee may also establish additional major requirements, such as a language requirement, and all programs must include a capstone experience.

The Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) serves highly motivated students with specific academic goals that can be achieved more effectively by combining disciplines than by pursuing a major through the conventional departmental structure. The student designs his or her own curriculum with the guidance of a faculty committee from the disciplines representing the student’s areas of interest. At least two-thirds of the credits and the committee members must be from CLAS. After the student’s committee has approved the proposal, it is reviewed by the College Interdisciplinary Studies Committee, which may approve, reject or return the proposal for revisions. The student may declare Interdisciplinary Studies as a major only after the proposal has been approved at the College level.

Sample interdisciplinary programs include Religious Studies, Film Studies, Black Studies, Franco-American Studies, and Native American Studies.  Students are responsible for recruiting and convening their own faculty committees and working with them to develop an approved curriculum. Normally at least three or four semesters at the University of Maine are needed to plan and complete these individualized programs of study, and it is recommended that students begin the process at the end of the sophomore year.  This program is not suitable for advanced transfer students.

REQUIREMENTS:

  1. No more than 75 earned credit hours (including those transferred) by the student before the major is declared. Program proposals submitted after 75 credit hours have been earned will be considered only in extraordinary circumstances
  2. Minimum grade point average of 2.75
  3. Strong commitment to clear educational goals
  4. Ability to work independently and to engage faculty members

THE STUDENT’S RESPONSIBILITIES:

1. Write a statement of educational goals, defining what you hope to achieve as a student and why you cannot do so with a conventional major, double major or combination of majors and minors. Answer the questions “What do I want to know and be able to do as a result of my study?” and “Why is the interdisciplinary approach appropriate to my goals?” This statement is a foundation on which to build your curriculum, and you will use it to recruit faculty members to serve on your committee. The more compelling it is, the more likely a professor will agree to volunteer to serve.

2. Notify the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) of your intention to develop an individualized interdisciplinary major (100 Stevens Hall; 581-1961). An Associate Dean in the College can discuss the program with you and suggest faculty members who might share your interests.

3. Form a Program Committee no later than four semesters before anticipated graduation. Recruit three faculty members from disciplines representing the areas of interest you wish to integrate, at least two from CLAS. Identify a Program Committee Chair (who must be a full-time faculty member in the College) and notify the College of that faculty member’s name. Give a copy of these guidelines to each committee member and be sure your Chair understands that he or she 1) will become your faculty advisor of record when the program of study is approved, and 2) is taking on a significant responsibility to ensure your committee works well.

4. Develop a Plan of Study. Discuss your educational goals with your Program Committee Chair and develop a Plan of Study for approval by the committee. (See requirements below) Work with your Chair to schedule a committee meeting. Distribute copies of your draft proposal to committee members in advance of the meeting. (You may need to meet more than once.) Obtain the signatures of each committee member on the Proposal Cover Sheet affirming they have read and approved your proposal. Aim to complete this process in no more than one semester.

5. Submit your proposal to the associate dean of the College for distribution to the College Interdisciplinary Studies Committee. Indicate if you would like to meet with the INS Committee to discuss your proposal. Be sure it contains:

a. The cover sheet identifying the name for your degree that will appear on your diploma and containing the signatures of committee members verifying they have read and approved your proposal.

b. Your final statement of educational goals, justifying the interdisciplinary approach as the best way to achieve them.

c. The plan of study listing the courses you plan to take in two formats: semester-by-semester and by department.

THE PROGRAM COMMITTEE’S RESPONSIBILITIES

The Chair of your committee serves as your academic advisor and helps you develop a plan of study that fits your educational goals. He or she helps you coordinate committee meetings, obtain necessary signatures on approval documents and distribute copies of the approved proposal to the committee. Committee members review your plan of study to assure it meets academically rigorous standards and includes an attainable sequence of intermediate and advanced course work, paying attention factors such as course prerequisites and courses not offered every semester. Committee members must help you identify the best courses at the University to meet your goals and create a coherent program of study. They should verify your proposed courses and clear the way for you to enroll in all courses in your plan, especially courses that other departments reserve for their majors. Their signatures on your cover sheet confirm completion of these responsibilities.

THE INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES (INS) COMMITTEE’S RESPONSIBILITIES

This committee is responsible for responding to your proposal at its next scheduled meeting and making sure you are pursuing a rigorous, coherent program of study including the best and most appropriate courses relating to your topic. The committee may approve, reject or return the proposal for revisions. You and/or your Committee Chair may attend the INS meeting at which your proposal is considered. If approved, the INS chair signs the cover sheet and distributes signed copies to the student, CLAS Dean’s Office, Program Committee Chair, Interdisciplinary Studies Committee file and all departments represented in the program of study. If the committee requires changes before approval, it must give specific suggestions in writing to you and your Program Committee Chair. If you wish to proceed, you must revise your proposal, meet with your committee to obtain approval and resubmit the proposal with a new signed cover sheet to the associate dean in CLAS.

THE PLAN OF STUDY: Interdisciplinary degree candidates plan the sequence of courses for their individual programs in the same way a department designs the curriculum required for its majors. The courses you select should progress through intermediate and advanced levels, concluding with a comprehensive capstone experience.

Prepare a preliminary semester-by-semester and department by department plan for review by your committee members before your first Program Committee meeting. Course selections must include:

  1. 36 credit hours from three departments (at least two in CLAS)
  2. No more than 18 credit hours in any one department
  3. At least 27 credits in upper-level courses (with prerequisites)
  4. At least two-thirds of the credits in CLAS
  5. A writing intensive course appropriate for the interdisciplinary major

NOTE: Special provisions may need to be made for

  1. College BA requirements:
    9 credits in upper-level courses outside the major
    72 hours outside the major
  2. Courses for majors only
  3. Courses with prerequisites
  4. Courses offered infrequently

THE CAPSTONE: You may enroll in a capstone required in one of the departments represented in your proposal or you may design your own capstone, using the following procedure. At least one year prior to your graduation date, complete the Senior Capstone in Interdisciplinary Studies Approval Form and circulate it to your committee for discussion and approval. If revisions are required, you may need a second meeting to obtain approval. Submit your signed approval form to the CLAS dean’s office for attachment to your proposal. Prior to your final semester, register for LAS 499 naming your Program Committee Chair as the instructor.

REVISIONS:  If you need to make changes in your plan of study, obtain the appropriate form from the Associate Dean and submit changes to your program committee for approval.

PROGRAM COMMITTEE: Suggested Meeting Agendas

A. First Meeting: The Proposal Meeting
(Provide goals statement and proposed plan of study to members in advance)

  1. Introductions
  2. Discuss academic goals
  3. Discuss proposed plan of study
  4. Review transcript
  5. Check status of Gen Ed requirement fulfillment
  6. Discuss College BA requirements
  7. List what has to be done
  8. Schedule second meeting

B. Second Meeting: The Approval Meeting

  1. Report on changes made to proposal
  2. Discuss final statement of goals
  3. Check plan of study to assure it meets all requirements for graduation and for the interdisciplinary degree.

C. Third Meeting: The Capstone Meeting
(Circulate capstone proposal in advance)

  1. Discuss and revise plan
  2. Schedule second meeting if necessary
  3. Obtain necessary signatures
  4. File copy of plan with dean’s office

SUMMARY

  1. Obtain Interdisciplinary Studies Guidelines and Schedule for College Interdisciplinary Committee meetings from the Associate Dean in CLAS.
  2. Write your statement of education goals.
  3. Recruit committee members.
  4. Prepare your preliminary plan of study for your remaining semesters of study.
  5. Meet with your Program Committee to discuss draft (see suggested agenda).
  6. Revise your proposal as recommended by the committee
  7. Meet with your Program Committee for final approval (see suggested agenda).
  8. Submit approved proposal to Associate Dean of CLAS.
  9. Indicate if you and/or your committee chair would like to meet with the College committee when it considers your proposal.
  10. If the proposal is approved, see that copies are filed with your file in the dean’s
    office.
  11. If revisions are required, work with your committee to make them and resubmit the proposal to the associate dean for consideration at the next College level meeting.
  12. The chair of the College committee will report committee’s actions and recommendations to the student with copies to the committee members.
  13. If you do not elect a capstone from a department represented on your committee, you must design your own capstone experience using the appropriate form and obtain approval from your program committee and the INS committee. Register for LAS 499 prior to the semester in which you will complete your capstone experience, listing your committee chair as instructor

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Contact Information

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
100 Stevens Hall
Orono, ME 04469
Phone: (207) 581-1954E-mail: clas@maine.edu
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
207.581.1110
A Member of the University of Maine System