INDIVIDUALIZED INTERDISCIPLINARY MAJOR
The IIM is a dynamic major that allows students to forge new territory, while working closely with their professors. Students create the blueprint by combining three disciplines (these can be Majors or Minors that we offer). During this process, they create a new major, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Definition and Purpose of the IIM
The Individualized Interdisciplinary Major (IIM) is an intentional plan of study that includes three disciplines, interweaving the ideals and processes of each discipline into a logical new multidiscipline. Goucher College’s IIM provides a framework for students to pursue a flexible, self-designed major that takes advantage of the diverse and innovative courses offered across the curriculum. More importantly, the IIM lets a student examine the Goucher curriculum through a lens of interdisciplinary study. Students who choose to pursue the IIM do so with the understanding that there is interaction among the three disciplines they choose: the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Goals of the IIM
Students who are approved to pursue the Individualized Interdisciplinary Major (IIM) will achieve the following goals:
- They will be able to clearly articulate the vision of their particular area of research and analysis.
- They will be able to identify the methodologies they have employed in their studies.
- They will engage in advanced areas of research questions in their areas of study.
- They will gain an understanding of the opportunities available for advanced study, employment, and careers in their disciplines, and they will have a vision for the future of their interdisciplinary research.
Students must complete the process for declaring an IIM in their second semester of sophomore year. All students are required to declare a major prior to entering their junior year. The deadline for students to declare is listed in the Important Dates for Students and can be found here . No student can declare an IIM once they have entered into their junior year.
Procedures for Declaring an IIM
- The student should meet with the Director of the IIM program to discuss their plans.
- The student will choose their three disciplines.
- The student will discuss their ideas with a potential advisor in each of the three disciplines. Students should make an appointment with the program coordinator of each discipline if they are unsure who to reach out to.
- The student will confirm all three advisors with one advisor agreeing to be the primary advisor.
- The student will write a 3-4 page proposal following the guidelines listed below.
- The student will create a course map of their classes (a 4-year plan), following the guidelines listed below and in the Course Map for the IIM.
- The student will return to their 3 advisors to discuss the written proposal and the Course Map. The student should ask them to sign the IIM Declaration form at this time.
- The completed application should be sent to the director of the IIM for review and must include:
- The signed declaration form
- The written proposal
- The Course Map (4-year plan)
Approval is not automatic! However, we will work with students to create a rigorous and dynamic independent major. If the proposal is approved, the student should submit all paperwork to the director of the IIM before the deadline for second-semester sophomores to declare.
Students will work with all three advisors on their IIM committee to write a 3-4 page proposal that explains their course of study.
This proposal must contain the following:
- Justification on why the student should be allowed to create an IIM.
- Discussion on how the three chosen disciplines will work together, stating why goals cannot be met with a traditional major or minor.
- Explanation on how using interdisciplinary thinking will expand the current fields.
- Plans and rationale for meeting CPE, Writing and Study Abroad requirements.
The Course Map
Students will create a Course Map that covers all four years of their college education.
The IIM requires a total of 48 credits. Each of the 3 disciplines requires a minimum of 12 credits (36 of the 48 credits). The remaining 12 credits of your IIM may be distributed how you and your advisors see fit.
The course map must answer these questions:
- Include your Study Abroad plans (these may change), CPE courses, Writing courses (WEC and WID), and any internship plans (internships are optional, but highly recommended).
- Include all 120 credits required for graduating including GCRs, listing out the number of credits for EACH course.
- Indicate the status of each course: whether you have passed the course or plan to take the course in the future.
As plans for study abroad, internships, or co-curricular activities may change, students must get approval from their advisors when such changes are made. Students should forward the approval to the IIM Director, so records can be kept updated.
Requirements for the Major
Total Number of Credits (48) + Distribution of those credits (at least 12 per discipline)
The student must complete at least 48 credits in courses that focus on the methods and content from three disciplines and that balance the contributions from each discipline. The 48-credit requirement requires the student to devote at least 12 credits to each of the three disciplines. As is the case with any Major on campus (and in accordance with the Maryland Higher Education Commission’s rules), at least 16 credits must be taken at the 300-400 level. Ordinarily, these upper-level (300-400 level) credits will be distributed such that at least 12 of those credits will be taken across each of the three disciplines. That is, each of the three disciplinary areas of study must include at least one course at the 300 or 400 level.
The IIM is a rewarding, but complex process. Students and advisors all share increased sets of responsibilities that ensure the integrity and rigor of the Individualized Interdisciplinary Major (IIM).
The Student’s Responsibilities
The student must initiate the entire IIM process. After discussing their ideas with the IIM Director, they must find advisors who endorse their vision. They must write their IIM proposal and seek the guidance and advice of their IIM committee and the IIM Director. They must be willing to make revisions to this proposal and be open to suggestions.
The student must create their 4-Year Plan, again taking into consideration the advice of their IIM committee. They must accept the changes that their advisors request. They must account for all 120 credits toward their degree, including GCRs and Major Requirements. If their courses change, they must seek the approval of their IIM committee and notify the IIM Director of the changes.
Ideally, students will complete their GCRs by the end of their sophomore year, including submitting their proposals for CWP. Most students choose to study abroad in their junior year.
The IIM Committee’s Responsibilities
The IIM committee reviews and approves the proposed course of study, and once approved by the IIM Director, helps the student progress through the Major, helping the student adjust the coursework if necessary, until the student reaches the goal of completing the IIM Major. Changes to the overall proposed area of study and/or to the proposed coursework requires a petition that must be approved by the IIM committee.
The IIM committee members are encouraged to participate in IIM group activities, such as IIM meetings (1-2 times per year) that will foster communication, collaboration, and conversation across the Major. When possible, the IIM committee will attend pre-graduation celebration with seniors and parents.
The Primary Advisor’s Responsibilities
The primary advisor is one of the three members of the IIM committee. The primary advisor meets with their advisee individually at least twice per semester, just as an advisor in an established discipline must do. The primary advisor clears students for registration and provides feedback for the student, reviewing the plan of study and helping the student revise the 4-Year Plan if necessary. It will be up to the student, however, to submit a petition or letter to the committee and the IIM Director for approval of these changes.
The IIM Director’s Responsibilities
The IIM Director will administer the IIM program and serve as the first point of contact for students who are interested in pursuing an interdisciplinary course of study. Program administration will include overseeing the paperwork associated with declaring and completing the IIM, such as the student’s proposal, their IIM committee, and their 4-Year Plan. The IIM Director will discuss the student’s plans and progress with their committees. The IIM Director will review these documents before granting approval and submit major declaration forms for students formally entering into the IIM. Finally, the IIM Director will establish a community of IIM Majors on campus and serve as an advocate for these students.
The Capstone: Presentation and Evaluation of the Completed IIM
IIM students must complete the IIM-specific capstone, IDS 497, during the fall semester of their senior year.
We encourage students to present their work publicly at the Senior Symposium/Capstone Day. IIM students may also use this forum to highlight how their interdisciplinary approaches expanded the boundaries of their three disciplines.
The IIM, in final form for evaluation, shall be submitted to the IIM Committee no later than the last day of classes of the semester in which the work is to be completed. This project must be in a form that facilitates efficient evaluation by the committee. The Capstone Project must be explicitly stated in the IIM proposal, or in any approved revisions to the IIM proposal. It is imperative that all parties agree as to the nature of the expected product, and that the student understands what is required for submission and evaluation. For example, if the final project is a manuscript, an adequate number of copies must be provided for evaluation by the IIM committee. If the final project is a video, the student must provide a working link to the project online or provide copies of the video on a flash drive for each member of the committee.
Honors in the Major
Students who earn a GPA of 3.7 or higher in the courses in their IIM will earn honors in the major.
- What are some examples of Goucher’s Individualized Interdisciplinary Majors (IIMs)?
- Neuroscience = Public Health + Biology + Psychology
- Public Relations = Business + Communications + Professional Writing
- Theatre for Social Change = Education + Communications + Theatre
- Narrative Design = Creative Writing + Anthropology + Peace Studies
- What do employers think of this major?
- Many employers are impressed by the initiative that the IIM students show. They recognize the problem-solving skills and ingenuity involved in creating a major that satisfies so many stakeholders.
- Do IIM Majors get jobs? Can they get into graduate schools?
- What does the transcript say?
- Major: Individualized Interdisciplinary Major
- Focus: The Title of the Student’s IIM
If you have questions, please contact the IIM Director, Phaye Poliakoff-Chen.