It’s no secret that the traditional educational system is rigid and uninspiring for many students. The option to design a unique study appeals to those creative individuals who don’t feel they exactly fit any of the cookie-cutter careers like lawyer, doctor, or teacher. Often times students are unfulfilled not because they aren’t capable but rather they aren’t motivated. In this post, we’ll explore the growing option of designing your own major and things to consider.
What is a custom major?
A custom major usually draws on a theme from multiple subjects and ties the concepts into its own unique study. For example, say you’re interested in psychology but you’re also very interested in video games and zoology. All seemingly vastly unrelated subjects right? Well yes, for the most part. But if you can find a way to make a statement out of it, then you can create a major. There are animals depicted in some video games and the ability to study and analyze human and animal psychology can help lead to better computer game designs and theory. You could end up creating a major called something unheard of and wacky like Psychology of Animal Digital Game Design. The position that combines all the things you love may not exist right now but being the unique supply to a unique demand is one way to get ahead. Video games alone is a $109 billion dollar industry and diversity of thought that can help industries like this improve are always in demand.
Why are customized interdisciplinary degrees on the rise?
Universities are understanding that there is a market for this flexibility. Sue Shellenbarger from the Wall Street Journal states in an article, “the programs can spark students' enthusiasm for learning and sometimes equip them for complicated, cross-disciplinary jobs or emerging career fields.” Often times people worry that jobs would be dismissive of their degrees, however according to Forbes, although many jobs today require a Bachelor’s degree, employers are saying that the major hardly matters. A 2014 U.S. Bureau of the Census report suggests about 70% of graduates were working in a field that’s not related to their Bachelor’s degrees. What simply having a Bachelor’s degree says nowadays more than anything to employers is that you can learn and contribute. Many careers are becoming more complex and require innovative and critical thinking that warrant more than an understanding of a single area of study. Graduates with dynamic skills are attractive candidates and are adding an edge to their respective industries. Thus, a custom degree can only expand on what you have to offer.
Pursuing a custom degree plan requires quite a bit of agency from the student. It’s not for every student because although the interests may be random, the process is not and takes careful planning. You need to do your research on your topic in order to propose the plan. Once you've found the university and platform you'd like to enroll in that offers the custom degree option, you then have to find a professor to sponsor you. Once you’ve finalized your proposal and you and your sponsor have mapped out the courses you’ll have to take, it is important to review to conclude for certain that your proposal is viable. You’re proposal may change along the way and require you to change and drop classes. Making sure you’re on top of it and communicating with all your point people will assure that you’ll make it to the finish line.
Here's a link to universities that allow you to design a major as you unique as you. If you've got a busy schedule and not looking to travel for classes, here's a school that offers a fully online custom degree program that pulls from 3 accredited major universities.