Individualized Major Program B.A.

The Individualized Major Program (IMP) is a program in the College of Arts and Sciences that allows students to create interdisciplinary majors in subjects of their choosing.  These subjects may be offered as majors at other universities but not at IU (for example, marine biology, medical illustration) or may be the distinctive creations of the students who pursue them (American fatherhood, science and the state); often, they address pervasive problems (ecological justice, international development in Africa) and are on the cutting edge of academic inquiry.  All IMP majors are grounded in the liberal arts, developed in consultation with faculty sponsors selected by the students, and reviewed by committees of faculty appointed by the program.

As a student in the IMP you’ll benefit from the experience itself of creating your own major.  Participating in the design of your education helps promote deep knowledge and metacognition—understanding how your own mind works.  You’ll form meaningful bonds with your faculty sponsors and committee and prepare a final project as a requirement for graduation.  That final project might be a research paper or, depending on your major, a performance, an internship, or any other experience that provides a satisfying conclusion to your academic experience.

If you’re interested in customizing your education but not ready to commit to an individualized major an individualized minor is available.  The possible range of minor subjects is similar to that for the major; it’s only limited by your imagination and the availability of relevant courses.

Coursework

Getting started

Because it is an individualized program, there are no required courses for the Individualized Major Program (though seniors are required to enroll in independent-study credit for their final projects; see below).  If you’re in your first or second semester at IU and intend to apply to the IMP you should take introductory courses in disciplines related to your area of interest.  Taking these introductory courses serves a few purposes: helping you gauge the extent of your interest in the topic or topics, introducing you to potential faculty sponsors, and getting you started on pre-requisites you might need for upper-level courses in your major.

Tracks and concentrations

The Individualized Major Program does not require particular tracks or concentrations. Nevertheless, you are encouraged to design your major to include elements of both breadth and depth, as in traditional majors. Up to 12 upper-level credits should represent a particular subtopic.

This requirement allows you to focus in depth on a single area, element, or application of the major, perhaps providing the scholarly grounding for your final project.

A final project is a requirement for graduation. That project might be a research paper or (depending on your major) a performance, an internship, or any other documented experience that provides a satisfying conclusion to your undergraduate education.

Upper level coursework

As part of the eighteen hours of 300-400 level coursework required for every College BA major, students can choose to include credit from independent study, allowing them to study specific topics in depth. Where appropriate, you can also gain credit from internships. Each student is required to enroll in three hours of independent study credit for their final project, ensuring close collaboration with their faculty sponsor.

During the first eight weeks of each semester, the Individualized Major Program offers a one-hour writing workshop for seniors. This provides a collaborative environment for the preparation of the written elements of the final project portfolio. Students benefit from the feedback of their peers as well as from the guidance of the program's assistant director. The class integrates elements of a capstone seminar, allowing you to consider, present, and discuss topics within your major.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

The Individualized Major works well by itself, or as a second or third major. It can also complement the many minors and certificates available to students in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Make an appointment with the assistant director to talk about how to best combine your interests in designing your undergraduate education.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing a degree in the Individualized Major Program, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in many fields. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.

Because the Individualized Major Program offers unique opportunities to forge relationships with faculty, based on mutual interests, in-depth research, and shared goals, it provides excellent preparation for graduate study and the professional world.

Honors

Students with GPAs of 3.7 or above whose final projects are deemed excellent are eligible to graduate with honors in the Individualized Major Program. Those students whose projects are particularly outstanding may be awarded honors with GPAs below 3.7 (no lower than 3.3).

Students and their projects are also considered as nominees for the Individualized Major Program departmental awards, the Richard D. Young Award, the Outstanding Senior Project Award, and the Raymond Hedin Award. Please see the IMP website for more details.

High-achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Students in the Individualized Major Program are eligible for grants to help defray costs of their final projects and assist with special learning experiences. Talk with the assistant director about program specific financial aid options.

Internships

Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their freshman year.

Students in the Individualized Major Program are eligible for academic credit for internships, under certain conditions and within particular limitations.

Learn more about internships, including the possibility of receiving credit,  through The Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you'll find many resources for both domestic and international internships. Students also obtain internships by contacting non-profit organizations, businesses, foundations, and other groups that offer them.

Foreign language study

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IUB offers courses and resources in over 60 languages.

Below is a sampling of language study resources available to students at IU Bloomington:

Overseas study

Students in the Individualized Major Program are particularly suited for overseas study, as their coursework often incorporates global perspectives or interest in language and linguistics. Depending on your goals and program, credits from study abroad might count as hours toward graduation, general requirements for the B.A. degree, or coursework in the major.

Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with faculty, your academic advisor, and the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

Participating in students groups while at college gives you a chance to make friends, take on leadership responsibilities and build connections between coursework and other activities. You can also further develop your leadership, communication, organizational, and teamwork skills.

Residential Programs and Services at IU offers a variety of learning communities that allow students to select to live among peers with a common interest. Some of the following learning communities may be of interest to IMP students:

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

Students in the Individualized Major Program are interested in a wide range of professions. As you pursue your degree and become acquainted with faculty, you will learn more about which professional organizations can help you build your own career. Use the Indiana University Library system to search for Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, non-profit organizations, and much more.
Build your skills

Through the major

Although the specific skills and expertise you develop will depend on the subject of your individualized major, the general benefits are far-reaching, embodying the essence of liberal education. They include:

  • Critical reflection, particularly self-reflection
  • Application of general principles to specific situations
  • Analytical skills, breaking a subject into its constituent elements and determining their relationships
  • Intellectual independence and the ability to collaborate productively with faculty and other students
  • Ability to communicate findings orally and in writing, answering questions and articulating successes and difficulties in achieving objectives

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following abilities, as identified by the 11 Goals of the College of Arts and Sciences:

  • Achieve the genuine literacy required to read, listen, speak and write clearly and persuasively
  • Learn to think critically and creatively
  • Develop intellectual flexibility and breadth of mind
  • Discover ethical perspectives
  • Cultivate a critically informed appreciation of literature and the arts
  • Practice and apply scientific methods
  • Learn to reason quantitatively
  • Develop historical consciousness
  • Investigate and study the international community
  • Develop and practice communication skills in public settings and in the study of at least one foreign language
  • Pursue in-depth knowledge of at least one subject

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following abilities are sought in the job market across many employment sectors:

  • Communicate effectively with persons both inside and outside the organization
  • Work in a team structure
  • Make decisions and solve problems
  • Plan, organize, and prioritize work
  • Obtain and process relevant information
  • Analyze quantitative data
  • Create and/or edit written reports
  • Obtain technical knowledge related to the job
  • Proficiency with computer software programs
  • Create and edit written reports
  • Ability to persuade or influence others

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements.  Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.

Launch your career

Plan your search

A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with your career coach

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

You might want to take a career course to help you maximize your time at IU. Students should consider taking ASCS-Q296, College to Career II Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience.

The job market

Graduates from the Individualized Major Program have pursued careers and post-graduate education in a wide variety of fields. Recent graduates have been admitted to graduate programs in prestigious institutions, secured employment with private asset management firms, managed the children's book line of a major publisher, and found employment as an art conservator, recording engineer, TV actor, and a member of the White House staff.

Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include positions in education, the entertainment industry, publishing, the arts, and philanthropy.

Talk with faculty, your academic advisor, and your career coach to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates in the Individualized Major Program.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

 

 

Post-graduate short-term experiences

After graduation, a short-term experience or internship can help you make connections, gain life skills, and assess your interest in future careers. Talk with your career coach and use these and other resources to find opportunities that are a good fit with your educational experience and career goals:

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary post-graduate opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund graduate school. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profit, and government organizations.

Fellowships are often related to particular fields. As you develop your interests in the Individualized Major Program, talk with your advisors and faculty to become familiar with those resources that might be most relevant and helpful to you.

Examples of resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you'll need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career, to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

Individualized Major Program students are especially well-positioned to obtain positive and informed recommendation letters, by virtue of their close work with faculty on their majors and final projects.

The Individualized Major program will prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as history, anthropology, religious studies and business.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other professional programs.

Here are examples of graduate programs offered at IU: 

Alumni connections

The IU College of Arts and Sciences organizes Alumni and Friends events. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join and use the IU Alumni Association to remain in touch, network directly, and let others know where your path takes you.


Is it for you?

The Individualized Major Program attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically have some of the following qualities:

  • Initiative, self-sufficiency, and intellectual curiosity
  • The desire to study something not available at IUB as a regularly offered major or degree
  • Strong interests in two or more subjects, with a plan for combining them into a coherent program of study
  • The will to seek creative solutions to persistent problems

Learn more

Contact the assistant director of the Individualized Major Program and schedule an appointment to explore your options.  Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address
paarstad@indiana.edu