Designing Your Own Degree at Westminster
Nearly 15% of all Westminster College students design their own course of study, tailoring a major or minor to their specific interests and goals.
For some students, the attractiveness of this option is the reason they come to Westminster. Yangmali Sahadev Rai from Kathmandu, Nepal, picked Westminster over other colleges because he thought majoring in international relations and diplomacy would help him be successful in pursuing a career in diplomatic relations.
“A diplomatic career requires that you at least hold a master’s degree,” says Yang, ’14. “A self-designed major in international relations and diplomacy was the best way for me to become familiar with the courses and concepts I would need, and I wanted to have control over the classes I was taking that would fit that major.”
The next step in pursuit of his career for Rai is starting the Msc International Relations program at the London School of Economics in the fall.
Can’t decide between your passions? Combine for a Self-Designed.
Other Westminster students find a self-designed major is best for them because they can’t decide among several choices what to select as a major. Brianna Mormann (Eugene, MO) could not decide between the fields of biology and psychology, but realized they complemented each other, giving her “a holistic view of the body from the psychological to the biological.”
“I designed my major in such a way that allowed me to understand the aspects I was most interested in (the interactions between the brain and the human body) while at the same time I was able to learn more in depth about each process,” says Brianna, ’14, who is now enrolled at the University of Winchester seeking a master’s degree in Managing Contemporary Global Issues.
Megan Gunnels (Ozark, MO) also chose a self-designed major in biology and psychology, plus a major in business administration.
“Originally, I started on the biochemistry track,” Megan, ’14, says. “I realized it wasn’t what I was passionate about. After taking my first psychology class, I knew I needed to fuse the two disciplines together to fit my interests.”
Megan has accepted a position at Cerner Corporation and plans to work toward an MBA or a master’s degree in healthcare administration.
We don’t have your major? Create it as a Self-Designed.
Sometimes a self-design degree is sought because Westminster does not offer the kind of degree the student wants.
Jack Easterly (Little Rock, AR) knew before he started at Westminster that he wanted to major in classical studies – selecting the college even though Westminster doesn’t offer a degree in classical studies. Classes with Professors Bob Seelinger and Victor Leuci reinforced his decision – a focus on the classics was right for him. Easterly, ’14, believes this self-designed major will prove to be extremely helpful as he attends the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas this upcoming year.
Want an edge for your grad school application? Consider Self-Designed.
In the case of Kathryn Seyer (Columbia, MO), she believed combining the strengths of biology and psychology into a self-designed degree would give her the edge over others in applying for graduate school. She has been accepted into the University of Missouri physical therapy program and will start June 2nd.
How Self-Designed Majors Work
Generally, Westminster students begin working on a self-designed major after their freshman year and must start by the second semester of their junior year. Here are steps to secure and complete your self-designed major:
- Identify a faculty advisor and two other faculty members representing at least two academic divisions to serve on your committee.
- Together with your committee, write a proposal which includes a general description and justification for an alternative major and specific courses to be taken.
- The Associate Dean of Faculty must approve the proposed course of study.
- You must meet with your committee at least once every semester to review your progress. A minimum of three semesters must be spent working under the approved plan.
While a self-designed major is not for everyone, students at Westminster like knowing they have that option. The choices are virtually endless because of the individual attention students receive from the faculty at Westminster. All the professors are ready to help students find the right course of study to prepare for success, and for some Westminster students this creative choice makes their education more meaningful.
Recent Self-Designed Majors at Westminster
- International Studies/Middle Eastern Studies
- Marketing and Management
- Information Technology Management
- Secondary Education, Latin Emphasis
- Secondary Education, Curriculum-Science
- Business Management & Human Development
- Biological Psychology & Business Administration
- Sports Medicine
- Sports Education
- Bio-Chemical Studies/Natural & Mathematical Sciences
- Sports & Recreation Management
- Criminal Justice & Political Science