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The Independent Major
Independent Study Committee
The College provides the Independent Major for those students whose academic interests do not match the course requirements of existing majors.
A student may design an independent major and submit a detailed written proposal to the Independent Study Committee. The proposal must be prepared with the aid of one or two advisors who write letters of support and agree to assume responsibility for the duration of the program. The program must include a balance of lower and upper level courses normally totalling one third or more of the total credit hours required for graduation. In many cases, independent majors take their courses from two or more departments. In this case, students are asked to have two advisors, from different departments.
Many independent major proposals include courses taken abroad or in other institutions. In such cases, the applicant should check with Off-Campus Studies to make sure that the proposed program will be approved before submitting the independent major proposal. Approval of the independent major does not imply approval of the off-campus study portion.
An independent major should be a coherent program of study with a specific focus, rather than simply a haphazard choice of courses. The driving principle of a major should be discussed in the written proposal. If the college offers a minor in the subject, the courses required for the minor should be taken as a starting point for a major. To ensure depth, the student is expected to engage in a synthesizing research project during the senior year, normally in the form of an independent study.
Independent majors must be approved by the end of a student's sixth semester at Colby. To streamline the decision process on independent majors, the Independent Study Committee has set the 30th day of each semester as the target date for independent major proposals. Proposals received after that date may have to wait until the next semester to be considered.
Students pursuing independent majors should keep in touch with the committee, which must be notified about any changes in their program; substantial changes, or a change of advisor, must be approved by the committee.
Independent majors may receive a distinction in their major upon graduating if they have an overall GPA of at least 3.5.
Inquiries about independent majors should be directed to the Chair of the Independent Study Committee Murray Campbell in the Physics Department (mfcampbe or x5863). Applications can be downloaded in electronic form.