student in a classroom 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 Major Committee.  We strongly recommend meeting with a member of the Independent Major Committee prior to submitting the proposal.

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 required to engage in a synthesizing capstone project during the senior year, normally in the form of an independent study. In the spring of the student’s junior year, they will be asked to submit a formal, detailed proposal for their capstone along with a discussion of their progress to date through the major. In the spring of the student’s senior year, they will be expected to present their capstone project at the Colby Liberal Arts Symposium.

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 totaling 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.