Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

What is the Individualized Major through the Liberal Studies Program?

The B.A. Individualized Major offers highly motivated and self-directed students the opportunity to design their own major. As an alternative to traditional majors, the Liberal Studies Program allows students to pursue their educational goals in areas not available within an existing departmental curriculum.  The proposed program and accompanying curriculum must be interdisciplinary, drawing from at least three fields or disciplines, and it may not duplicate an existing major.  Unless the student is transferring relevant coursework, the curriculum must be composed of departments and courses available at the university.

Whom should I contact initially for further information about an Individualized Major?

Please contact the academic advisor for the Liberal Studies Program, Sarah Springer (s.springer@louisville.edu) for more information about the Individualized Major and to verify minimum eligibility for admission. Please include your student ID number in your request for information if you are admitted to or currently enrolled at UofL.

What do I need to include in the email for requesting preliminary approval?

Once you have confirmed your eligibility and determined the suitability of a Individualized Major with an advisor, please send a request for preliminary approval to Dr. John Hale jrhale@louisville.edu. In this email you'll identify your program title (refers to a specific career, intellectual interest, or graduate/professional program), total hours earned, cumulative grade point average, and the 3-5 departments that you intend to integrate into your curriculum.

See Steps in the Proposal and Admission Process for more information.

What happens after I receive preliminary approval?

Once Dr. Hale approves your candidacy, you begin the first draft of your proposal.  When the draft is ready, please call the program advisor (852-8290) to schedule the first advising meeting.  At this meeting the advisor will review the first draft of your proposal and both the advisor and candidate will construct the individualized degree plan.  When the proposal and plan are in final form, you will schedule a meeting with Dr. Hale (jrhale@louisville.edu or 852-2248) to discuss the proposal.

Are requests for preliminary approval as a candidate ever rejected, and if so, on what basis?

Because you will have discussed already your ideas for an Individualized Major with the program advisor before you request preliminary approval,  it is unlikely a request for preliminary approval would be rejected.  As long as all eligibility requirements  (minimum 2.75 cumulative GPA including all college level coursework, minimum 45 hours earned, and an interdisciplinary goal with relevant, supporting concentrations) are met, we can usually assist you.

What is an approved Minor in A&S?

Please visit Undergraduate Catalog - minors for available A&S minors.

After your program plan has been approved by the director, you may apply for your minor at Arts and Sciences Advising - Apply (please click on Apply for Your Minor button; your major must be approved and entered by the program advisor before the minor application can be processed).  Some minors require the completion of specific courses before an application for minor can be processed.

What constitutes a concentration outside A&S?

Students pursuing an Individualized Major may include course credits from University of Louisville units outside the College of Arts and Sciences. These include the Schools of Business, Education and Human Development, Engineering, Law, Music, Nursing, Public Health and Information Sciences and Social Work. No more than 24-30 hours earned outside the College of Arts and Sciences may be applied to the Liberal Studies major.

Can I get help writing my proposal?

Absolutely!  The program advisor reviews your first draft during the first advising appointment and, if you need, is available to review subsequent drafts as well.  The University Writing Center, located on the 1st floor of Ekstrom Library, is also an excellent resource.

More information regarding the proposal, including prompt questions, are available on this site.  If you have additional questions before beginning your draft, please contact the program advisor.

What should I include in my proposal?

The formal proposal for a new Liberal Studies candidate has three parts.

First, you must identify the title you have chosen for your personalized curriculum, followed by the first area of concentration (this is usually an approved A&S minor) and the additional areas of concentration.

Second, you must provide a personal statement that explains why you have decided to create your own individualized major, rather than pursuing one of the existing A&S majors.  Here you should write about your goal, whether it is a career, or a graduate or professional program that you hope to enter, or simply an intellectual interest.  In this narrative section, you may include specific experiences, ambitions, previous educational work, hopes and dreams.  Tell your own story!

Third, you must give an objective description of the degree program that you have designed, as if it were an entry in the UofL catalog of degree programs and majors.  Be sure to show how the concentrations that you have chosen, and also specific courses that are included in your curriculum, will be integrated in an interdisciplinary way in order to make a logical course of study.  Remember, you must show how your curriculum fits the title of your program.  List your areas of concentration by name, and explain the relevance and purpose of each choice you have made.

The formal proposal should be a minimum of 500 words in length.  It should be presented to the Director of Liberal Studies in hard copy, typed and double-spaced, with your name and the title of your program at the top of the first page.

NOTE:  Although your written proposal should certainly reference your chosen curriculum, the degree plan, consisting of all courses relevant to your program, is completed in addition to the narrative and in collaboration with the program advisor.

Can my Gen Ed courses cross-count within concentrations?

Gen Ed courses may not be cross-counted for the concentrations, except in cases where a Gen Ed course is a departmental requirement for completion of the minor (e.g., Psych 201 may count toward the Gen Ed SB and also within a Psych minor).

What are the LBST 300 course and the Liberal Studies section of the English 309 course?

The LBST 300 course, Forms of Interdisciplinary Inquiry, is a course that will introduce the student to interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary forms of inquiry, with an emphasis on how these forms operate [or are pursued] in higher education. The course, which is required for Liberal Studies majors, is offered Thursday afternoon (4:00-6:45 p.m. during Fall term and 1:00-3:45 p.m. during Spring term). Additionally, this course is taught as a Learning Community class with the English 309-WR course, Inquiries in Writing. The Learning Community section of ENGL 309 accompanies the LBST 300 course and involves the same group of students and concurrent discussions and reading between the two courses. Corresponding with the LBST 300 schedule, the Liberal Studies section of English 309 meets Tuesday afternoon (4:00-6:45 p.m. in the Fall and 1:00-3:45 p.m. in the Spring).

What is the Senior Seminar?

A Liberal Studies Major is required to designate a class at the 400 or 500 level, usually within his or her minor, to satisfy the Senior Seminar requirement. This course should reflect the theme of the student's program design. The Senior Seminar course may "cross count" as a course within the minor or other concentration; consult the Liberal Studies advisor regarding selection courses intended to fulfill Senior Seminar requirements.

Can I take courses that are not on my original curriculum plan and count them toward my plan?

Yes, but with this caution:  it is a good idea to check with the program advisor first!   We both want you to graduate on time so please confirm the suitability of substitutions WELL BEFORE the first day of classes.

Will my transfer credits work with this degree?

In most cases, yes -- the courses must be from an accredited school, be recognized by our transfer equivalency unit, and be applicable to the program you have designed.

Can I have an Individualized Major in Liberal Studies and another major?

Yes, as long as coursework required for the second major is not used as a concentration within the Liberal Studies plan.  Most students who choose to complete a double major choose a subject that complements their interdisciplinary plan and overall goal.

If I am an Individualized Major through Liberal Studies, can I graduate with Honors?

Yes!  Many of our majors participate in the Honors Program and graduate with honors.

How can I describe this major on a resume?

A student often specifies on a resume the focus of the Individualized Major.  For example, a student might write "B.A. Individualized Major in Diversity Studies; course highlights include..." and then list coursework related to the self-designed major.

How do employers and graduate schools view this major?

It depends on the job or graduate program.  If a student wants to be an accountant, s/he should major in accounting!  But for many purposes, the Individualized Major is an asset.  In part because of the proposal requirement, students in this program tend to be very articulate about what they have done and why.  The proposal gives focus and expression to a student's individualized academic program.  They explain their programs of study well either to prospective employers or to graduate school admission committees.  Indeed, majors have actually included part of their original proposal in cover letters or in autobiographical statements of purpose when applying for jobs or graduate programs.  The initiative, maturity, discipline, and creativity necessary to successfully design and complete an individualized major translate well into life after the B.A.

Send a request for preliminary approval to Dr. John Hale jrhale@louisville.edu. In this email you'll identify your program title (refers to a specific career, intellectual interest, or graduate/professional program), total hours earned, cumulative grade point average, and the 3-5 departments that you intend to integrate into your curriculum.

See Steps in the Proposal and Admission Process for more information.