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College of Liberal Arts


Director: Olaf Kuhlke
306 Kirby Plaza
(218) 726-7331

Advisor: Pam Spencer
310 Kirby Plaza
(218) 726-8563

This major is unique because it is individually designed; students work with faculty advisers to create a field of study involving courses from several departments. It may encompass the natural sciences, social sciences, cultural studies, fine arts, technical and professional fields, or a combination of these. The program admission application should be thought through carefully (contact the CLA director for referral to specific faculty who can consult on students' proposed programs).

Students who select this major must submit a statement of their educational objectives and a list of proposed courses to the committee for approval before they complete 70 credits with a cumulative GPA of 2.50. The list of courses for the major and a statement of purpose explain the student's rationale for the proposed program. Upon approval by the Interdisciplinary Studies Committee, it becomes an individualized program. A current transcript must be submitted with the application.

Freshman and transfer students are usually admitted to pre-major status before admission to this major.
A GPA above 2.0 is preferred for the following:
    * 2.5 already admitted to the degree-granting college
    * 2.5 transferring from another University of Minnesota college
    * 2.5 transferring from outside the University


The Director is the initial contact for students interested in the I.S. major. Students should schedule an appointment with the Director to discuss preliminary proposals, program expectations, and guidelines.


The Advisor functions as an initial contact, a liasion between the students, the I.S. committee, and faculty advisors. Advisement and proposal questions are directed to the Advisor.


This campus-wide faculty committee reviews student applications for admission to the I.S. Program. The committee meets once every semester. It can approve an application, approve with amendments, table for further consultation with faculty experts or with the applicant, recommend reapplication, or reject.


The application for admission to the I.S. major should be thought out carefully with as much expert consultation as possible. It consists of a list of courses which constitute the major, a Statement of Purpose which supplies the student's rationale for the proposed program, and all faculty supporting documents. NOTE: At least 12 credits within the proposal must be from CLA course offerings. Upon approval, it becomes an individualized Course of Study for a major leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree. A current transcript or APAS must also be attached to the application.

Note: Unlike many majors at UMD, Interdisciplinary Studies is available only by formal application and committee approval. Students may declare a pre-Interdisciplinary Studies major while they are creating their Course of Study. However in order to register for I.S. 3099 their Course of Study must be approved. Students should not apply for a change of advisor until their programs have been approved.


Prospective majors list two or three faculty advisors on their individualized major Course of Study form: one of these persons is the principal advisor whose responsibilities are noted below. Other advisor(s) have counseled the student while the course of study is in preparation and ordinarily will be asked to review the student's Senior Project.

Each faculty advisor must submit a 250 word document in support of the individualized proposal. These supporting documents will be submitted with the application.


The principal advisor is empowered to authorize routine changes in course of study (substitutions because of conflicts, cancellations, special topics opportunities, etc.) and to approve the forms that are typically associated with the pursuit and completion of a B.A. degree. However, a copy of final projects must be submitted to the Director of Interdisciplinary Studies for final clearance. The principal advisors assist the students to determine the appropriate credits for the Senior Project, and they assign the Senior Project final grade.


Methods Course - This course will be selected in consultation with your assigned advisor. Current list of methods courses(Oct 2008):



The Senior Project (I.S. 3099) is the capstone of the I.S. Major's course of study. It should provide evidence of integration of knowledge and skills derived from courses in different disciplines. The I.S. Committee and the I.S. Director do not require that the Course of Study proposal specify the nature of the Senior Project at the time of application; the Project ordinarily develops from course work, from discussions with the advisor, and from the special interests of, and opportunities for, the student.


The norm for a Senior Project (I.S. 3099) is 2-4 credits. Ordinarily this will represent an academic paper of 15-30 pages in length with a full bibliography. However, there can be many variations from the norm. Some Senior Projects have been internships, others have been portfolios or exhibits while others have been field studies. The more credits a student registers for, the more involved the senior project. It is recommended that the upper end of the credit limit is for projects that take the student off-campus for a substantial part of an academic term (internship, tour, archival research, etc.).

Regardless of the nature of the Senior Project, it should always include these two components:

  1. A bibliography of relevant library resources demonstrating general knowledge of the topic, and
  2. A written paper, report, journal, self-analysis, etc.

A copy of the Senior Project must be filed with the Assistant Director of Interdisciplinary Studies.


I.S. students are responsible for keeping advisors informed of their progress toward completion of their Course of Study. Students are also responsible for procuring and completing collegiate and all-university requirements (upper division papers, credit check, application for graduation etc.). Students may request a change in advisor at any time, although a new advisor must be approved by the Director. Be sure to check the general requirements for a B.A. degree in the College of Liberal Arts.

Individuals who have any disability, either permanent or temporary, which might affect their ability to perform in this major are encouraged to inform the Director at the start of the program. Adaptation of methods. materials, or testing may be made as required to provide for equitable participation.

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