Special Interdisciplinary Major

The purpose of the Special Interdisciplinary Major (SIM) is to permit exceptional students to complete a degree at Puget Sound through a course of study that draws upon the curricula of two or more departments, schools, or programs. The SIM may be in a recognized interdisciplinary field or in an emergent field. The course of study is designed by the student in concert with a multi-disciplinary faculty committee. The plan of study must present a coherent program in the liberal arts and include strong methodological grounding in the relevant disciplines. The plan of study must also include upper-division coursework sufficient for the student to develop knowledge and analytic tools sophisticated enough to permit interdisciplinary synthesis. The student must demonstrate this knowledge and analytical skill by preparing and publicly presenting a senior thesis or project.

The purpose of a SIM is not to dilute an existing major, but to allow students to pursue areas of study that cannot adequately be addressed through existing majors, minors, and programs. For some students the pursuit of a SIM may be preferable to the completion of a double major.

The SIM is supervised by a principal advisor from a relevant department with a committee of two or more other faculty members. At least one of the committee members must have their primary appointment in a different department or program from that of the principle advisor. All three committee members supervise implementation of the SIM, approve changes when necessary, and certify completion of the approved course of study.

Steps in the Development of a Special Interdisciplinary Major

Students interested in pursuing the SIM must do the following:

  1. Create a SIM advisory committee composed of three faculty members from departments appropriate to the topic, including one as the principal faculty advisor. At least one of the committee members must have their primary appointment in a department or program different from that of the principal advisor.
  2. With the SIM advisory committee, develop a SIM application (application forms are available online, in the Registrar’s, Associate Deans’, and Academic Advising offices).
  3. Submit the proposal to the Curriculum Committee no later than first term, junior year. Proposals submitted to the Curriculum Committee by October 1 or February 15 will be acted upon before registration for the following term.
  4. Complete the program plan approved by the Curriculum Committee. Modifications to the approved SIM program require approval by the SIM Advisory Committee and the Curriculum Committee. The Registrar will be notified of any modifications to the approved SIM program.