How I Created My Own Degree

Open curriculum sounds almost too good to be true. I remember thinking, “No way. Open curriculum? That can’t be right.” But it is! Some courses require prerequisites, but you are otherwise allowed free reign to pick and choose whatever courses fulfill your educational goals.  

In addition, the University of Rochester invites its students to create their own programs or degrees through interdepartmental studies if necessary. A few caveats exist, of course, but not many.

I built my own degree from scratch: no department, no established curriculum. It's an entrepreneurship degree, a dual degree really, as I'm also studying creative writing through the Department of English. Every course of mine was hand selected, and—as of November 1st—I officially submitted my proposal. (Fingers crossed!) 

Curious about constructing your own major? Let me run you through the basics. 

  1. Research UR’s available programs thoroughly. You’ll save yourself quite a bit of time and energy if the school already offers what you’re looking for.
  2. Meet with an advisor in the Center for Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs. This is your greatest resource as you begin. Pick their brains and take notes!
  3. Find two independent advisors to oversee your degree. Approach professors, especially those you’re taking multiple courses from (HINT: One needs to be tenured).
  4. Build your curriculum. The most fun part! If you’re looking for inspiration, or for a reference, sample programs are available.
  5. Submit your proposal. There are essays you’ll need to write and forms to sign. The deadlines are: Nov. 1st (FALL), April 1st (SPRING).
  6. Pat yourself on the back! You just created your own degree. How cool is that? 

Good luck going forward! 

(For further information, consult the Center for Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs website.)


About the author

Kevin Carr

I'm a member of the Class of 2015 and a transfer student, majoring in entrepreneurship and creative writing. I'm from San Luis Obispo, California, originally, though I spent the last few years studying in beautiful north Idaho before coming to Rochester. I'm involved in UR Entrepreneurs Club and Meliora Capital Management.

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