Developing a Planned Studies Major

 The initial step in designing a plan is to talk with your current advisor and with the coordinator of planned studies. They can listen to your ideas and help you get a clearer picture of what you hope to accomplish. The coordinator can also help you determine if you meet the requirements set by the departments and schools offering courses you might like to take. The next step is to research programs in your subject area and make a tentative list of courses as well as draft a statement explaining your goals. You will probably need to talk with faculty members and department chairs that are knowledgeable about the areas included in your plan. At this point, you may go ahead and decide which courses you want to take and when you want to take them, or, if you have questions, you may talk with the coordinator before you make final decisions.

Researching a planned studies major is very important, yet it is often avoided by students who think it is time-consuming and tedious. If you want to design the best possible plan so that after graduation you are competitive with students from other schools, then research is necessary. There are a number of places you can go for information.

First of all, check with chairs of departments from which you want to take courses. If your plan involves courses from schools other than Humanities and Sciences, check with the assistant/associate dean in that school. The assistant/associate deans are extremely knowledgeable and are in an excellent position to advise you. The chairs and deans can explain the courses, give you advice on which courses to choose, and tell you when courses will next be offered. They will also be the ones to review your plan and your proposed course list, so it makes good sense to consult with them before submitting it. They may refer you to faculty members that are particularly knowledgeable about the areas covered by your plan.

Second, check with the Office of Career Planning and Placement. They have a wealth of information on careers and on the requirements necessary for entrance into those careers. Call and make an appointment to talk to a Career Center counselor.

Third, investigate majors offered at other colleges that are similar to the program of study you intend to propose. In many cases, students are able to use existing majors at another institution as models for their plans. You can obtain information about the curricular offerings at other colleges by contacting them directly or, in many cases, by visiting their World Wide Web home pages.

Finally, try to talk with professionals in the field you want to enter. Call or write people you respect in your chosen profession. They can give you good advice about the kind of preparation you need.

As a result of your research, you should have a good idea of the kinds of courses that would be appropriate for your plan. Your next step is to consult the Ithaca College Undergraduate Catalog and make a list of all the courses suggested by the people you have consulted as well as any courses that you find relevant and interesting. You should search out courses for your major but also those that satisfy the School of Humanities and Sciences General Education Requirement (for students who matriculated before fall 2013) or the Integrative Core Curriculum (for students matriculating fall 2013 and after), are part of a minor, or serve as electives. Note that all planned studies students must enroll in the School of Humanities and Sciences and thus must complete the School's requirements (for General Education or for the Complementary Liberal Arts component of the ICC), even if most of the required courses for their plans are taken in other schools. In putting together a plan, you will be asked to list all the courses you will take or have taken that relate to the major, organized both by theme and by semester.

As you list tentative courses, please consider and incorporate the following information:

  • any prerequisites that must be taken before the course you want to take;
  • whether the course is designated as LA or NLA;
  • whether the course fulfills a general education/ICC requirement;
  • when the course is likely to be offered. (S = a spring semester course, F = a fall semester course, Y = a course given every year, IRR = a course offered on an irregular basis). Contact the department to confirm exactly which semesters the course will be offered between now and your graduation date. You will need this information as you plan which semester you will take each course.

As you work on your proposal, keep in mind that your proposed degree must be grounded in coursework that is regularly available at Ithaca College and must meet the degree requirements as specified in the undergraduate catalog, including a senior capstone and project course. If your educational goals can be met by combining an existing major with one or more minors, your proposal will not be approved. You must meet any entrance requirements set by departments whose courses are included in your self-designed major and must complete all prerequisites for those courses.

Consider including independent studies and internships in the list of courses required for your Planned Studies major. The regular course offerings at Ithaca College may not cover all the subject areas needed to support your plan; thus, you may need to design one or more independent studies in consultation with faculty members. If your Planned Studies degree points to a particular career, you might consider an internship in this area. For independent studies and internships that do not fit into existing departments, the Planned Studies Program has special interdisciplinary course numbers. If you intend to include an independent study or internship as a required course for your plan, you must identify a topic and faculty sponsor on the Planned Studies design statement.

Once you have chosen your courses, compose a design statement that elucidates how your proposed degree will help you achieve your academic and professional goals, and how Planned Studies will meet these goals in a way no existing major (or combination of majors/minors) is able to do. The purpose of the design statement is to clarify your thinking about your academic interests and to provide a rationale for your Planned Studies major. Guidelines for writing a design statement are provided on the Planned Studies application.

Once you have completed the Planned Studies application, including the design statement, submit these materials to the coordinator. If he judges that your application is complete and that your degree program meets planned studies guidelines, the coordinator will submit your application to the department chairs and deans who oversee the academic areas in which you intend to pursue coursework. Each chair and dean must approve your list of proposed courses in order for your application to go forward. Chairs and deans may, at this stage, request changes in your proposed course of study or may reject your plan entirely. The review by chairs and deans often takes several weeks to complete.

When the coordinator has received approvals from all the chairs and deans involved in the review of your proposal, he will bring your application to the Planned Studies Advisory Board and the associate dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences for final approval. Once your application is signed by the associate dean, the course listing is submitted to the registrar's office, along with a change of major, school, or advisor form. At this point you become an official Planned Studies major.


School of Humanities and Sciences  ·  201 Muller Center  ·  Ithaca College  ·  Ithaca, NY 14850  ·  (607) 274-3102  ·  Full Directory Listing