Dec 04, 2020  
2016-2017 Undergraduate Catalog 
2016-2017 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Individually Structured Major

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Director: Associate Dean Marjorie Levine-Clark
Telephone: 303-556-2896

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Interdisciplinary Studies Major (ISM) provides students with the opportunity to construct an individualized major that meets their unique needs and interests, and which results in a B.A.. This flexible program allows students to follow academic pursuits that transcend traditional department or college boundaries, combining coursework from two, three, or even more academic units to explore a particular theme. An ISM tends to be more focused than traditional majors and should not be considered a default major for students uncertain about their course of study.

Application for an ISM:

In order to declare an Interdisciplinary Studies Major, students are required to submit a program plan that includes a proposal and a course contract. Students should aim to complete a program plan before the end of the sophomore year. The proposal should be approved before students have taken one-third of the classes listed in their course contracts. Copies of your completed ISM proposal and course contract must be filed with the Associate Dean for Planning, Initiatives, and Diversity and with your CLAS Academic Advisor.

• The ISM proposal must include:

  • A description of your chosen theme (see below for sample themes).
  • An explanation of why the theme requires coursework that integrates multiple disciplines. You can choose a theme within interdisciplinary frameworks already established in CLAS but which do not offer BA degrees. These frameworks include Chinese Studies, Health Humanities, Law Studies, Religious Studies, Social Justice, Sustainability, and Women’s and Gender Studies. You are also encouraged to create your own frameworks.
  • An outline of specific learning objectives for the ISM (see below for sample learning objectives).
  • Approval from the Associate Dean for Planning, Initiatives and Diversity.


• Your ISM course contract must include:

  • A list of the courses in your chosen disciplines and the optional “grab bag” of courses that you intend to apply to your ISM, as well as potential alternate courses. You should work closely with the Associate Dean for Planning, Initiatives, and Diversity and faculty advisors in your chosen disciplines to create your course contract.
  • Signatures from your chosen Primary Faculty Advisor from one of your main disciplines and signatures from Faculty Advisors from your other main disciplines. You do not need a faculty advisor for grab bag courses.
  • Signature from your Academic Advisor.
  • Signature from the Associate Dean for Planning, Initiatives, and Diversity.


Roles and Responsibilities


• creates the ISM proposal and course contract (in collaboration with faculty advisors)

• meets regularly with ISM Primary Advisor to assess progress through ISM

• fulfills requirements of ISM course contract

Associate Dean for Planning, Initiatives, and Diversity

• approves student proposals for ISM

• signs off on ISM course contracts

• maintains records of ISM applications

• certifies graduation

Primary Faculty Advisor

• approves ISM course contract

• meets with ISM advisees to monitor progress

• oversees advisees’ capstone projects

Other Faculty Advisors

• approve course contract

• help with capstone projects when needed

CLAS Academic Advisor

• reviews overall course contract

• approves exempt core area

Click here  for more information about the requirements for the major.


Liberal arts students interested in graduating with Latin honors in the individually structured major program should meet with the assistant/associate dean in the CLAS Advising Office to verify they meet eligibility requirements and to modify the program plan for the honors project. Students who successfully complete the ISM honors program will have the appropriate Latin honor designation placed on the University of Colorado diploma and transcript.

To participate in the ISM honors program, CLAS students must meet each of the following eligibility requirements:

  • have a declared ISM major with an approved ISM contract
  • possess a minimum 3.2 cumulative University of Colorado GPA
  • possess a minimum 3.5 GPA on all completed University of Colorado course work in the ISM contract

Eligible ISM students must complete an undergraduate research project and present the results to a faculty honors committee. The level of Latin honors awarded is determined by the faculty honors committee. ISM students are to complete 3 to 6 semester hours of undergraduate independent study over a period of two semesters in one of the disciplines that constitute the ISM contract. The faculty sponsor from the project discipline will serve as the honors committee chair. The independent study research project is to produce a thesis-quality report to be presented orally to a three-member interdisciplinary faculty honors committee representing the disciplines in the ISM contract. Upon completion of the research report and oral presentation to the honors committee, the level of Latin honors will be determined by the following criteria:

cum laude-awarded upon completion of written report and oral presentation

magna cum laude-awarded by honors committee based on successful written report and oral presentation

summa cum laude-awarded by honors committee based on excellence in written report and oral presentation

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