Professor Renee McDonald, Director
General Information. The major in individualized studies in the liberal arts provides students the opportunity to design a thematically coherent interdisciplinary program of study that brings fields of inquiry together in unique combinations not currently offered as a program in the SMU curriculum. Interested and academically qualified students are invited to explore this possibility with the program’s director (Dedman College Associate Dean of Academic Affairs). If the student’s plan of study appears to have merit, the director will suggest faculty members in appropriate departments and divisions of the University who can provide further assistance in designing the program. Students must ask at least three faculty members to constitute a Faculty Supervisory Committee, with one serving as chair.
Students with at least a 3.500 GPA in the first 24 credit hours taken through enrollment at SMU are eligible to pursue the program, which consists of individually designed majors in the liberal arts of at least 36 credit hours, with a minimum of 24 credit hours of advanced courses (3000 level or above). The program must satisfy all University-wide requirements and all other University and Dedman College graduation requirements. Students are responsible for fulfilling all prerequisites for courses taken. The degree will be identified as a B.A. with a major in individualized studies in the liberal arts. A note on the transcript will denote the specialization. Students intending to seek admission to graduate schools are encouraged to include at least 30 hours of a coherent set of courses in an identifiable disciplinary field.
Administrative Procedures. The Dedman College Undergraduate Council shall have the final authority to approve all individualized studies programs. The Dedman College associate dean for academic affairs will act as the director of the individualized studies program. Prior to declaring the major, a number of steps must be completed:
- The student should contact the Dedman College Office of Records and Academic Services to confirm that the student is eligible to declare an individualized studies program.
- The student, with the assistance of the director, must form a Faculty Supervisory Committee with a minimum of three members. The committee will provide advice and guidance to the student. At least two members, including the chair of the committee, shall be resident members of the Dedman College faculty.
- The student will submit a plan of study to the director and to each Faculty Supervisory Committee member. If the committee and the director approve the plan of study, the plan is then submitted for approval by the Dedman College Undergraduate Council.
- The plan is transmitted to the Dedman College Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and to the Dedman College Office of Records and Academic Services.
The plan of study must be submitted to the Dedman College Undergraduate Council for approval before the completion of 60 total credit hours of coursework. The chair of the Faculty Supervisory Committee and the Dedman College Dean’s Office will recommend candidates for graduation. The director of the Office of Records and Academic Services will be responsible for verifying and certifying graduation requirements.
Distinction. Students completing an individualized studies major can do so with distinction, which is a prearranged, two-term sequence of advanced coursework culminating in an advanced research project. The research is planned during the junior year and accomplished during the senior year. Many of these projects may qualify as a project through the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute and/or an Engaged Learning project, and it is the student’s responsibility to consider all possibilities and deadlines.
To undertake distinction, a student must have completed 60 hours of coursework, have a GPA of 3.500 in the major courses, and must have completed a minimum of 15 advanced hours in the individualized studies major. The research project for distinction in individualized studies must be substantively different from a research project for possible distinction in a second major field. Graduation with distinction is designated on the diploma for a student who successfully completes the criteria outlined.
To earn distinction, a student must
- Complete 36 hours of approved coursework for the individualized studies major with a 3.500 GPA or higher.
- Submit a formal research proposal, based on the two options listed below, for approval of the student’s Faculty Supervisory Committee and the individualized studies program director (Dedman College Dean’s Office). The proposal must be unanimously approved. Any substantive changes must be reviewed and approved by the Faculty Supervisory Committee.
Create a distinction committee of three faculty members including at least two members of the Faculty Supervisory Committee. This project committee should include a mentor in each field that the project brings together.
Complete an advanced theory or methods course as recommended by the student’s distinction committee and approved by the Faculty Supervisory Committee. This course may or may not be a part of the 36-hour major and should directly relate to the development of the distinction project.
Complete a research project for three credit hours beyond the 36-hour major requirement. This can either be a DCAR course or an independent study taken in the field connected to the primary distinction committee member. As part of the course, the student must complete a significant research paper with a minimum of 5,000 to 8,000 words of text, including a bibliography, in APA or other appropriate academic writing style. The course instructor is the primary member of the distinction committee.
If the student has significant coursework in one Dedman College subject area, the student may submit a proposal to the Faculty Supervisory Committee to meet that department’s requirements for distinction. This plan must have the approval of the Faculty Supervisory Committee and the department. The course instructor for distinction must be a faculty member of that department and a member of the student’s Faculty Supervisory Committee.
- Give an oral presentation and defense of the project to the distinction committee or instructor (whichever is applicable), the student’s Faculty Supervisory Committee and the individualized studies program director (Dedman College Dean’s Office). The presentation should include an overview of the project rationale, methodology, significant results and relevance to the larger academic community. This presentation must be scheduled to take place before the last day of instruction. The distinction paper must be submitted at least two weeks prior to presentation to the distinction committee or instructor, the Faculty Supervisory Committee, and the individualized studies program director (Dedman College Dean’s Office). All parties must be able to attend. For option two, the instructor and the Faculty Supervisory Committee must be able to attend.
- Complete the overall project with a grade of A or A-, determined by the student’s distinction project committee or instructor, and approved by the Faculty Supervisory Committee and the director of the individualized studies program.
When all the above qualifications have been met, the granting of distinction for individualized studies in the liberal arts is recommended by the Faculty Supervisory Committee to the director of the program, and ultimately granted or denied by the individualized studies program director (Dedman College Dean’s Office).