Most students choose an established major, but students who have demonstrated high academic achievement may, in cooperation with two faculty advisers, design an independent major. Applications and instructions for independent majors may be obtained from the Office of the Registrar or from the Registrar’s website. For initial advice concerning completion of the application, students should consult the Office of the Registrar.
An independent major is a coherent study program that cannot be pursued within the College’s established majors. The application begins with a purpose statement describing the major questions that prompt the proposal and the major themes that unify the proposed course work into a coherent body of study.
The quality of a student’s academic record may be a sufficient reason for turning down an application. To receive approval for an independent major, it is expected that a student’s cumulative GPA of all graded Grinnell College courses is at least 3.0 at the time the application is submitted for consideration.
The work of the major is divided into (a) the courses forming the methodology and subject matter core of the program, and (b) elective courses that supplement the basic core. The core program provides a solid foundation in one or more academic disciplines by the inclusion of those courses most fundamental to the theory and methodology of those disciplines. Students are required to complete the core program as approved. The Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College must approve any change. Additional work for the major is chosen from an approved elective list.
Two faculty advisers are required for all independent majors to assist in planning the major and to supervise the thesis. One adviser must be a full-time faculty member. The other may be part-time. Advisers should be persons who expect to be at Grinnell in the student’s senior year to supervise the thesis planning, research, and writing. If one of the advisers leaves the College, on leave or permanently, the student is responsible for finding another faculty adviser and having the change approved by the Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College.