Carnegie Mellon University

Student-Defined Majors

Customize Your Education

Ready to work outside the box and innovate across disciplines? If you are an undergraduate whose academic goals will be best supported by a self-created curriculum rather than those offered by existing Dietrich College majors or minors, the student-defined program may be the best choice for you. Student-defined majors and minors empower you to take a hands-on approach to your education, creating a course of study tailored to you. Student-defined options are possible as primary majors, additional majors and minors.

Proposal & Approval Process

  • To establish a student-defined major or minor, you will first need to write a proposal making the case for your program's coherence, viablity and suitability to your educational goals. Follow the guidelines (pdf) and use the template (docx) to craft your proposal. 
  • Your proposal must be approved by Joseph Devine, Dietrich College's student-defined program director, and a group of faculty and administrators identified through the proposal process as relevant experts and stakeholders in your proposed major or minor.

  • Once your proposal is approved by the college, final approval will come from the Provost’s Office.

  • Your proposal must be approved at least one academic year before your expected graduation date, so begin developing it near the end of your first or second year of study so that you can begin your approved student-defined major or minor at the beginning of your sophomore or junior year.

College Affiliation

Student-Defined Primary Majors

  • Your home college will be Dietrich College.

  • If you are approved for a student-defined primary major at Dietrich but are not yet a Dietrich College student, you must take the additional step of applying for internal transfer into Dietrich.

  • All Dietrich College students pursuing student-defined primary majors must complete the college’s general education requirements.

Student-Defined Additional Majors & Minors

  • If your student-defined program is for an additional major or a minor, your primary major and college affiliation will not be affected.

Monitoring Progress & Graduation

  • The student-defined program director, in partnership with faculty and college content experts, will monitor your progress through your student-defined program.

  • The student-defined program director will certify your successful completion of the program for graduation purposes.

  • If you've elected a student-defined additional major or minor, the program director will inform your primary major and college once you complete your student-defined program.

  • If you complete a student-defined primary major, you will invited to a special commencement diploma ceremony and will receive a degree with the major marked as "student-defined."