Carnegie Mellon University

Dietrich College Student-Defined Major Program

Director: Dr. Joseph Devine, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies
Office: Baker Hall 154

The Dietrich College Student-Defined Program is intended for students whose academic goals cannot be as adequately served by the curricula of existing Dietrich College majors or minors as they can by a student-defined alternative. Dietrich College student-defined options are possible as primary majors, additional majors or minors.

Proposal and Approval Process

The procedure for establishing such a major or minor centers on a written proposal that makes the case for the proposed program's coherence, viability and suitability as a Dietrich College Student-Defined Program.


  • Ideally, proposals should be developed in the late freshman or sophomore years. Approved self-defined majors or minors should begin their programs in the sophomore or junior years.

  • Proposals must be approved at least one academic year prior to the student’s expected graduation date.


  • Proposals must be approved by the college’s Student-Defined Program director, as well as by a subset of faculty and administrators identified through the proposal process as relevant experts and stakeholders in the proposed program.

  • Once approved by the college, final approval comes from the Provost’s Office.

Monitoring Progress and Graduation Requirements

  • The Student-Defined Program director, in partnership with faculty and college content experts, will monitor each student’s progress through the self-defined program.

  • The Student-Defined Program director will certify successful completion of the program for graduation purposes.

  • For student-defined additional majors and minors, the program director will inform the student’s primary major and college of the completion of the student-defined additional major or minor.

  • Dietrich College student-defined primary majors are invited to a special commencement diploma ceremony for student-defined primary majors.

College affiliation and college requirements

For Dietrich College student-defined primary majors:

  • The home college will be Dietrich College.

  • If a student approved for a Dietrich College Student-Defined primary major is not yet a Dietrich College student, he or she must take the additional step of applying for internal transfer into Dietrich College.

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

  • Upon completion of the approved program, the student receives a degree with the major indicated as “student-defined.”

For Dietrich College student-defined additional majors or minors:

  • If the student-defined program is for an additional major, or a minor, the student's primary major and college affiliation is not affected.