Integrative Studies Major
Karen M. Tinsley, Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Division Chair
The Integrative Studies major allows students to design their own interdisciplinary major in a way that integrates several fields and disciplines. Such a major is based on several things: Guilford’s emphasis on the interdisciplinary character of learning; the Quaker recognition of the unique gifts of each person; and the Quaker emphasis on the responsibility of each person in the search for truth.
This major is not for everyone. It requires additional work by both the student and their faculty advisors and is suitable only for self-directed students who are actively involved in their education and able to work well on their own. A student must have a cumulative Guilford GPA of 3.25 or higher in order to apply to the program and it is considered an honor to be accepted to the program.
The Bachelor of Arts degree is offered in Integrative Studies.
Integrative Studies majors complete at least 48 credit hours (usually 12 courses, equivalent to a major and a minor) in courses that constitute a coherent field of study outside traditional departmental lines. If a proposed integrative studies program can be accomplished using existing majors and minors, it will not be accepted.
At least 24 of the credits must be advanced courses (at the 300-400 level), including a two-semester culminating project during the final year that counts for eight credits. Students must earn a grade of C- or better in each of the courses in the major. An integrative studies major must also maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.25 in order to remain in the program. If the cumulative GPA falls below 3.25, a student will be allowed one semester in which to regain a 3.25 cumulative GPA before being dismissed from the program.
The Curriculum Committee approves the student as a major by accepting the application. The interdisciplinary division chair, with advice from the appropriate department chairs, approves a preliminary prospectus at the beginning of the student’s next-to-last semester and a revised prospectus at the beginning of the final semester; and participates in the evaluation and approval of the culminating project along with the student’s advisor and a consultant reader. The interdisciplinary division chair works with the student’s advisors in supporting and directing the student in the course of study.
It is very important for interested students to begin to consider this major as early as possible, through discussions with the interdisciplinary division chair and potential faculty advisors. A student’s application to the program must be completed and turned in to the interdisciplinary division chair by the second week after midterm break of the second semester of their sophomore year or five full-time semesters (or the equivalent) prior to their graduation date. During the remainder of this semester, the student will work with the interdisciplinary division chair to secure the approval of this application before the end of that semester. After approval by the Curriculum Committee, students will be required to complete the program in no less than five full-time semesters, either in residence at Guilford or at a Guilford-led or Guilford-affiliated study abroad program. Under no circumstances will late applications be considered.
The full application packet is available from the interdisciplinary division chair. The application includes:
- a statement articulating the nature and coherence of the field of study and why this program is necessary to achieve the student’s goals; the rationale for the courses to be taken for the major, including the sequencing, depth and coherence of the courses; a tentative proposal for the senior project and how it serves as an appropriate culmination for the major; the relationship between the field of study and Guilford’s Five Academic Principles; and reflections on future possibilities in the field (e.g., career, graduate school);
- a program list of at least 12 courses (48 credits), distinguishing those taken and those anticipated;
- strong recommendations from at least two full-time faculty members from two different disciplines who agree to be the advisors. One advisor must commit to being the project advisor. A second letter of recommendation must come from an additional full-time faculty member who is not part of the advising team but who can speak to the student’s academic qualifications for the program;
- evidence that the student is likely to succeed in a self-designed, interdisciplinary major (e.g., students must have a minimum 3.25 grade-point average, have demonstrated ability to work independently and have strong recommendations). Evidence of ability to work independently may include internships, independent studies or research projects, prior work experience and the like.
This completed proposal is shown first to the student’s advisors, who must approve it and consider it in their recommendations. The proposal is then sent to the interdisciplinary division chair, who presents it to the Curriculum Committee. The Curriculum Committee may (and often does) ask the student to revise the proposal. The Curriculum Committee then decides whether or not to accept the student into the major. Once approval is secured, the student will be required to complete the program in no less than five full-time semesters as specified above.
In the first semester of the final year, the student begins work on the culminating project and continues until shortly before the end of the final semester. During the first of the two semesters of project work, all materials should be assembled and read, the project should be planned and the first draft should be underway. The student submits an initial project prospectus and the endorsement of the project advisor to the interdisciplinary division chair by the end of the third week of the penultimate semester. The interdisciplinary division chair discusses the initial prospectus with the student, the project advisor and the appropriate department chairs and decides whether the senior project is an appropriate culmination for the major and is sufficiently interdisciplinary. The IDS division chair may ask for revisions or additions to the project before it is approved.
The project advisor, the interdisciplinary division chair or their representative and at least one consultant reader comprise the Evaluating Committee for the project. The consultant reader is someone whose expertise will aid in evaluating the project. He or she is selected by the student and the advisor with the IDS division chair’s consent. Students are encouraged to decide on and gain approval for the Evaluating Committee by the end of the first semester of the project and seek approval of the revised prospectus from everyone on the Evaluating Committee. They also are encouraged to consult with all members of the Evaluating Committee during the final semester.
The student must submit the final version of the project at least two weeks before the last day of classes to the Evaluating Committee. The student then defends the project before the Evaluating Committee. The committee will decide whether or not to approve the project as fulfilling the requirements of the integrative studies major. After discussing the project with the other members of the Evaluating Committee, the project advisor determines the project’s grade.