Getting started

Most students fall into one of two categories:

I haven’t yet identified a likely mentor.

Contact Dr. Scott Windham, coordinator of the independent major, for advice.

I have identified a likely mentor.

Write a short abstract (no more than a page and a half) with the following information. Organize the abstract into clear sections with headings.

  1. The tentative name of your major.
  2. Probable faculty committee. You need a faculty advisory committee of three, with one designated as the primary mentor. Work with your primary mentor to identify two additional members for your committee. Briefly explain your choices for the committee by referencing their disciplinary expertise or recent scholarship. Ideally, your committee members should represent three separate departments or disciplines; if only two disciplines are represented, please justify. If you and your primary mentor need help identifying additional members, please contact Dr. Scott Windham, coordinator of the independent major, for advice.
  3. Brief rationale:
    1. What will this major allow you to explore, do, and learn while at Elon?
    2. What post-college opportunities does this major create?
    3. Why can’t your goals be accomplished with a combination of existing majors and minors?
  4. Brief description of a possible capstone project for the major. The capstone project can be a senior thesis, portfolio, lecture, performance, or any other format that integrates and ties together the work completed throughout the major.

The abstract is just a starting point and is not meant to represent the final trajectory or composition of your application. Instead, it will serve as the basis of a discussion between you and the coordinator. Please share the abstract via OneDrive or Google Drive with the coordinator of the independent major, Dr. Scott Windham, and request a follow-up appointment. This initial meeting serves to explore the scope,

content, and rationale for the proposed major, and to offer advice, possible alternatives within existing Elon majors and minors, and/or additional resources, mentors, and pathways for the project. It also serves to remind students that the nature of the independent major is interdisciplinary and to indicate the quality of the rationale, capstone project, and course selection that will be expected.

After the abstract and meeting: Draft an application

After you’ve discussed the abstract, the coordinator will forward the application to you. You may want to copy the application questions into a working document that you share with your faculty advisory committee.

Work closely with your primary mentor (or your entire committee) on the application. Note that there are sections that are intended to be written primarily by you, sections to be co-written by you and your mentor(s), and sections to be written primarily by your mentor(s).

When you are finished, all three members of your faculty advisory committee approve the application, acknowledging that it is complete and meets the criteria for the independent major. The application now gets routed to the coordinator.

Review of application

At this stage, the coordinator provides a formative review in writing or in a meeting with the student and faculty mentor(s). The coordinator may elect to meet separately with the student and mentor(s). After any needed revisions, the application is forwarded to the Elon Core Curriculum Committee. From there, the application goes to the University Curriculum Committee, the body that makes final decisions on all aspects of the university’s curriculum.