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What is Honors Self-Designed Studies?


Honors Self-Designed Studies permit Honors students with specific professional goals or interdisciplinary interests to design unique majors or minors when WKU's programs of study do not fit precisely a student's needs. Recent Honors Self-Designed Studies majors include "International Environment and Development" and "The Scientific Study of Human Nature"; a recent Honors Self-Designed Studies minor is "Computer Gaming and Special Effects."


What are the Requirements for Honors Self-Designed Studies Major/Minor?

  • The Honors Self-Designed Studies requires a minimum of 48 semester hours when the student has no second major or minor, 36 hours when used as a first major with a second major or minor, or 30 hours when used as a second major.
  • No more than six hours of courses used to satisfy general education requirements may be used in the Honors Self-Designed Studies major or minor.
  • At least one-half of the hours in any Honors Self-Designed Studies major or minor must be upper-division (numbered 300 or above).
  • At least 24 hours of the 48-hour major, 18 hours of the 36-hour major, 15 hours of the 30-hour major, or 12 hours of the minor must be from one discipline.
  • Students with an Honors Self-Designed Studies major or minor must complete a Capstone Experience/Thesis Project (CE/T). The CE/T must be completed as part of the 48-hour or 36-hour major. A student with a 30-hour Honors Self-Designed Studies major (a second major) or an Honors Self-Designed Studies minor may complete the CE/T in either the first major or in the Honors Self-Designed Studies major or minor.
  • It is a WKU policy that any two separate academic degree programs totaling together a minimum of 54 credit hours must have at least 48 of non-duplicated credit.
  • The hours earned as part of your CE/T project count towards the completion of that major.
  • Any student completing an Honors Self-Designed Studies major or minor is expected to complete all other requirements of the Honors College.


How do I make a decision about creating an Honors Self-Designed Studies Major/Minor?

There are many advantages and risks inherent in creating an Honors Self-Designed Studies major or minor, and thus it is a decision that should not be taken lightly. One advantage, of course, is that you can uniquely tailor your collegiate education in ways students in traditional disciplines cannot, which may give you increased personal satisfaction and professional focus.

 However, you must be aware of serious potential risks associated with creating an Honors Self-Designed Studies in Honors. For over 100 years, scholars and academic professionals at WKU have carefully developed hundreds of majors and minors to meet the educational needs of college students and the demands of the evolving workforce. Before deciding to create an Honors Self-Designed Studies major or minor, you should thoroughly evaluate if WKU has an established major or minor that best meets your educational and career goals. By creating an Honors Self-Designed Studies major or minor, you run the risk of: A) designing a major/minor that fits the above requirements but does not in substance actually meet your personal or career goals, B) creating a major/minor that is so narrow that your personal and professional life quickly grow in a different direction than your education, and C) future employers preferring a traditional major/minor.

 Thus, choosing to create an Honors Self-Designed Studies major or minor is a highly personalized decision requiring you to carefully consider what educational options currently exist at WKU and what your long-term professional and personal goals are. You cannot make this decision completely by yourself: it is essential that you receive multiple layers of advising before making your decision.


What advising is needed when deciding to create an Honors Self-Designed Studies major or minor?

Consider what academic disciplines you will draw from to create your Honors Self-Designed Studies program; you should meet with an advisor and/or professor from each of these areas to discuss your academic and professional goals. First, discuss if a major/minor in their discipline would satisfy these goals. For example, if you are considering developing a major on "The Scientific Study of Human Nature," could you reach your same academic and professional goals with a traditional Biology major and Psychology minor?

 If you decide to move forward with the Honors Self-Designed Studies, then you should discuss with each of these advisors which classes from their discipline will give you the academic content, skills, and experience necessary to satisfy your future goals. This list of potential courses gathered from each discipline will help you create your final Honors Self-Designed Studies degree plan outlined in the requirements section above. It is extremely important that you discuss with the advisor in each discipline the schedule that various courses will be offered in the future so you can ensure that the courses you need will be offered in a pattern that you can actually take. For example, if you are a sophomore and you must have an upper-division History course as part of your Honors Self-Designed Studies program, then you need to know when in the next three years this course will be offered so you can plan to take it when it is offered. Many upper-division courses are offered only once every couple semesters or even years, so if you miss the course, you may not be able to complete your program requirements in time.

 Next, you need to meet with the Honors College's academic advisor to discuss how Honors Self-Designed Studies major/minor fits with your Honors College curriculum, including the required CE/T. The conversations with each of these advisors, in addition to helping you decide if you should pursue the Honors Self-Designed Studies major or minor, will provide you with the necessary information to complete the proposal form and ultimately gain approval for your Honors Self-Designed Studies major/minor.


How do I get my Honors Self-Designed Studies major or minor approved?

After meeting with each of the advisors/faculty detailed above, you may begin creating the necessary documents to seek approval for your Honors Self-Designed Studies major or minor. You will need to submit to the Honors College an Honors Self-Designed Studies Proposal, which includes:

  • A statement of 250 words describing how and why your personal and academic goals are best achieved by an SDS major/minor.

  • A program of study detailing each course that will be part of your Honors SDS major and the semester in which you plan to take each course.

  • A list of three main learning outcomes that you will achieve through your Honors SDS major. These should focus on what the program will help you understand, know, and do.

  • Signature from a faculty mentor who supports and approves your Honors SDS major. This faculty mentor will most likely also (though not necessarily) be your Honors Capstone Experience/Thesis project mentor.


What happens once I submit my proposal?

The Mahurin Honors College will review your proposal and inform you once it has been approved. The college might also ask for additional information or suggest revisions before approval, and once approved, the college will forward the form to the University Registrar, where the Honors SDS majors will then made official. Note: You must change your major in TopNet to the Honors Self-Designed Studies major for it to take effect.

Please see Area Study Major/Minor Proposal form on the Honors College homepage


Click here to fill out the Honors Self-Designed Studies application

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 Last Modified 1/22/19