If we could pick and choose classes to create a
personalized major to fit multiple interests, why wouldn’t we take advantage of
Instead, we drift to popular majors on campus like
biology, business administration, communication, elementary education and
natural resources. A few students, however, stray from those popular courses of
study to enroll as an Individually Planned Major and develop a personal major
to fit their interests.
Megan Weinaug, a University of Wisconsin – Stevens
Point alumni, gradated with an Individually Planned Major in 2011. Weinaug
wanted to be a child-life specialist and was unable to find an accommodating
major at UWSP.
“I felt that there wasn’t a major that offered exactly
what I was looking for,” Weinaug said. “There are some colleges that offer a
major in child life, but I was also a dance major and didn’t want to transfer
because of the amazing dance program in Point.”
Although UWSP offers a degree in family life education,
Weinaug wanted to take other classes that weren’t offered as part of the major.
“I was able to pick and chose the classes that would
best benefit my career goals,” Weinaug said. “I was able to take a bunch of
psychology classes as well as some human development classes and even medical
The Individually Planned Major is for students who
cannot meet their desired educational objectives through an existing academic
program. It gives students the opportunity to coherently combine existing
course offerings to create a unique major.
In order to declare an Individually Planned Major, the
student must propose the program prior to completing the 75 credits, including
transfer credits, to be sure the necessary courses are available and can be
integrated into the desired major.
The proposal must include a title, a statement of the
objectives of the program and a list of specific courses. It must be approved
by the Individually Planned Major coordinator, Mark Balhorn, as well as the
Individually Planned Major committee, composed of specific advisers appropriate
to the topic.
“You need a clear idea in your head and a rationale to
do it,” Balhorn said. “The major is for students who are looking for a major we
don’t offer and can’t be accommodated for in any of our departments.”
Although there are no current students on campus
enrolled as an Individually Planned Major, students remain curious.
“About a half a dozen students come to me each year and
want to do an Individually Planned Major,” Balhorn said.
However, few of those students go through with an
Individually Planned Major after discovering the possibilities of covering
their interests with an already available major.
Weinaug is grateful that she followed through with the
Individually Planned major. She is currently working as a nanny but plans on
becoming a child-life specialist in the near future and hopes that her
Individually Planned Major will give her a competitive edge in the work world.
“My major was crafted by me and therefore was something
that no one else on campus was pursuing,” Weinaug said. “It’s a great feeling—
knowing that I was creating my own path in a way.”