Go Your Own Way

custom-designed major This year, Drexel launched a new major – or, depending on how you look at it, several new majors. The Custom-Designed Major, now available to students qualified for the Honors Program, allows participants to draw from a variety of disciplines across the University to create an entirely new major targeted to their specific career goals.

Overseen by the Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry, the Custom-Designed Major’s goal is to provide a program for students who feel that they can’t purse their desired course of study with a traditional Drexel major, a double major, or major-minor combinations. Applying to the program requires a level of vision and dedication, which is evident in the application process. To be accepted into the program, students are required to submit a statement of intent, letters from people who can “speak to the student’s desire and ability to embark on an unconventional, individualized course of study,” and examples of related work from the student. 

So far, Custom-Designed Majors include “Global Fashion Industry” and “Architectural Conservation and Sustainable Design,” among others. According to Program Coordinator Dr. Kevin Egan, Global Fashion Industry “looks at the Alpha to the Omega of the fashion process, that is, understanding how textiles are produced and purchased, the labor practices that go into production, and the marketing strategies used to sell the merchandise,” as well as “the social constructions that surround these processes.” Architectural Conservation and Sustainable Design, meanwhile, pulls classes from Architecture, Environmental Policy, Interior Design, and Sociology to examine “practices of preservation and conversation, and the ways in which such conservation can be accomplished with future sustainability in mind.”

Each student in the major is paired with a faculty mentor. There’s a strong focus on keeping the Custom-Designed Major small in order to provide the students individual attention. “Right now we have six students in the program, and by the winter we hope to have eight or nine,” said Egan, adding that they plan to cap each cohort at 10 students in order to provide that attention. Not only do these students navigate their own courses of study, but they’re also expected to complete one co-op experience and cap their senior year with a project specific to their major.

When asked what’s interesting about this first group of students in the Custom-Designed Major, Egan spoke of “the creativity, intellectual curiosity, and ingenuity demonstrated by Drexel students interested in the major. They are demonstrating focus and a keen interest in issues and professions that I certainly did not have so early on in my academic career.” Egan also speaks glowingly of Drexel’s role. “I think that it is also a testament to the University that faculty and staff are so open to, and excited by, the Custom-Designed Major, and that the bevy of courses out there can suit the needs and interests of these students.”

To learn more, visit the Custom Designed Major page.